Product Review (August 2005) - Paradigm
Cinema™ 110 CT 5.1 Speaker System

By Kevin Nakano

When 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Cinema™ ADP
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.

The Cinema™ 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.

Subwoofer Controls
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.

Two 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.

The design 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.

Until 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.

Musically, 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.

The 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.

- Kevin Nakano

OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Review System

Projector: Sharp XV-Z2000 High-Definition DLP™ Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" Luxus Deluxe FireHawk Screenwall
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Receiver: Kenwood VR-8050 DTS/DD 6-Channel Receiver
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
HDTV Receiver/Controller: Mitsubishi HD-5000 Receiver
D-VHS VCR: Marantz MV8300 D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
DVD Audio/Video Player: Kenwood Sovereign DV-5900M 400-Disc DVD Changer
Laserdisc Player: Pioneer CLD-D704 CD/VCD/LD Player
A/V Cables: Ethereal A/V Cables
DVI Cable: Transparent Audio High Performance 30-foot DVI-D Cable
DVI Extender: Gefen DVI 1000HD DVI Extender Systsem
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Video Signal Analyzer: Sencore VSA794 NTSC Video Signal Analyzer
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 Multi-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro with ColorFacts Software

Review - At a Glance

Paradigm Cinema™ 100 CT v.3 5.1 Speaker System

Company Information
The Paradigm Group
919-11 Fraser Drive
Burlington, Ontario, N L7L 4X8
Phone 905-632-0180
Fax: 905-632-0183
Tech Support:

Source: Manufacture supplied
MSRP: $799


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