Home-Theater Speaker System
says that the sound we hear in a real-life setting is a combination of 30% direct sound
and 70% reflected sound. Read that closely, because what theyre saying is that most
of the sound we hear does not come directly from the source; most of what we hear is
the original sound reflected one or more times. Such is Mirage's reference for real sound
and the combination of direct and reflected sound that they try to mimic with their
Omnipolar loudspeakers. To my ears, theyre on to something.
Price: $250 USD each
Dimensions: 8"H x 6.25"W x 8"D
Weight: 7 pounds each
Model: LF-150 subwoofer
Price: $500 USD
Dimensions: 12.5"H x 19.75"W x 14.25"D
Weight: 45 pounds
System price: $1700 USD
Warranty: Five years parts and labor for
OMNISAT; one year parts and labor for LF-150
- Omnipolar technology (OMNISAT)
- 1" Pure Titanium Hybrid (PTH) tweeter (OMNISAT)
- 4" Polypropylene Titanium Deposit Hybrid cone woofer
- Compatibility with Macromount wall-mounting bracket
- 10" Titanium Deposit Polypropylene Hybrid woofer with
1.5" voice coil (LF-150)
- 150W RMS subwoofer amplifier capable of 600W peaks (LF-150)
- Crossover Bypass input (LF-150)
- Magnetic shielding (OMNISAT and LF-150)
I reviewed the Mirage OM-7s
in SoundStage! and loved em. Theyre high-tech speakers that use front-
and rear-mounted drivers to create the unique dispersion pattern Mirage wants. The problem
is: At $2000-USD per pair, they arent cheap. And the OM-9, their lowest-priced
floorstander, still costs more than $1000 per pair. Theyre simply out of reach for
many stereo enthusiasts, not to mention home-theater buffs that require more than twice
the number of speakers. Until now.
The OMNISAT loudspeaker is the result of Mirages
head-designer Andrew Welker thinking outside the box about how to make a whole lot more
sound with fewer costly parts. It is a two-way bookshelf speaker with a decidedly
ultramodern appearance and unique way of working. The $1700 OMNISAT 6 home-theater speaker
system comes delivered in one large box containing five identical OMNISATs and one LF-150
subwoofer. Finally, Omnipolar technology for the masses.
When Welker thought outside the box, he basically
eliminated it too. The OMNISATs "Polypropylene Titanium Deposit Hybrid"
woofer cone measures just 4" in diameter and is housed in a uniquely shaped,
thick-walled plastic enclosure that measures only 8" deep and 6.25" across.
Knocking on the enclosure reveals it to be quite inert, and it has an almost suede-like
finish. The woofers baffle is cast aluminum -- strong, heavy, and attractive.
Hovering above the woofer -- sort of looking like the front part of Star Treks
Enterprise -- is a metal, spoon-like device that acts as a reflector for the woofers
output. Mirage calls that Enterprise-like thingy an OMNIGUIDE. The OMNIGUIDE also houses
the Mirage-made 1" "Pure Titanium Hybrid" tweeter that fires upward too.
Above the tweeter is another OMNIGUIDE. A removable, rounded wire-mesh grille protects
The angle of the drivers and the use of
the reflectors are the tricks to making 360-degree dispersion from only two drivers. It
looks simple, but theres more to it than meets the eye. Close inspection reveals
that those reflectors are not mounted directly over the center of each driver. Instead,
theyre placed ever-so-slightly toward the rear of the driver, and theyre
angled just a wee bit away from the driver too. The drivers dont fire straight up;
theyre on an angle too. The reason for all this is to send more sound to the front
of the speaker than to the rear. Its a 360-degree-dispersion speaker with a bias
toward the front. This, Welker says, is the key to the OMNISAT design. He contends that
putting a bit more energy out to the front than to the rear makes it sound more natural
when the sound waves are launched into the room.
The OMNISATs 4" woofer is rather small, so bass
response is limited. Mirage specs the -3dB point as 70Hz, so they need the supplied LF-150
subwoofer to help out. Impedance of the OMNISAT is said to be 8 ohms, with a 4-ohm
minimum. In-room sensitivity is specd to be 89dB. This is not necessarily the
easiest speaker in the world to drive, but receivers with modest power capability should
have no trouble with them. My Nakamichi AV-10 surround-sound receiver with its 100Wpc
output for the front channels did just fine.
