Oswalds Mill Audio

Oswalds Mill Audio is doing something refreshing and beautiful, combining brilliant industrial design with a classic sense of style and a deep love for music.

The system featured OMA’s front-ported Mini loudspeaker with very pretty bamboo cabinets ($13,500/pair), OMA’s Tourmaline turntable ($13,000 for two-arm version), Thomas Schick’s 12” tonearm ($1475), Atemis Labs’ Schroder TA-1L 12” tonearm ($3500), Soundsmith’s The Voice Ebony phono cartridge ($2200), and Miyajima’s Premium Mono BE phono cartridge ($1180). Amplification: OMA’s Phonostage ($9200) and Silvercore AG 100 step-up transformer ($1200), and OMA’s 2.5Wpc Parallax PL 519 SET amplifier ($11,000). Speaker cables and interconnects were Analysis Plus Oval Nine ($645/10ft pair) and Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval ($550). The equipment is supported by OMA’s gorgeous Slate Rack ($5400; shown here with four shelves—all OMA racks are custom), and the Tourmaline turntable was equipped with OMA’s SP10 graphite platter mat ($325).

All of this gear, which I find incredibly attractive, has a look that is somehow old-fashioned and exotic, from some long lost time, but also thoroughly modern. Strangely, or perhaps not, the sound matched: We listened first to Lhasa’s “Love Came Here” and I was bound by the music. There is so much tension in this music, and the system seemed to crawl right up into that tension to really relish in the spaces between the strummed and plucked and struck notes, infusing all that space with potential and power. The system communicated the touch of the song, as could be heard in the slap of strings and the gentle bend of wood.

After Lhasa, we listened to a bit of The Lemon of Pink by The Books, and it was like being indoors on a cold autumn day, watching an old black and white movie, some totally gripping and spellbinding movie, filled with subtle details and big, fleshy images, with so much texture, tone, and nuance you can hardly stand it. There are banjoes and violins and there is a voice speaking like the history of the earth, and listening to this song is like digging through dirt, like reading the history of love. “All is well, well, well…”

alan m. kafton/audioexcellenceaz's picture

By pure serendipity, Jonathan's room turned out to be my favorite. As I wrote on the Vinyl Asylum:I fell in love at RMAF....with the newly-minted all-slate offerings by Oswald Mills Audio. Two new turntables, one wide and sleek, the other pure art and fashioned via a 5-axis CNC machine, with curves as sexy as....(you fill in the blanks).In both rooms I was treated to extraordinary mono playback, courtesy of the Miyajima mono cartridge (distributed by Robin Wyatt). Clean, precise, rich, organic, and totally musical. On Sunday I had the pure pleasure of Jonathan playing me Kenny Burrell, a French chanson, and a spectacular rendition of Strange Fruit by Nina Simone. It's been a very long time since I got chills listening to music, but Nina's voice did it. I felt the chills from my shoulders to the top of my head. I ain't kidding. That's how good the playback was. I suggested that Jonathan change his business name to O.M.G., but he smiled and said "it's too late now."

TanakaS's picture

I was intrigued by Oswalds Mill Audio's products - the design is certainly beautiful, and they do sound great. However, people should be aware that all OMA does is "borrow" ideas from the DIY community, and grossly mark them up. I mean GROSSLY mark them up.
The MINI uses RCF drivers: L8S800 and 1411-M. Those retail for under $500. That's total, for 4 drivers. OMA charges $25,000 for the MINIs. I realize companies need to make a profit - I run one - but >10X ?!

What about the enclosures and stand, you say... a speaker is more than just its drivers. Well, the bamboo OMA uses is not particularly expensive. You can buy beautiful bamboo ply from companies like Plyboo. A huge 4' x 8' sheet is under $200. Looks exactly like the bamboo OMA uses...

The other "problem" with the MINI is that it's just not sensitive enough. Paired with the OMA Parallax 8W amp, the 95 dB MINIs cannot even reach reference levels of 105 dB in a small 150 sq. ft. room! Do the math - it just doesn't work. You would have to get the more powerful OMA amp to ensure that the MINIs can reach reference levels in even a small room. But now you are looking at spending more than $100K for an OMA system featuring the MINI. That's the same MINI that uses $500 worth of drivers...

[head scratch]

See my point?

For $100K you can do a lot better elsewhere.

If you like the MINI design and philosophy, get a speaker cabinet maker to produce something similar. After all, the ideas for the MINI came from the DIY community anyway.
And you may want to improve the stand while you're at it.