|Paradigm Monitor Series 5.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2003|
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Many people make their first step into the world of budget home theater via pre-packaged “theater in a box” systems, which usually consist of a low-end receiver, a CD/DVD player, woefully inadequate speakers and a weak subwoofer. Electronics aside, if you are the owner of one of these lower-end systems and are looking to move up to a higher-performance audio/home theater speaker system that isn’t going to require you to take out a second mortgage, Paradigm has created the Monitor series of speakers. Priced under Paradigm’s top-end Reference series, the Monitor Series (not to be confused with Monitor Audio speakers from the U.K.) features a full line of floor-standing towers and bookshelf speakers available in several wood finishes, as well as a center channel and two-way surrounds, both available in only black. Paradigm manufactures a number of subwoofers, but there is no subwoofer in the Monitor line.
Consisting of the Monitor 9 floor-standing speakers, the CC-370 center channel, two ADP-370 rear/surrounds and the PW-2200 Subwoofer, this complete review system, strangely dubbed the System.Seven.2 by Paradigm, carries a retail price of $2,696, depending on options such as finish and magnetic shielding for the main speakers. Shielding the Monitor 9 costs $50 a pair extra. With its solid build and well-crafted fit and finish, this system looks like it is ready to rock hard, even before connecting a single speaker wire.
Speaking of connecting the speakers, I’ll begin first with the floor-standing Monitor 9. By themselves, these speakers look right at home in the two-channel system of an audiophile who has champagne taste but only a Molson budget. With a retail price of $849 a pair, the Monitor 9s allow the option of bi-wiring the speakers and have small gold jumper plates bridging the connections. Because I was powering this system from my Kenwood VR-5700 receiver, bi-wiring was not an option for me, but it’s nice to see that Paradigm has made this available for those with more advanced audiophile systems. These towers feature eight-inch, carbon-infused cone bass drivers, eight-inch ICP™ injection-molded co-polymer cones to handle the midrange duties and one-inch PTD™ ferro-fluid-damped, cooled pure titanium dome high-frequency drivers. This fairly tall and stout speaker measures in at 15-and-three-quarter inches deep, 43-and-one-eighth inches tall and 9-and-three-sixteenths inches wide, with optional metal spikes to keep them firmly in place. With a weight of 53 pounds each, the Monitor 9s are capable of reaching down to 45Hz and go up to 20kHz ± 2dB.
For the center and surround duties, the CC-370 center channel and ADP-370 surrounds are timber matched to integrate with any of the floor-standing or bookshelf speakers in the Monitor line. Like the Monitor 9, these speakers also feature ICP™ injection-molded co-polymer cones, albeit smaller at six-and-a-half inches, as well as the same one-inch PTD™ high-frequency drivers. This led me to believe that the sonic characteristics of all of the speakers in the system would be quite similar, a real bonus for suspending disbelief while listening to surround sound music and movie soundtracks.
The powered subwoofer in this system, the PW-2200 $799, is a monster, with a built-in 750-watt amplifier, a single 12-inch driver and bass reflex system with a critically tuned resistive port. While by no means the biggest subwoofer on the block, this 69-pound sub was built to go low and loud, perhaps a little too low and loud for my smaller (15’ x 20’) living room. Fortunately, Paradigm has built in most of the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a quality sub, such as a variable subwoofer cutoff frequency (50Hz to 150Hz), as well as soft clipping in case of huge volume spikes. Other features on the PW-2200 include variable phase alignment, speaker and line level high-pass outputs and Powersaver auto-on/standby, which saves you the hassle of having to turn the sub off when you aren’t using it.
Because I use this system in my living room as both a music playback and a home theater system, I made sure that my review sample Monitor 9s were magnetically shielded. This allowed me to place them on the sides of my television without the risk of damaging the picture tube. Space is at a premium in my room and although, not the ideal position for the speakers, it was good to know that I would not be wrecking my TV while experimenting with the placement of the Monitor 9s to obtain the best imaging and wouldn’t be too close to the fireplace to damage the black finish on them.
For rear/surround speakers in my room, I knew that a pair of Monitor series bookshelf speakers, such as Mini Monitors or Monitor 3s, were going to be a little small when matched up to the larger Monitor 9 mains. Because of this, as well as an awkward room design with a staircase on one side and a tall wall on the other, the ADP-370s were a perfect fit for an imperfect space. With their six-and-a-half-inch drivers and one-inch tweeters on each side that match the center channel, the ADP-370s have optimized radiation patterns to provide a uniform reverberant sound field and accurate full-bandwidth bass according to Paradigm. Translation: When I cued up the DVD “X-Men 1.5” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) and the THX audio demo began behind me, I thought my head was going to explode like one of the patrons in the audience on the “Simpsons” when Grandpa Simpson yells “Turn it up!”