McGary Audio

Monday, June 20, 2016

Home Theater Review!
Paradigm Prestige 2000SW
Powered 15-Inch Subwoofer
“Awe-Inducing With a Capital A”

Price: $3,995
Likes: low-end power, classy look
Dislikes: grill needs stronger magnets
Wow factor: it will wow you!
More info: Prestige 2000SW

by John Gatski
  Paradigm has always built impressive subwoofers — from the budget priced to the high-end, ultra low-bass producing models. I owned the late 1990’s Servo 15, and I currently use the Sub 15 as a reference;  EAN writer Tom Jung also reviewed the incredible, multi-driver Sub 1 a few years ago.
  The new Prestige 15 SW200 reviewed here is completely inline with the top-tier subwoofer niche Paradigm has created for itself. As the replacement for the Sub 15, and a thunderous bass compatriot to the various Prestige line speakers, this sub kicks out some serious oomph. Unless your system is in a huge room, one of these 2000SW’s is all you will even need to plumb the depths of movie soundtracks and bass-intensive music.

 The Prestige 2000SW is a large, single-driver subwoofer with a sealed, acoustic suspension cabinet and a  15-inch (38.1cm) X-PAL™ driver — Paradigm’s overmolded Active Ridge Technology (ARTTM) surround and 3-inch high-temp voice coil. It appears similar to my woofer in the Pro 15, but the SW’s cabinet is larger (22.25-inches wide × 21.75 front-to-back × 20.25-inches tall). The sub weighs 121 pounds.
  The other significant difference is the 2,000-watt RMS Class-D amp, which can deliver low-end power to pain inducing levels to well below 20 Hz. In fact, this sub is rated to 16 Hz, though I did not have a calibrated test mic  that was rated for under 20 Hz. My mic is rated for flat measurement to 20 Hz, and 20 Hz tones could be played through the 2000SW at 100 dB without audible distortion (except for the ringing distortion in your ears if you test without hearing protection).

Paradigm Prestige 2000SW Everything Audio Network
The convenience of front-mounted SW controls

 Unlike many subwoofers, the 2000SW’s controls are on the front, including the level, phase, crossover adjustment and power switch  Back-panel features include XLR balanced input, L/R RCA inputs and input for PBK, The 2000SW comes in gloss piano black, midnight cherry, a walnut and black walnut. It is a great-looking sub that compliments the Prestige line, which includes the Model 15B stand speaker I reviewed last year, and various other floor-standing tower and center channel speakers. A smaller subwoofer, the 1000SW, also is in the Prestige line.

Get perfect bass
   As with other Paradigm products, the owner can enable the Paradigm Perfect Bass Kit to “perfectly” match the subwoofer to the room via DSP. Having used the PBK on several reviews, including my reference Sub 15, I have found that the PBK is one of the most honest DSP compensation systems in the audio biz. Though Windows only, running the program is easy, and it can significantly tighten your sub’s performance.

  Paradigm’s Prestige 2000SW is an awe-inducing, powered subwoofer that can handle the depths of most any movie sound effect, but it is equally adept at transmitting the proper bass frequencies from your favorite hi-res music. From Rock to Classical to bombastic action flicks, I do not see how you could do any better in the bass department.

 You simply set up the computer, plug in the USB mic to the computer, run the program and click the mouse. Via the computer, the system outputs bass tones and the mic reads the room. The readings are calculated and compensating EQ is applied to the bass to flatten it for the given room. If you have significant problems with boomy bass, the PBK can cure it without expensive room treatment.
  Since my tile-over-concrete, basement home theater room response has an almost flat response, the PBK did not change it much, but it is nice to know that the system can help if needed.

The setup
  I set up the sub to the left side of the home cinema room half way between the front speakers and the listening position. My 5.1 reference system consists of a professional Westlake LC2.65 center channel, two Westlake Pro LC8.1 L/R speakers, and two NHT Ones for the rear channels. The rest of the test reference system included an AudioControl AVR-4 receiver (one of the most transparent receivers I have ever auditioned), and Oppo BDP-105 and Pioneer Elite Blu-ray players.
   Speaker cables were Wireworld Eclipse, as were the HDMI cables that fed the receiver and the Sony full-array backlit, 60-inch LED monitor. All AC cables were plugged into an Essential Sound Products Essence power strip.

The Prestige 2000SW is attractive in any finish

  My initial measurements revealed an excellent, in-room response — based on my PBK analysis and a conforming analysis with my own professional real time analyzer (RTA). With test tones, my overall measurable speaker bass performance, using the sub’s crossover was within 3 dB from 150 Hz to 20 Hz, the extent of my measurement microphone.
  I know the 2000SW can put out loads more response under 20 Hz, I just could not accurately measure it. I had a 16-Hz tone on a test BD that I played. Well-below 20 Hz energy  is not directly audible to the human ear, but the ultra low-bass room 16-Hz tone was quite impactful on room vibration, generating an amply rattled window from the second floor and coat hangers shaking in a first-floor closet.
  My 20-Hz warble tones could easily be played to 100 dB, and I could hear a good bit of it — as well as accurately measure it. Suffice it to say that the Paradigm Prestige 2000SW is a major-league subwoofer that can push clean, high-level bass from well under 20 Hz to the crossover point. It is significantly louder at 20 Hz than the old Sub 15, thanks to a bigger box and much more horsepower.

