it comes to complete 5.1 speaker systems in a single box (better known as Home
Theater in a Box), much is left to be desired. Most of these systems have cheap
drivers and poorly designed cabinets. Often the result is greatly compromised
sound quality. Having this in mind, we were quite happy to see that the new Paradigm
Cinema 110 CT (Compact Theater) v.3 System did not fall into this trap.
Instead, Paradigm created a reasonably priced 5.1 speaker system with quality
one might expect from a more expensive home theater system. For example, Paradigm
designed the mid/bass drivers using high power ICP (Injection-Molded Co-Polymer)
cones with rubber surrounds instead of drivers with cheap paper cones and foam
surrounds. Sure, some may say big deal, but years from now you won't be replacing
the surround material due to deterioration. The front and rear channel cabinets
are indeed plastic, but have an internal ribbed cabinet that helps reduce resonances
that result in sonic colorations. The subwoofer is a compact design with solid
build quality and controls for level, phase and crossover frequency.
Cinema 110 CT v.3 system came well packaged with four layers of Styrofoam
separating and padding the satellite speakers and subwoofer. The system includes
two Cinema 110 L/R and one Cinema 110 C, each comprised of a pair
of 4.5" bass/midrange drives and a 1" tweeter. The Cinema 110
ADP rear channels each include two 3.5" bass/midrange drivers and two tweeters.
Finally, the Cinema 110 CT subwoofer packs a 10" driver with a 150
watts RMS amplifier. Amazingly all five channels and the subwoofer were packaged
into one box weighing nearly 70 pounds. The powered subwoofer alone weighs almost
40 pounds with each of the front channels weighing 6.4 pounds. The rear ADP surround
channels weigh just under 4 pounds each, making them manageable with most wall
mounting hardware. The Cinema 110 CT system is available in silver, white
or black finish to match virtually any decor.
Cinema 110 L/R v.3 and Cinema 110 C v.3 have the same speaker configuration
and cabinet dimensions. The only difference is the center speaker is typically
placed horizontally in most applications. The 3-Driver, 2-Way acoustic suspension
design uses a mineral-filled polymer enclosure and incorporates Paradigm's MagneShield
to prevent stray magnetic fields from affecting CRT-based displays. The rear binding
posts can accommodate bare wire, lugs or banana plugs. We usually like to use
banana plugs for convenience, but we decided to use some bulk Tributaries 14-gauge
wire for the review. We noticed that the binding post could easily accommodate
wire as large as 12-gauge if desired.
Our review system also included an optional pair of Premier LS-Series (LS-30)
speaker stands for the front Cinema 110 L/R speakers. The hollow steel tube
that supports the speaker allows the speaker cable to run through it, eliminating
unsightly cables. The weighted diecast aluminum base is about 8" wide and
11" deep allowing the LS-30 stands to be placed in tight areas. The heavy
base keeps the stands from falling over. In addition, locking spike feet or the
optional rubber feet are available for the stable mounting base.
The Cinema ADP (Adaptive DiPole) v.3 surround speakers are smaller
than the front speakers measuring just over 7 inches high and 5 inches deep. Their
lightweight design allows easy mounting on side walls with the baffles slightly
angled towards the front and back of the room. This results in the front of the
cabinet being about 3 inches wide and the rear 5 inches wide. Sound radiates from
the two sides of the enclosure with a null directed at the listener. The dipole
design produces a diffused soundfield that works well with most home theater rooms.
Using two pairs of bass/tweeter drivers, the ADPs are designed around a 2-way
acoustic suspension enclosure. These surrounds have smaller midrange drivers than
those in the front channels. The result is a speaker that produces less bass than
the front channels with emphasis on the diffused soundfield. In addition, these
surround speakers have significantly lower impedance according to our measurements
and reached levels as low as 4 ohms.
CT v.3 subwoofer is a dream come true for those looking for a quality product
in an all in one 5.1 system. The compact design is both functional and attractive
and based on our tests quite capable of producing deep tight bass. The 10"
driver with the advanced fiber-reinforced cone powered by the high-current discrete
power amplifier produced plenty of high level unstrained and controllable bass
in our moderately sized theater room. The cabinet design uses a high-density hardboard
enclosure that greatly reduces resonances and colorations. A pair of high-velocity
tuned ports with flared openings in the rear, maximizes bass extension while minimizing
port noise. A status light located in the lower front of the subwoofer illuminates
red when in standby and green when operating. The 37 pound subwoofer design delivers
performance that exceeds any subwoofer we have seen in this class.
The rear panel
of the Cinema CT v.3 subwoofer offers the user flexibility for an optimal
setup. A three position power switch turns the unit on, off, or allows the subwoofer
to be automatically powered based on the audio signal sensing circuit. We chose
the automatic turn-on feature for convenience. For those who prefer to keep the
unit always powered for sonic reasons, it can be left in the always-on
position. A pair of left and right RCA (unbalanced) audio jacks are available
for line level inputs. There are two analog controls for setting the subwoofer
Level and Cutoff Frequency. The Level control offers additional
flexibility to the subwoofer level adjustment found in most receivers and preamplifiers.
