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Paradigm Cinema 100 Review (home theater speakers)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT HT speaker. It is the mains (left and right) of a 5.1 package which was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $1099 (for all six speaker).

The Cinema 100 is elegantly finished in its little package:

Paradigm Cinema 100 CT HT  Review.jpg


There is a removable stand that also routes the speaker wires to the small terminals in the back. It is an attempt to hide the wiring on the back in case the speakers are exposed.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I performed over 800 measurement which resulted in error rate of roughly 1% to 2%.

Testing temperature was around 64 degrees F.

Reference axis for measurements was the center of the tweeter (by eye). Grill was not used in either measurements or listening tests.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Paradigm Cinema 100 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:
Paradigm Cinema 100 CT HT  frequency response.png


The frequency response error is quite obvious to see. It first droops but then rises starting at 1 kHz until it finished in a large tweeter resonance around 15 kHz:

Paradigm Cinema 100 CT HT  driver frequency response.png


Early window mimics the same for good and bad:
Paradigm Cinema 100 CT HT  early window frequency response.png


Final predicted in-room response tells us what we can already guess with too little bass (this is a sealed box) and too much highs:

Paradigm Cinema 100 CT HT predicted in-room  frequency response.png


Distortion is under control although that is mostly because the woofer is not allowed to play low:

Cinema 100 CT HT  distortion measurements.png


Cinema 100 CT HT  THD distortion measurements.png


Directivity scales with frequency which means there is not much control:
Cinema 100 CT HT  Horizontal beamwidth.png


Cinema 100 CT HT  Horizontal Directivity.png


Vertical directivity is better going up than down so don't put the tweeter below your ear axis:

Cinema 100 CT HT  Vertical Directivity.png


Finally, here is the impedance and phase:

Cinema 100 CT HT  impedance and phase measurements.png


Listening Tests
I listened to the Cinema 100 without its sub (which I did not have). As expected, it sounded tinny and bright. Attempts at EQ were not successful. Likely needs to be tuned with its sub playing at the same time.

Conclusions
I like to evaluate speakers as stand-alone units without a sub. Here, it is impossible to do since a sub is supplied normally with the unit. Even so, it is clear the company wanted to let the highs play brighter as to sell better in a showroom. How critical do we get in this class of speakers though? I don't know. I let you decide. I have no recommendation one way or the other.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150
 

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respice finem

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"You can't outsmart physics" strikes again. Main speakers fitting in a shoebox, where would possibly the bass come from? The price tells the rest, 1000$ for six. This is Paradigm, for their offerings that's very cheap.
Still, for a small "lifestyle" cinema system, paired with a sub and the treble tamed by room correction, they might sound acceptable.
"A small room, but hey I got Paradigm speakers" :p
 

wwenze

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Technical question:

How is it that the on-axis treble is a sloping up but the tweeter close mic is mostly flat?

Can that be attributed to the close mic effect?
 

ta240

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"You can't outsmart physics" strikes again. Main speakers fitting in a shoebox.....

No, but you can market a package deal to people that don’t want speakers bigger than a shoebox in their living room but want surround sound. The exaggerated highs will make it sound ‘detailed’ to some and for the price of a subwoofer many will have a setup they are plenty happy with. Besides audioholics says no matter how big your front speakers are you should always set them as small in your AVR
 

respice finem

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...Besides audioholics says no matter how big your front speakers are you should always set them as small in your AVR
This I can confirm after my "battle" against my stubborn L-shaped room. With the floorstanding speakers set to "large" it was impossible to tame the bass. Another profit from setting them to "small": a bit less distortion (my main HT speakers are 2,5 ways without a separate chamber for the midrange).
 

Hugh Jass

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The frequency response starts to fall off at 200 Hz. Doesn’t that seem kind of high? Do most AVR’s have variable crossovers for their bass management? A crossover at 80Hz for the subwoofer would leave you with a pretty big hole. Unless you have a built in crossover in the matching sub that you are supposed to use?
 

respice finem

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Their dedicated sub does. The main disadvantage is, the sub has to work up to 150-200 Hz, which means you can hear its position. Since such setups tend to work in small rooms, probably an acceptable compromise.
 

milosz

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This speaker package would probably make quite a few users happy; for "watching TV" I'm sure they are fine. Distortion is pretty low, they come with a package that includes a sub- and , yes, 200 Hz is pretty high for a sub. 200 Hz sound has a wavelength of just a smidgeon under 5 feet, so having a single sub work up that high is not optimal. But at this price level it's a compromise that many typical users would feel OK making. This system would be decent for a small home theater setup where decor and cost drive the purchase. Use these with, let's say, a Denon Home Theater receiver, a 65 inch 4K HDR TV, streaming apps and a 4k blu-ray player and you would have a "reasonable" modern TV setup. Typically HTR's have some kind of EQ you could use to tame those highs. However, this wouldn't be the system for people looking to consume a steady diet of Marvel Universe films because the bass reproduction would not be up to that task- all those explosions. But for many film and TV offerings these would be "quite OK" for the price. Of course you could buy a Revel Concerta system for this price, which would be more coherent sounding - but you'd need to add a subwoofer to that, Concerta doesn't include a sub. So for a couple hundred more than this setup you could get the Revel Concerta plus a sub and have better sound but at a somewhat higher price.

Look at it this way- a system like this is not competing with high-end speakers. A setup like this is competing with SOUND BARS.
 

