HOME THEATER & SOUND -- www.hometheatersound.com



November
2005

Reviewed by
Doug Schneider
REVIEWERS' CHOICE 2005


Mirage
Omnisat v2 FS / Omnisat v2 CC / Omnisat v2 / Omni S10
Home-Theater Speaker System

Features SnapShot!

Description

Model: Omnisat v2 FS floorstanding speaker
Price: $1000 USD per pair
Dimensions: 45"H x 5.5"W x 5.9"D
Weight: 21.75 pounds each

Model: Omnisat v2 CC center-channel speaker
Price: $400 USD
Dimensions: 17.8"W x 5.21"H x 4.62"D
Weight: 5.4 pounds

Model: Omnisat v2 main or surround speaker
Price: $500 USD per pair
Dimensions: 8.12"H x 5.53"W x 5.9"D
Weight: 4.8 pounds each

Model: Omni S10 subwoofer
Price: $500 USD
Dimensions: 17"H x 14.7"W x 18.5"D
Weight: 41 pounds

Warranty: Five years on speakers; one year on subwoofer


Description (cont'd)

System Price: $2400 USD

Features

  • Omniguide technology (Omnisat v2, v2 FS, v2 CC)
  • Black and silver finishes (Omnisat v2 FS and v2 CC); black, platinum/black, silver and white finishes (Omnisat v2); black, platinum and cherry finishes (Omni S10)
  • Pure Titanium Hybrid tweeter (Omnisat v2 FS, v2 CC, v2)
  • Polypropylene Titanium Deposit Hybrid driver (Omnisat v2, v2 FS, v2 CC)
  • Amplifier "true FTC rated" to deliver 200W continuously with 800W peaks (Omni S10)
  • Elliptical Surround technology (Omni S10)
  • Magnetic shielding (Omnisat v2, v2 FS, v2 CC)

I am a hardcore moviegoer and a pretty lucky guy. Near my home is a large multiplex theater that shows almost every Hollywood blockbuster that’s in current release, and not too far from that is a first-rate art-house theater that features more obscure films -- small-budget Hollywood features, hard-to-find independent releases, an assortment of foreign films, not to mention advertising festivals and other films you just can’t find anywhere else. There’s never a shortage of something good to see, so I go to about three movies at a theater every week.

But something happened when I hooked up the new Omnisat v2-based home-theater speaker system sent to me for review. I stopped going to the theater as much and I started watching more movies at home, which is exactly what happened when I reviewed the original Omnisat-based home-theater system, the Omnisat 6, back in 2002. Mirage’s Omnisat v2-based home-theater speaker system is something special among the abundance of 5.1-channel speaker systems on the market today.

Description

I don’t know if I was the first person to review the original Omnisat, but I was certainly one of the first. Since then I’ve reviewed many more of Mirage’s Omnisat-inspired designs, including the Nanosat, the Uni-Theater, and the Omnisat v2 FS (which is part of this system), all of which employ the Omniguide first introduced in the Omnisat.

The Omniguide comprises two drivers, a low- and a high-frequency unit, and two specially placed saucers that disperse the sound waves from those drivers over 360 degrees. Unlike typical 360-degree-radiating speakers, though, the drivers and saucers in Mirage’s speaker are angled in such a way so that more energy leaves the front of the speaker than the rear. The idea is to create the expansive soundfield that true 360-degree radiators are known for, but with more forward energy akin to a traditionally designed direct-radiating loudspeaker to give better soundstage focus. Sort of the best of both worlds.

With speakers like these, the one thing you need to concern yourself with is the room in which you will use them. This is a consideration with any loudspeaker, and particularly with one that radiates its sound over 360 degrees. With energy dispersed in the way these speakers do it, you need walls because the speakers are relying on reflections from these surfaces to sound right. Frankly, almost everyone has a room with four walls; however, someone who has an open-concept living room with few or no walls might have trouble getting these speakers to sound right. Likewise, if you audition these speakers in a very large store where the system is placed out on the showroom floor far from any walls, it’s not going to sound the same as it would in a room at home.

The Omniguide modules in the v2 FS and v2 are the same, each containing a 4.5" Polypropylene Titanium Deposit Hybrid driver and a 1" Pure Titanium Hybrid tweeter. The v2 satellite is a two-way design crossed over from woofer to tweeter at 2.7kHz, while the v2 FS is a two-and-a-half-way design crossed over from the woofer to the tweeter at 2.5kHz. To deliver substantial bass from what’s a relatively tall and narrow enclosure, the v2 FS also employs two active woofers and four passive radiators, all lined up on the front of the speaker’s slender cabinet. The active woofers are crossed over to the driver that’s in the Omniguide at 900Hz. The Omniguide's driver, however, is not rolled off in the low end -- it works with the front-mounted drivers all the way through the bass region.

