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Product Review
 

Paradigm Cinema 110 CT 5.1 Speaker System

August, 2005

Jared Rachwalski

 

Specifications:

Cinema 110v.3 L/R/C

● Drivers: One 1” PTD™ Dome Tweeter, Two 4.5"
    Mid-Bass
● Mineral-Filled Polymer Enclosures
● Magnetically Shielded
● MFR:  120 Hz–20 kHz ±2dB
● Sensitivity: 90 dB (in room)
● Maximum Input Power: 70 Watts
● Dimensions: 17" H x 4-5/8" W x 4" D
● Weight: 6.4 Pounds/Each
● Stand or Wall Mountable Only


Cinema ADPv.3 Rear Surrounds

● Drivers: Two 1” PTD™ Dome Tweeters, Two 4.5"
    Mid-Bass

● Mineral-Filled Polymer Enclosures
● Magnetically Shielded
● MFR:  150 Hz–20 kHz ±2dB
● Sensitivity: 90 dB (in room)
● Maximum Input Power: 50 Watts
● Dimensions: 7-1/2" H x 4-3/4" W x 5-1/4" D
● Weight: 3.6 Pounds/Each
● Stand, Wall, and Shelf Mountable


Cinema 110 Subwoofer


● One 10” Driver
● 2” Voice Coil
● 30 Hz -3 dB Down Point
● Amplifier: 150 Watts RMS, 450 Watts Peak
● Variable low-pass Crossover: 50 Hz – 200 Hz
● Internal Volume: 1.18c ft3
● Dimensions: 16-1/4" H x 12" W x 15" D
● Weight: 37 Pounds

 

● System MSRP: $799 USA

 

Paradigm

www.paradigm.ca

Introduction

The CT, in Cinema 110 CT, stands for "Compact Cinema", and that is exactly what arrived at my door – a compact theater speaker system. The least I could say is that I was surprised to find only two boxes: one box of speakers accompanied by one box of stands.

It has now been a few months since I unpacked the system, and frankly I don’t know if I can get it all back into the boxes. In a very cliché way, I must report that these speakers are much bigger than they first seem.

The Design

The three identical front speakers all have tapered sides, a curved front baffle, and in the case of the vertically standing L/Rs, a rounded base. This base requires the speaker to either be mounted on the optional stand (Premier LS-20) or on the wall (using the integrated keyholes on the back of the speaker).

Alternatively you can use the rubber feet; however the sheer tippyness of the speaker makes that an unwise choice. Paradigm states that the speakers are designed to work well mounted directly to the walls, and given their low depth, they would not look out of place on a wall flanking an LCD screen.

Each speaker has two 4.5” midrange drivers with a 1” tweeter in between (the classic MTM layout). The cabinet appears to be a plastic composite that is very strong and produces very little resonance with the trusty knuckle test.

The ADP (Adaptive Dipole) rears are smaller versions of Paradigm's ADP speakers, which can be found throughout the rest of their product line. They also can be stand-mounted (Premier LS-30) or wall mounted like the rest. There are two 4.5” midrange drivers and two 1” tweeters mounted on opposing baffles.

The Cinema CT Subwoofer is your standard fare (albeit silver also) rectangular box. It has one front-firing woofer and two rear-mounted ports. Located on the plate amplifier are controls for level, crossover, and an always-on switch.
 



With Music

First up in the CD player was Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Fairytales. Here is a very light and open recording, using minimal instruments, mostly acoustic guitar and a small drum kit. This is an ideal disc for testing how open and natural a system can be.

With the Cinema 110 package, throughout the first five tracks, the vocals were very clear and smooth. There was no coloration of the sound, and every instrument was detailed nicely. However, at lower volumes the bass was rather thin. Adjustments to the subwoofer output controls resulted in too much boom when the volume was increased.

Track 5, "Flake", features Ben Harper on slide guitar which, when combined with the rest of the instruments, blended together into a nice soundstage. Surprisingly compared to other discs, this one had no break-up or muddying of the cymbals.

Next in the rotation came Tom Waits "Mule Variations". This album is quite different from the Jack Johnson one, and it shows some of the 110's weaknesses. With thicker more detailed tracks featuring multiple instruments and numerous layers, the speakers had some trouble maintaining the definition.

