When Robert Harley, editor of our sister magazine The Absolute Sound, reviewed an early version of Paradigm’s Atom Monitor surround system back in 2001 (The Perfect Vision, issue 38), he came away impressed by the system’s performance, not just because it was good “for the money,” but because it was good in a broader sense. Fast forward to 2008 and to the fourth-generation version of the Atom Monitor system, and history repeats itself. Now as in 2001, the Atom Monitor rig stands as one of the best-sounding and most well rounded surround systems in its class—a system that in many ways performs “beyond its pay grade.”
The $1474 system consists of a pair of two-way Atom Monitor bookshelf main speakers, a three-way/ four-driver CC-190 center channel (one of the few three-way center-channel speakers in our survey), a set of two-way/four-driver ADP-190 dipole surround speakers, and a 100-watt PDR-8 subwoofer.
What sets the “v.4” version of the Atom Monitor system apart from its predecessors is its advanced, high-technology drive units. The system features Paradigm Atom Monitor System Highs Mids Bass Imaging & Soundstaging Dynamics Versatility Value 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 poor excellent drivers whose cones and domes are made of specialized (low mass, high stiffness, low resonance) materials, and larger drivers are fitted with ultra-rigid frames (or “baskets”) made of cast composites. Paradigm is famous for finding clever ways to apply what were once exotic and expensive technologies in budget-minded products—technology “trickle down” that pays big sonic dividends in the case of the Atom Monitor package.