Founded by Ian Paisley way back in 1977 (after five years of fiddling with his speaker designs), Mirage introduced many breakthrough (and sometimes patented) speaker technologies into the market, incorporated into affordable, high performance products that took the industry by storm and shot the company to the top of the entry-level high-end heap. By the late 1980s, Mirage was the "it" brand in the space, and it remained there for quite a while, and paved the way for the litany of brands with whom it now competes. After mainstreaming its designs a bit as the high-end market shrank, Klipsch bought the company in 2006, and has done well in keeping its product lineup interesting and competitive.
The Omni S8 ($369.00/MSRP) is the entry-level model in the company's six-model subwoofer category. Similar in design to the bigger S10, the design employs a incorporates an 8-inch driver using the company's patented Ribbed Elliptical Surround, which lowers distortion and increases efficiency and excursion by changing the shape of the speaker surround to an ellipse, rather than the traditional "half roll," according to the company. The driver is front-mounted within a bass-reflex enclosure utilizing one downward-firing port. Also within the enclosure is the unit's amplifier which produces 400 watts of dynamic power and 100 watts of RMS power. Like the S10, the Omni S8 provides convenient front panel controls for Volume, Low Pass, and Phase, along with a "Filter" switch which defeats the crossover when the system already has bass management, such as when being driven by an LFE signal. The front panel controls are covered by the grill, which could be inconvenient but when compared to reaching around back it is no big deal). On a nice protruding connector panel, the rear panel provides a three-position power switch (On/Off/Auto), a single RCA input, and dual speaker level inputs on high quality binding posts. The power cord is non-detachable. Measuring 14.57 inches high by 11.81 inches wide by 15.35 inches deep and weighing in at 29 pounds, the Omni is pretty compact but hefty and solidly built. Its black-ash vinyl finish, big silver feet and front connector panel peeking above the grill look even better on the smaller S8 than on its big brother. The unit simply exudes an impression of substance, solidity, and a little brashness that stays on the right side of hokey.
For its small size, the Omni S8 really put out a lot of deep, punchy, fast bass that only occasionally sounded strained or flabby. In fact, the quality and quantity of bass coming from that small box was pretty impressive. On movies and games, especially with smaller speakers, the Omni S8 excelled on just about every level. It provided punch, weight and speed and always seemed in time, coherent, and in control even on challenging passages. The amp, while not incredibly powerful on an absolute basis, matched very well with the driver and entire design, and pushed any straining away from the experience to where you barely noticed it.
Read more about the sound of the Omni S8 on Page 2.
On music, as with the S10, the Omni S8 drew an excellent balance
between speed, impact and clarity, lending good weight to acoustic,
jazz, and even large scale classical recordings. It had enough speed to
keep up with the many subtle cues that music presents, and didn't
suffer from the random boom-boom offered by other budget designs. On
rock and electronic material, it needed some more attack and attitude,
but not much and delivered more than enough overall performance with
this material considering its very affordable price and compact size.
The Omni S8 didn't suffer much when near walls, and actually seemed to
benefit in some situations.
• The Omni S8 provides a superb
level of performance over all types of material, offering speed, detail
and impact with movies, games, and music and overall sounding much
bigger than its size would indicate.
• The Omni S8 excels with smaller main loudspeakers, can complement
bigger models with no problem, and is not very sensitive to room
• The Omni S8 looks fantastic, offering a clean, tight look and an overall excellent build quality.
• The Omni S8 occasionally showed some strain in high volume
situations, a little flab when reproducing very low bass, and lacked
ultimate detail on rock and electronic tracks.
• The Omni S8 only comes in Black-Ash, and its front panel controls are accessible only when removing the grill.
• The Omni S8 lacks outputs of any type.
The Omni S8 packs an incredible amount of value into its compact,
affordable package. Its sound delivers with an exclamation point, over
all types of music, home theater, and gaming material, providing a
terrific combination of weight, punch, speed, and detail with only
minor flaws that never detract from the presentation. 'Tight' is the
word that best describes this product - while it may be missing a
couple features and a smidge of ultimate fidelity, it delivers so much
for the price that you barely notice. The Omni S8 is an extremely
formidable contender in its price bracket, and must be auditioned by
all shoppers anywhere near it.