The LF-150 subwoofer is self-powered by a 150W amplifier
(said to be capable of 600W peaks), and it has a 10" woofer that is said to deliver
bass down to 23Hz. The convenient auto-on feature makes it hassle-free to operate; having
the output level, phase control, and crossover dial on the front makes it convenient to
adjust. The only gripe I have about the LF-150 is that its not nearly as cool
looking as the space-age OMNISATs.
The ergonomic design of the OMNISAT satellite is flat-out
brilliant, and the build quality is superb. While $250 (the individual price of an
OMNISAT) is not cheap for a loudspeaker, each one is a substantial little speaker -- not
some cheap, flimsy molded thing. Their size -- just a bit bigger than a Nerf Ball -- makes
them wonderfully discreet. And they come in multiple colors -- white, black, platinum, and
black/platinum. Add in their placement versatility and they become a decorators
dream -- not often the case with loudspeakers.
If you have any type of flat surface -- a shelf, table, or
desk -- theyll sit firmly on that. And theyre magnetically shielded, so they
wont disturb monitors -- this is important, because one OMNISAT in this system needs
to act as a center-channel, more than likely plunked right on top of your TV.
Mirage also makes an attractive, all-metal stand so they
can be placed more conventionally on the floor. These stands cost an additional $150/pair
and take a wee bit of assembly, but once you have the bottom plate bolted to the pole and
the plastic top clip screwed in, the OMNISATs just clip onto them. Thats how I
positioned the mains and surrounds for my theater setup. Stand-mounted like this, they
look really sharp.
Alternatively -- and this is where it gets to be fun -- you
can start looking at your walls! Mirage has an advertisement showing two OMNISATs placed
fairly high on a wall, making them look sort of like on-wall lighting. The ad effectively
shows the versatility that the OMNISATs offer. One way to get them on the wall is to use
the "keyways" on the back of the cabinet. These
allow you to attach the speaker flat to the wall with a single screw, but limit
flexibility in terms of swiveling and pointing them. (Mirage says that if the mounting
height on the wall is less than six feet, they are to be oriented so that drivers
angle up; if the mounting height is more than six feet, then they are to face the
Another way to install the OMNISATs on the wall is to use
their Macromount bracket that attaches to the threaded insert on the back of the speaker.
Once attached, the Macromount allows you to swivel the speaker any which way. It may take
a bit of experimentation to get the positioning just right for the best sound, but the
convenience may well be worth it.
The LF-150 subwoofer doesnt have nearly that much
flexibility. Its doubtful that youll be hanging it from your walls or ceiling.
Nevertheless, like all subs, you can place it discreetly off to the side somewhere.
Whatever the case, dont think of operating this system without the LF-150; its
mandatory for good home-theater performance.
I started my listening with some two-channel music,
Didos No Angel CD [Arista 19025]. Without the subwoofer helping out the
bottom end, I could tell that the OMNISATs were just a little "light" on their
own -- meaning limited bass extension. The midrange, though, was clear and articulate, and
Didos voice was very cleanly rendered. The high frequencies were impressively
pristine -- never splashy or edgy -- lacking only the last bit of airiness. I suspect that
speakers that have a tweeter pointed directly at you have a little more energy, and
thats what were used to hearing. In contrast, the OMNISAT sounds a little
softer -- sometimes a good thing on overly bright recordings. Still, the OMNISATs counter
with qualities I dont hear from more conventional, forward-firing speakers.
I marveled at how spacious the OMNISATs sounded and how
well they disappeared. With conventional loudspeakers, without even looking its
usually quite easy to listen for a moment and then point and say that the sound is coming
from there and there. Achieving a truly boxless sound is tough. Not so with
the OMNISATs. They float sound freely. In fact, theyre a little disconcerting
because even as you move closer to one as its playing, you do not zero in on it
being the source of the sound as easily as you do with regular speakers. And boy, can they
throw a soundstage! With only a limited spread of about five feet between the speakers, I
achieved an impressive stereo stage that went slightly beyond the speakers
boundaries. And theres more.
Its normal that when you shift away from the center
position the soundstage and imaging mostly collapse. Thats just the nature of stereo
sound. But what many speakers also do is change their sound. Thats right, many
speakers sound different at different points in the room, with the "sweet
spot" usually ending up being the position that has the best imaging and the
best sound. I guess the people outside of that position are simply unlucky. On the other
hand, the sound from the OMNISATs stays remarkably similar wherever you are in the room.