The second track, "Hold On", has a subtle deep bass line that comes in about half way through the song. This is a great test of the blend between sub and satellite. Never once did the image pull away from between the two speakers. This shows just how well these speakers are paired with the subwoofer (which sat 4.5' to the left of the left speaker in my review setup).

Next track, "Get behind the Mule", had gobs of depth and separation. Each instrument had its own acoustic space, and it showed. Unfortunately, this track did exhibit some slight sibilance and also cymbal break-up. When the music became more complex, the cymbals lost their definition.

Then, I had a craving for my mid-bass tester, Primus’s mainstream disc Pork Soda. Third track of the album, "Bob", showed again one of the only small weaknesses of this system. The cymbals became muddy during heavier more detailed passages However, the vocals always stayed dead center, and the bass line never lost its position.

"DMV" was next, and this track has a tight kick-drum and high-hat beat that sets the tone through the track. When Larry Lalonde fires up his guitar, I did notice the drum work getting lost. This track definitely highlighted the systems mid-bass deficiencies.

Finally, I played "The Pressman" and found that the sound can extend beyond the sides of the speakers, strangely though this was one of the only tracks on the entire album that did so. The kick drum was a little subdued at low-mid volume, but Larry’s guitar work always stayed present and strong.

I used two more CDs to test the system, mainly to listen to the subwoofer response. First up was Melvin's Stonerwitch. The final track, "Lividity", has become my main subwoofer testing track. This song contains a wealth of low frequency info, and surprisingly contains many imaging cues. Throughout the track, the subwoofer handled the repetitive bass line with authority. Once the level was matched to the mains, it provided enough oomph to feel it, yet never overpowered the mains.

Finally, in the subwoofer test, was Jesse Cook's Free Fall. This only takes one track and in the first 11 seconds there are two notes that cause lesser quality subs to exhibit nasty port noise. At mid-loud volumes, port noise wasn’t even noticeable with the Paradigm. Not until I turned it up - way up - did I hear the port noise. Obvious this sub doesn’t do much below 30 Hz, yet it sounds very good above that, and I was not aware of its low frequency limitations.

With Movies

Two lively movies I watched with this system were Star Wars Episode II and Constantine. Throughout both movies, the system did an excellent job of recreating an enveloping stage and handling the wide dynamic range.

Star Wars Episode II has one particular chapter that I keep coming back to. This is the Asteroid Chase scene, which has great surround work, LFE, and dynamic range. The subwoofer needs to reach low to really provide impact when the sonic charges go off. Unfortunately, the CT 110 sub stopped short and did not reproduce the full punch. However, I did not hear any port noise in my sweet spot. The blaster shots coming from behind and the sides were very well placed and merged seamlessly from back to front.

Constantine (horrible acting aside) was very entertaining. There were many scenes with large echoing spaces, and the ADP surrounds did a marvelous job of recreating the expansive sets. Particularly, the scenes that took place in Hell had great dynamic detail. The blend was good between all five speakers even though the small ADPs seemed a little weak at times.

With comedic movies like Guess Who and Danny Deckchair, the system handled dialogue well, with little to no unwanted coloration of voices, nor was there any boom from the sub.

All in all, for $799, this system is quite nice.

Conclusions

Good imaging, decent bass, and some nice highs are all available with this budget beauty from Paradigm. Personally I prefer a speaker system that can handle complex music better than this. There was too much midrange color with music, and it had a hard time keeping up with detailed cymbal work. One big plus that I was happy to notice was a major reduction in port noise from the subwoofer.

Despite the minor flaws, which unless you really deconstruct and analyze the music, you probably won’t even notice, the Cinema 110 CT package is still a decent setup for the price. Also, it is nice to see a low cost system with a 10” sub instead of the standard 8”. Despite some problems with detail at both ends of the frequency spectrum, the speakers fared rather well. Once again, Paradigm delivers a solid performer for the dollar.


- Jared Rachwalski -

Equipment List:
Paradigm System 3
Marantz SR 5300 A/V Receiver
Panasonic RP-32 DVD Player
Prolink Speaker Cable, Quest Digital Cable, Schocshe Interconnects

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