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Paradigm SHIFT Earbud Headphones Preview

Paradigm SHIFT Earbud Models

Paradigm SHIFT Earbud Models


  • Product Name: SHIFT Earbud Headphones
  • Manufacturer: Paradigm
  • Review Date: January 13, 2012 04:15
  • MSRP: $49.99 (E1); $99.99 (E2m); $129.99 (E3m
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

E1 E2m E3m
Tuned to Paradigm Monitor Series 7 speakers Paradigm Reference Studio speakers Paradigm Reference Signature speakers
two-piece sealed construction crafted from one-piece CNC precision-machined aluminum
Drivers 8-mm super-neodymium 8-mm super-neodymium 8-mm super-neodymium
Sensitivity 103 dB 104 dB 105 dB
Frequency Response 10 Hz - 18 kHz 10 Hz - 19 kHz 8 Hz - 19 kHz
in-line remote and microphone in-line remote and microphone

Paradigm has the sort of audio following that other manufacturers stay up nights trying to figure out how to duplicate. Their fans are the sort that need to know only that Paradigm is involved to be sold. For them, a release of earbuds from the audio company is reason enough to buy. But what about the rest of us: those that aren't already sold on the Paradigm "sound" or "lineage"?

There is a reason that Paradigm has the following they do: they make quality products that strive for a flat frequency response. They have speakers in many different price ranges so that many different strata of consumers can enjoy their products (and eventually upgrade). Paradigm has their own 36,000 cubic foot anechoic chamber in their very own audio research and development facility along with multiple blind listening test rooms. For the new earbuds, they've invested in a "manikin" human ear/head simulator for measuring the sonic properties of their new offerings. All this translates into a company that knows how to put together a speaker, much less an earbud, that sounds exactly they way they want.


Paradigm SHIFT E1 Earbuds

The new SHIFT earbuds come in three flavors: the E1, E2m, and E3m with ascending price points. The first hurdle that Paradigm tackled was comfort. Designed with portable personal audio in mind, Paradigm knew that users of the new SHIFT earbud headphones would want to use them for extended periods. They've included three different sizes of tips which provide an air tight seal for increased noise isolation. They've created a rigid connection between the tip and the actual earphone to increase bass performance and lessening the loss of low frequencies. A 1.2 meter cord and and a matted travel case/pouch rounds out the offerings.


Paradigm SHIFT E2m Earbuds

While all three of the earbud models feature 8mm drivers with super-neodymium magnet structures, there are definite improvements as you pay more for the different models. The "m" models (the E2m and E3m) feature in-line remotes and mics for use with cell phones and increased control over your portable audio device (no word on compatible devices/phones). 


Paradigm SHIFT E3m Earbuds

At a penny under $50, the E1 earbuds are tuned to match the Paradigm Monitor Series 7 speakers. They have frequency response from 10 Hz to 18 kHz. and come in black or white (like all the SHIFT earbuds). The E2m run ~$100 and two-piece sealed construction housing. They increase the high end response by 1 kHz (10 Hz to 19 kHz) and are tuned for the Paradigm Reference Studio speakers. The high-end E3m earbuds will cost you an extra $30 over the E2m's and you get a one-piece CNC crafted precision-machined aluminum enclosure. They are tuned for the Paradigm Reference Signature speakers and increase the bass response (8 Hz to 19 kHz). All the different earbuds can be mated with a pair of Sport Ear Hooks (we like these) at $12 a pair.


For Paradigm lovers, the tuning spec is all they need to see. For the rest of us, I think the price is most interesting. The Paradigm Reference Signature speakers can run near $10,000 a pair and the E3m's are tuned to sound like them. That's a pretty intriguing notion. Given the wide variety of offerings on the market, we might have expected Paradigm to lean on their name and fans to sell much higher priced offerings. Even at double the price, we could see these selling. Needless to say, at these price points, the Paradigm SHIFT earbuds are sure to be a hit. If you are looking for a pair of earbuds, you'd be crazy not to put these on your short list.

For more information, please visit www.paradigm.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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