Product Review - Mirage OM-6, MBS-2, and
MC-si Speaker System - October, 1997
Stacey L. Spears
OM-6; [Click here to see photo]; Omnipolar Radiator, with integrated powered subwoofer; 2 x 1" Pure Titanium Hybrid tweeters, 2 5 + " mid-range (with injection-molded polypropylene cones terminated via butyl surrounds), and 2 8" woofers (Long Throw Polypropylene); Freq. Response: 18Hz 22kHz; Sensitivity 91 dB/w/m; Impedance: 6 ohms nominal / 4 ohms minimum; 150 Watt amp (each woofer); Inputs: 1 Low Level Input (Gold RCA), Bi-amp / Bi-wire (Gold); 46 + " H x (9 + " W x 4 5/8 " D top) (9 + " W x 16 + " D bottom); Weight 61 + lb.; Gloss black; $3,000/pair.
MBS-2; [Click here to see photo]; Bipolar, vented 2 way design; 2 x 1" ferrofluid cooled vapor deposited titanium tweeters, 2 5 + " mid-range (with injection-molded polypropylene cones terminated via butyl surrounds); Freq Response: 80Hz-20kHz; Sensitivity 89 dB/w/m; 8 Ohms nominal impedance; 12 1/8" H x 7 +" W x 7 1.8: D; $600/pair
MC-si; [Click here to see photo]; Bass reflex 2 way magnetically shielded; 1 x 1" Pure Titanium Hybrid tweeter, 2 5 1/4 " mid/bass (injection-molded with rubber surrounds); Freq Response: 45Hz-23kHz; Sensitivity 86 dB/w/m; 8 Ohms nominal impedance; 8" H x 19" W x 11 + " D; $550
Mirage Loudspeakers, Audio Products International Corp., 3641 McNiccoll Ave., Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1X 1G5; Phone: (416) 321-1800
A complete Mirage home theater package will bring your audio experience to a whole new level! The components reviewed here are not actually sold as a package, but they work seamlessly together. Their new OM-6 is an omnipolar loudspeaker that truly sets a new standard for this Canadian Company. The appear to work nicely in any position in the hi-fi system, including both the main and/or surround channels. Their MC-si is one of the finest center speakers I have ever listened to. Dialog comes through smoothly and is always intelligible. It does not have that boxy sound of many other center channel speakers, and also extends lower than most. And, finally their MBS-2 mini surround speaker for those of you who don't want floorstanders next to your couch.
I had the opportunity to spend the last several weeks in the company of these fine speakers. I found myself re-experiencing my entire CD collection again like it was the first time. I have also been watching so many movies that I almost forgot I had a real life outside of the characters portrayed in the films.
These speakers all have the same look and feel, except for size. All have glossy black end-caps, with the main body covered in a large black cloth sock. Each feels solid and heavy for their size. "Classy" is the word that comes to mind when describing them.
A subwoofer is not needed with the Mirage OM-6s. Having the best of both worlds, they are slim on top, which provides excellent imaging, like satellite speakers, and they have the powered woofers on the bottom, which give you the bottom-end punch of full-range speakers.
Mirage has been in the bipolar speaker business for a long time, and now they have just entered the omnipolar world with flying colors. Actually, you can have any color you want as long as it is glossy black, a-la Ford. They come tightly packed in a single box, and when they arrived, I was shocked to see one pair in the carton. Once you get these out, they will never go back in, unless you move to Cleveland. Once you set them up, I see no reason why you would ever put them away, assuming you get along with your mother-in-law. They sent me two pair, so I put one pair in the front and the other in the back. There is nothing better than having four fully matched loudspeakers in a digital home theater.
The speakers weigh in at a hefty 61+ pounds apiece. Each speaker has a 150 watt amplifier built-in, so you will need to insure that you have AC outlets nearby. There are a couple of different wiring options. First, the usual speaker binding posts. Secondly, you have the capability to bi-wire or bi-amp. There is also a line level input for the powered woofers. The manual recommends that you use the standard binding posts. For my setup, I did not bi-wire or use the line level input. (I used Nordost Flatline Blue Angel cables for all of the Mirage speakers.)
Since loudspeakers need some time to break-in, I fed 70 episodes of "Highlander the TV Series" through them before making any critical decisions. Why 70 episodes? Well, I picked up the first 3 seasons at a half price book store for only $25 a box. They sell for $150 brand new, so I thought I got a good deal, and I really enjoy the show. Besides, most of it is filmed in Canada and Mirage is in Canada. Ok, so that has nothing to do with the speakers, but it helped break them in. The truth is, they sounded great before I broke them in and they sound outright fantastic now!
The OM-6 performs equally well in both Music and Cinema. In the traditional two-channel music setup, the image extended well beyond the left and right boundaries of the speakers. The soundstage had depth that extended well back into the room.
For the purpose of seeing how they handled movies, I tossed multiple formats at them, including DVDs in Dolby Digital (DD), LDs with DD, DTS, and Dolby Pro-Logic (DPL) soundtracks, VHS with DPL, and DSS with whatever was being broadcast. My facial expressions probably resembled the Joker from "Batman", a grin from ear to ear. Now other speakers have also occasionally brought that grin but usually at a much higher price.
DTS can tax a speaker; people are not the only thing the T-Rex frightens. After the OM-6s banished the dinosaurs, they had Casper for lunch. Casper in DTS is one of the best soundtracks around, and played through the Mirage speakers is truly what the director would have loved.
