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Paradigm Cinema 110 CT 5.1 review: Paradigm Cinema 110 CT 5.1

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Design
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.

7.3

Paradigm Cinema 110 CT 5.1

The Good

The Cinema 110 CT 5.1 is a flat-screen-friendly, six-piece speaker package with two-way, four-driver satellite speakers. Its bipole satellites create a diffuse surround effect, and it has a 10-inch, 150-watt powered subwoofer.

The Bad

The plastic cabinets look swell next to flat-screen TVs, but real wood finishes might be a better fit with more traditional home theaters.

The Bottom Line

Paradigm's seriously svelte Cinema 110 CT 5.1 speaker system will rock your world like a much larger system.
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 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.

Features
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.

The satellites are 8-ohm compatible and more efficient than average mini speakers, so they'll provide an easy load for low- or high-powered receivers. The sats feature gold-plated binding posts.

The subwoofer sports a 150-watt amplifier and a front-firing 10-inch woofer. The rear mounted ports need a bit of breathing room, so plan on giving them at least three or four inches of clearance from the wall. Connectivity is limited to a pair of line-level RCA inputs, but that's hardly a problem. You'll probably use your receiver's mono subwoofer output to drive the Paradigm sub.

Performance
The feisty 110 CT system absolutely reveled in the sound of guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Victor Bailey, and drummer Lenny White's Electric CD. The funk trio's fierce interplay and blistering dynamics are best appreciated at high volume, and the 110 CT eagerly obliged. Paradigm's lifestyle-friendly system produces remarkable clarity while steering clear of the anemic, undeveloped midrange we associate with trim satellites. The treble response is smooth and clear, without a hint of the harshness that can become grating over extended listening sessions.

Pardon us while we gush over Antony and the Johnson's gorgeous I Am A Bird Now CD. Featuring Antony's fantastical blend of street corner vocalizing, framed in a soothing cushion of strings and gospel piano, the 110 CT belted out his ravishing tunes with gusto.

If we had any doubts about Paradigm's slim-line satellites' home theater capabilities, the Flight of the Phoenix DVD quickly dispelled those concerns. The rough-and-tumble scenes leading up to the plane crash sounded scarily real. The 110 CT put us inside the creaking interior of the disabled plane; the buffeting turbulence fully exercised the subwoofer, and the whooshing sounds of the sand slamming against the plane's metal fuselage dramatically added to the film's excitement. When the plane smashed into the desert, its sandy impact rattled our home theater. The 110 CT has enough oomph to fill even fairly large home theaters (up to 500 square feet) with satisfying volume levels. No, the sub isn't going to blow you away with gargantuan bass booms, but its sure-footed control takes a lion share of the credit for the 110 CT's poise under pressure.

Quieter DVDs such as Birth were no less engrossing. The eerie psychological thriller has a naturalistic soundtrack. Nicole Kidman's bathtub scene was appropriately wet and we could swear we were hearing the dialogue bouncing off the tiled bathroom walls.

Summing up, Paradigm's top-tier speaker package's trim good looks and sophisticated sonics make for an appealing combination; if its style fits your tastes, the 110 CT is an easy recommendation.

7.3

Paradigm Cinema 110 CT 5.1

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7