Published on November 12th, 2012 | by Kira0
Paradigm Millenia CT: 2.1 That Sounds Like A Million Bucks
We have been discussing quality headphones a lot these days, but haven't talked as much about your home setup? If you are an individual that requires high-end sound on the go, you'll probably want something decent in your bedroom and living room as well. Getting the right system can be tricky, however. How much space do you have available? What is your price range? What level of quality sound are you looking for? And are you looking for something for your computer or for your television or for your library?
We've recently been setting up and moving around, shaking and dancing thanks to the Paradigm Millenia CTsystem. This is a two speaker set with a separate subwoofer in a single package that also includes a control box that sort of replaces the need for a receiver. We've listened to a lot of speaker systems, from big-name sets to 5.1 Orbs, but this one is among the best. The manufacturer is well-regarded for the award-winning predecessor, the Millenia One CT, and this model shares quite a bit in common (but runs about half the price).
Right out of the box, we were impressed at the build quality- these are dense, fairly heavy pieces of gear, but still surprisingly small. At about eight inches tall, they're not much bigger than your average computer speakers, and can easily fit even on a desk. But the weight gives a definite clue: these bad boys pack a punch! And the subwoofer is, of course, larger, at about 16 inches tall. Instead of boxy, though, all three main pieces are oblong ovals. We used the optional included subwoofer cradle to stand it vertically, though it can be laid down as well. And the Millenia CT (which stands for Compact Theater) can easily fill a large room and probably go louder than you are interested in having them go.
The speakers have a nice modern look, sitting on stands that feature adjustable angles so you can set them to the perfect direction for optimal sound. The magnetically-attached grills are removable, which is the look we generally prefer. Each of the two speakers contains dual drivers, one smaller tweeter and another to handle the mids and bass. And it's certainly capable of being an amazing stand-alone system for your computer (it's even Apple-approved and available in their stores, a rarity amongst 2.1 systems). But the powered sub and interface box, not coincidentally about the size of an Apple TV, mean that you can also connect it to your projector or television for use as a home theater in a box or soundbar replacement system. One big advantage of the Millenia CT over the Proficient MaxTV MT2 we checked out recently or the ZVOX soundbar we tested- this one offers impressive soundstaging, with much bigger sound that surrounds a listener. Proper setup and orientation is key, but a 2.1 system offers a lot more bang for the buck. Even the quite expensive CEntrance Audiophile Desktop systemsounded a bit tame in comparison, as it's only a 2.0 system, albeit one with a true dedicated audiophile DAC and headphone amp.
We hooked it up to our PS3 in lieu of our receiver, and connected it using the digital audio input. Gaming, Blu-ray playback, and music were all rich, detailed, offering pinpoint accuracy and a real sense of tone missing from systems under $500. The subwoofer shook the floor, not besting larger models or quite equaling those with features like microphone tuning, but definitely punching way outside of the weight class. Explosions, especially, were impressive, and in first person shooters like today's release Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, we loved the sounds of gunfire, and deep orchestral sounds with individually-identifiable instruments. Each footstep jumped out. And for those who want control, you can adjust the bass level individually via a knob on the controller box. Plus, it's easy to connect your iPhone or other device using a normal headphone auxiliary jack. The cables are pretty great too, long enough for your speakers to spread out a bit.
The only real negative we saw to the Paradigm Millenia CT is the remote. It is the generic cheap remote that can control volume, mute, power, and switch between the audio and digital inputs. For a high-end system like this, it would be nice to have a more sophisticated remote, and perhaps some additional actual controls on the 'receiver' box itself. Beyond that downside, those thinking about it as a home theater system should think carefully- the inputs and outputs are a bit too limited in our opinion, and you might be better off finding individual components and finding or using a receiver. Of course, that's extra hassle, likely additional cost, and this is truly a "plug and play" solution that balances great quality, condensed sizing, but requires some wires. A wireless sub option might have been nice, and we're looking at one in the near future, but wireless adds cost and latency, reducing quality.
As always, if you want an amazing home stereo setup you are going to make an investment. The Paradigm Millenia CT is no exception to the rule. However, if you love to get the most from your music, games, or movies, you will also feel like this $700 investment is worth it. It's worth the pricetag, and is a gorgeous addition to any computer system or home audio setup. Available now, online and in stores.