Paradigm Founder 70LCR/40B 5.0 Speaker System Review

hccbestbuybadgev3Steve Withers gives the more 'affordable' models of Paradigm's new speaker range a spin

The Founder Series is the first new range of speakers released by Canadian corp Paradigm since founder Scott Bagby returned in 2019 – which explains the name. Bagby, who launched the brand in 1982, sold his majority stake in 2005 and left in 2009, but has now reacquired full ownership of Paradigm and sister brand Anthem. And he's back with a bang.

The Founder Series currently comprises six models, and all are designed to bring high-end performance (some more high-end than others) and a touch of luxury to hi-fi and home cinema systems. They draw on innovations from Paradigm's award-winning – and ultra-expensive – Persona range [HCC #305], but add a host of new technologies when it comes to driver design and cabinet construction.

So this new series, which ranges below the Persona, is not just a case of trickle-down tech, and the company is very proud to point out the speakers are designed, tested, engineered and manufactured at its own facility in Toronto.

The range is headlined by a trio of floorstanders – the Founder 80F, the Founder 100F, and the hybrid active/passive Founder 120H. There's also the Founder 90C, a dedicated (and fairly big) centre speaker designed to complement the size and response of the floorstanders.

The two-way 40Bs are the entry point into the Founder Series

Of more interest to home cinema fans (and bank balances) are the 70LCR and Founder 40B speakers. The former is a three-way sealed unit designed to be used horizontally as a compact centre speaker, or vertically for front and surround duties. The latter is a two-way ported bookshelf speaker that can double as either a stereo pair or the rears in a multichannel system.

Rock-Solid Foundations
The Founder Series doesn't represent a paradigm shift (pun intended) when it comes to speaker cosmetics, with fairly simple-looking cabinets, magnetic black fabric grilles, and two pairs of binding posts for those who favour bi-wiring or bi-amping. However, the build quality is exceptional, and the 70LCRs in particular are deceptively heavy compared to their physical dimensions.

Give these speakers the 'tap test' and you'll discover a pleasingly inert construction with bracing that's fused directly into the walls of the enclosure. This requires the cabinet to be folded around the frame as a single piece, which is reinforced by additional braces. Drivers are then mechanically decoupled from the cabinet via Paradigm's new Shock-Mount elastometer suspension system.

And the Founders aren't just well-made, they're beautifully finished too, with a choice of Walnut, Black Walnut, Midnight Cherry or Piano Black.

While not as costly as the Persona range above, the Founder Series is still aimed at the well-heeled, with the 70LCR costing £1,700 a speaker, and the 40B setting you back £2,400 for a pair. The system reviewed here is composed of three 70LCRs and two 40Bs, which clocks in at £7,500 before you've even added a subwoofer – Paradigm's Defiance lineup would be an obvious choice.

But it's not just the natty finishes that account for these serious price tags; all Founder models flaunt proprietary technologies. The AL-MAC dome tweeter, for example, is a new concoction blending aluminium, magnesium and ceramic materials, mounted in an Oblate Spherical Waveguide (OSW) to maintain sonic focus, and dressed in a miniature version of Paradigm's Perforated Phase-Aligning (PPA) lens (also a feature of the Persona models). The 40B then sports a new 6in AL-MAG bass/mid driver, with PPA lens and funky Active Ridge Technology (ART) surround, while the 70LCR has a dedicated 6in AL-MAG midrange driver, with the speaker's tweeter sited in the middle of its cone.

To boost the 70LCR's performance at the lower end, it features two new 5.5in CARBON-X bass drivers. The resulting symmetrical config gives you a speaker that can be used vertically or horizontally, the latter with a relatively low height making placement more flexible.