Although it’s not a household name in the UK, Paradigm is Canada’s largest speaker manufacturer, revered for its Signature and Reference subwoofers and high-end, high-performance speakers. But the Cinema 100 CT sees the company wandering into more affordable territory.
It’s a 5.1 channel system with five identical Cinema 100 satellites and the Cinema Sub, bringing you a complete living-room friendly speaker setup for just under a grand. That may sound pricier than most compact speaker systems, but when you consider the price brackets Paradigm usually operates in, it’s actually cause for celebration. The idea is to bring the company’s renowned sound quality to a size and price point that a wider audience can enjoy, not just super-rich cinephiles with their own cinema rooms.
The CT stands for Compact Theater, and design-wise it ticks all the compact system boxes. Gloss black finish? Check. Elegant curves? You bet. Diminutive dimensions? Check… well, sort of. These aren’t the most streamlined compact speakers we’ve ever encountered, with a J-Lo like back end that makes them seem quite chunky – but at 122(w) x 212(h)mm they still won’t take up much of your space.
These are gloriously good looking speakers, giving off a palpable sense of quality both visually and to the touch. The cabinets, fashioned from mineral-filled polymer and coated in a sexy gloss black finish, have a satisfying robustness about them – confirmed by the dull, solid thud that comes back when you tap one as opposed to the hollow thonk that some speakers reply with. What’s more they’re fairly hefty, which is always a positive sign. The little Paradigm badges come separately, so you can keep them anonymous if you wish.
They can be installed in a variety of ways. In the box are all the fixings you need to attach them to the wall – screw the metal brackets into the wall, screw the plastic clips into a hole in the back of the sats and then slide it onto the wall bracket. This Easy Mount system is an easy, secure mechanism that ensures a clean installation.
Alternatively there are tabletop stands that screw into the same hole on the back, each one crafted from a rubbery material that feels sturdy and secure. These stands have holes that you need to feed the wires through before attaching them, which is a bit awkward but keeps the cable nice and tidy. Finally Paradigm sells optional floor stands (MC-30) for £150 per pair.
The speaker cables attach to ‘push-thru’ binding posts with ‘Easy-Glide’ channels, which hold the wires firmly but make it fiddly to feed them through, plus the small holes don’t accept particularly thick wires.
The subwoofer is styled with an equal sense of panache. A black cloth grille is wrapped around the front, top and bottom of this cute cube, while the sides are lustrous gloss black panels, giving the Cinema Sub a level of cosmetic class that few subs can match – you can flip the sub and have the gloss panel on top if you prefer.
Given the company’s penchant for making massive, super-powerful subs, we’re also surprised by how compact it is (322(w) x 342(h) x 322(d)mm) – Paradigm’s engineers must have really held themselves back when making this one. You can attach the supplied feet to the bottom using the self-adhesive pads.
The centre speaker is one of the Cinema 100 satellites, which can be mounted horizontally or vertically. When mounting horizontally, it sits in the supplied cradle – fashioned from a similarly rubbery material to the other tabletop stands – and this provides a snug and secure base, with the added bonus of allowing you to tilt it to the angle you want.