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Paradigm Designer Series In-Ceiling Speakers Preview

AMS group of speakers

AMS group of speakers


  • Product Name: Designer Series
  • Manufacturer: Paradigm
  • Review Date: February 06, 2012 19:00
  • MSRP: $219/ea to $999/ea
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

All Models:

  • New low-profile bezels

Guided Soundfield Models (those with a -30 in their model number):

  • New low-density NLC Non-limiting Corrugated thermoplastic elastomer surrounds (same was Signature Series speakers)
  • New Motor structure with:
  • Three-split voice coil
  • Thicker top plate
  • larger ceramic/gerrite magnet
  • 3dB louder than previous models

AMS-150R-SM and SA-15R-SM

  • New convex grilles to increase dispersion

Marine models (with X in model number) received:

  • Neodymium grille magnets
  • more corrosive resistant stainless steel
  • Improved drainage

In-ceiling 2In-ceiling and in-wall speakers serve very different needs than traditional, freestanding speakers. Usually they are the only option when either a consumer has very limited space, or a very limited spouse. Either way, you end up with speakers that are placed only tangentially where you wanted them and more placed where you could actually install them without tearing out a wall.

In-ceiling speakers, in particular, can be problematic. While some use them for surrounds, we've seen installs where they are used for all the channels. To say that such a system can be a headache for a calibrator, is like saying a tsunami will get you wet.

Paradigm has announced a complete overhaul to their in-ceiling offerings and re-branding them the Designer Series. These speakers are getting a number of cosmetic and performance enhancements that should excite paradigm fans and potential customers alike.

To start, off of the speakers will receive a new low-profile bezel upgrade with new, sonically transparent scrims. This makes for a cleaner install with a clearer sound - something to please both spouses. Before we go on, let's list the prices and model numbers:

  • Paradigm SA Series SA-15R-30AMS-100R: $219/ea
  • AMS-100RX: $299/ea
  • AMS-150R: $299/ea
  • AMS-150RX: $369/ea
  • AMS-150R-SM: $399/ea
  • AMS-150SQ-SM: $399/ea
  • AMS-150R-30: $429/ea
  • SA-10R: $399/ea
  • SA-15R: $499/ea
  • SA-15R-SM: $549/ea
  • SA-15R-30: $649/ea
  • SIG-1.5R: $799/ea SIG-1.5R-30: $999/ea

As you can see, there is something for everyone in the new line (except someone looking for a budget in-ceiling). While the only universal improvements were the ones listed above, specific speaker types did receive additional upgrades.

The Guided Soundfield Models (the ones that end in -30) got the most upgrades of any of the speakers. They now feature the same low-density NLC Non-limiting Corrugated thermoplastic elastomer surrounds as the revered Signature Series speakers. These surrounds promise to deliver vastly improved damping of vibrations and resonances and increased peak-to-peak excursion. On top of that they got improvements to their motor structure including a three-split voice coil, thicker top plate, and much larger ceramic/ferrite magnet. All of it add up to a 3dB increase of output with increased clarity at higher output compared to previous models.

The Stereo/Mono models (model numbers ending in -SM) received a new, convex grille. This grille is designed to improve dispersion. While some in-ceiling speakers are designed for home theater use, the vast majority are designed for ambient music. With this improved grille, the Stereo/Mono models should be ideally suited for the task.

Lastly, the Marine models (the ones with an X in the model number) got their own, specific upgrades which should greatly improve their performance and longevity. First, their grilles are now connected by Neodymium magnets which should make getting them off more trouble than it is worth (hopefully impossible for Mother Nature). Their stainless steel has been made more corrosive resistant and the drainage channels have been improved to wick water away and keep everything dry in this challenging environment.


If you are not on the market for an in-ceiling speaker, you likely don't much care about the new Designer Series In-Ceiling speakers from Paradigm. However, for those of us that have not only a need for in-ceiling speakers, but a desire for something that has been designed to sound as good as possible, Paradigm in a company you can trust. Looking at the improvements they've made in the different lines, it is clear that they are thinking about the specific use of the speaker (from the improved output and clarity of the top of the line Guided Soundfield Models to the improved performance and longevity under any condition of the Marine Models). That is something we want to see in a speaker design. Add to that the overall improvement of the Designer's Series ability to go unnoticed with their smaller bezel and Paradigm is really trying to give you what you want. What more could you want out of a company?

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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