Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Paradigm Mini-Monitor 5.1 Speaker System

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

The majority of my listening was comprised of movies and television. Over the past year, I have become a strong proponent of full size towers for the front channels. The Mini system almost makes me reconsider my recent towers or bust stance. Throughout my listening, I was impressed at how close to a larger system the Mini Monitor system performed. Upon further consideration, I am lead to think that most of this can be attributed to the large center channel. As most are aware, the majority of sound in a movie or on television comes through the center channel. With the CC-190 nearly approaching size of some smaller floorstanding towers, it was easy to see (or hear) why the system as a whole carried so much depth and fullness. On pure stereo source material, some of the depth was lost with only the Mini Monitors, but even here the Paradigms perform admirably. This is doubly true if one were to consider the size and cost.

Toy Story 3

Leave it to Pixar to create a third entry in a series that is as captivating as the first. There are a couple scenes of particular note. The opening scene has the explosion of a large wooden truss bridge spanning a canyon. The DSP-3100 was a little light in conveying the impact of the explosion. It was certainly felt, but it was missing a bit from the bottom end which is not unexpected for a subwoofer in this size/price range. Another scene later in the movie takes place in the rain. This being my first extended listening experience with dipole surrounds left me a bit unsettled. The surrounds came off a little unnatural to my ear. Not in the reproduction of the sound per se, but rather from sitting in the null of the dipole. I am not accustomed to hearing the surround coming from in front and behind my listening position but directly toward the position.

Paradigm Mini Monitors 5.1 system

Ip Man

Ip Man is a romanticized telling of the modern history of one of the more influential practitioners of Wing Chun. There is an elegance and fluidity to Wing Chun Kung Fu that has been overshadowed more recently by a much more brutal brand of martial arts, and Ip Man is a refreshing break from the hyper real fight scenes so prevalent today. The soundtrack was in stereo, so I auditioned the movie using DPL II processing to utilize the additional channels. With this source material, I was not so keenly aware of the dispersion pattern of the dipoles. Generally, I have not found DPL II to be too aggressive in sending signals to the surrounds, and that may have worked to the benefit of the ADP-190s. There was enough to create the sense of immersion but so much that attention is drawn to the speakers.

Paradigm Mini Monitors 5.1 system

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me

It seems one of the recordings that is inevitably played on any system I have reviewed. The difficulty of reproducing the alto voice as well as the ensemble makes it a great test. Running the tracks through the system both in straight stereo, and with DPL II processing provide a few insights into the system performance. I have a couple criticisms of the system. First, the subwoofer is not quite up to the task of reproducing of the stand-up bass in the band. It is not an easy feat as it requires a combination of depth and agility that are seemingly opposite requirements for a single subwoofer. Second, in straight stereo, the bass is hinted at more than fully reproduced, but at least it is there. Criticisms aside, the vocals and the rest of the ensemble were an absolute pleasure to listen to through the Paradigms. There is a good depth to the vocals, without sounding unnaturally deep or clouded.

Paradigm Mini Monitors 5.1 system

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album

Coming through the holiday season, the Glee Christmas album received a fair amount of play in the household. While there are a number of tracks that I enjoyed, I found the male duet recording of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" particularly well done. The countertenor/tenor duet provides a slightly different challenge to the system. A countertenor is up the same registers as a lower female voice but there is a distinct male tonality present. The Paradigms did a great job in reproducing both voices without sounding muddled or chesty.

Paradigm Mini Monitors 5.1 system