Cinema 330 / Cinema ADP /
Home-Theater Speaker System
Cinema 330 main speaker
Price: $319 USD each
Dimensions: 24.5"H x 6.25"W x 4.125"D
Weight: 12.6 pounds each
Model: Cinema 330 center-channel speaker
Price: $319 USD
Dimensions: 24.5"W x 6.25"H x 4.125"D
Weight: 12.6 pounds
Model: Cinema ADP surround speaker
Price: $115 USD each
Dimensions: 7.5"H x 4.75"W x 5.25"D
Weight: 3.6 pounds each
Model: UltraCube 10 subwoofer
Price: $849 USD
Dimensions: 13"H x 11.5"W x 11.5"D
Weight: 29 pounds
Warranty: Five years on speakers, three
years on subwoofer amplifier, five years on other subwoofer parts
- 1" pure titanium dome (PTD) tweeters
- 3.5" and 4.5" injection-molded copolymer (ICP)
polypropylene midrange cones
- 4.5" polypropylene woofers
- 10" down-firing mineral-filled copolymer polypropylene
cone (UltraCube 10)
- Silver or black finishes (speakers)
- Dipole surround speakers (Cinema ADP)
- 650W RMS Super Class D amplifier (UltraCube 10)
- Adjustable crossover (UltraCube 10)
Paradigms Cinema series of
loudspeakers has gone through an interesting evolution since the introduction in 2004 of
the Cinema 70. That system of five tiny, identical satellite speakers and a small
subwoofer was designed for small family rooms and retailed for only $550. The Cinema
series then evolved to include bigger speakers with more drivers, and the Cinema ADP (for
Adapted Dipole) surround speaker was added in 2005. As the market for flat-panel TVs
exploded, people demanded that their speakers match the looks of their new TVs. Paradigm
has responded with the subject of this review, the Cinema 330 home-theater speaker system.
Other than its silver finish, the Cinema 330 bears little
resemblance to the pioneering Cinema 70, and the $2036 price of the system reviewed --
pairs of Cinema 330 mains and Cinema ADP surrounds, a Cinema 330 center, and an UltraCube
10 subwoofer -- is more than three times as high. But the 330, now the top speaker in the
Cinema line, is a "lifestyle" speaker -- a category defined by stylish looks
designed to match modern home-entertainment systems. But would the Paradigm Cinema 330
system sacrifice sound quality for good looks, as have so many lifestyle speakers
Its obvious from the Cinema 330s 24"
height (x 6.25"W x 4.125"D) that Paradigm is targeting the flat-panel TV crowd.
Most 40" LCD TVs are about 26" high, which would make the 330 ideal for placing
along both sides and the bottom of the display. To further cater to this crowd, the 330 is
endowed with more flare than one normally sees in a $638/pair speaker. The removable front
grille is straight on one side and curved on the other, and each edge of the front baffle
is beveled. A nice touch is the magnetic Paradigm logo, which can be placed on the side or
bottom, depending on whether youre using the speaker upright, or on its side for
center-channel duty. This speaker has so many swoops and angles that its only flat surface
is its rear panel. Paradigm sent the silver version of the Cinema 330s; they can also be
ordered in black or black gloss.
The Cinema 330s cabinet is a sealed box -- i.e.,
no ports -- which makes it suitable for mounting on a stand or wall. Normally, a sealed
box requires more amplification than a ported speaker to produce the same sound level, but
Paradigm specifies a very high room sensitivity of 94dB for the Cinema 330. I found them
easy to drive to loud volumes with my receivers.
The Cinema 330 has five drivers: a central 1" pure
titanium dome (PTD) tweeter flanked by two 4.5" injected-molded copolymer (ICP)
midrange drivers, these in turn flanked by two 4.5" polypropylene bass drivers. This
DAppolito-like configuration serves to control the tweeters vertical
dispersion in a room. The tweeter crosses over to the midrange at 2kHz, the midrange to
the woofer at 400Hz.
The Cinema ADP is quite a bit smaller, its wedge-shaped
cabinet measuring only 7.5"H x 4.75"W x 5.25"D. Each of its two angled
faces has a 1" PTD tweeter and a 3.5" ICP midrange. ADP, for "Adapted
Dipole," is Paradigms way of saying that this is a hybrid bipole/dipole
speaker. Essentially, the tweeters are wired out of phase, as in a dipole, while the
midrange drivers are wired in phase, as in a bipole. According to Paradigm, the result is
an ideal surround speaker, with good bass response and good dispersion -- atmospheric
sounds from the surround channels arent localizable at the surround speakers.
The UltraCube 10 looks similar to Paradigms Seismic
12 subwoofer, which I reviewed, but its cabinet is even smaller -- its a nearly
perfect 1 cube. Also like the Seismic 12, the UltraCube 10 has one downward-firing
driver (in this case a 10-incher), and one passive radiator (in this case, 9") on
each of two of its sides. The 10" cone is driven by a massive class-D amplifier
(Paradigm calls it Super-Class-D) rated to put out a whopping 650W RMS/1500W peak power.
The UltraCube 10 weighs only 29 pounds, which indicates to me that some compromises -- a
less rigid cabinet, a smaller driver magnet -- have been made to bring it in at the
bargain price of $849, which is less than half the price of the 67-pound Seismic 12.
