Mirage OM-7 loudspeaker Page 2
Chillin' in Socal
I got the OM-7s a few days before Mirage's marketing man, Jeff Percy, and designer Andrew Welker (whose name graces the back of the OM-7, along with Ian Paisley's) were due to visit. The speakers had been undergoing break-in at Mirage HQ, so I expected them to sound as Welker and Paisley had intended.
Which had me worried—this was not natural sound, but the sound of something gone wrong. The midrange was constricted and extremely nasal, and the highs were ragged and rough. Ouch! That first night I tried playing with all manner of positioning, even facing the speakers directly at each other, then away from each other—they're Omnipolar, after all—as well as brute-force sound absorption (foam panels directly adjacent to each speaker). All of this was interesting, to say the least, but didn't do much to alter the OM-7s' problematic sound.
Baffled, befuddled, bummed—but still hopeful—I left the OM-7s playing overnight and all next day (it's really handy having a dedicated listening building) in hopes that all they needed was even more break-in time.
The next evening, I thought I'd walked into a different room. Ahhhh...now these were speakers I could sit down and listen to! The gross aberrations were gone.
When I relayed this tale to Percy and Welker, they weren't surprised. The speakers had been shipped airfreight from Canada, and it gets cold in those cargo holds. The low temperatures had stiffened up that which had been previously loosened.
Later, the OM-7s underwent a similar transformation, when I went into the listening room one cold night (footnote 2). This time, however, they came to quickly, as the room and they warmed up. After that, I always made sure there was ample ambient warmup time before settling in to listen (footnote 3).
According to the user's manual, the OM-7s aren't very fussy when it comes to positioning, but do pay dividends with careful placement. Other than the break-in exercise and positioning the speakers at the spot where other models have done well, I hadn't had any time to experiment with them by the time Percy and Welker dropped by. Welker set about listening and repositioning, settling on a spot for the speakers somewhat more toward the back wall than my usual (44" from the back wall and about 48" from the sides, with the listening position about 9' from the speaker plane). He also toed them in a bit, so that the cabinets' inside walls were still visible. That's where I left them for most of their time here.
Before I delve into the special spatial properties of Omnipolar sound, let's get to the bottom of this. No, not the conclusion—I'm talking about bass response: The Mirage OM-7 is, no mistake about it, a full-range loudspeaker. I was consistently impressed by the depth and power of the bass the OM-7 produced. True, concussive, feel-it-in-your-chest whumps were not unusual—like those on "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove," from Dead Can Dance's Into the Labyrinth (LP, 4AD DAD-3013).
As part of my bass-appreciation sessions, I pulled out that old-time audiophile percussion extravaganza, Dfos (Reference Recordings RR-12CD) and skipped right to "Gates of Dfos," Mickey Hart's workout on the drummer's erector set he calls The Beast. The large bass drum that starts it off sent a taut, tight blast my way, followed by a room-rolling rumble—just like being in a big room with a big drum. The sonic booms that followed were exactly pinpointed, with objects in the middle farther back and those to the side more forward.
As for other performance parameters, life in the Omnipolar region plays such a significant part that there's point in trying to put off the question: Did the OM-7s throw a believable, palpable soundstage? In other words, did they create a...mirage?
Footnote 2: Or as cold as it gets here in San Diego County: in the high 30s to mid-40s (degrees F).
Footnote 3: Electronics have been always well-warmed in my listening lab, electrically speaking; now, I make sure the room has been, too.