Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer Review Highlights
With nice styling and remarkable sound quality, the Paradigm Millenia LP speakers are an excellent choice for anyone that has no room for big towers but craves better than soundbar fidelity. The Seismic 110 sub rounds out the bottom end with help of Paradigm’s Perfect Bass Kit.
Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer Review Highlights Summary
- Excellent sound quality
- Easy set up, versatile mounting options
- Virtually disappear next to your flat panel HDTV
- Not inexpensive, in spite of their size
- Must be paired with a good subwoofer
Introduction to the Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer Review
As a home theater enthusiast, I have watched HDTVs become thinner and thinner. Nothing looks cooler than a slim screen mounted on the wall, but that coolness wanes when the sound emanating from it also sounds thin and anemic. This lack of sound quality has inadvertently led to the rise in sales of home theater soundbars which are one of the hottest selling speaker systems on the market today. However, for those that really want a true home theater experience, a 5.1 speaker system is still the way to go. But what do you do when a soundbar won’t cut it and a 5.1 speaker system is just too big and bulky for the family room? A good option might be the new LP Millennia Series speakers from Paradigm which offer superb sound in a speaker that is less than 2 inches thick. That’s correct. These speakers are probably thinner than your current flat panel HDTV. Thin may be in, but fat is where it’s at…at least when it comes to sound. Can a 2 inch deep speaker system really deliver big box speaker sound quality?
Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer Specifications
LP XL / LP 2
- High-Performance Anodized Unibody Bass/Midrange Cone
- Performance-Optimized Nitrile-Butadiene Rubber Surround
- Nomex™ Spider
- High-Powered Apical™ Former
- High-Performance Motor Assembly Includes 1-1/2” High-Temperature Aluminum Voice Coil and Powerful Neodymium Magnet
- Steel Heatfin Basket
- Low Frequency Limit: 60 Hz
- Aluminum and MDF Combine to Create Low Resonance in an Ultra-thin Design
- MSRP: LP XL: $699/each; LP 2: $499/each
Seismic 110 Subwoofer
- Overmolded Inverted Corrugated Santoprene® Surround
- Driver: One 10″ Mineral-Filled Co-Polymer Polypropylene Cone with RCR™ Resonance Control Ribs
- 2″ Voice Coil Excursion10? (254 mm) Mineral-Filled Co-Polymer Polypropylene Cone with RCR™ Resonance Control Ribs on the Underside
- Dual Spider Suspension
- AVS™ Airflow Ventilation System Cooling
- 10 Pound Magnet Structure
- Low-Profile High-Pressure Die-Cast Aluminum Chassis
- MSRP: $1,650 USD (Perfect Bass Kit is an additional $99)
- Secret Tags: Paradigm, Millenia LP, Paradigm Millenia LP XL & LP, Paradigm Seismic 110 Subwoofer
Design of the Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer
Paradigm designed and engineered both the Millenia LP 2 and LP XL to work their best when placed directly on a wall. The speakers are optimized to avoid dramatic boundary gain and vibrations are kept to a minimum, even when playing at loud volume. The tweeter is of a new design and a phase ring is concealed within the protective screen to improve high frequency response. The mid / bass drivers utilize aluminum cones that deflect resonance outside the drivers’ pass band. Considering their depth, the sound quality is impressive. The one piece baffle provides an elegant and streamlined look to the speakers. They can be mounted on a wall or on speaker stands that can be placed on the floor or on top of a cabinet.
Paradigm graciously offered me my choice of subwoofers to go along with the Millenia speakers and I selected the Seismic 110, which looked like a most interesting subwoofer design. It’s all aluminum “tube” design and small profile made it an exciting choice. (Seismic 110 review) I also got the Perfect Bass Kit (PBK) which is similar to Athem’s ARC, which helped integrate the sub with whole system and help match its frequency response to my room (more on that later in the review).
The LP XL is the larger version of the LP 2, but other than dimensions, they look very similar. The XLs have 4 passive high excursion radiators that can go down to about 60 hz. That’s low enough for you match them with a reasonably good sub. The mid/bass drivers are made with an anodized unibody with a nitrile-butadiene rubber surround, which gives them a clean line. The tweeter design is an S-PAL™ (satin-anodized pure-aluminum dome) with a integrated phase ring and wire mesh protective covering.
The cloth screens are held in place with magnets. The speakers looked very clean with or without the screens, however for this review I left them on.
The Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer In Use
These speakers came securely packaged with wall mounts and stand included. Since I had to re-package everything to ship them back, I had to takes photos so I could remember how they came shipped. There was not an inch of internal wiggle room inside their boxes, which is to say, I was impressed with the packing. The speakers themselves are relatively light and easy to pick up and carry. I decided to place the XLs on their speaker stands so I could experiment with placement and toe-in a bit.
Wall mounting can easily be done with the included wall mount bracket that each speaker comes with. I did mount the LPs on my rear wall in the place of my Revel surround dipoles. Because the LPs are forward firing, I had to decide to put them on the side wall facing me or on the back wall facing forward. I chose the later in hopes that it would provide a more diffuse background listening experience. The Seismic 110 was placed opposite from my right in-wall mounted Velodyne sub, basically because there was little space left on my floor to place it. I was anxious to play with the PBK (perfect bass kit) to see how effective it was at taming room modes. To be accurate, I unplugged my Velodyne and Earthquake subs during my review. The 110 was going to have to do all of the heavy lifting without support from my little fiends.
