At first glance, you may think 'we've been here before' as these Paradigm Founder 120H speakers, yours for a couple of pence short of £8600, look very much like the 100F model [HFN Jul '21]. Yet there's more than enough going on with this flagship design from the Canadian manufacturer to set it apart from the next model down, and justify the £3200 price differential over the £5400 Founder 100F.
Apart from the size increase, in both the cabinet and those Carbon-X bass drivers, there's the small matter of the suffix on the model number: the 'H' referencing its hybrid of passive mid and treble with integrated active drive for the bass section below. That also explains the IEC mains socket beside the speaker terminals…
Actually, there's even more to it than that, for alongside the 1000W of bass amplification comes Anthem's Room Correction (ARC), said to enable 'bass down to 18Hz that sounds precise and controlled in any room'. Aside from ARC, the only other set-up here involves the outriggers – open the boxes upside down and you'll find the feet are swung in for shipment, and require deploying and fixing in place with a single screw, and then rubber pads or spikes attaching. The feet themselves use a decoupling system Paradigm calls 'Advanced Shock-Mount Isolation', and once fitted the feet can be adjusted from above using a supplied Allen key, enabling them to be levelled in situ.
Installed, this is an elegant speaker, tapering from bottom to top, and with an angled crease running diagonally across the side panel, which is more obvious on the wood-finished speakers – in Walnut, Black Walnut or Midnight Cherry [seen here] – than it is with the Piano Black high-gloss finish. This faceted effect is no mere styling foible as it echoes the internal 'Cascade Fusion Brace', running from top front to bottom rear, combining with horizontal partitions to divide the internal volume up into a series of compartments of irregular shape. There's also a downward-venting reflex port.
The 120H shares the 25mm tweeter and 150mm midrange driver found in the smaller 100F. The HF unit uses a lightweight but rigid magnesium alloy/ceramic dome combined with an 'Oblate Spheroid Waveguide' and 'Perforated Phase-Aligning Tweeter Lens'. The mid driver also travels the 'light but rigid' route with an alloy cone and similar lens arrangement, and is attached to the baffle with the same 'Shock-Mount' decoupling system used for the bass drivers.
Talking of which, the 120H builds on the design of the 100F with a trio of 215mm drivers in place of the 177mm units found in the smaller speaker. These use the company's 'Carbon-X' diaphragms with 'Active Ridge' surrounds, operating below 300Hz, while the passive midrange/tweeter divide duties at 2.4kHz. Connection is entirely conventional – well, apart from that mains input – with two sets of speaker terminals provided for bi-wiring/bi-amping, linked here with metal jumpers for single-wired operation.
Paradigm quotes a high 92dB+ sensitivity for its flagship Founders along with a suitably vague 'compatible with 8ohm' impedance. For our sessions in the HFN listening room I took no chances, driving the speakers with a brace of 350W Classé Delta Mono power amps on the end of Classé's Delta Pre preamp [HFN Jun '21], fed from a Melco N1ZS20 music library [HFN Jun '17], and it was clear from the off that the set-up was a felicitous one, the speed and slam of the Canadian-designed/Japanese-made amplification proving the perfect foil for its compatriot speakers from Ontario.