It isn't an easy task to find the right loudspeakers, and ultimately, for you to be happy, they have to sound good to you. If you are looking for new set of home theater loudspeakers that are stylish, sound great, and are affordable, put the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT on your consideration list. The system consists of five compact bookshelf speakers for the center, left, and right front and surrounds, and a 100 watt 8-inch powered subwoofer. After reading the following review, also check out my Photo Profile for an additional close-up look at this speaker system.
Paradigm Cinema 100 CT Product Overview - Center and Satellite Speakers
1. Drivers: Two Drivers/2-Way Acoustic Suspension Design. Bass/Midrange: (4 in) S-PAL (satin anodized pure-aluminum) cone. Tweeter: 25-mm (1 in) S-PAL dome, ferro-fluid damped and cooled.
2. Frequency Response: ±2 dB from 125 Hz - 20 kHz (on axis), ±2 dB from 125 Hz - 15 kHz (at 30 degree off axis). On-axis refers to listening position directly facing speaker, off-axis refers to listening position + or - 30 degrees to either side or above/below the speaker.
3. Sensitivity: 85db (represents how loud the speaker is at a distance of one meter with an input of one watt).
4. Impedance: 8 ohms (can be used with amplifiers that have 8 ohm speaker connections)
5. Power Handling: 15 to 100 watts, maximum continuous input power: 50 watts.
6. Crossover Frequency: 1.8 kHz
7. Dimensions: (HWD) 8-3/8 in x 4-13/16 in x 6-13/16 in (21.2 cm x 12.2 cm x 15.7 cm)
8. Weight: 4.0 lb/1.8 kg each
9. Finish: Black Gloss.
10. Can be table or wall-mounted (hardware options for both provided).
11. Suggested Price: $299 if purchased as a pair, $449 if purhased as trio (5 Cinema 100 CT satellites plus Cinema Sub package price: $999.
Product Overview - Paradigm Cinema 100 CT Powered Subwoofer
1. Driver: Bass Reflex with Dual rear ports, 8-inch Polypropolene Driver.
2. Frequency Response: 35 Hz - 150 Hz, Low Frequency extension to 32Hz.
3. Phase: 0 or 180 degrees (synchronizes in-out motion of sub speaker with in-out motion of other speakers in system).
4. Amplifier Power Output: 100 watts RMS (continuous power output capability),
5. Crossover Frequency (frequencibelow this point are passed to the subwoofer): Variable 35 Hz - 150 Hz (continuously variable), Bypass mode.
6. Power On/Off: On, Auto, or Standby mode.
7. Dimensions: (HWD) 13-7/16 in x 12-11/6 in x 12-11/16 in (34.2 cm x 32.2 cm x 32.2 cm).
8. Weight: 21.4 lb/9.7 kg
9. Connections: RCA Line inputs (Mono, Stereo, or LFE).
10. Available Finishes: Black Gloss, Black cloth
11. Suggested Price: $349 (if purchased by itself).
The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:
DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.
Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.
Blu-ray Discs: Across The Universe, Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, Hairspray, Inception, Iron Man 1&2, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Super 8, The Dark Knight, The Incredibles, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.
CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.
DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.
SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.
How a speaker system sounds is the most important consideration, and with that in mind, the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT Home Theater Speaker System did not disappoint. The speakers assigned to the main and surround channels performed their job very well. Clean, undistorted, sound was delivered across a wide frequency range and dispersed widely into the room. When sound was intended to be immersive it was. When precise direction and location accuracy was important it was. Also, in cases where sounds panned from one speaker to the next, the "dipping" that is sometimes noticeable was minimal.
Center channel dialog and vocals, which emphasizes the midrange frequencies, were clear, distinct, and had good depth. Good examples of mid-range vocal reproduction was on Norah Jones distinctive rendition of Don't Know Why, the Dave Matthews/Blue Man Group's Sing Along, and Sade's distinctive vocals in Soldier of Love.
Surround effects in several notable with movie scenes, such as the train wreck scene in Super 8, the first battle scene from Master and Commander, the arrow assault scene in Hero, the echo game scene from House of the Flying Daggers, the Tyrannosaurus scenes in Jurassic Park, as well as the surround content from music sources, such as the SACD version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and the surround harmonies in the DVD-Audio version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody were all reproduced well, with excellent detail.
I found the powered subwoofer to be an excellent match for the rest of the speakers. With its 8-inch front facing driver and dual rear ports, the subwoofer provided very good lower frequency response. The bass response was fairly tight and complemented both music and movie tracks appropriately, providing good bass effect, without unnecessary boominess.
In two tests, the Cinema 100 CT Sub performed well, with only a slight drop-off in the extreme low end with Heart's Magic Man, and Sade's bass heavy Soldier of Love both of which are challenging low frequency cuts for any subwoofer.
What I Liked
There was a lot to like about the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT Home Theater Speaker Package, including:
1. Overall system sound is very good to near excellent with both movie and music content.
2. Center channel provided great vocal presence, detail, and depth in the mid-range frequencies.
3. The speakers assigned to the main and surround configuration, project a much larger sound image that their size would indicate, which is perfect for surround sound listening.
4. Cinema 100 CT Sub provides excellent, tight, deep bass response especially considering its size.
5. Very smooth transition and blending between the Subwoofer and rest of system.
6. All the Cinema 100 CT speakers can be either mounted on the provided table stands, or wall mounted. Hardware for both options is provided.
7. The magnetically attached speaker grills make them easy to remove or reattach is desired.
What I Didn't Like
1. The Cinema 100 CT Sub rolls off slightly at the lowest frequencies, but more than holds it own with other subs of its size and even some that are larger.
2. Although I liked the provided table stands, they we a little awkward to attach to the speakers because you to thread your speaker wire through the stand and attached the wire to the speaker terminals before you screw the the stand to the speaker. The table stand covers the entire speaker terminal area.
3. Since the provided speaker table stands cover the entire speaker terminal area, you cannot remove or attach speaker wire unless the stand is removed first.
The Paradigm Cinema 100 CT is a great example of well-styled and engineered speaker system, that delivers great sound for reasonable price.
One thing I did have initial doubts about, as I unpacked the system, was that the center and satellite speakers were all physically identical. In many speaker systems, the center channel speaker that is provided has a different physical design and driver makeup than the rest of the satellite speakers, usually incorporating and extra mid-range/woofer to provide a wider soundfield and body for the center channel.
However, the dual driver horizontal design approach can also cause problems with wave interference between the two horizontal mid-range/woofers the further you move off-axis. In other words, Paradigm's design strategy to use the same single driver speaker for the center channel as the satellites for 100 CT system was not such a bad idea, especially since all the speakers are identically matched, both sonically and physically.
The Cinema 100 CT does a great job with both movies and music and, unlike many compact systems available at big-box stores, does a respectable job in the bass dept.
The surprising thing is that the great style and sound quality is priced at $999, and that even includes both the table mounts and wall mounting hardware, making the Cinema 100 CT a great value. If you are shopping for a compact speaker system for a modestly powered setup in a small or medium-size room, you definitely have to give the 100 CT a listen.
For a visual look and additional perspective on the Paradigm Cinema 100 CT home theater speaker system, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile.
For a look at other Paradigm Speakers I have reviewed, also check out:
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.