Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Published on 27 March 2008
To break the set down a bit, the S1 is a proverbial â€œ2-way-6-incherâ€.Â Its displacement is very slight, and it will fit just about anywhere.Â As with all these speakers, it is a sealed alignment, which is a rare and novel move for Paradigm, as they traditionally favor vented enclosures.Â Here though it makes a tremendous amount of sense to go sealed since its rolloff favors contemporary bass management schemes,Â and the smaller drivers can use the excursion protection of the sealed alignment anyway.Â On the back we find a very robust set of binding post connections with a curious trait: the positive and negative are oriented away from each other by about 90 degrees.Â At first glance it would seem not worth mentioning, except that not one but two of my choice speaker cables on hand could not be used with these speakers because both feature banana connectors and are jacketed:Â there was not enough lead lengthÂ to reach both connectors without first removing several inches of the jacket.Â Just something to be aware of.Â There are in fact two pairs of posts for bi-wire orÂ bi-amp use, though it would please me just as much not to see this somewhat esoteric feature.
The C1 is a very special piece in my opinion.Â Like all of Paradigm's most recent dedicated center channel speakers, it eschews their long standing, almost stubborn, use of a horizontal dâ€™Apolito array (a tweeter flanked by two woofers) in favor of a vertical tweeter/midrange pairing, flanked by the two woofers.Â Without taking a total tangent here, the proverbial mid-tweet-mid (MTM) has always been on my list of bad ways to do things.Â It tends to be a lazy designerâ€™s way out and a marketing departmentâ€™s dream because it â€œlooks symmetricalâ€.Â Fact is itâ€™s a bad choice because inherent to it is off-axis combing of the speakerâ€™s response.
Admittedly, Paradigm has always made it work, if by a bit of brute force.Â They build such robust tweeters that they are able to cross them over at inordinately low frequencies, as low as 1.5 kHz (where 2.5-3.0 kHz is the norm), and the lower you go the farther off axis you have to be to find detrimental levels of combing.Â By sandwiching a true midrange and tweeter between the woofers, the transition between the middle component and the outer woofers drops, in this case, to just 550 Hz, which pretty much eliminates any possibility of experiencing adverse effects in any practical application.
So, we get a center channel which is still short-and-wide, looks symmetrical for the cosmetically inclined, yet just plain works correctly, and in fact is in a position to best its peers at left and right.Â Like the S1, there is a double set of binding posts spacedÂ far apart.
The ADP1 is also a very special speaker in that, if only given a fair shake,Â is capable of putting to rest all that nonsense about dipole surround speakers being inferior or having some sort ofÂ compromise.Â The driver compliment consists of two opposing sets of tweeter and midrange, plus a single woofer on the face.Â ADP is an acronym Paradigm coined a long time ago, standing for Adapted Di-Pole.Â A â€œtrueâ€ dipole maintains the opposite phase of its two poles uniformly through the speakerâ€™s frequency response.Â Paradigmâ€™s, on the other hand, smoothly transitions from dipole to bipole at the lowest frequencies, which gives them the requisite diffuse characteristic of a dipole with uncharacteristic extended low-end response.
In the case of this particular ADP, the trick comes less from messing with the phase of the low end of the poles, and more from the fact that there is a single woofer, which happens to be crossed over at relatively low 300 Hz.Â More importantly though, like all Paradigm surround speakers, the ADP1 is a correctly designed dipole in that it exhibits a smooth power response.Â That is, its response as a whole, not its response in front of one of the poles, is smooth.Â This is fundamental to its success.Â Far too many people have dismissed dipole surrounds after evaluating an incorrectly designed set, which sadly are all too common (particularly in the early days of home theater, when otherwise fine and respected manufacturers with good two-channel experience â€œjumped on boardâ€ the home theater bandwagon by haphazardly creating derivatives of their speakers,Â usually including surrounds which wereÂ nothing more than two regular speakers back to back and out of phase).
If those same dipole detractors would give a properly set up pair of Paradigm surrounds a chance, I wager they will not go back to conventional speakers in that role.Â More on how these actually work in a moment.