The v2 CC, a three-way design, uses a 3/4" version of tweeter in the v2 and v2 FS, and a 3" version of the Polypropylene Titanium Deposit Hybrid driver to reproduce the midrange frequencies. Two more 4.5" drivers flank each side of its Omniguide to deliver bass. The midrange and tweeter cross over at 2.7kHz, while the midrange transitions to the bass drivers at 550Hz.

The only speaker in the entire system without an Omniguide module is the pint-sized-but-potent-sounding Omni S10 sub, which features a built-in amplifier that is said to deliver 200W continuous and 800W peaks. The question you might ask is, Why no Omniguide here? The reason is quite simple: bass frequencies, because of their long lengths, are omnidirectional, so they don’t need any sort of dispersion devices to help them spread throughout the room. They just do. That’s why, for example, you can have forward-, rearward-, or side-firing woofers on speakers and not be able to tell exactly where the sound is originating from, something you can’t do with a tweeter or even a midrange driver. And it’s also why the woofers on the v2 CC and v2 FS don’t have reflectors for the bass drivers either.

However, the S10 has a feature that's almost as interesting -- Mirage’s Ribbed Elliptical Surround, which has "ribbing" molded into the woofer’s surround. This is said to provide greater excursion capability for the driver's cone and lower distortion. If that’s what accounts for this little sub’s thoroughly impressive performance, or at least part of it, I’m all for it. The S10 has a phase-inversion switch, adjustable crossover, and a switch to defeat the crossover if you’re using the crossover in your processor or receiver.

I used this Mirage system with some very inexpensive electronics -- a Nakamichi AV-10 receiver, a Harman Kardon DVD 31 DVD player -- that didn’t seem to hinder the performance one bit. This indicates to me that you can expect very good results from this speaker system without breaking your bank account. In fact, people who hear and see this system swear up and down that it costs a whole lot more than it does because it performs so well and looks so good.

Performance

I like going to movie theaters because at home I never hear what I call "the bubble of sound," which is what I experience in a good theater. I’m talking about an expansive, immersive experience from which I hear the sound but don’t necessarily know exactly from where it’s coming. Audiophiles refer to this as the speakers "disappearing"; when speakers don’t disappear, they draw attention away from the movie or music to the sound system, which I find distracting. This happens most often with center-channel speakers, which often don’t match the main speakers tonally and end up sticking out like a sore thumb, or with poorly implemented surrounds that let you know that the sound is coming from right "there" and over "there." A good surround experience shouldn’t be like that -- it should be expansive and seamless.

Mirage’s speakers never fail at making "the bubble" -- creating a soundfield that’s impressively large given the speakers’ size and not hard to achieve with the speakers set up in a modestly sized room.

The Forgotten is a somewhat entertaining movie with a knockout soundtrack. It’s exceptionally clear-sounding and makes wonderful use of all channels by creating great effects that enhance and never distract. The result through the Mirage system was an absolutely massive soundfield that never gave a hint of the speakers' placement. From the get-go this speaker system immersed me in sound, and although I still knew there were three speakers in front of me and two behind, I wouldn’t have been able to guess how many or even where they were placed based only on what I heard.

That seamless, spacious soundfield is a product of Mirage’s Omnipolar technology -- which is all about the Omniguide -- but also the quality of each loudspeaker and how they all work together as a system, something often forgotten by many people who pick their speakers one by one. Like the Omnisat 6 system I reviewed a few years back, this Omnisat v2 system comes together in a way I rarely hear with other home-theater systems, and it’s obvious that all these speakers were designed to work as a team.

I reviewed the v2 FS speakers in a two-channel, music-only system on SoundStage! A/V earlier this year. I said plenty of good things about them, but I might have shortchanged them a bit in that review. In a nutshell, the longer I listen to them, the more I like them, and if I were to review v2 FS speaker again today, the review would be even more positive. They seemed to get even better with time, and I’m not talking about some break-in thing.

The v2 FS, and all the new v2 speakers for that matter, are exceptionally smooth- and refined-sounding, particularly through the mids and up through the highs. In fact, they have the kind of tidiness and purity that audiophiles often swoon over and pay lots of money to get. The v2 FSes don’t bowl you over with visceral wallop and impact -- they’re not some big, boxy brutes that you play loud at parties -- but they do enchant with their always-easy-on-the-ears sound quality. That’s one of the reasons they’ve impressed me more over time -- I don’t tire of their sound as I do with some speakers. They’re not necessarily strong in the bass -- they don’t have great weight or real slam -- but they’re not light, either. For home theater they certainly need a sub to help out, but on their own with music, I found them fleshed out enough.

And they simply do wonderful things with acoustic music, which forms a large part of what plays in my house. My wife plays a lot of Latin music that features unamplified instruments and has a strong emphasis on vocals. The v2 FS, even used just in a stereo setup, creates a massive, expansive soundfield and presents such a relaxing, enjoyable presentation that you can leave the system on all day and never tire of what you hear. I wouldn’t say these speakers are the pinnacle of accuracy, but they do reach for the heights when it comes to enjoyment.

