Mirage High-Definition Theater System
I once dated a girl in college who had a unusually large mouth. I was so taken in by the possibilities that I failed to explore the reality—a big mouth equals a loud mouth. Likewise, when it comes to speakers, you can usually get a good idea of the limitations or exacerbations of a speaker by the types and number of drivers it has.
I must admit that I giggled like a schoolgirl when I saw the first of the five Mirage High-Definition Theater speakers. "Three tweeters?" I questioned. And three diagonal tweeters, no less.
Scratching my head, I couldn't figure out what the sonic benefit could be. I'm usually pretty good at judging a book by its cover when it comes to speaker design versus sound. And I was sure the three tweeters in each of the HDT-Fs (left, right, and center channel) combined with the four additional tweeters in each of the HDT-Rs (rears) would have my ears bleeding by the end of the first listening session.
I plugged the speakers into our Krell A/V Standard pre/pro and KAV-500 amplifier and began burning them in for the recommended 50 to 100 hours. In the meantime, I thumbed through the comprehensive Mirage HDT owner's manual. I was pleased that Mirage took the time to explain the history of good sound and included an in-depth chapter on proper speaker placement. The manual didn't stop there, either. It went on to talk about dialing-in the speakers and even listed recommended reference listening material (complete with track numbers) for both music and cinema! I began to wonder if this was just a marketing ploy to distract consumers (and reviewers) from the product (call me negative). After a few days of proper speaker burn-in, I was ready to find out . . . .
Given the same placement, every speaker will behave differently. Every room is different, and every installation application is unique. While many companies recognize this fact, Mirage is one of the few companies I've come across that has actually addressed this in their crossover design.
After I set up the ensemble in our HT sound lab, I played with the three crossover settings on the front of each of the HDT-Rs. The effort by Mirage to include such a feature should not be overlooked. The three crossover positions allow for flattening or enhancing of the midrange and high frequencies, and there's a "free space" setting for standalone placement (such as on a stand in the room).
For my listening evaluation, I placed the left and right speakers vertically on stands approximately 24 inches high, the center horizontally 18 inches high, and the rear speakers to the sides of the room at an approximate height of 5 feet.
Mirage also shipped a pair of FRx-S12 12-inch subwoofers for the review and noted that I could use one or both, depending on my room requirements. I connected each of the 150-watt, ported-enclosure subs in the front of the room and adjusted the crossovers on each to complement the main speakers. I left the gain settings at slightly beyond the halfway mark, which later proved to be more than adequate.
I then inserted my 24-karat-gold-plated Eagles disc and readied my pen to take notes. Immediately, I was enveloped by smooth, uncolored sound. It was like listening to "Hotel California" for the first time. Indeed, I had expected the sound to be more tinny than flat and smooth. Upon closer inspection of the internal crossover network, I realized why the speakers sounded so good.
Each of the HDT-Fs consists of two 6.5-inch advanced-composite woofers, a single 1-inch titanium-hybrid tweeter, and a pair of 1.5-inch titanium-hybrid midranges. So the illusion of three tweeters is just that—an illusion. The titanium hybrids use a cloth-suspended cone and ferrofluid coolant in the gap. This enables the trio to decrease distortion under high thermal demands that would cause normal tweeters to seize. The design also helps to keep the metal cones on the tweeters from losing their shape due to heat.
Except for the subwoofers, every speaker in the HDT system uses an acoustic-suspension (sealed) enclosure and is window-braced internally. The MDF (maximum-density fiberboard) enclosures are extremely rigid and well damped. The internal bracing and overall construction quality result in improved sound dynamics and overall tonal quality and increased power handling (300 watts RMS each).
The front speakers are magnetically shielded. The rear speakers are omnipolar in design and feature speakers on each of the three surfaces of the trapezoid plane. Each can be placed on the side or rear wall of the listening area.
With my brief music evaluation concluded, I got down to the important part—testing the theater-worthiness of the Mirage ensemble. My notes indicate a very ambient and nondirectional sound in the rear channels and excellent detail from every direction.
The front channels scored very well. Each offers exceptional delineation with a wide and enveloping soundstage. The center channel offers more of the same and was one of the best speakers for onscreen action and dialogue that I've heard in some time.