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To Doug Schneider,
I had the pleasure of reading your Mirage OMD-28 review from a few years ago and wondered if you might be able to spare a few minutes to offer some advice. I currently have a pretty analytical system consisting of Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II speakers and a Krell 300il integrated amplifier (equivalent to 400xi) being fed lossless music from my computer via a Benchmark DAC. I love the resolution and transparency, but am getting to a point where I think I need something warmer and more involving in my system.
I grew up with my father listening to music through some Mirage M5si speakers, and my brother through old-school B&W 801s. Consequently, I'm thinking about a used pair of Nautilus 802s or 803s, or Mirage OMD-28s. The Mirages can be purchased new for $2700 online, while the B&Ws would cost closer to $4000-4500. In your opinion, would something like the Mirages be a step down in terms of overall resolution from what I have? Having heard the 803s and 802s before, I trust that I am not sacrificing resolution for warmth if I were to move to B&Ws. With the Mirages, however, I don't have the same confidence, as several reviewers online seem to indicate that their primary strength is in home theater. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.
One thing I have wondered lately is if the OMD-28s being sold online for $2700 per pair are the exact same as the $8000 OMD-28s that I reviewed on SoundStage! A/V (no longer a current site in the SoundStage! Network, but remains online for access to reviews like this one). When I reviewed the product, the Mirage brand was owned by Audio Products International (API). Since then, it got sold to Klipsch, and Klipsch recently got sold to Audiovox. One reader did tell me that Klipsch told him that they were the same, so, for the time being, I have to assume that they are, but I can’t be 100 percent sure. I like to mention this now so people know what I’ve been thinking, since I’m fielding a lot of questions about the OMD-28 and I like to preface my responses now with this warning.
Your Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II speakers are excellent -- I’ve heard them many times and really liked the sound. Without question, the B&W 802 and 803 will be closer in sound to the Dynaudio 1.8 Mk II than the Mirage OMD-28 because the B&Ws, like all Dynaudio speakers, are forward-firing designs. The Mirages are called an Omipolar design because they splay ample sound in all directions. Basically, they’re like a 360-degree radiator that directs a little more energy to its front than rear. The B&W speakers will likely be warmer sounding than your Dynaudios, because B&W’s “house sound” tends to put more emphasis in the low end, which results in a warmer, richer tonal balance than Dynaudio provides. In this way the OMD-28s are similar to B&W’s speakers -- they, too, have more weight in the low end compared to most, which makes them warm sounding.
The reviewers who say that the OMD-28’s primary strength is home theater don’t really know what they’re talking about. The OMD-28s do perform exceptionally well in a home-theater setting, but they perform just as well in a stereo setup. When I hear people say that they should only be used for home theater I get annoyed. The difference between the OMD-28s and forward-firing speakers is their presentation -- since they splay sound quite evenly in all directions, they present a huge, spacious soundfield that fills a room but has less image specificity than a forward-firing speaker provides. I happen to like that spaciousness, because it draws my attention away from the speakers and more into the music. On the other hand, others may not.
The biggest concern I’ve always had with the OMD-28 is that you need a really beefy amplifier to drive them. If you don’t have sufficient power the amplifier can clip and do harm to the speakers, and you won’t get a sound that’s as spacious, lively, and resolving as you should. I’d recommend a solid-state amp that delivers 150Wpc into 8 ohms and has good current capability to drive low impedances as a minimum.
The question remains: Is it better to go with B&W or Mirage? I agree with your hunch, the B&W is probably the safer bet, albeit a more expensive one. I happen to personally like the Mirage OMD-28 and that would be my choice, providing that the speakers for $2700 are exactly like the ones I reviewed. . . . Doug Schneider