I had a bit of difficulty setting up the Paradigm Cinema
330s as main speakers: The speakers matching stands were on back order, I
couldnt get them in time for the review, the 330s angled sides and bottom
didnt match the stands I had on hand, and my 92" projection screen takes up
most of the front wall of my listening room, so no wall-mounting. I compromised by placing
the Cinema 330s upright against some bookshelves, slightly toed-in toward my listening
seat. The imaging with two-channel music-only recordings was good; I was satisfied with
the sound I was getting from the main left and right 330s.
Those pesky angled sides and bottom also made positioning
the Cinema 330 as a center-channel speaker a bit difficult. I set my third 330
horizontally on a small stand in the front center of the room, which aimed the sound
somewhat toward the ceiling. I didnt think this would be a problem, but film
dialogue sounded quite nasal. To reduce the angle, I placed some Blu-Tack on the
speakers bottom, toward the rear; it then sounded much better.
I initially tried the Cinema ADPs in my usual surround
positions: on high stands about 45 degrees behind the direct sides of my listening seat.
However, too much sound from the surround channels then fired directly at me; I prefer a
more diffuse surround sound. I then mounted the ADPs at a height of about 7 on my
sidewalls, where they sounded their best. Thankfully, the UltraCube 10 subwoofer was easy
to place in my usual sub location: the rooms right front corner.
With movies, the Paradigm Cinema 330 system really rocked.
The UltraCube 10 provided deep bass a couple of notches above what you get from most
lifestyle systems. While watching Munich, I was floored by the hotel explosion in
chapter 7. The UltraCube 10 made this scene frighteningly real, riveting me to the screen.
Although larger subs, such as the Axiom EP500 and Paradigms own Seismic 12, take the
bass so low that you feel rather than hear it, the UltraCube 10 acquitted itself well for
such a small, reasonably priced subwoofer.
The other star of this system was the Cinema 330 itself.
Through the unit I used as a center-channel, dialogue was clean and intelligible. With
movies such as Children of Men, it was easy to follow the dialogue throughout, and
understand the plot without reverting to subtitles. Clive Owens voice wasnt
too chesty, though it was a bit thinner than through more expensive centers. Pans across
the front soundstage were nearly seamless, but I did detect a slight tonal difference as
voices moved from a main to the center-channel speaker, as in the beginning of chapter 7
of Cars. This was more evident with female voices; in chapter 24, Maters
voice (Larry the Cable Guy) made a seamless transition from front left speaker to center.
The Cinema ADPs provided great surround envelopment, as has
every set of Paradigm ADP speakers Ive heard. The ADPs small size enabled me
to hang them high on my wall using simple hooks, without worrying about them crashing
down. One of my favorite Foley effects is the rain in chapter 21 of Road to Perdition.
With the ADPs in these positions, this scene was more immersive than Ive heard with
other surround speakers. However, the ADPs diminutiveness had a downside: Any
discrete effects, such as bullets ricocheting, sounded thin when compared to their sound
through the front Cinema 330s. There was also a tonal mismatch in front-to-rear pans, such
as the cars whizzing by in . . . Cars.
The Athena WS-series is another lifestyle system with which
Im quite familiar. It consists of the WS-100 floorstanders, the WS-60
center-channel, the WS-15 surrounds, and the AS-P4000 subwoofer, and retails for about
$1300 -- $736 less than the Paradigm Cinema 330 system. I found that the Cinema 330, used
as a center-channel, had airier highs that resulted in more realistic female voices, such
as Cameron Diazs Princess Fiona in Shrek.
The Cinema 330 system also excelled in the low bass. The
UltraCube 10 had more impact than the Athena AS-P4000 sub that I use in my smaller system.
Watching an action film such as Children of Men, which has lots of explosions and
gunfire, was more startling with the Paradigm sub than with the Athena.
Paradigms Cinema ADP and Athenas WS-15
surrounds are similar in size, the Cinema having four drivers and the WS-15 being a
conventional monopole. There was a huge difference in the degree of surround envelopment:
the Cinema ADPs filled in the sound behind me in scenes such as the race scene in chapter
30 of Cars.
Used as main front speakers, the Paradigm Cinema 330s can
be favorably compared to a good set of bookshelf speakers such as the Axiom M3s, a pair of
which I had on hand. I compared the two models while listening to the excellent CD reissue
of Sam Cookes Night Beat [RCA/Legacy 82876 69551 2]. With "Nobody Knows
the Trouble Ive Seen," deeper bass was evident with the Axiom M3s, but the
Cinema 330s tighter upper midrange made Cookes voice more palpable. This
tightness allowed a better blend with the Paradigm UltraCube 10 when I used the sub with
both pairs of speakers. With the Axiom M3s, Cookes voice had a more stable center
image than with the Cinema 330s.
I really enjoyed my time with Paradigms Cinema 330
home-theater speaker system. The Cinema 330 and UltraCube 10 sub are class-leading
speakers when compared to other lifestyle speakers Ive reviewed, and provided a lot
of value. The Cinema 330 sounds very similar to other bookshelf speakers, but throws in
stylish good looks for a small premium. Although the Cinema ADPs provided impressive
surround envelopment, they seemed out of place in the presence of the Cinema 330s. This
can be remedied by throwing in another pair of Cinema 330 speakers for surround duties.
Then youd have a killer system with great looks and great sound.
|Receivers - Outlaw 1050,
- JVC XV-721 DVD player, Pioneer Elite PD-65 CD player, Sony DVP-NS975V SACD player
|Cables - Sonic Horizons,
TARA Labs, Nordost
Devices - Sony KV-34HS420 direct-view TV, Sanyo PLV-Z5 projector