My speaker review after 2 year search auditioning 12 speakers mostly under $2.5K

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Ultralight

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UPDATED 11/13/15 - point 9 & 10 on advantages below
UPDATED on PHantoms 12/06/15 on post 30 below
Added a second review of an Omega RS5 driver speaker, except as a dual driver Bipole:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=146170.0
(And yes, it is fantastic)

This is a short, but long overdue review of a pair of speakers that finally ended my search - at least for a season.  I planned to post this as a way to thank Audiocircle for all your help.  I've been on a number of audio sites in my search for a fulfilling system.  Audiocircle by far, has given me the greatest help.  Thank you!   

I post this here as it is more of a review of a speaker that sounds the most musical to me out of a dozen speakers that has passed through my home. Given that my selection is the result of testing about a dozen speakers, including many that are highly regarded in their price range, I felt it is more helpful and appropriate to post in this forum than the manufacturer's forum. 

Background:
A few years ago, I stepped into one of the early flagship Magnolia store and heard a bank of McIntosh coupled with one of the nicer Sonus Faber speakers.  That one had a larger room than current Magnolias.  It rocked my world. I had no idea that reproduced music could be so deeply engaging.  The music sounded huge, warm, rich and deep.  I played the piano 12 years, and my wife and sons all play acoustic musical instruments.  Daily our sons play their instruments at home at a pretty high skill level.  I never thought reproduced music could have similar emotional engagement.  For three months I could not get the emotion out of my mind. 

So that started a journey of saving up some dollars and to get a system.  Our finances meant that the bank of McIntosh and Sonus Faber is not remotely within our range but we looked for something of the quality. 

One of the key aspect of putting together a system was finding the right speakers.  Amps do differ but their tonal differences seem, to me, to be slight compared to differences between speakers.

I auditioned about a dozen speakers including owning the KEF LS50 for 18 months.  I had speakers from larger companies such as Martin Logan, Golden Ears and Totem.  I also auditioned a number of speakers from a number of smaller boutique makers the final of which was a pair of Devialet Phantoms. The KEF LS50 never moved as I needed a benchmark to compare other speakers to. I can't remember tone - but I can remember the gap and difference between other speakers and the KEF LS50.  Of particular note for two way monitors would be the Fritzs which just felt most natural of all the other two way monitors. If I were to pick up two way monitors, Fritz would end my search.

However, the speakers that really topped everything else for me were the Omegas Super 3i monitors when coupled with a pair of subwoofers. They are the first pair that I told my wife, "Honey, I feel that I've arrived and can live with these."

Before talking about the speakers, here is additional information in response to those who queried below

Source - Tidal (3 months trial), Spotify Premium, CDs - rarely.  Will switch to Tidal from Spotify once my trial is over as the difference seem obvious to me.
Amp - Line Magnetic 518ia. 
Dac - Line Magnetic 502ca   I acquired both Line Magnetics with a friend's help - normally beyond my means.
Music type - Just about anything except for hard rock, metal, rap.  Normal musical fare includes acoustic music, jazz, classical orchestral pieces, vocals, movie scores, worship, and a bit of country.    Last night was listening to a Mozart 'Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serial' for the first time and enjoying it very much.  So pretty eclectic.


What do I like about the Omega Super 3i more than anything else I auditioned extensively in my home?

1.  Subjectively, there's is something that simply sounds right about the music.  With every other speaker I listened to, my mind was aware that I was listening to a system.   Even when I worked and the music was in the background, something about the music occupied my attention in a way that told me that I was listening to music reproduced on speakers.  I could not fully be lost in my work. Omegas are the first pair that I sometimes forget that there is music in the background.  They do not tax my mind.  They simply felt real - as if my son is playing piano in the living room while I worked in my office. 

Of all the speakers I auditioned at home, this is the one that moved me emotionally when I am listening without distraction, but without intellectually thinking about the system.  When I actually THINK about evaluating the system, I can't always put my finger on why I like it. But when I let go and simply listen, then this speaker engages my emotion in a way that the others speakers have not.  These simply sound 'pure' for the lack of a better word.

2. High transient speed and resolution.  These qualities are very important to me.  Music on acoustic instruments have lots of overtones.  The wooden soundboard on a violin, guitar or piano (all of which are in our home) produce a most wonderful complexity of overtones that are fast and subtle.  Even the lowly Omega Super 3i has a transient speed and resolution that allows me to hear the complexity of music that reflect reality better than any other speaker I tested.  In comparison, the KEF LS50 sounded positively veiled and tubby.  No other speaker I tested ever made the LS50 veiled or tubby.  After the Super 3i showed up, the KEF LS50 left home in 48 hours.  Grateful for Craigslist.   I note that I tested the LS50 vs Omega while I had access to another amp that had tremendous synergy with the LS50 - a lightly used and presumably broken in Vinnie Rossi LIO so it is not a problem with the amp.  (I would not mind considering purchasing a used LIO if anyone has a bead on one. It's so convenient.)

