Back in the late 80 s and into the early 90s I was a young guy really into audio. As my friends graduated from college and bought cars with the money from their first real jobs, I saved up and built up a nice system consisting of CJ electronics and Magnepans. To this day, I still miss some of that sound. As the 90s rolled in, it became harder and harder to get music on Vinyl and for those of you who were into it back then know, the sound of CD in 1990 didnt come close to that of Vinyl. I eventually became discouraged and sold off my system, replacing it with a NAD Receiver and CD player along with some Sequerra Met 7 speakers. The sound was nothing near what Id replaced, but since I was listening to CDs, it really didnt matter and in the end, I stopped listening to the quality and just enjoyed music.
For 20 years I had that same system. Then, a few years ago, the tweeter on one of my speakers died. I did some quick internet searches and decided that the PSB Alphas were a good cheap replacement. When I got them, I was flabbergasted by how much better the speakers sounded and I started enjoying the system more than I ever had. I thought, gee, if speakers have improved this much in the past 20 years, I wonder about CD players and amps, so I picked up a new NAD amp and CD player a few weeks later. I was surprised by how far equipment and digital had advanced. For the first time ever, I was hearing some dimensionality and musicality from my system that hinted at what Id gotten years before.
I was hooked and while I was lucky enough to have my own listening room, the room itself really isnt that ideal. Its small at 12x11x10 and seems to get easily overloaded as more air got pushed around in that space. I had a lot of small speakers rotate in and out of that room and in the end, my favorites were the little Silverline Minuets, the Kef LS-50s and the Harbeth P3ESRs. I was running them with a Musical Fidelity M3i with the Oppo BDP-95 as a source. The sound of that system was pretty good, but I really felt like I could get better sound out of that room within the same general budget.
As I got back into it, the low powered high efficiency speaker trend really intrigued me. Im a big believer in keeping things as simple as possible and this approach seemed to embody those concepts. I was lucky enough to have a dealer relatively near me that demoed products using this approach. After a couple of listening sessions, I nervously jumped straight in purchasing a 4 watt Decware Mini Torii amp and some single driver Omega Super3XRS speakers.
I couldnt be more pleased as this has increased my enjoyment to a whole new level. No question; a system like this isnt for everyone. I cant reproduce the effortless building of crescendos like some systems nor can I maintain a good solid soundstage if I start blasting complex music, but for 95% of my listening, I get an intimacy, musicality, dimensionality and soundstage thats just perfect for my listening space. If you had told me a year or two ago, or twenty years ago when I first was into it that Id be listening to a 4 watt single driver system, Id have laughed and laughed. Now Im smiling and grinning every time I turn it on.
Future upgrades...well, if you looked at the picture, there are a lot of LP's there with no turntable. I have fooled around with a Music Hall MMF2.2 TT with the generic cartridge but truthfully, I'm not getting overall better sound with that TT than CD. Soon I'll have to start experimenting with getting the most out of my vinyl collection.
I also need to upgrade my interconnects from low end Morrow to something a little better. I just changed to Clear Day speaker cables from Morrow and am really pleased with the results.
Sorry for the late reply, I hadn't checked my system page in quite awhile. I was using the Zenwave speaker cable but now use the simple Western Electric tinned wire. It really sings in my system which incidentally is a little different than listed. These days, I listen primarily to the Quicksilver Horn Monoblocks and I alternate between the Omega 3's, Alnicos and also the Omega 8 inch drivers. I enjoy the system immensely.
Being single driver designs, the Omegas definitely won't be for everyone. Like most similar designs, the strengths are speed, imaging/soundstaging, coherence and transparency. Weaknesses are ability to stay focused as the SPL's rise and limits to low bass response.
One thing I really appreciate about them is that there is no bass hump in the 90 - 200 range. Just about every bookshelf speaker I've had has humps in this area and that along with a small room which accentuates it more, can make the sound with typical two ways slow and thick no matter how much treatment I used. I get none of this with the Omegas.
At first it's kind of startling and you think the sound is too light but soon you start to really appreciate it and realize that your brain was compensating for those humps in the past. When I stick conventional speakers back into the system now, the overabundance of mid bass is really apparent. I've quantified it with simple SPL meter readings at the listening chair and it's very evident. The Omegas will go to a solid 60hz and then start rolling off from there.
I think I've mentioned it in posts in the past, but I frequently sell audio stuff on Craigslist and if people want to hear stuff, I'll set it up in my main listening room. Often, they'll want to hear the main setup. I'll play it for them, not telling them that the Amp is 2 watts and the speakers are single driver. When I take the grill cloths off and show them the single driver producing all the sound, they are always shocked and more than once the person has walked around to the bass traps, convinced that they too were speakers because there was no way that the little driver was doing what it was.
Last thing on the Omegas is that the high sensitivity allows me to use low powered tube amps. The synergy I get is really fantastic and while the Omegas sound pretty good with conventional amps, it's the tubes that take them to a completely different level.
I'm curious to try some other high efficiency designs, but I'm just so pleased with the sound I've been getting that I haven't gotten a big enough itch to make any changes.
