Paradigm Millenia CT 2 Speakers and Subwoofer Review Highlights
The Secrets of Home Theatre and High Fidelity has reviewed many different speaker systems for home theatre priced from the affordable to the most exotic speakers I have found. This review examines the latest technology of all in one complete home theatre speaker system from Paradigm, the Millenia CT 2 which is an updated version of the Paradigm MilleniaOne CT. The Millenia CT 2 features Ultra class D amplification, Bluetooth with aptx coding, 2-channel music mode, Dolby Digital encoding, and Paradigm Virtual Surround. The system comes with a low profile subwoofer that can be placed vertically, horizontally, or in a cabinet.
Paradigm Millenia CT 2 Speakers and Subwoofer Highlight Summary
- Fully Powered Speaker System
- Comprehensive IR learning and full function remote
- Built- in adjustable table top/shelf stands for satellite speakers
- Bluetooth capable
- Built-in Ultra Class D amplifiers
- Dolby Digital encoding and music mode playback
- Analog and Digital inputs and cables supplied
Introduction to the Paradigm Millenia CT 2 Speakers and Subwoofer Review
Ever hear of Paradigm? Not many people can say they haven’t. However, the Canadian speaker company known as Paradigm was in its early day’s one of the best kept secrets in audio. I remember hearing and seeing Paradigm products in the late 1980’s. Back then I was impressed with their clean detailed sound and the quality of the speaker drive units. Paradigm from early on designed and manufactured their speaker drive units and cabinets. Soon the company began to garner excellent reviews worldwide for their quality build and stereo sound at the price. Now fast forward to today and this spring when FedEx dropped off one of the latest speaker designs from Paradigm, the Millenia CT 2 system. On Paradigm’s web site, www.paradigm.com, the company explains that they design products for every need and the Millenia are designed to complement modern flat panel TV theatre systems. Secrets gave Paradigm a Best of Award 2013 for the MilleniaOne CT. I believe that electronics should help simplify and add quality to our lives. Let us see if Paradigm has succeeded in doing so I thought to myself, and with that in mind I began to open the box FedEx dropped off at my door.
PARADIGM MILLENIA CT 2 SPEAKERS AND SUBWOOFER REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
- System Design: Two Speakers and Subwoofer; Sealed Enclosure
- Speakers: One 1″ Aluminum Dome Tweeter, One 4″ Aluminum Mid/Woofer
- Amplifier – Built in 3-channel Ultra Class D Amplifier: 40 watts RMS x 2 Satellite Speakers, 80 watts RMS Subwoofer. System Peak Power of 480 watts.
- System MFR: 28 Hz – 20 kHz ± 2 dB On-Axis
- Crossover: 3rd-order Electro-acoustic at 2.4 kHz
- Sensitivity: Room / Anechoic 88 dB / 85 dB
- Dimensions: 7.75″ H × 4.5″ W × 5.75″ D
- Weight: 5 Pounds/each
- Finishes: Black Gloss
- Accessories Included: Tabletop / shelf stands
- Subwoofer: Single driver, Bass Reflex
- Amplifier Features: Auto-On / Standby, soft clipping
- Low Pass Filter Frequency 150 Hz Fixed
- Low Frequency Driver: 210-mm (8 in) Reinforced polymer-composite cone, 38-mm (1-1/2 in) voice-coil
- Low Frequency Extension 28 Hz (DIN)
- Inputs: Optical digital; 3.5-mm auxiliary Analog; Bluetooth
- Dimensions: 15.75″ H x 5″ W x 14″ D
- Weight 12.5 Pounds
- Finishes: Black Gloss
- System MSRP: $899.99 USD
- SECRETS Tags: Paradigm, Paradigm Reviews 2014, Paradigm Millenia CT 2, book shelf speakers, subwoofer, Ultra class D amp Technology, Speaker Reviews 2014, Dolby Digital, Bluetooth, Paradigm Virtual Surround
Setup of the Paradigm Millenia CT 2 Speakers and Subwoofer
The Paradigm Millenia CT 2 system is designed to be a complete and simple to use sound system that connects to your TV and video system. The system is comprised of two small satellite speakers and one subwoofer. Built into the subwoofer are the amps. Paradigm makes use of advanced Ultra class D amp technology to power the speakers. The power to the sub is rated at 80 watts and to each satellite 40 watts per channel.
