Paradigm is a midsize Canadian company with an affinity for producing superb small speakers. Case in point: the brand's top-of-the-line Cinema 110 CT system. The six-piece package is designed to look great whether straddling the wall next to a flat-screen TV or sitting on stands next to a bulky, old-school CRT TV. But don't dismiss the Cinema 110 as just another pretty, style-over-substance design; even discerning audiophiles will love the sound. The system retails for $799.
The Cinema 110 CT is a six-piece, 5.1-channel speaker package featuring a pair of front satellites, a matching center speaker, a pair of wedge-shaped surround speakers, and a midsize subwoofer. If you have a 6.1- or 7.1-channel A/V receiver, you can pick up extra surround speakers for $99 a pop.
The left, right, and center speakers are virtually identical, except that the left and right speakers are generally used in a vertical orientation, while the center is placed horizontally under or on top of a TV. The satellites' elongated shape will complement flat-screen TVs--they're 17 inches high by 4.6 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. The surrounds are among the smallest bidirectional, wedge-shaped speakers we've seen--a mere 7.5 inches tall, 4.75 inches wide, and 5.25 inches deep.
The 110 CT system's plastic speakers feel reasonably substantial, but we imagine some buyers would prefer wood cabinets. That said, the molded plastic gave the designers free rein to sculpt subtle curves that would have jacked up the price if they were made of wood. Wall mounting is possible for all of the speakers, and Paradigm also offers hip-looking LS Series floor stands; they're not included.
The vinyl-wrapped wood subwoofer is a simple, compact box, just 12-inches wide and 16.25 inches tall and deep. The complete 110 CT system is available in your choice of silver, black, or white finishes. The satellites are fitted with removable fabric grilles; the sub's grille is permanently affixed.
System setup proceeded without any snags in our tests; it was simply a matter of fine-tuning the subwoofer's volume level over the course of an evening while playing through a stack of CDs and DVDs.
The 110 CT's left, right, and center speakers feature twin, 4.5-inch copolymer woofers flanking a 1-inch titanium dome tweeter equipped with neodymium magnets. The surround speakers are pretty interesting: both sides of each speaker are fitted with a 3.5-inch copolymer woofer and a 1-inch titanium tweeter, in other words, a total of four drivers per speaker. These bidirectional surround speakers project sound out to their sides; the idea is to create a nonlocalizable sound for a more ambient surround effect. Another benefit to the design is that you can sit within three or four feet of the speakers and they will still disappear as sources of sound. Most prepackaged systems come with conventional box-type, direct-radiating surround speakers, so we consider the 110 CT's diffuse radiating speakers a big plus, especially when used in small to midsize rooms.