Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Paradigm Reference Millenia 300 Tower Floor-standing Speakers, Millenia 30 Center Channel Speaker, Millenia ADP Surround Speakers, and Studio Sub 15 Subwoofer

ARTICLE INDEX

Setup

I set up the Millenia 5.1 system in our family room centered around a Sony 52 inch LCD. I used a Denon AVR 3808CI receiver for amplification, with a Denon 3910 multiplayer for DVDs, CDs, DVD-As and SACDs, and a Sony PS3 or Sony BX1 for games and Blu Rays, respectively. There are a few noteworthy points regarding installation for anyone considering this system. First, the ADP surrounds are ideally suited for wall or stand mounting, and while my dry-walling/mudding skills have improved over the years, I chose to rest them on top of my existing surround speakers. This placed them at roughly two feet above ear level, which turned out to be was nearly ideal. If you intend to sit these on a flat surface, additional rubber feet are required and supplied. Otherwise, they will rock due to their concave bottom surface. In my case, I simply used foam to protect both my speakers and the review samples. Second, the Millenia 30 center channel is LONG... almost three feet to be slightly inexact! I had to build a makeshift stand to place it under the TV, as my existing stand could not accommodate this length. It looks fantastic, and can also be wall mounted, but be aware that many cabinets won't accommodate this length.

Assembly of the Millenia 300 towers is a no brainer and simply involves attaching four screws to hold the glass base and adapter to the towers, followed by attachment of the four spikes on the outer perimeter of the glass base. Rubber covers to be placed over the spikes are also included if spikes are inappropriate for your specific flooring material. Bare wires can be attached to the speakers directly (before assembly) or you can use the supplied banana plugs to connect the speakers to bare wire, all of which ultimately connect from underneath the glass base. I set the Millenia 300 towers about 8 feet apart, toed in to hit slightly behind my ears, using my low-tech, laser pointer/sliding clamp system. As a side note, anyone who doesn't point their speakers accurately is giving away a great deal of imaging capabilities from any speaker system. It takes minutes, costs nothing, and I've proven to many friends that doing this "mit da eye" can be grossly inaccurate (although it appears to work well for my one-eyed, German carpenter friend). The SUB 15 was tucked into a corner of the room about 2 feet from each wall. As it turns out, this sub certainly doesn't need corner reinforcement, but it remained there for convenience and aesthetics. More likely, your house will need structural reinforcement to withstand the prodigious bass. Besides, it's also not much fun schlepping 103 pounds of subwoofer around.

Even prior to listening to the Millenia system, the visual impact is quite stunning. This set-up readily garnered spousal approval and also generated a number of oohs and ahhs from visitors who are more familiar with seeing our family room look like a stereo repair shop. In any case, there is no mistaking this system for a cheap HTIB and it mates beautifully with a modern flat panel TV. These were/are the very first HT speakers that my wife loves and wants to keep.

Well that's all nice and good, but who cares? How do they sound? To get to this more important part, I first used the supplied Perfect Bass Kit (PBK-1) to optimize subwoofer performance. The PBK-1 is utter simplicity to use. Well, at least after I updated both my software for the PBK-1 and the firmware for the Studio Sub 15. It's a very well constructed system which includes the necessary software, a high quality calibrated microphone and stand, and two long USB cords for connection of the microphone and the subwoofer to your computer. The supplied USB also handled a required firmware update to the sub via this connection.

Every time I think it's annoying to perform software and firmware updates, I remind myself of how much more annoying it is to not have these updates available. Paradigm is a great example of a company that stands behind their products and their recent marriage with Anthem is likely to spawn some incredible products in the future. After a few minutes of downloading and updating, I let the PBK-1 do its magic. It would take me much longer to describe the process than it actually took to accomplish, so suffice it to say that... voila, you have near perfect bass through computer driven equalization of the sub's output in your own specific listening environment. This system is based upon Anthem's proprietary ARC system, and though not quite as comprehensive as ARC, is a welcome and massive improvement to room correction technology. Besides all that, it's really, really cool. After the Sub 15 was set up, I used the Denon's Audessey MultiEQ XT room correction feature on the Denon AVR 3808CI, although I'm guessing its work was rather light. Good to go.