Paradigm MilleniaOne Speaker System
Not often do I begin a review with an apology to readers. But I owe you one.
It’s taken me an unconscionably long time to get around to reviewing the Paradigm MilleniaOne satellite speaker system and MilleniaSub. The products made their retail debuts in November 2010. Since then they’ve languished on my to-do list despite the fact that Paradigm is one of my favorite speaker manufacturers. In fact, I never fail to cite my reference speakers, the Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.4, in every A/V receiver review. Now that I’ve gotten an earful of the MilleniaOne and MilleniaSub, I’m kicking myself. I should have recommended these stellar satellites and innovative subwoofer to you a whole lot sooner, whether you’re in the market for a sat/sub set or not. This is the kind of high-performance sat/sub set that might make believers out of people who weren’t even interested in the product category to begin with.
In this instance I’m applying the term sat/sub set loosely. Unlike most sat/sub sets, the MilleniaOne and MilleniaSub are sold separately from each other, for $1,249 and $1,399, respectively. This was a pragmatic move given the subwoofer’s price—it costs more than the satellites. You could pick a more conventional and less costly subwoofer from Paradigm or another manufacturer among our Top Picks (see Compact Speakers as well as Subwoofers). While that would deprive you of the MilleniaSub’s numerous unconventional advantages, it could shave several hundred bucks off the system cost.
The MilleniaOne satellites come in heavy die-cast aluminum enclosures that are more acoustically inert than most, always a good thing because it avoids reradiation of sound-polluting resonances. With their high-gloss black or white finish, they look fantastic. You’ll also find equally heavy metal pedestals as well as wall-mounting hardware in the box.
The two-way satellite includes a 1-inch tweeter, protected from little fingers by a mesh barrier, and a 4-inch bass/midrange driver, both made of S-PAL, the satin-anodized pure aluminum that figures in many Paradigm products.
The woofer surround overlaps the tweeter waveguide slightly, allowing them to sit closer together and blend, more like a single point source. The center speaker is identical to the satellite—no extra woofer—except for the badge on the longer dimension of the grille and a pedestal designed for horizontal placement. I used it that way because the pedestal left no other choice. Even with horizontal placement, the center had no trouble matching timbre with the vertically placed left and right speakers, as my level-balancing test tones verified.
A heavy rubber strip surrounds the baffle, presumably to keep the magnetically attached perforated metal grille from rattling. Speaker terminals are all-metal cylindrical spring-loaded wire clips, the kind of wire clips I don’t frown on. In the way they bite down on cable tips, they function as wire clips, but in terms of their shape, sturdiness, and area of surface contact, they’re more like binding posts. Cable access is slightly restricted by recessed channels leading to the side holes in the terminals. This made it hard to fit the nude tips of my Monster THX ribbon cables into the terminals, but those are fat 12-gauge cables with copper strands wrapped around a plastic core. Ordinary 12- to 16-gauge zip cord would be an easy fit.
The MilleniaSub is the size and shape of a large briefcase with its smallest dimension just 5.5 inches thick. This flat-form-factor sub provides for a cornucopia of placement options—push it under a table, stand it on end next to your equipment rack, or mount it on the wall. On either side of its curved extruded aluminum enclosure are two racetrack-shaped drivers, measuring 14 by 3 inches, which are configured to cancel vibration and provide more disciplined performance. For the rigors of high excursion, the reinforced polymer-coned drivers have a tough outer skin and a corrugated surround made of Santoprene, a compound in which rubber particles are dispersed in a thermoplastic matrix. Energy-efficient Class D amps provide 300 watts of steady-state power and up to 900 at peak moments.
A couple of strategically chosen accessories would enhance the performance and convenience of the MilleniaSub. Paradigm’s Perfect Bass Kit (PBK-1) allows you to tune the sub for your room using a supplied microphone, tripod, and computer software. Just use the supplied CD-R to install the software on your computer, then link the computer to both the mike and the sub with supplied USB cables. The system will spit out test tones, analyzing up to 10 listening positions and adjusting the bass accordingly. This is a more exacting process than the room correction used in many A/V receivers—Paradigm actually measures the individual characteristics of each microphone and includes the mike profile on the CD-R. Although the PBK-1 has changed since the last time I saw it, with an adjustable plastic tripod replacing the metal one, the price is still $99.
A new subwoofer accessory (to me, at least) is the PT-2 wireless transmitter ($149). It uses the 2.4-gigahertz band to transmit signals to up to four subwoofers. Range is up to 50 feet barring obstructions. No receiver box is provided—that function is already built into the MilleniaSub. Setup was easy. I plugged the cable leading from my A/V receiver’s line-level sub output into the transmitter (it also has speaker-level binding posts) and plugged the transmitter’s wall wart into an outlet. Then I held down the front-panel button for three seconds. Within less than a minute, the indicator stopped winking and glowed steadily, after which the sub operated as though the cable had been plugged directly into it. The advantage of a wireless sub connection is that it affords even greater versatility in placing the flat sub in whatever is the least intrusive (and/or bestsounding) location.