Anyway, hope that helps. The single driver sound can be very polarizing and as I said, it's not for everyone.
Seikosha, The Zenwave SL cables look nice. But I am pretty happy with the Cleardays in my system.
Thank You for your kind words regarding my system. It is a small space (13.5 X 12.5X 9) which is not ideal. But the GIK panels have helped tame a lot of reflections. You also have a similar room and placement config like what I have. I think it is very satisfying once you have determined the ideal setup in a room.
Please provide your feedback on the Omega loudspeakers. I plan to go to AXPONA this year and want to listen to some high sensitivity speakers (> 90db). I believe the Omegas are high sensitive. But what about their bass?
The Cleardays replaced some Morrow's. They were the base model and I did appreciate the upgrade. Recently I've actually replaced the Cleardays with Zenwave SL cables. They are a UPOCC product built by a guy who runs SET powered single driver based system. I found they provided a little more warmth and lower midrange detail than the Cleardays provided which complemented my single driver setup.
I've seen your room in the past, and every time I look at it, I'm envious. You have a really nice looking space. I'd love to have a larger room such as what you have and it looks like you've got your stuff set up well to get the most out of that room.
Unfortunately, I really can't make any statements that would mean anything regarding the SE34 vs the Dynamo since I haven't heard either amp. Both come from good designers though and I'd guess that both sound pretty good. Any preferences between the two would probably come down to individual listening biases. Sorry and good luck with your decision.
I appreciate the comments. Since I've gotten the Omegas I've tried out a few other single driver designs, but in the end, the Omegas have always come out on top.
If you have the right room and amplification, a single driver speaker can really be a viable alternative to conventional designs and there's no substitute to the coherency that you can achieve when you get rid of the crossover and the issues involved in trying to make different drivers work properly together. As always it really depends on what you are looking for which will determine if it works for you.
Although I haven't heard the Larsens or Shahinians, I have heard and enjoyed a couple of the Ohm models which were quite nice in the way they filled the room with music in a special way.
Wonderful and inviting space, not to mention the system! I love its simplicity. I keep thinking about giving Omega/Hoyt a try, something far different from what I have now. In the end, it is all about the music!
I have been keeping an eye out on tables and yeah, have seen some tempting sales. Problem is I'm just so happy with the sound right now, I'm not at the point where I want to introduce any changes. It's nice to be able to sit back for awhile and not worry about the next upgrade or change.
Your system is a very clever approach to that size of room. It looks like a comfortable place to kick back and listen. I've seen some killer deals on used tables complete with cartridge. You just need to keep looking. Have fun.
when i read your post on my thread i checked your thread out. my story is so close to yours! right down to the nad components. funny how we wound up with an amp the size of a grapefruit, no preamp and an oppo with quality cds.if i had a big house and room i would get a sub but as is i could make the neighbors complain if i play jazz with horns which are amazing on these systems as you know. i had a decibel hand held meter for yrs and most have no idea how loud 89 db is
Very nice system. Someday I will get me a single driver system. I enjoyed reading about your experience. Thanks. Thought I would chime in on a dedicated transport. I wondered the same thing. How much better would a dedicated transport make over my already great sound cd deck. It made a nice difference. More like 4-5 out of levels of refinement instead of a major transformation. But that refinement is a major upgrade.
System edited: Made a couple of changes the last few months. First, I added a 2 watt Decware SE84CKC amp. It's a fun change from the Mini Torii which I still have. I find that the little SE84 amp has a level of transparency that the Mini Torii doesn't have. The sacrifice in power from 4 to 2 watts seems to be acceptable, but I do notice that the Mini Torii has more drive in the midbass than the SE84. However, the increase is transparency, imaging and soundstaging of the SE84 makes it a compromise that I can happily live with. For fun I also picked up a Schiit Bifrost DAC. I was curious to see how a relatively inexpensive DAC fed by the Oppo would perform. I'm actually very pleased with the result. With the Schiit in the system, I'm getting a slight reduction of a very small midrange glare that I hadn't previously noticed, smoother highs and a tad more detail in the upper bass. Now I wonder if I'd get further improvements with a true dedicated transport.
Seikosha, I have also gotten immense satisfaction with a system based on the simplicity concept of signal pathway and circuits. Low-modest power amplifiers/higher efficiency speakers are providing me the best music reproduction I`ve ever had.
Your system is built on a solid principle and is well thought out and must certainly yield much joy and listening pleasure, congratulations. Charles,
I actually haven't taken the time to evaluate the P3. It arrived two days after I received my amp and I just plugged it into the system. The amp was going through a drastic break-in at the time and I wasn't even close to having a handle on the sound of the system to be able to evaluate a new component.
Now that the system is broken in and I've got a solid feeling for the sound, I've been meaning to play around with the P3 in and out of the system to see what it does.
It is interesting to see the voltage fluctuations and also the draw of the components. My little Class A 4 watt tube amp actually draws about 70 watts of continuous power. That was surprising.
Awesome story. I loved reading about your journey. I am thinking about setting up a high efficiency system in my bedroom. What do you think of the P3? I have this in my system and it made a dramatic impact.