The advertisement appeared just months before the speaker did. It was intriguing at first ... then almost annoying. Enough marketing, when would I get my chance to audition an OMNISAT ensemble?
Finally that day came. A relatively small box arrived with our daily shipments and a picture on the box confirmed the Mirage OMNISAT had arrived!
For those of you who are new to home entertainment, and for those of you who aren't, the Mirage name may still be relatively unknown. I have always considered Mirage to be a higher-end offering, not mass marketed or easily afforded by those with tight budgets. The enclosures have traditionally been very plain and straightforward while the technology has resided within the driver selection and crossover technology. The OMNISAT represents a radical departure for Mirage on many fronts.
Unique Features - Where do I begin? As the OMNISAT name implies, the "sat" or satellite is omni-directional. In other words, sound emanates in every direction. If you're an old audiophile, then you may want to sit down for this one. The OMNISAT line incorporates Mirage Omnipolar technology. Omnipolar technology relies on natural, and inevitable, room reflections to create a sound field not typically associated with conventional loudspeakers. More simply described as 70% reflective and 30% non-reflective--exactly the same ratio as natural sound. Okay, audiophiles, here it comes--the OMNISAT relies on off-axis response to create its desired sound field.
Remain seated for just one moment and, please, keep reading. When audiophiles hear the term "reflective" marketed with a speaker, they tend to get a little woozy. Oh, what the hell, I'll just come right out and say it--this is NOT similar to "Direct Reflective Technology" which has a hole in the soundstage big enough to drive a truck through the Mirage OMNISAT actually works well.
Now that that's off my chest, let me get back to the review. . .
Omnipolar designs have been attempted before with little success. While they may have worked well, they required twice the driver compliment and were inherently more obtrusive and much more costly. Effectively what Mirage has done is engineer an Omnipolar satellite speaker that uses a 1-inch tweeter and 4.5-inch mid/bass driver and high quality 5-way binding post connections. The end result is a compact speaker that weighs about 7 pounds and can be placed just about anywhere in the general proximity of 5.1 parameters.
Through the shape of the satellite, baffle offset and shaped acoustic reflectors above the speaker array, the OMNISAT speakers create a spherical radiating soundstage producing what Mirage calls "sweet spot everywhere."
To anchor the soundstage, the OMNISAT 6 ensemble features a Mirage LF-150 10-inch powered subwoofer. The LF-150 is also magnetically shielded (rare for a subwoofer), to keep it from potentially damaging your display, and features a 150-watt amplifier, 40Hz-120Hz @ 18db per octave variable crossover and high and low level inputs. The sub enclosure measures approximately 12x20x14 and weighs a hefty 45 pounds.
Click to Page 2 for Installation, Listening, and the Final Take.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The Mirage OMNISAT 6 offers various
installation methods--using optional (wall-type) Macromounts or
specifically designed speaker stands, both available from Audio Products
International (A.P.I.). With the ensemble, I received two pairs of
speaker stands; the build quality of which appeared to come from a back
alley muffler shop. Although they look great and work well, the $150 per
pair price tag is questionable and the build quality falls far short of
the OMNISAT ensemble itself.
I instead opted to use my Vantage Point wall mounts, as they were
readily available. Because my Zenith display and Salamander Designs
gearrack are so tall, I needed to get the satellites up high where they
would be unobstructed. Unfortunately, this placed the reflecting
satellites too close to the ceiling. Although the OMNISATs are designed
to reflect, too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. Simply
inverting the speakers upside down solved this, allowed the sound field
to radiate directly into the listening area, and created a very tall
soundstage. Unlike conventional speakers or satellites, I did not have
to worry about canting the speakers into the sweet spot; the intuitive
design of the OMNISATs did the work for me.
I crossed the subwoofer over just below 80Hz so that bass would
remain non-directional and yet come in high enough to support the lower
section of the satellites. Installation could not have been easier, wall
mounts or otherwise.
Final Take - Anytime a company markets a "new technology" I am
intrigued and apprehensive--typically that "new technology" comes in the
form of a clever marketing initiative. In the case of the Mirage
OMNISAT, it is clever marketing of a truly unique technology.
I connected the OMNISAT 6 ensemble to my Marantz SR7200 A/V receiver.
For source material I used a Rotel RDV-1080. Audio connections were
made via Revelation digital coaxial cable and Tributaries speaker wire.
During my early audition of the OMNISAT, I was a bit disappointed with
the center-channel performance. After all, I am used to conventional
on-axis performance in which dialogue (roughly 60% of movie recordings)
is directed right to me, whereas the OMNISAT has a very laid back and
ambient approach. This takes some getting used to and toward the end of
my review I was pleased with the dialogue.
While the center-channel performance took some careful consideration
to win over my ears, the rest of the soundstage is simply brilliant and
cannot be lived without. I will admit to a sense of awe throughout this
audition and the off-axis properties of the design have made me rethink
my personal speaker designs.
The OMNISAT will make every room seem huge and forget about arguing
over who gets to sit in the sweet spot--enjoy the floor if it suits you.
While watching the pod races in Episode One, I nearly pinched a nerve
in my neck trying to follow the pods as they raced around my room. And
what can I say about the LF-150 subwoofer? It is simple and effective,
delivering an accurate punch even George Foreman could appreciate.
The real treat with the Mirage OMNISAT comes with DVD-Audio and SACD
selections. I was absolutely mesmerized by the encapsulating sounds of
Dishwalla and my other favorites. I swore Sam McClain was testifying in
my listening room. And I wanted nothing more.
It seems to me that today's higher end speaker ensembles require more
and more effort by consumers to integrate them into their homes. The
more money you spend the harder it seems to integrate. It pleases me to
think that somewhere in a factory in Canada, a light bulb went on in
some crazy engineer's head: "why not make room anomalies work for us?"
Gestalt. The bottom line is that 95% of us will never hang ugly sound
damping materials on our walls. Why not make the most out of what you
already have? Congratulate Mirage on a welcome addition to the world of
home entertainment by treating yourself to an OIVINISAT 6 ensemble.
Suggested Retail Price:
$1,700.00 (as reviewed) Satellites may also
be purchased separately for $250 each