The CT, in Cinema 110 CT, stands for "Compact Cinema", and that is exactly what
arrived at my door – a compact theater speaker system. The least I could say
is that I was surprised to find only two boxes: one box of speakers
accompanied by one box of stands.
has now been a few months since I unpacked the system, and frankly I don’t know
if I can get it all back into the boxes. In a very cliché way, I must report
that these speakers are much bigger than they first seem.
The three identical front speakers all have tapered sides, a curved front
baffle, and in the case of the vertically standing L/Rs, a rounded
base. This base requires the speaker to either be mounted on the optional
stand (Premier LS-20) or on the wall (using the integrated keyholes on the
back of the speaker).
Alternatively you can use the rubber feet; however the
sheer tippyness of the speaker makes that an unwise choice. Paradigm states
that the speakers are designed to work well mounted directly to the walls,
and given their low depth, they would not look out of place on a wall
flanking an LCD screen.
Each speaker has two 4.5” midrange drivers with a 1” tweeter
in between (the classic MTM layout). The cabinet appears to be a plastic composite that is very
strong and produces very little resonance with the trusty knuckle test.
The ADP (Adaptive Dipole) rears are smaller versions of Paradigm's ADP speakers,
which can be found throughout the rest of their product line. They also can
be stand-mounted (Premier LS-30) or wall mounted like the rest. There are
two 4.5” midrange drivers and two 1” tweeters mounted on opposing baffles.
The Cinema CT Subwoofer is your standard fare (albeit silver also)
rectangular box. It has one front-firing woofer and two rear-mounted ports.
Located on the plate amplifier are controls for level, crossover, and an
First up in the CD player was Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Fairytales. Here is
a very light and open recording, using minimal instruments, mostly acoustic
guitar and a small drum kit. This is an ideal disc for testing how open and
natural a system can be.
With the Cinema 110 package, throughout the first five tracks, the vocals were very clear and smooth.
There was no
coloration of the sound, and every instrument was detailed nicely. However, at
lower volumes the bass was rather thin. Adjustments to the subwoofer output
controls resulted in too much boom when the volume was increased.
Track 5, "Flake", features Ben Harper on slide guitar which, when combined with
the rest of the instruments, blended together into a nice soundstage.
Surprisingly compared to other discs, this one had no break-up or muddying
of the cymbals.
Next in the rotation came Tom Waits "Mule Variations". This album is quite
different from the Jack Johnson one, and it shows some of the 110's
weaknesses. With thicker more detailed tracks featuring multiple instruments
and numerous layers, the speakers had some trouble maintaining the definition.
The second track, "Hold On", has a subtle deep bass line that comes in about
half way through the song. This is a great test of the blend between sub and
satellite. Never once did the image pull away from between the two speakers.
This shows just how well these speakers are paired with the subwoofer (which
sat 4.5' to the left of the left speaker in my review setup).
Next track, "Get behind the Mule", had gobs of depth and separation. Each
instrument had its own acoustic space, and it showed. Unfortunately, this
track did exhibit some slight sibilance and also cymbal break-up. When the
music became more complex, the cymbals lost their definition.
Then, I had a craving for my mid-bass tester, Primus’s mainstream disc Pork
Soda. Third track of the album, "Bob", showed again one of the only small
weaknesses of this system. The cymbals became muddy during heavier more
detailed passages However, the vocals always stayed dead center, and the bass
line never lost its position.
"DMV" was next, and this track has a tight kick-drum and high-hat beat that
sets the tone through the track. When Larry Lalonde fires up his guitar, I
did notice the drum work getting lost. This track definitely
highlighted the systems mid-bass deficiencies.
Finally, I played "The Pressman" and found that the sound
can extend beyond the sides of the speakers, strangely though this was one of the only
tracks on the entire album that did so. The kick drum was a little subdued
at low-mid volume, but Larry’s guitar work always stayed present and strong.
I used two more CDs to test the system, mainly to listen to the subwoofer
response. First up was Melvin's Stonerwitch. The final track, "Lividity",
has become my main subwoofer testing track. This song contains a wealth of
low frequency info, and surprisingly contains many imaging cues. Throughout
the track, the subwoofer handled the repetitive bass line with authority.
Once the level was matched to the mains, it provided enough oomph to feel it,
yet never overpowered the mains.
Finally, in the subwoofer test, was Jesse Cook's Free Fall. This only takes one
track and in the first 11 seconds there are two notes that cause lesser
quality subs to exhibit nasty port noise. At mid-loud volumes, port noise
wasn’t even noticeable with the Paradigm. Not until I turned it up - way up
- did I hear
the port noise. Obvious this sub doesn’t do much below 30 Hz, yet it sounds
very good above that, and I was not aware of its low frequency limitations.
Two lively movies I watched with this system were Star Wars Episode II and
Constantine. Throughout both movies, the system did an excellent job of
recreating an enveloping stage and handling the wide dynamic range.
Star Wars Episode II has one particular chapter that I keep coming back to.
This is the Asteroid Chase scene, which has great surround work, LFE,
and dynamic range. The subwoofer needs to reach low to really provide impact
when the sonic charges go off. Unfortunately, the CT 110 sub stopped short and did
not reproduce the full punch. However, I did not hear any port noise
in my sweet spot. The blaster shots coming from behind and the sides were
very well placed and merged seamlessly from back to front.
Constantine (horrible acting aside) was very entertaining. There were many
scenes with large echoing spaces, and the ADP surrounds did a marvelous job
of recreating the expansive sets. Particularly, the scenes that took place in
Hell had great dynamic detail. The blend was good between all five speakers
even though the small ADPs seemed a little weak at times.
With comedic movies like Guess Who and Danny Deckchair, the system handled
dialogue well, with little to no unwanted coloration of voices, nor was there
any boom from the sub.
All in all, for $799, this system is quite nice.
Good imaging, decent bass, and some nice highs are all available with this
budget beauty from Paradigm. Personally I prefer a speaker system that can
handle complex music better than this. There was too much midrange color
with music, and it had a hard time keeping up with detailed cymbal work. One
big plus that I was happy to notice was a major reduction in port noise from
Despite the minor flaws, which unless you really deconstruct and analyze the
music, you probably won’t even notice, the Cinema 110 CT package is still a decent setup for the
price. Also, it is nice to see a low cost system with a 10” sub
instead of the standard 8”. Despite some problems with detail at both ends
of the frequency spectrum, the speakers fared rather well. Once again,
Paradigm delivers a solid performer for the dollar.
- Jared Rachwalski -
Paradigm System 3
Marantz SR 5300 A/V Receiver
Panasonic RP-32 DVD Player
Prolink Speaker Cable, Quest Digital Cable, Schocshe Interconnects