The audition
  Once everything was calibrated, I grabbed a stack of bass-intensive Blu-rays and commenced listening to the multichannel system, with the Prestige 2000SW as its anchor.
  First up, the Jack Ryan-reboot action yarn The Sum of All Fears. As mentioned in previous reviews, this movie has a nuclear dirty bomb explosion that plumbs the depths of  the audible and subsonic bass spectrum. A quality sub will give you a whack in the chest followed by several seconds of room-rattle inducing bass that is akin to a real cannon shot. The Prestige Sub relayed the explosion with a force that I seldom have heard with a single-driver subwoofer. Much more floor and wall vibration.

No sonic strain with Prestige's 2kW amplifier on duty

  In comparison, the previous model, the Sub 15, can produce the essential sonic tones and the audible effects fairly close to the 2000SW, but not as much of the subsonic effects. Room noises that I never heard before could be heard with the Prestige firing full force. This is some subwoofer! I heard the same results from  the U571 Blu-ray, the submarine thriller from 2000. Again, the Prestige 2000SW delivered the rapid-fire, depth-charge explosions’ bass with a brute force that was so relentless, I was glad when the sequence was over; the bass  literally wore me out.
  On the 2015 movie, San Andreas — an earthquake hits the West Coast action yarn starring the Rock — the earthquake audio scenes were produced with a high-impact, rumble intensity that continuously vibrated my listening chair. At the 95 dB+ levels, the sub never hinted at any strain or audible distortion. A couple kW of power and a precision, beefy,  15-inch driver keeps this 2000SW clean — real clean.

Musical bass
  Thunderous movie bass has its place, but what about music? An accurate subwoofer also should complete the musical spectrum with a non-hyped, bottom end that augments the musical performance. And the Prestige 2000SW handles music just fine, thank you.
  On the anniversary re-recording of the Telarc Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture Surround SACD, the tympani rolls and the cannon shots plumbed the depths of this famous orchestral performance. The cannon shots are a lot cleaner in this version, versus than the original 1978 recording, and I could feel those blasts right in the gut  — without hearing any out-of-control artifacts.
  On The Mercury Living Presence The Complete Bach Cello Suites - Janos Starker SACD, the sub augmented the instrument’s gentle low-end to remind you of how it sounds sitting in front of a performance of this grand stringed instrument. Though it is a 15-inch sub, not a duo of 12’s, I never got the sense that the 2000SW exhibits any slow response character. Percussive blasts of bass were tight and fast on most any kind of music. On a Pentatone surround SACD of classical organ, I really got to feel the force of the huge pipe organ feeding through my system. You could feel the bass, as well as hear it.
  I heard the same results from  the U571 Blu-ray, the submarine thriller from 2000. Again, the Prestige 2000SW delivered the rapid-fire, depth-charge explosions’ bass with a brute force that was so relentless, I was glad when the sequence was over; the bass literally wore me out.

  I even had the sub in action during the several vinyl playing sessions (with a Sorbothane isolation base to reduce potential feedback). On the direct-to-disc Cadillac Mack and The Detroit 4 record, circa 1978, Vishnu Wood’s upright bass is deep, plump and quite intimate in the piano/drums/bass/trombone recording. The 2000SW gave the jazz combo’s sound an added girth (compared to my Westlake stand speakers straight up) to reflect the actual tonal balance of the recording — with being overly bloated. Who says records can’t have some low end.
  Overall, I did not have any performance complaints with the Prestige 2000SW. It is not the cheapest high-end sub, but not the most expensive either. Considering its versatility and major-league bass production, it may be somewhat of a high-end bargain.
  The only complaint I had was an ergonomic anomaly. The magnetically-attached front grill would sometimes slide down the front panel during bass intensive movie soundtracks. On its short slide down the panel, the grill touched the front-mounted volume control and turned down the level. I ended up putting two temporary pieces of Velcro, just underneath the two bottom grill magnet positions on the cabinet front. That fixed the ole grill slide. Might need stronger magnets. 

 The verdict
   For those who like to maintain brand consistency, the Prestige 2000SW is a perfect, low-frequency mate to the various standalone speakers in the aforementioned Prestige line. The black piano lacquer finished version sent to me was gorgeous, and is sure to match whatever speakers you mate to it. Overall, Paradigm’s Prestige 2000SW is an awe-inducing, powered subwoofer that can handle the depths of most any movie sound effect, but it is also equally adept at transmitting the proper bass frequencies from your favorite hi-res music. From Rock to Classical to bombastic action flicks, I do not see how you could do any better in the bass department. An Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award for the Paradigm Prestige 2000SW.
  John Gatski has been evaluating consumer, audiophile, home cinema and professional audio gear since 1988. In 1995, he created Pro Audio Review, and he has written for Audio, Laserviews, Enjoy The Music, The Audiophile Voice, High Performance Review, Radio World and TV Technology. Everything Audio Network is based in Kensington, Md. Articles on this site are the copyright of the ©Everything Audio Network. Any unauthorized use, via print or Internet, without written permission is prohibited. John Gatski can be reached via

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