Koeitje

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"You can't outsmart physics" strikes again. Main speakers fitting in a shoebox, where would possibly the bass come from? The price tells the rest, 1000$ for six. This is Paradigm, for their offerings that's very cheap.
Still, for a small "lifestyle" cinema system, paired with a sub and the treble tamed by room correction, they might sound acceptable.
"A small room, but hey I got Paradigm speakers" :p
The bass doesn't matter for this purpose, well at least if you have 2 proper fronts for music. I'd be perfectly happy with surround speakers that don't go below 200hz for surround purposes because I don't have that much room. But the brightness is what kills these.
 

kdp

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This speaker package would probably make quite a few users happy; for "watching TV" I'm sure they are fine. Distortion is pretty low, they come with a package that includes a sub- and , yes, 200 Hz is pretty high for a sub. 200 Hz sound has a wavelength of just a smidgeon under 5 feet, so having a single sub work up that high is not optimal. But at this price level it's a compromise that many typical users would feel OK making. This system would be decent for a small home theater setup where decor and cost drive the purchase. Use these with, let's say, a Denon Home Theater receiver, a 65 inch 4K HDR TV, streaming apps and a 4k blu-ray player and you would have a "reasonable" modern TV setup. Typically HTR's have some kind of EQ you could use to tame those highs. However, this wouldn't be the system for people looking to consume a steady diet of Marvel Universe films because the bass reproduction would not be up to that task- all those explosions. But for many film and TV offerings these would be "quite OK" for the price. Of course you could buy a Revel Concerta system for this price, which would be more coherent sounding - but you'd need to add a subwoofer to that, Concerta doesn't include a sub. So for a couple hundred more than this setup you could get the Revel Concerta plus a sub and have better sound but at a somewhat higher price.

Look at it this way- a system like this is not competing with high-end speakers. A setup like this is competing with SOUND BARS.

Given the price, I would possibly be happier with less. It's fairly clean sounding, and as you pointed out, it's a substitute for a soundbar, probably for a small bedroom system. As for the bass response, I am assuming most would wall mount these, so boundary gain would take care of possibly another half octave. thereby reducing chances of bass localisation that a sub going to 200hz would bring.

I had the equivalent paradigm model from a decade back in my bedroom (CT-70). Audyssey identified 110hz as the crossover frequency and there was very little localisation. Sound was a bit woolly though throughout the midrange. These look like they are much cleaner and should also be quite audyssey friendlyas well.

Which brings me to the last point, most would use this with an AV receiver with some sort of room correction, which should take care of most of the response issues.
 

MZKM

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In defense of this speaker:

• Horizontal & vertical off-axis are excellent once normalized.
• People will usually have these on their entertainment center next to the tv bass and mounted high up for surrounds. Paradigm likely knows this and thus increased the treble to that it will be neutral with real usage.

Stuff I can’t defend:

• Rolling off at 200Hz. If it were -6dB at 100Hz that would have been ok, but this high and the sub it comes with will be localizable. I once tried 125Hz crossover just to see, and I could hear male vocals coming from both the center and the sub.

• Paradigm rating this +/-2dB 125Hz-20kHz
 

tktran303

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I really don’t see the point of this measurement/review.

its a mischaracterisation of the speaker package, which comes WITH a subwoofer.

like the recent wall mounted surround speaker, the intent and use case is important.

what’s next- a spinorama of a ceiling speaker?
 
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SimpleTheater

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The frequency response starts to fall off at 200 Hz. Doesn’t that seem kind of high? Do most AVR’s have variable crossovers for their bass management? A crossover at 80Hz for the subwoofer would leave you with a pretty big hole. Unless you have a built in crossover in the matching sub that you are supposed to use?
Yes and no. If the argument is that the people who buy these speakers “really don’t care or know” the highs are over blown, does the company think they’re going to dig through their AVR’s manual for bass crossover management? I doubt most would even attempt to use their AVR’s room correction.

The fact that you can buy 5 Adam T5V’s for $1k, that go down to 80 Hz, that need no amplification, tells you that these Cinema 100’s have nothing but “profit” built in. The 8” sub that comes with it, well let’s just say I’d like to see how it performs against the $65 Monoprice 8”.

If your loved one insists on design and this is the product that meets your budget, buy a pair of Sony L600 surround headphones and let the spouse listen to the tv audio. These just aren’t worth more than $300, and I’m including the sub in that cost estimate.
 
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YSC

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looks pretty ok to me though, not trying to defend a brand or something, but likely the bass is always taken over by the Sub as it's not sold alone, and with 5.1, it's most likely will be set up near ceiling or wall mounted with the tweeter not pointing to the listener's ears, so I wild guess that will roll off the highs quite a bit and make the overall systems actually performs ok?
 

Bear123

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Hm I think the price and performance don't quite match up well.

Although much larger:
Infinity R152x4, RC263, and R12 sub
Total 5.1 cost $576. Yes bigger, but also much better and half price. But only during fire sale

OR, without relying on a sale:
Emotiva B1+, $460 for four
Emotiva C1+ $249
Total $709. Leaves plenty for a decent little sub(compared to $1100)

Still a larger setup if small size is the most important factor.

I think the cost isn't far off what a Sonos setup would cost.
 

YSC

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Hm I think the price and performance don't quite match up well.

Although much larger:
Infinity R152x4, RC263, and R12 sub
Total 5.1 cost $576. Yes bigger, but also much better and half price. But only during fire sale

OR, without relying on a sale:
Emotiva B1+, $460 for four
Emotiva C1+ $249
Total $709. Leaves plenty for a decent little sub(compared to $1100)

Still a larger setup if small size is the most important factor.

I think the cost isn't far off what a Sonos setup would cost.
true, but size sometimes do well, and a designed to be working together setup is sometimes much easier and better for a layman to spend the amount and not learning or fickle around to optimize the room with acoustics, yes we geeks likely would spend all our time and locate our furnitures after the acoustic performance, but as far as I know a lot prefer just integrate a descent one in whatever space they have and no room for optimizing, this likely being those setups-
 
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