As I unboxed the Millenia system I was reminded of the speaker quality from Paradigm. The main satellite mid/tweeter units are beautiful to behold. I cradled one of the satellite units and ran into the bedroom to show my wife. “Look ma, it’s a Millenia!” “They look very contemporary” my wife admired, “I like it!” Bingo Paradigm, the significant other in the audiophile’s household will approve of this product’s looks for sure. Please believe me when I say that my pictures do not completely convey how nice the speakers look.
While I finished unpacking, I appreciated the organization and easy procedures developed to connect the system. The Millenia CT 2 is a self -powered system. All you need is a source (Blu- ray or DVD player, satellite box, cable box, etc.) and a TV monitor or projector. The built in amps in the sub enclosure will power the speakers and a small control box will connect to the source and provide the switching. All cables are clearly marked and the location of where they go is clearly marked on the back of the sub unit and the control box. Paradigm’s manuals also provide a nice graphic of where everything goes. I was able to connect everything up within 10 minutes or less. I couldn’t wait to hear the Paradigm’s performing.
Now the fastest way for me to hear the speakers was through the Bluetooth since I didn’t have to move any of my source components. I followed the directions provided by Paradigm’s owner’s manual. So I set my I-phone 5 on discoverable mode and switched to the Wi-Fi mode so I could hear I-tunes. Then I pushed the Bluetooth button on the control box. I waited and then nothing. Repeating my steps I tried it again but nothing still. I tried the button on the remote and still nothing. Paradigm, you are letting me down I thought. But then I realized that I had not pushed the Paradigm power button! In my haste I had forgotten to power up the system (it hurts to admit that even seasoned audiophiles make simple set- up mistakes). Once it was on the Millennia CT name came up on the I-phone screen. Now that I was synched I selected I-tunes, and music flowed out. I love it when technology works, and especially when it serves beauty and art. On this first quick listen I was reminded of the fine clear sound that I had come to expect from Paradigm speakers. The system easily filled my large (23ft X 14ft) room.
I initially put the satellites on top of the equipment shelf and the sub next to my equipment stand. Although it sounded fine, I eventually put the satellites on the top edges of my large main speakers (vintage Klipsch Cornwalls). I liked the sound with the speakers about 3 feet from the floor and spaced about 8 feet apart. The Millenia satellites come with adjustable metal stands that can hold the speakers on a table top or shelf. The stands can be adjusted by loosening and then tightening the bracket with the supplied Allen wrench.
Paradigm gives you all the cables you need to connect to your video system. I took the provided TOS link cable and connected it to my Direct TV satellite box. The Paradigm control box has an analog input via a 1/8” port. I had on hand a Monster Cable audio male RCA to 1/8” male cable that I connected to the tape output on my Emotiva USP-1 preamp. Doing this allowed me to listen to any source connected to my preamp; including my turntable (the USP-1 has an excellent phono stage).
The Paradigm Millenia CT 2 Speakers and Subwoofer In Use
Since I am an audio nerd, I decided on a whim to play a record through the system. (I know it’s kind of retro for this system). I had just found a nice copy of Weather Report’s live record Weather Report 8:30 (Columbia PC2 36030) at my local vintage record store so I let it spin on the turntable. The first track is Black Market and features a pulsing beat with plenty of percussion and playful keyboard work. My first impression was that the system produced a good solid bottom end. The layer of rhythmic pulse and drive that was reproduced by the Paradigm Millenia system was wonderful. The Millenia system could boogie and get funky. Good so far and I just couldn’t wait to try a movie on the system.
However, my wife was ready for some chill time and the movie of choice was a romantic comedy (darn!). We watched The Perfect Man starring the lovely Heather Locklear and Hillary Duff. I sat down to enjoy some family. So I set the control on film/ Paradigm virtual surround mode to let the Millenia CT 2 settle into the system. The first thing I noticed on the film was that the Paradigms threw a large and enveloping soundstage. Even though this film is a chick flick, I was pulled into the sound and the music from the soundtrack. I could hear that the producers did a pretty nice job of mixing and recording. On the film the Paradigms demonstrated a clear balanced midrange. For video the most important thing is to get the vocals or dialog right, and the Millenia do it very well. The voices sounded as though they were coming from the screen, localizing the voice to the actor precisely. When music or sound effects came through, it did not overpower the voices or make the dialog hard to understand.