Prior to receiving the speakers, my listening room in Los Angeles was huge. I am talking the near-perfect environment for any speaker, but I never got to listen to the OM-6s there as I relocated to Washington State. My room is now much smaller, though still usable (hey, with these speakers, I'll listen to them in a bus station restroom if I have to). While I would never give up having the OM-6s as surround speakers, sometimes a smaller speaker will have more spousal acceptance (obviously, I'm a batchelor . . . perfect fodder for late nights at Microsoft).
Frequency Response (Room Response) left channel only, 1 meter and 13 feet, on-axis, volume set at 80 dB at 1kHz:
|20 Hz||25 Hz||31.5 Hz||40 Hz||50 Hz||63 Hz||80 Hz|
|96.8 dB||91.0 dB||94.3 dB||90.7 dB||93.3 dB||95.6 dB||94.4 dB|
|95.9 dB||98.5 dB||98.0 dB||96.3 dB||89.9 dB||82.7 dB||96.1 dB|
|100 Hz||125 Hz||160 Hz||200 Hz||500 Hz||800 Hz||1 kHz|
|85.6 dB||71.6 dB||93.0 dB||89.0 dB||92.1 dB||82.7 dB||80.2 dB|
|96.3 dB||89.9 dB||82.7 dB||96.1 dB||87.9 dB||91.4 dB||79.0 dB|
|2.5 kHz||5 kHz||8 kHz||10 kHz||12.5kHz||15 kHz||18 kHz|
|85.1 dB||87.0 dB||93.7 dB||96.7 dB||86.7 dB||93.7 dB||95.3 dB|
|74.8 dB||87.6 dB||87.4 dB||91.6 dB||92.9 dB||90.5 dB||89.4 dB|
The MBS-2 is a small speaker that makes a cool little surround speaker, but it can also be used for any of the five listening positions in a home theater (not the .1 position though, no, no, no). They are small only in physical size. Like some of their bigger brothers, they are bipolar. This is a little unusual since most surround speakers are either direct-radiating or dipolar. At the first glance you might think that these speakers are capable of being bi-wired, but they are not. The extra posts are used depending on whether they are mounted on the wall or mounted on a stand. This, as the manual says, lets you select the voicing based on the location. The binding posts are in a position ideal for wall mounting, namely on the bottom of the speaker. You will also find that on one side of the speaker the tweeter is on top while on the other side the tweeter is on the bottom. When using as a surround, the tweeter on the top faces the listening position. I found that placing them on a stand provided better results, giving me a side-wall image. The wall mounted approach worked well in the typical DPL arrangement, but with discrete soundtracks like DD and DTS, stands just worked better. With architectural designs of todays homes, the lack of 4 walls often make wall mounting difficult, so stands can really make a difference, but go ahead and hang them by piano wire . . . see if I care.
I have had a number of center channel speakers in my day, some good, some bad. The MC-si ranks among the best I have ever auditioned. Dialogue has never been cleaner, even during action-intense scenes. One thing a lot of center channel speakers lack is bottom-end. While the MC-si does not extend to the lowest frequencies, e.g., 30 Hz, it does the 50s with ease. The center channel is probably the most important speaker in the home theater, but often the most skimped upon. With DPL, most of the information comes from the center, and with a small center channel speaker you are not going to be able to re-create the action as it was meant to be heard. Here is where most subs come in handy, but integration is not always as easy as plug-and-play even though it is very easy to get away with in a commercial movie theater setup. However, most music is much less forgiving to a bad integration. With the MC-si, you do not have to worry about integrating a sub, because the speaker can perform. Of course if you did want to integrate a sub, you could use the Mirage LFX-3 with the BBSS-210 and get good results.
The MC-si like the MBS-2 looks like it can be bi-wired, but no deal. The extra set of binding posts is used to compensate for the close proximity to your TV, where the placement on top of a TV can make the speaker sound forward or chesty as the manual describes. You best bet is to experiment and try it with and without the adjustment. I kept the speaker in the factory default setting, with the clip on. I also had to place the center speaker below my TV, because my Toshiba is too thin to hold any center speaker. With the B&W center I had, below the TV was the optimum setting. The Mirage, on the other hand, wants to be on top of the TV because the OM-6s image so high.
I powered the Mirage speakers with the Sunfire CinemaGrand amplifier and the Parasound HCA-1206 THX amplifer. All cables were Nordost Flatline, including speakers, analog interconnects, and digital cables. Digital front-ends included the Pioneer CLD-97 LD player, Audio Alchemy CD transport, and Sony DVD player. A JVC S-VHS provided all the episodes of Highlander, and the surround processing was done by the Meridian 565. Video was presented by Faroudja, Toshiba, and Camelot.
In sum, Mirage speakers can truly immerse you in the action for any film and give you the, "You are there" feeling while listening to music. They are relatively affordable, the OM-6s are $3,000 for a pair, the MC-Si Center is only $550, and the MBS-2 are $600. This means you can have a complete speaker package for fewer than $4,200, excluding a subwoofer (not needed with the OM-6s!). It may sound like a lot of money, but if you want great sound, it just can't be had with the $99 specials. For the price, they are a steal. I highly recommend that you head over to your local Mirage dealer and giveem a listen, because you will not be disappointed. Uncle Stacey gives them two thumbs up.
Stacey L. Spears
© Copyright 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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