Paradigm Millenia 20 Hybrid Speaker System Page 2

Music is a significant part of most movies, and here the Millenia 20 Hybrids excel. Defiance (Blu-ray, Dolby TrueHD) is the gloomy and desperate World War II tale of two Jewish brothers and the 1,000 or so Jews who built a village in the Russian forest to protect themselves from the Nazis. The story is heightened by deeply moving music. The cello, guitar, and violin sounded transparent and clean. They had excellent presence and clarity that brought the characters’ plight to life. In particular, the cello created a sense of sadness and despair while it enhanced the lonely feeling of being isolated in the forest in the dead of a harsh European winter.

On the other end of the film spectrum is State of Play (Blu-ray, DTS-HD Master Audio). This high-toned flick features close-range gunfire and other sound elements that would tax any speakers. The drivers in the Millenia 20 Hybrids seemed to cruise right through each scene, especially the intense gunfire scenes. Even when I played them at theater reference levels, there was no hint of straining.

Universal’s Duplicity (Blu-ray, DTS-HD Master Audio) is the hard-to-follow story of two corporate spies who pull off the ultimate con job. Sometimes you don’t want to think when you watch a movie—you just want to be entertained. But Duplicity forces you to follow a twisted tale of deception and trickery. Fortunately, the dialogue sounded crisp and intelligible through the Paradigms.

I’m not sure which had the quickest transient response: the speakers or me jumping off the couch when a stalker plunges a hunting knife through a wooden door, narrowly missing the face of his intended victim in Elsewhere (Blu-ray, DTS-HD Master Audio). There are some murder-mystery-suspense movies that you shouldn’t watch when you’re home alone with a large screen and a dynamic sound system. This is a movie that will make you flinch and quickly check your doors to make sure they’re tightly locked.

On a much lighter note, I also enjoyed the Millenia 20 Hybrids with music sources. In Sting’s flamenco-style “Saint Agnes and the Burning Train,” the guitar had a keen, articulate sound quality and excellent transients, mixed with a beautifully wide soundstage. I haven’t mentioned the RVC-12SQ subwoofer yet, but when the deep, sometimes very deep bass kicked in, it made its presence known. The subwoofer’s vibration-canceling feature is very effective. This subwoofer not only eschewed cabinet rattles, it also created smooth bass that was evenly distributed throughout the room. This was likely aided by the PBK-1 bass equalization kit.

Vocalists are a demanding test of a speaker system, and Mary Black’s “Columbus” showed off the Millenia 20 Hybrids’ high resolution and definition. The extraordinarily aggressive piano that accompanies Black’s voice showcased the speakers’ solid midrange.

The entire system sounded well balanced, with good front-to-back timbre matching in The Eagles’ Farewell 1 Tour from Melbourne, recorded in DTS 5.1. The Eagles are well known for their good mixes, and this is one of their best recordings. I could clearly distinguish every instrument and pick it out of the mix. This is a concert that sounds best when played loud.

Wrap Up
I started this review wondering whether this was a fair test since the Paradigm Millenia 20 Hybrids are designed to be used with a flat-panel television, not a projection screen. But those doubts quickly disappeared. If the Millenia 20 Hybrids sound impressive with a 100-inch screen, it should be a cinch to use them with a smaller flat-panel television.

I would recommend five or seven of the Millenia 20 Hybrid speakers for a complete home theater system. The Millenia ADP surround speakers are driver-matched with the Hybrids and have a similar timbre. Still, I’d prefer a home theater system with the sleek appearance of five Millenia 20 Hybrids rather than the boxy look of the Millenia ADP speakers for surrounds. The Hybrids are also less expensive.

I would also suggest two RVC-12SQ subwoofers. One sub certainly filled my 23-by-16-foot listening room, but two subwoofers placed strategically would be a killer. They would provide more even distribution of bass throughout the room.

In summary, the Paradigm Millenia 20 Hybrids, Millenia ADP surround speakers, and RVC-12SQ in-wall sub and amp make a fine home theater system. The Hybrids sound great and are a slick visual match for the latest ultra-thin flat panels.

It isn’t home theater without a speaker system, and I would be challenged to recommend a better-looking, better-sounding, and more affordable speaker system to match an ultra-thin HDTV.

Thin may be in for flat panels, but thinner wallets are definitely not cool these days. Fortunately, the Paradigm Millenia 20 Hybrid speakers represent a real value at $529 each. The full system as tested has a suggested retail price of $5,281. Paradigm also offers the Millenia 10 Hybrid speakers, which are designed for smaller flat-panel televisions. Good listening!