Next I noticed a beautiful layering of the sound. It seemed that the sounds came from behind the screen, beyond the sides of the speakers, and blossomed out into the living room. During the film there is a scene where Heather Locklear’s character goes to the dock to meet her date, but is confronted by her daughter played by Hillary Duff. As Ms. Locklear’s character stands by the Hudson River I could hear the sound of the waves and the gulls in the background, all the while the music plays in front of the river sounds and above the voices. I heard so many minute details, yet not one sound overpowered the other and the voices remained in the spotlight. The speakers just present what is on the soundtrack with wonderful timbre. I really forgot they were there and just got swept into the film.
When I got the chance I put on one of my favorite Bond films, Skyfall with Daniel Craig. The video is beautiful in this film and there is the nice soundtrack and plenty of sound effects. Again I heard the subtle surround sound effects. Like when the scene changes to a different room, so does the timbre of the voice and the echo when the characters go from room to room. This happens when Bond is in the underground makeshift headquarters, and then changes when he goes outside. The not so subtle effects are great too. When Bond is doing target practice in the underground bunker the Paradigms gave terrific punch and dynamic clarity when Bond fires the rounds from his pistol. It actually felt scary painful, as it should. During the opening chase scene I toggled between the music and film mode on the system and I heard the difference between the two modes. The film mode made the sound much more visceral and engaging for the effects. They were more dramatic. The Paradigm’s virtual surround mode definitely puts you in the film. You may experiment with the film mode during music playing, but I liked the music mode with music best. You might al
I decided to try music videos of some of my favorite artists. I love Seals and Croft and I found a live acoustic setting of Summer Breeze with the duo accompanied by a bass player on You Tube. The delicate sound of the guitar and mandolin picking was there in its glory. I loved the way that the Millenia’s presented the tight bell like quality of the mandolin and the rich tone and steady rhythmic drive of the guitar. The beautiful harmonies by Seals and Croft were also nicely reproduced. I was surprised by the quality and tone of the electric bass on a recording from 1973. Throughout the performance I could easily hear the character of each instrument and voice.
Turning to somebody more contemporary, I watched Sara Bareilles on VEVO perform her heartbreaking Manhattan. Stunning, just beautiful I wrote on my notes. The song features Sara and her piano. The system reproduced the piano and Sara’s expressive voice with great detail. Subtle phrasing and shifts by Sara came across with energy and drive. My wife heard the music from the kitchen and asked “Who’s that? It’s really nice.” I played the video again as my wife sat down next to me to see and hear the song again. We got so transported into the music that we had a mini Sara Bareilles marathon as I found more videos of her on You Tube.
So how does this Millenia CT 2 system compare with other surround systems? First consider that a good A/V receiver will cost you what this complete system does. Then you have to buy all the speakers and cables plus the set up will be more complex. There are other sub and satellite systems available, but Paradigm’s Millenia CT 2 offers impressive engineering, technology, and most of all sound. I used this system for weeks and for everything from HBO’s Game of Thrones to the NBA Championship Playoffs I was transported to the event by the Millenia CT 2.
If you want more performance Paradigm makes some fabulous speakers from their Reference and Classic lines, but you will pay a higher price. There are some options for lesser expensive surround systems, but I would much rather have an outstanding 2 speaker plus sub combo than any mediocre complete surround. The Millenia CT 2 provides a big, clear sound and is easy to use and set up. They also look really cool. I can see this as a high quality bedroom system for the audiophile who has an all-out system in their main room or an apartment dweller (hope your neighbors don’t complain when you crank it up). Or this may be a system for the average guy or gal that is just not as crazy as I am about equipment, but wants a very high quality sound system that offers simplicity of set up and use.
Conclusions about the Paradigm Millenia CT 2 Speakers and Subwoofer
In conclusion, my time with the Paradigm Millenia CT 2 system was really enjoyable and fun. The Millenia CT 2 was adept at playing music and movies, the system disappeared into the source and allowed me to enjoy the creative efforts of the producers and musicians. The system is classy and sophisticated enough to fit into an Austin hipster’s condo and is easy and simple to set up and use. Paradigm has engineered a sound system of beauty and quality for an affordable price. The Millenia CT 2 is definitely worth a look for its sound quality and solid design.
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