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Paradigm CC-170 review: Paradigm CC-170

The Good Full-size center speaker; 0.75-inch dome tweeter and 5.5-inch woofers; classy-looking three-sided grille.

The Bad Rear-mounted port limits placement options.

The Bottom Line The CC-170 complements Paradigm's snazzy satellites.

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7.2 Overall

We've always had a soft spot in our audiophile hearts for Paradigm's overachieving satellites, especially the wonderful little Atoms. While you could assemble an impressive home theater with five Atoms and a subwoofer, most buyers prefer the look of a low-slung center speaker sitting atop their TVs. The CC-170, listed at $199, is one of Paradigm's three matching centers, falling between the CC-70 and the CC-270.

The CC-170 looks pretty classy, sporting a black-graphite finish, a three-sided grille, and cloth-covered end caps. It's also relatively large, weighing 17 pounds and measuring 22 inches wide, 6.75 inches high, and 8 inches deep. Like all Paradigm speakers, the CC-170 is made in Canada, and we found its construction quality above average.

Inside, two 5.5-inch metallescent-polymer woofers straddle a 0.75-inch dome tweeter made of a ceramic-and-metal composite. The CC-170 is a rear-port design, so it needs to breathe. If you cram it into a cabinet under a TV, you'll sacrifice some of the speaker's bass response. Connectivity comes in the form of a set of sturdy binding posts.

To establish a baseline for the CC-170, we first hooked up NHT's spunky SC-1, our reference model for affordable center speakers. The SC-1, which costs $100 more, undoubtedly looks hipper, decked out in its dapper, high-gloss finish of piano-black lacquer. And the NHT's overall presentation was cleaner and sweeter-sounding; the Paradigm's tweeter just wasn't as refined or smooth. But the CC-170's superior low-end oomph gave male voices a fuller-bodied presence, and the Paradigm center was a better tonal match for its family members. The moral of this story: Nitpicky audiophile concerns notwithstanding, you can't beat a well-matched, single-brand system for sonic consistency.

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