And although the specificity of the stereo soundstage still collapses when you move away
from the center position, what stays impressively intact is the sense of spaciousness that
you hear when youre between the speakers. The sweet spot for imaging is still toward
the center, but now the sweet spot for good sound is much larger.
Of course, multichannel recordings can do an even better
job of giving you that sense of spaciousness, and the full OMNISAT 6 system showed its
I like the sultry thriller Lantana, with its moody,
atmospheric soundtrack that does wonders for the tone of the film -- natural sounds along
with a delicate and effective musical score thats peppered with some Latin-flavored
tunes. Surround effects are used sparingly, but effectively. As I listened to the
soundtrack, the first thing I noticed was how well the front channels worked together,
even with my center OMNISAT positioned about a foot higher than the left and right
speakers (a necessity due to the monitor). Sonically, the height difference was impossible
to perceive and the front stage spread was as seamless as Ive heard. I
shouldnt have been that surprised, I guess; the test tones from my receiver sounded
remarkably similar as they moved from speaker to speaker -- not often the case! As a
result, the movies sound didnt come from simply left, middle, and right like I
hear so often; the OMNISAT speakers disappeared splendidly and the sound came from the
front area where there was a multidimensional stage with good image specificity and
Having this type of seamless presentation at this price is
almost a revelation for me because oftentimes I find the discontinuity between the mains
and the center-channel too distracting to tolerate. Im not alone. I know some who
have tossed their center-channels out because of it. No, its not impossible to get
something that works well across the front, but usually its not cheap. The best
Ive heard is the Paradigm Reference home-theater system based on their Active-series
speakers (now discontinued). Set up in my room, it sounded fabulous across the front --
but it cost more than 6000 bucks! The OMNISAT 6 system gives you that type of cohesiveness
at an entry-level price.
And when the surrounds are enabled, yowza,
thats when the OMNISAT 6 system sizzles. I like the sound on All the Pretty
Horses too, because it uses rear-channel effects when appropriate, not simply as a
show-off feature. The way the OMNISATs disappear, its as if theyre not even in
the room. As a result, when I watched this with a friend at one point she said, "I
dont hear the rear channels playing." But then her head snapped back in an
flash when all channels were apparent because we were suddenly awash in a massive sound
field with birds, insects, horses, and countless other things completely surrounding us.
Whats more, the sound wasnt coming from the speakers, it seemed as if it was
coming from around us, like a fog setting in. Thats how multichannel should
work. It was my first taste of how big and spacious the diminutive OMNISAT 6 system can
The speaker system transformed the room into a collage of
sound that was astonishing at times. Left to right, front to back, the OMNISAT 6 system
plays together like a top-level team. Perfect? No. Lets touch on that.
I have just a couple of quibbles. The OMNISATs dont
image with laser-like precision like some forward-firing speakers Ive heard. They
send out a vast spread of sound that has excellent width and depth, but its not
hyper-precise. If youre the type of person who likes to hear the sound originate
from a spot the size of an ant, then perhaps these wont do it for you. Theyre
also not quite as immediate sounding as some speakers. As a result, vocals arent
quite as stark as they could be. In fact, the OMNISATs are a little laid-back and I ended
up nudging the volume a little to compensate -- this is identical to what I heard in
stereo listening. A problem? Not at all, and I can certainly overlook that because of the
way I was enveloped in Lantanas seedy and secretive little world and shrunk
to the size of a peanut amidst All the Pretty Horses expansive scenery. And
thats what the OMNISAT 6 system does so well: It immerses you in a sound field that
is impressive for how seamless it sounds and for the space it can create. I know of no
other surround-sound speaker system at this price, thats this small, that sounds
this right from speaker to speaker. But credit must be given to more than just the
speakers -- remember, the OMNISAT 6 is a system, and the multichannel sound
Ive been describing includes a subwoofer too.
All the Pretty Horses taught me that the LF-150
subwoofer is a necessity for this system to work well as a real home theater. The
OMNISAT satellites dont generate deep bass, so the LF-150 takes care of most of it.
Im pretty sure Mirage included this big sub, and not their smaller LF-100, to ensure
that home-theater enthusiasts get all the bass grunt that they want. I had to tweak the
positioning of the sub a bit to make it blend and disappear as well as the satellites, but
the result was worth the effort.
