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Paradigm Shift A2 Lightning Review: These Little Speakers Will Blow Your Roof Off

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Paradigm have been making high-quality audio equipment for a long, long time. But last year, they launched their new Paradigm Shift line to bring their revered technologies to the masses at more accessible prices. Enter the A2 powered monitors. Do they live up to the family lineage?

What Is It?

Paradigm Shift's A2 Bookshelf Monitor Speakers are a powerful, compact pair of noise boxes that produce sound far beyond their price tag.


Who's it For?

The target audience here are going to be people who make and listen to music on a serious level. Listeners who want more than flat, tinny sound out of their TV or stereo but don't really need or care about a surround system powered by steroids.



Nothing out of the ordinary as far as bookshelf speakers go. Black, wood-grain speaksers that are are compact and rectangular.

Using It

The beauty of using powered speakers is minimal setup. Connect one speaker to another, and then to the TV audio out, and you're good to go. Once they're fired up, they sound amazing. Stereo mixes ping from one speaker to another about as well as a sound designer or engineer could imagine. Bass is clean, but not overpowering, and not once did the speakers wilt under the duress of loud noices. Advanced A/V nerds might scoff at the lack of custom tweaking one can make to their sound setup, but anyone looking for a quality, hassle-free sound setup will be elated.


The Best Part

For a pair of speakers without a sub, the A2s can deliver big volume and big sound with virtually no distortion thanks to its digital signal processing. Audio felt downright immersive during movies (not to mention BBC's Life) and the imaging of lows, mids and highs were excellent.


Tragic Flaw

Volume is independently controlled on each speaker. Aside from initial setup, it's not so much of a problem if you're hooked up to your computer or any other device with volume control. But if your television takes away volume control when external speakers are plugged in (like my TV), this is a supreme pain in the ass.


This Is Weird...

The A2s were marketed as having some special AirPort Express docking station. In reality, there's just a power outlet on the back of the speaker. Having optical-in would be nice.


Test Notes

I used these speakers over the span of a couple months in a room that is roughly 30'x 15 with vaulted ceiling. Long story short, there's a lot of space to fill. I don't think I once had the A2s turned up more than 50 percent.


Should You Buy It?

On performance alone, yes, you should. But though these speakers sound fantastic, the reality is that these things still cost $560 for a pair, which is fine if you're serious about music. Will 75 percent of you notice the jump in quality from a $150 pair of speakers? Or even a cheaper pair of Audio Engine speakers? Probably not. But for those who obsess of concepts such as the soundstage and imaging that a speaker can produce, you'll be hard pressed to find a better speaker at a comparable price.