The Cutoff Frequency control is basically a variable low-pass filter ranging
from 50 Hz to 200 Hz. In our setup, we used the highest frequency and let the
preamplifier or receiver determine the crossover frequency. The Phase switch
allows the user to switch between 0º and 180º to help compensate for
subwoofer placement and room acoustics. The large heatsink provides adequate cooling
of the output electronics.
audio systems were available to test the Cinema 110 CT v.3 speaker package.
Our reference system consisted of a Parasound AVC-2500u processor and Parasound
HCA-2205AT five-channel THX-Ultra power amplifier. These components have been
in our reference setup for years, so naturally we were interested in hearing these
speakers with this system. We connected a Sony DVP-NS900V for SACD and a Kenwood
DV-5900M for DVD-Audio sources. We
also had a relatively low priced Kenwood VR-8050 receiver, which would be more
typical of what customers might use with these speakers. A Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai
DVD player was connected to the receiver for DVD and CD audio playback. Since
the DVD player had a built-in DTS and Dolby Digital decoder, we connected the
analog outputs on the DVD player to the receiver's analog 5.1 inputs. This proved
to have the best sound quality when using this low-cost receiver.
of the Paradigm Cinema 110 CT v.3 system accomplishes a compact design for
each of the individual speakers while maintaining a level of performance not commonly
found in a typical HTiB system. Our dts version of Apollo 13 has
always been one of our favorite test DVDs with excellent audio including deep
bass during the rocket launch scene. The dialogue was clear and intelligible at
a variety of levels on our reference set of electronics. The subwoofer integrated
well with the satellite speakers producing a full range frequency response. We
would have liked to keep the crossover frequency ideally around 80 Hz, but due
to the design of the satellites, we had to increase the crossover frequency to
around 100Hz to prevent nulls in the frequency response. We played the audio at
relatively high levels to create a cinematic experience when viewing DVDs. Much
to our surprise, the Paradigm Cinema 110 CT had the ability to create a
sense of being there despite the moderate $800 price tag.
high definition DVD hits the market, we will continue to enjoy our D-VHS D-Theater
movie collection capable of producing stunning audio and HD video. The release
of The Transporter from 20th Century Fox is a great example of high impact
action with excellent sound and aggressive surround material. The chase scene
in the beginning of the film has sound that pans throughout the room and the Paradigm
Cinema 110 CT v.3 system transitioned seamlessly from channel to channel.
In addition, the D-Theater source material never sounded strained or overloaded
using this system. However, we must admit that our audio preference goes to those
D-Theater movies that contain dts 5.1, such as X-Men2
and Moulin Rouge played on our Marantz MV8300 D-Theater VCR. With
this in mind, we watched scenes from these movies as well as some material from
True Lies. Audio is such an important aspect of the theatrical presentation
of any film and the Cinema 110 CT v.3 system delivers the goods on a budget.
these speakers are capable of producing good sound quality and we put them through
the test with both 2-channel as well as 5.1 audio. Given the price of this speaker
system, it is an excellent performer, producing a well defined image with an impressive
amount of depth. It lacked the subtle transparency of more expensive speakers,
but given the cost of the system and its ability to produce powerful home theater
sound, we still recommend it. Our 5.1 DVD-Audio sources sounded wonderful with
these speakers without distracting colorations often heard on HTiB systems.
The Paradigm Cinema 110 CT v.3 has achieved an impressive sounding 5.1 speaker
system well below $1000. This is indeed a compact design, but will surprise those
who desire quality sound on a budget. We found movie dialogue to be excellent
and sound moved seamlessly through the room with matched timbre. Even at relatively
high volume levels the Paradigm Cinema 110 CT speakers held their own without
experiencing significant breakup or distortion. As with many surround speakers,
the ADP satellites lack deep bass and rely on the subwoofer for any low frequencies
sent to the rear channels.
subwoofer is indeed a part of the system where the Paradigm Cinema 110 CT
system truly stands out. The compact, yet well designed unit complemented the
sound quality of the main channels. This speaker system requires that the
crossover frequency be set near 100 Hz. This is due to the smaller mid-bass drivers
used in the main satellite speakers. Setting the crossover frequency lower may
result in a small gap in the frequency response. The downside to having the crossover
frequency much above 80Hz is the subwoofer becomes more localized and no longer
integrates invisibly into the audio system. However, even at 100Hz the system
sounded great in our listening room. If you are on a budget, need a compact 5.1
speaker system and want quality home theater sound, you owe it to yourself to
audition the Paradigm Cinema 110 CT v.3 speaker system.