I’m not giving away anything about The Forgotten by saying that it has a bit of violence; certain characters get killed off from time to time. That tends to be what happens in Hollywood movies today. It’s how and when it happens in this movie that’s quite interesting, and it’s the sound effects used that will put a big smile on your face, providing your subwoofer is up to the task, which the S10 most certainly is. The sound effect the filmmakers use to deal with certain characters’ fates can be described as deep, rounded, and so impactful that, if your subwoofer doesn’t bottom out, will first seem to kick you in the chest, and then seem to blow apart your living-room walls. In short, the Omni S10 had the kind of impact in my room that I’d expect from a subwoofer twice its size and priced quite a bit more.

As for the v2 CC center-channel speaker, it’s really the only center-channel you can consider using with this type of system. It matches the other speakers visually and sonically, and the way it radiates sound matches the v2 FS perfectly, helping to create a seamless front stage where all of the speakers just disappear. As well, the v2 CC is so compact that it’s cute. It takes up hardly any space and it’s light, and the cup-type stands that hold it in place are so simple that they make setup a snap. Like the v2 FS, it’s a rather brilliant design.

The only real caveat I have about the v2 CC is a lack of bass. For example, I recently watched The Criterion Collection’s release of Lasse Hallström’s 1985 film My Life as a Dog. The sound is mono, heard only through the center-channel speaker (as opposed to using the two mains with the same signal), which must be up to the task of handling it all. The v2 CC has excellent clarity and, like the v2 FS, is very-tidy-sounding and clean up top. What it lacks, though, is a real low end, making a soundtrack like that for My Life as a Dog sound a bit thin unless you direct some energy to the sub.

Then there are the v2 satellites used for surrounds. Like the v2 CC, the v2 matches the rest of the system visually, sonically, and spatially. Here, though, you have a choice as to what you can use. I was content with the v2s in the back, but as with the v2 CC, I found that they lacked real bass -- no surprise given their size. On the other hand, they’re so small they take up hardly any space, and they come with a built-in mounting bracket so you can use them on a wall. Basically, you’re trading bass for small size and convenience. In a perfect world, though, where money is limitless and you’re not concerned with floor space, it’s obvious that you could use a pair of v2 FSes in the back, too, delivering more bottom end in the back channels and negating the need for any stands. That would increase the price of the system $500, less the price of stands for the v2, obviously. In my room, I’d go that way.

But not everyone is like me -- with ample floor space and the willingness to just plunk down extra money. Besides, floor space or not, some people don’t want another floorstander behind them. That said, there’s no doubt that at $2400 this Omnisat v2-based system with the v2 FS, v2 CC, v2, and Omni S10 is reasonably priced, great-sounding and very well-styled.

The evolution of the Omnisat

If Mirage produced a picture of the evolution of the Omnisat speaker, it would show the original Omnisat emerging from the far left; next to it would be the Nanosat, which is actually quite a bit smaller than the original Omnisat and formed the design basis for the new v2 models; following that would be the new Omnisat v2 satellite itself, more or less a grown-up version of the Nanosat; and then on the far right, standing upright, would be the Omnisat v2 FS floorstander.

From its impressive debut in 2002, the original Omnisat has evolved into a diversified and impressive lineup, with models that are all better than the original Omnisat in every way and just as good a value. So, yes, that means that I believe that this Omnisat v2 system is quite a bit better than the Omnisat 6 system I liked so much and lived with for so long. The new Omnisat v2 series has overcome the original Omnisat’s "too-laid-back" character in the mids, the strongest criticism I had of that model, and have kept the audiophile traits of purity and cleanliness in their sound, particularly through the mids and highs. They’re also styled more attractively overall. Furthermore, there’s a far better blend between the speakers in this system with the Omni S10 sub than with the Omnisat 6 system and the LF-150 sub that came with it. The LF-150 was impressive for its bass depth and heft (it goes lower than the S10 and can fill a larger room), but it sounded a touch slower than the Omnisats, making for some inconsistency from top to bottom. The Omnisat v2 speakers and Omni S10 sub blend seamlessly.

Conclusion

I recommend Mirage’s Omnisat v2-based home-theater system with even greater enthusiasm than the original Omnisat 6 system. I like the looks, I like the sound, I like the build quality, and I especially like the fact that I can stay home and enjoy movies more often without feeling any unease with the sound. While this speaker system won’t be a good choice for a very large room based on its smallish size, for average-sized listening or living rooms, which is what I suspect most people have, it will produce a soundfield that defies its size and give you a sense of envelopment and involvement that's uncanny.

For $2400 for the whole setup, Mirage’s Omnisat v2-based theater is a high-style high-end bargain.

Review System
Receiver - Nakamichi AV-10
Sources - Harman Kardon DVD 31
Cables - Nordost, DH Labs
Monitor/Projector - Sony Trinitron direct-view
 

Manufacturer contact information:

Mirage Speakers
3641 McNicoll Avenue
Toronto, ON M1X 1G5 Canada
Phone: (416) 321-1800
Fax: (416) 321-1500

Website: www.miragespeakers.com


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