The center channel was placed originally on top of my VTI A/V stand, directly in front of my Samsung 50 inch DLP. The height of the speaker was perfect and could be tilted up slightly so the tweeter hit my ears from my seated position. I eventually decided to move it to the top of my TV because in the lower position, it blocked my IR signal and I could not change the channels on the TV. In both locales, the center sounded very good and the speaker blended into the front of the TV very well. In fact, The XLs along the side of my TV looked as if they were made for the Sammy, as they both have a high gloss black piano finish.
These would make an excellent choice if you wanted to enhance the sound of a 50-65 inch flat panel, and forego twin towers flanking the screen. My wife said she thought they looked beautiful (yes, that matters). The LP 2 speakers I mounted on my back wall facing the front of my room. This was the in same location as my Revel S12s, which are bi/di pole speakers. After calibrating and level matching the system, they actually sounded better to my ears point straight ahead rather than directly at my ears. The Seismic 110 was placed on the floor to the left of my seating position, about 1/3 of the distance off the front and side walls.
Calibrating the sub was an interesting endeavor. Before I calibrated it, I played bass heavy orchestral music with pipe organ (Jongen: Symphonie Concertante). You could actually see the woofer cone vibrating wildly with it seeming to spin like a coin on a table. After calibration, you could barely perceive any motion at all, even when in full throated bass mode.
The PBK system was really easy to use and did a marvelous job with the Seismic. The only caveat was with the software compatibility. It would not load on my wife’s laptop with the very latest Windows 8 operating system, but loaded easily with my son’s Windows 7 laptop. I’m sure an update can remedy this minor glitch, but be forewarned.
As you can see from the frequency graph, I was able to tune the sub into the predicted target set by the software. The kit included the software on a disc, a USB mic and a connector from my laptop to the sub. It took a whole 10 minutes to set up and run. Trust me, if you buy the Seismic 110 (or other Paradigm subs that can use the PBK), it is well worth the additional $99. It made a huge difference in the bass quality and blended the sub with my room and the Millinia speakers. No boominess or cross-over gaps. Just tight, deep bass.
All right, then. Let’s get into my impressions with the overall listening experience with the Millenia system. I was first struck by how good a sound a speaker that is only 2 inches deep could sound. I was honestly surprised. Whether listening to movies or music, my overall impressions were that the tonal quality was very good. Dialog sounded natural, clear and the sound stage was well focused. My fear was having the LP XLs facing straight out would limit their imaging, but they seemed to project a decently wide soundstage. This was pretty important, because when mounted on the wall you really can’t toe them in or out. If mounted on their stands, you can, but wall mounting is very inflexible. I did notice a boost in the lower mid bass when they were against the wall as opposed to being further away on stands, so that too must be taken into consideration when you place these speakers. They are optimized for wall placement, but the difference in the low mid range region is a matter of user preference. On the other hand, the slight loss of mid bass made dialog a bit clearer, in my opinion. Though the LP 2s played well, I could not help but feel they missed some of the more diffuse quality that my bi poles provided. Over time, I got used to their characteristics and missed my S12s less as time went on. Perhaps I just needed to re-train my ears and adjust a bit with time.
For movies, my go-to film lately has been Prometheus…the sand storm scene in particular. The immersive sound effects of sand, stones and wind wiping around is a great test of any speaker system. If the timbre or interplay of a system is off, you’d hear it in this scene. I’m pleased to report that they worked together seamlessly. Panning left to right, back to front demonstrated no gaps or anomalies. Perhaps more interesting was that the speakers did not rattle or vibrate, even though they were flush on the walls. Pushing them into the very loud volume regions did not make them honk or buzz. They just sounded great! Explosions and rocket thrusters never made them rattle. Dialog was very clear and natural and as they are designed to be home theater speakers, they excelled at voice reproduction.
The movie HELP! is a mad romp by the “Fab Four” that showcases their British accented dialog and awesomely re-mixed songs in surround DTS-HD. The Millenia system again produced clear dialog and were very engaging musicality. My favorite song “You’re Going to Lose that Girl”, has John doing lead and Paul and George on backing harmonies. Their vocals filled my room, sounding smooth and natural. The Seismic 110 was really integrating well with the Millenia system, too. Ringo’s drum had tight precision and hard impact. In comparison, the Seismic played almost as well solo as compared to my dual subs. The bass went plenty deep and maintained dynamic punch, both during loud and quiet musical interludes.
Conclusions about the Paradigm Millenia LP XL and LP 2 Speakers and Seismic 110 Subwoofer
My criteria for any audio/video product is pretty straight forward. Does it perform as designed and does it offer the consumer a competitive choice compared to similar products in the crowded market place. I felt the Millenia LP speakers performed better than I was expecting and I would not hesitate to recommend them to my friends. They looked beautiful on the walls, provide high quality sound and were easy to set up.
The center channel speaker worked well both above and below my DLP HDTV (the gloss black finish of the speakers will match about 95% of all current flat panel bezels out there). The system sounded good with both music and movies. My only real complaint was with the speaker terminals not really accepting anything but bare wires (I used 14 gauge). Small pin connectors might work if bare wires makes you cringe.
The Seismic 110 was a stellar performer (greatly enhanced by the PBK) and because of the software, can be placed almost anywhere in your room within reason and be optimized for your listening location. I thought that the design of the sub was quite unique and certainly not your typical “big black box” on the floor. It was a veritable cast-aluminum canon, heavy and potent. As far as value, the system as a whole is priced about the same as decent quality 5.1 “box speaker” system. But if looks, sound quality and especially space saving are qualities that are important to you, the Millenium LPs are worth your consideration. I think you’ll be impressed with what 2 inches can sound like. Fat may be where it’s at, but this thin is in!