Review: Paradigm Cinema 100 CT Speaker System

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Do you know an audio snob? One of those people who won't even give a new sound product the time of the day unless it is the newest, most-hyped and, above all, most expensive thing on the market?

If you do, they'll probably tell you that you can't buy a good home theater speaker system for under a grand. (In truth, they'll probably say you can't buy a worthy set of home theater speakers for under $10,000!)

Well, in your face, audio snobs of the world! Paradigm has rolled out its new Cinema 100 CT 5.1 surround home theater in a box package, and it's far more than a good value for the money. Offering the performance and style of speaker systems costing far more, in today's home theater landscape the Cinema 100 CT is a downright miracle!

An evolution of Paradigm's acclaimed Cinema CT systems, the Cinema 100 CT series has been completely redesigned and re-engineered for superior audio performance and exquisite visual impact. The look of this new series can't be undervalued; after all, drab-looking speakers can really spoil the aesthetic appeal of a room, prompting homeowners to hide them out of sight.

The Cinema 100 CT units have a killer look, with rounded edges making them art objects as well as delivery vehicles for great sound.

So let's get to the audio! I tested the Cinema 100 CT system with a series of recent Blu-ray and audio releases I had to review for E-Gear magazine (why not multitask?) First up was The Lion King, the time-tested Disney animated classic that was recently reissued in a new, remastered Blu-ray edition. Elton John's film music, along with the dialogue and sound effects, had a breadth and depth rivaling that of any cineplex, in my opinion. “The Circle of Life”, which opens the film, revealed new colors through these speakers, as an African choir cascaded above deep, bass-heavy instrumentation while vocals and strings soared above. The delicate moments in the film-and there are plenty-were equally well-delivered with gentle calmness and precise detail, especially with the relatively mixed-down jungle sound effects.

There may be no better test of a home theater's audio performance than a good ol' action movie, so next I popped in the Blu-ray of X-Men: First Class. Filled with tons of explosions and super-heroic sound effects (the final sequence of the film is a showdown during the Cuba missile crisis), this killer flick provided major rumble, enabling the Cinema 100 CT speakers to really strut their stuff. Explosions, intense soundtrack music and cool sound effects were all perfectly delivered, with fidelity and clarity (and no discernible distortion), and never at the cost of overwhelming the dialogue-even when I kicked up the volume a notch!

Finally, I tried some music. The tunes du jour for this session: the recently released CD from the  Red Hot Chili Peppers, Î'm With You. I thought this would be a good test for the system, in particular its subwoofer, as Flea's bass guitar is the driving force of RHCP's propulsive punk-funk. In a word: Wow. The bass was pounding without overwhelming the guitar, drums or vocals. Every boom and thwack of the drumming, from kick drum to snare to cymbals, was crisp and natural, never shrill or tinny.

What a killer system. The Cinema 100 CT is made up of six components: five Cinema 100 satellite speakers, and the truly outstanding 300 W Cinema subwoofer. With bookshelf stands and easy-to-use on-wall brackets included, it's good to go right out of the box. And with a $999 SRP, this is an ideal system for anyone seeking world-class sound performance at a real-world price.

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