Paradigm Cinema 330 Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

The Short Form
$1,925 / / 905-632-0180
•First-rate sound from Cinema 330 •Good match between fronts and surrounds •Good ambience from dipole surrounds
•Uneven off-axis center-channel performance •Cinema 330 requires wall- or stand-mounting for vertical use •Mini sub not suitable for larger rooms 0604_paradigmmovie
Key Features
•Cinema 330 front left/right/center ($299) 1-in tweeter, two 4.5-in midranges, two 4.5-in woofers; 24.5 in high; 6.3 lbs •Cinema ADP surround ($299 a pair) two 1-in tweeters, two 3.5-in midranges; 7.5 in high; 3.6 lbs •Ultracube subwoofer ($799) 10-in driver; two 9-in passive radiators; 650-watt RMS amplifier; variable crossover frequency and phase; 12.312 x 11.5 x11.5 in; 29 lbs •330 finished in silver, black; ADP finished in silver, black, white; Ultracube finished in black ash •Optional LS25 stands: $139 a pair •Price: $1,925
Test Bench
Used vertically as a left/right speaker, the Paradigm Cinema 330 exhibited flat response marked by modest peak in the high frequencies and falling output below 125 Hz. Used horizontally as a center channel, though, response developed increasingly wide, deep midband notches beginning at a modest 15º off-axis position, suggesting that listeners outside the sweet spot may experience noticeable midrange coloration. The ADP's exhibited the diffuse sound pattern considered optimal for surrounds. The UltraCube 10 subwoofer produced 87 dB at 25 Hz and maximum SPL of 106 dB at 62 Hz, all with maximum 10% distortion. - Tom Nousaine Full Lab Results
The "Don't Cry" video features another luxurious mix, starting with background vocals that sweep seamlessly from the front to the rear - revealing a closely matched midrange timbral balance between the Cinema 330s and ADPs. The acoustic guitars in the first chorus really showcased the surrounds, which sounded crisp and brilliant. While dipoles aren't always preferred for surround music, they were great with this type of complex mix, where an expansive sound field is more desirable than pinpoint imaging.

The bass line in the original stereo mix of "Bring It On" was merely adequate, but it's featured prominently in the surround mix. The Ultracube sub provided a nice separation between the bass line and the also prominent kick drum; I could follow both easily. The bass remained musical at all times and had sufficient output for moderate listening levels. The second half of this song expands out to the surrounds, placing the alternate melody and vocals from the reprise solely in the tiny ADPs. They handled it beautifully.

Musical subtleties abound on Seal's album, and the Paradigm Cinema 330 home theater speaker system was mainly transparent, delivering them to my ears unsullied and without calling attention to itself. Also, with so many instruments mixed discretely to each channel, the system needed to be equally balanced, with no individual speaker weaker than another. The Paradigms met that challenge, too.

MOVIE PERFORMANCE Despite Johnny Depp's exuberant use of mascara, Pirates of the Caribbean is actually a thoroughly watchable movie. Moreover, its soundtrack is as swashbuckling as its plot. In Chapter 3, Depp's first escape is accompanied by frantic exclamations and the rattling of chain links in the center channel, vigorous orchestral music in all the satellites, and the occasional musket ball whizzing through the surrounds - an effect that will make you duck. Later, in the blacksmith shop, the swordfight is full of the ringing clash of blades, pointedly punctuating music, and of course, witty repartee. The Paradigms really brought these scenes to life, providing an immersive sound field and plenty of articulation and punch.

In Chapter 4, the ghostly Black Pearl pirate ship comes a-callin', and the score darkens considerably with low bass rumbling menacingly through the room. Broadsides from the Pearl, return cannon fire from the British fort, and fiery explosions everywhere really made the sub jump. As usual, when switching from music to movies, I turned up the subwoofer, and it performed well - though I couldn't help but yearn for a little more bottom end on this demanding scene and others like it. Subsequently, as ruffians storm the Governor's mansion, you can hear cannonballs rip through walls, chandeliers crash to the floor, grenades explode, and all manner of lethal cutlery fly through the smoke and mist. Once again, the Paradigms recreated the ambient space beautifully, and dialogue remained intelligible throughout the mayhem.

BOTTOM LINE Ideally, speakers today should be the opposite of children: heard but not seen. The Paradigm Cinema 330 home theater speaker system fills that bill very nicely: it is both child-sized and well behaved. The Cinema 330s provide first-rate sound, a real feat given their slim profile and low price, while the dipole ADPs performed very well for movies. (For music, you might consider putting Cinema 330s in back as an upgrade.) The Ultracube was also quite good for its size, and even though it can't buck the laws of physics, it will satisfactorily pound smaller rooms. Put it all together, and it won't take much listening to this system to know that the new breed of trim speakers is offering terrific sonic choices.