HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



August
2007

Reviewed by
Vince Hanada

 


Paradigm
Cinema 330 / Cinema ADP /
UltraCube 10
Home-Theater Speaker System

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: 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


Description (cont'd)

System Price: $2036 USD

Warranty: Five years on speakers, three years on subwoofer amplifier, five years on other subwoofer parts

Features

  • 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)

Paradigm’s 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 I’ve heard?

Looks

It’s obvious from the Cinema 330’s 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 you’re 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 330’s 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 D’Appolito-like configuration serves to control the tweeter’s 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 Paradigm’s 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 aren’t localizable at the surround speakers.

The UltraCube 10 looks similar to Paradigm’s Seismic 12 subwoofer, which I reviewed, but its cabinet is even smaller -- it’s 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.

Substance

I had a bit of difficulty setting up the Paradigm Cinema 330s as main speakers: The speakers’ matching stands were on back order, I couldn’t get them in time for the review, the 330’s angled sides and bottom didn’t 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 didn’t think this would be a problem, but film dialogue sounded quite nasal. To reduce the angle, I placed some Blu-Tack on the speaker’s 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 room’s 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 Paradigm’s 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 Owen’s voice wasn’t 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, Mater’s 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 I’ve heard. The ADP’s 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 I’ve heard with other surround speakers. However, the ADP’s 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.

Comparison

The Athena WS-series is another lifestyle system with which I’m 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 Diaz’s 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.

Paradigm’s Cinema ADP and Athena’s 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 Cooke’s Night Beat [RCA/Legacy 82876 69551 2]. With "Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen," deeper bass was evident with the Axiom M3s, but the Cinema 330s’ tighter upper midrange made Cooke’s 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, Cooke’s voice had a more stable center image than with the Cinema 330s.

Verdict

I really enjoyed my time with Paradigm’s Cinema 330 home-theater speaker system. The Cinema 330 and UltraCube 10 sub are class-leading speakers when compared to other lifestyle speakers I’ve 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 you’d have a killer system with great looks and great sound.

Review System
Receivers - Outlaw 1050, Sony STR-DA5ES
Sources - JVC XV-721 DVD player, Pioneer Elite PD-65 CD player, Sony DVP-NS975V SACD player
Cables - Sonic Horizons, TARA Labs, Nordost
Display Devices - Sony KV-34HS420 direct-view TV, Sanyo PLV-Z5 projector
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Paradigm Electronics, Inc.
205 Annagem Blvd.
Mississauga, Ontario L5T 2V1
Canada
Phone: (905) 564-1994
Fax: (905) 564-8726

Website: www.paradigm.com

US distributor:
AudioStream
M.P.O. Box 2410
Niagara Falls, NY 14302
Phone: (905) 632-0180
Fax: (905) 632-0183

Website: www.audiostream.com


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