Thinking Outside the Box II Page 2
Mirage Omnisat 6 Mirage's Omnisat 6 home theater speaker system nearly defies description. It breaks with tradition not only in style, but also in shape, construction, and philosophy. The Omnisat 6 also parts with current trends by being manufactured in Canada instead of China. The five Omnisat satellite speakers are about the size and shape of a football sliced in half, but you'd strain your arm trying to pass one of them-each weighs a hefty 7 pounds. The bottom, which is also in effect the speaker's backside, is flat to allow for various mounting and positioning options. A removable plastic clip slides into the bottom to facilitate mounting the speaker on the wall or ceiling or on the optional floor stand shown below. The two large, recessed binding posts on the bottom proved a tight fit for large fingers. They accept bare wire or spade lugs easily, but you'll have to work to pry off the plastic plugs if you want to insert banana plugs.
A platinum-colored or black metal baffle mates with a pleasant-to-the-touch plastic enclosure that comes in platinum, black, or white. A high, convex metal grille protrudes from the baffle to protect what looks like a hovering flying saucer. A hybrid polypropylene/titanium-deposit cone driver is mounted beneath the saucer on the baffle, and the saucer's convex backside is used to reflect and disperse some of the cone's sound. The saucer's convex top contains a titanium-hybrid dome tweeter with a tiny convex reflector-Mirage calls it a "spoon"-suspended over the tweeter to disperse its sound waves. Mirage believes that the proper balance between reflected and direct sound is 70% reflected and 30% direct (as opposed to the 30% reflected sound you get with most systems). All the drivers and reflectors in the Omnisat are mounted at precise angles to achieve this effect when the speaker is placed with its bottom flat. In this position, the baffle will point up at about 30° (or down if it's ceiling-mounted) and the tweeter will radiate almost straight up (or straight down), but the spoon will disperse its output spherically. Mirage calls the Omnisat's radiation pattern "omnipolar," as opposed to dipolar or bipolar, since it spreads sound all around the speaker. The Omnisat satellites and LF-150 subwoofer come with separate short but useful instruction manuals with three pages of text and two pages of diagrams. The manuals seem much bulkier because the diagrams are separated from the English text by many pages in other languages. Compared to the satellites, the rectangular subwoofer appears to be the epitome of ordinary. But its driver cone is made from the same material as the satellite's cone driver. And the ported front panel also conveniently holds the phase switch and the level and crossover controls. This not only simplifies placement but allows you to position the box either vertically or horizontally. The back panel has both line- and speaker-level inputs, but Mirage recommends using the third input, labeled Xover Bypass, and letting your receiver handle the crossover chores. I took that suggestion. The Omnisat 6 system lived up to all of Mirage's claims for accuracy, wide dispersion, and low distortion. The all-encompassing, enthralling sound field it created from the Kate & Leopold soundtrack placed me inside the movie in a way few other home theater systems, even much more expensive ones, have been able to do. This soundtrack includes considerable ambience in the surround channels, and as played through the Omnisat system, it enveloped me without drawing attention to the surround speakers. The system's incredibly open sound kept the dialogue centered on the screen while everything around it seemed fluid. An off-screen siren sounded like it was coming from outside the house instead of from between the speakers. The dynamic range was wide and uncramped, from the soft sound of rain to the blasting stereo system that startles Leopold, without any obvious colorations in the sound. The commanding bass kept my heart pounding during the elevator scene even though it didn't go quite as low as it had with the Morel system. Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman's voices had just the right amount of articulation, sounding a touch more open and clearer than they did with the Morel. The Omnisats gave an equally excellent performance with music. Holst's The Planets orbited very nicely in both stereo and Dolby Pro Logic II surround playback. The horns were a bit brassy, but otherwise the sound was pleasingly smooth as well as full, deep, and wide. For music listening, you might want to switch the input so you can use the subwoofer's controls to tweak the bass response. When I did that, the system produced plenty of natural low bass, but I would have also liked to hear more upper bass. Since the Omnisat 6 system is designed to produce widely dispersed reflected sound, I didn't expect spot-on stereo imaging. But the imaging was so convincing during stereo playback that I had to double-check to make sure the center channel was actually off! Even more pleasing, the system stayed true to the ambience of the recorded environment in both two-channel playback and multichannel playback using Pro Logic II processing. Whether the recording was done in a studio or on a Broadway stage, it sounded like the singers were in an actual space. Mirage's Omnisat 6 speaker suite produced a superbly three-dimensional soundstage-not only broad but tall and deep as well.