Chapter 10 of All the Pretty Horses is the scene
where John Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) prove their worth on the
Mexican ranch by breaking some horses -- its appropriately titled "16 Horses in
4 Days." Without the LF-150 turned on, the horses hit the ground with a featherweight
touch and the Mexican-flavored music that accompanies the action doesnt have much
weight or substance. With the LF-150 turned on, the room gets turned into an enormous
sound field with horses that have massive weight and attack, and music that has vibrancy
The LF-150 sub impressed me greatly
and I found that its actually more of a subwoofer in terms of output capability than
the OMNISATs need. The OMNISATs' 4" drivers can only play so loud -- theyre
excellent in small- to mid-sized rooms -- but the LF-150 has output capability that
Im sure could pressurize quite a large room. The Mothman Prophecies has some
seriously deep, tight bass and the LF-150 charged up my room to the max. I never came
close to taxing the LF-150, although I did come close to hitting the OMNISATs limits
a couple of times. The LF-150 may be just one of the six in this OMNISAT system, but
its one very important part.
I really enjoy the big, spacious sound from the diminutive,
space-age OMNISAT 6 system. Still, I know that some multichannel purists will object to
the way they work, likely contending that direct-radiating speakers should most definitely
be up front, and perhaps in the back too (although many already use dipoles in the rear to
achieve a more spacious sound, particularly if the distance behind the listener is
restricted). Purists will say that the software should take care of making the sound as
spacious as you need. In some ways, they probably have a point.
I also have multiple pairs of Axiom M3Ti SE loudspeakers
($275/pair) -- more conventional two-way speakers with a forward-firing woofer and
tweeter. I sometimes wire em up to be a full, surround-sound system -- identical
speakers all round, just like the OMNISAT 6 system (although placing the M3Ti SE
center-channel speaker is trickier than the OMNISAT). And just like the OMNISAT
satellites, these speakers need a subwoofer for real bass.
Part of the price difference comes in the construction. The
Axiom speakers are built very well for the price -- MDF cabinets formed into a unique
shape. The OMNISATs, though, are just a cut above and use more exotic materials -- one of
the things you expect when you pay quite a bit more. They also have more pizzazz that will
appeal to the lifestyle crowd. And they sound quite different too, making them an
excellent contrast in design goals.
With drivers facing directly at you, the Axiom system
sounds a little more incisive than the OMNISAT 6 system. Vocals are more upfront and the
upper frequencies are more pronounced. The Axiom systems imaging is a little more
specific too, but the stage is not as wide or as deep. With a good recording, the
Axiom-based system lets you hear the sound go from right there to over there
with pinpoint accuracy, providing you are in the center. And if the recording is
good, it can create a vast sense of space where the speakers disappear quite well.
But oftentimes the speakers dont disappear the way I
want and, as I said, thats one of the things that turned me off from home theater
some time ago. This isnt necessarily a fault of the Axiom system, but a fault of too
many home-theater systems in general. Too often I hear the channels become way too
obvious, particularly the center-channel speaker. Some of that can be due to the
recording, but inconsistencies among the speakers are usually to blame, whether the cause
is design or placement constraints. Whatever the case, the surround-sound illusion gets
lost. And thats what the OMNISAT 6 system has given back to me: an enveloping,
involving sound that is a little less immediate than you hear in more conventional
systems, but is amazingly cohesive from speaker to speaker. And the sound, although
its a little more relaxed (erring to the side of being polite rather than bright),
can be very pleasing on so many of those too-tipped-up-in-the-highs soundtracks. I lose
myself in movies at home with the OMNISAT 6 system more than I have for months -- and when
you are a movie fan, thats important!
Ive come to expect pretty stellar sound from a
complete $1700 home-theater speaker system. Anyone well versed in todays
home-theater market could ramble off a good number of companies offering topnotch sound
for this much money. Do some careful shopping and you wont go wrong with a good
number of systems. But what I havent come to expect at this price is real innovation
in design. Thats usually reserved for speakers costing much more than the OMNISAT
satellites, with technology "trickling down" to more affordable products later.
It doesnt usually go the other way around, but I suspect thats what will
The OMNISAT 6 provides a thrilling home-theater experience
that can sonically transform a small- to mid-sized room into something much larger. It has
a distinct sound, and if you like what it does, you may have trouble listening to more
conventional speakers the same way again. And this isnt to mention how good they
look, how discreet they are, or how many ways you can place them in your room. This is a
wonderful home-theater system that combines cutting-edge styling with serious-about-sound
sensibility at a price that finally makes Omnipolar technology affordable.
|Receiver - Nakamichi AV-10
- Kenwood DV-S700 DVD player
|Cables - Nordost, DH Labs
- Sony Trinitron direct-view monitor