3. With the subs filling the bottom octave and half, they sound large. It is amazing that such small drivers can give the sense of such scale.  A number of owners of the Super 3i raved to me about how they sound with fast subs integrated into the system. They are right.  Really wonderful.

4. Excellent and even broad dispersion. I really appreciated the same quality in the KEF LS50.

5. That these speakers are also the lowest cost of all that I tested truly welcome as I am doing things on a careful budget.  I replaced the KEF LS50 gladly with these.  That a new pair of Omega Super 3i are only $595 plus shipping is most remarkable.

6.  High efficiency.  94 db or so. This is a huge boon as one can use just about any amp, greatly expanding what one can do on a budget.  I'm told that on the top end, for $1k, the Decware Zen is a dream match.  But then under $100 amps such as the TP3116 (I am just learning about these.) also work beautifully. 

7. I've not yet optimized for these speakers.  I believe they can be optimized with a pair of isoacoustic stands.  Right now, they are simply plunked down on top of the subs which themselves are on a block of granite.  Also being full range drivers, I believe they will become even more resolved when high passed say about 80 hz and up as this will remove the larger low frequency excursions.

8. Matches particularly well with fast articulate subwoofers.  Not sure why but they sound even more amazing.  Many owners of these Omegas have told me that adding a sub is magic.  I fully agree.   And you can get a fine sub for not much invested.

9. Added 11/13/15 - Another critical quality of the RS5 driver, for me, is that they 'release' their notes very well at low volume.   There is a sense that when I am playing at very low volume, say about 45 db from 6 feet away, there is more of the music reproduced.  Most speakers including the LS50 need to hit a certain volume before they sound complete or even enjoyable.  While no speaker has a very strong low mid or bass at very low volume given that the ear is less sensitive to bass at low volume, the Super 3i does provide the most complete detail of any speaker I've tried at love volume.  I listen at such low volumes early in the morning when I don't want to disturb the rest of the household and also am in a more contemplative mood.  As the day starts getting noisier and my ear becomes more attuned to louder sounds, I then turn the speakers up.  Being able to turn the subwoofer off is also a boon to not disturb others.  In short, these speakers release their notes very easily at all volumes, providing more transparency and detail.

10.  They do break in faster than a lot of other full range drivers such as the Fostex.

Caveats

However, it is not all unadulterated perfection.  The Super 3i are thinner in the midrange than the KEF LS50 - but that is partially because the LS50 is considerably slower in the transients to my ears.  This is where a pair of subs played without crossover so that it ends about 140 hz goes a long way to complete the Omega Super 3i for me.  Deep bass extension is very important to me.  But even with subs, I know that I will like a bit more midrange emphasis.

In other words, piano that sounds like Grand piano on the LS50 (albeit slower, tubbier and less realistic) sounded more like uprights on the Omega Super 3i (albeit more musical, accurate and realistic piano tone).   And before the Omega, the LS50 produced among the most realistic piano tone for me.  I've read similar opinions on the web.

Thus for me, having a subwoofer is a definite must for the Super 3i.  This is subjective but I REALLY like the bass foundation though I'm not a bass head.  The grand piano just has this wonderful bass resonance which I can't reproduce without a sub.  I note that these drivers, for some reason, are noted to be particularly superb when matched with subs with fast transient speed.  Not sure why but it is magic - they sound like completely different speakers. My subwoofers are not expensive but they are fast.  They are the Pinnacle Baby Boomer - $400 street for new ones.  Dual 8" sealed, 11" each side - small, fast, articulate - and I run them without crossover.  The tapers off naturally in a way that just matches the Super 3i well for me.  I am sure Omega's subwoofers are likely to be even better if one is willing to make the investment.

I also note that I had a pair of Omega Alnico XRS for a few days. It would have been keepers except for the fact that they were cosmetically damaged in shipping and the dealer was kind enough to take them back.  My brief impression of the Alnicos is that they have even better resolution, more fleshed out tone and larger dynamic swings for the same musical pieces.  Piano sounds more like grand pianos.  Unfortunately, I had the Alnicos for only a few days before the Super 3i so I cannot compare them side by side.   Perhaps in time, I'll pick up an Alnico again.  Perhaps the Super 3i are gateway speakers to the more expensive Omega speakers.

Conclusion

I am amazed that in audio equipment where I see people spend tens of thousands or more on a system, there are gems such as the Omega Super 3i which is remarkably resolved, fast and natural which can be for considerably less than a thousand.  That I would pick the Super 3i over speakers multiples its price is a bonus.

It is interesting after a couple years of training our ears with various speakers, I went back to listen to the same McIntosh and Sonus Fabers pairing only to realize that what transfixed me that first day is no longer quite so amazing.  In fact, to my wife and I, they are actually less resolving than what we are used to.  Of course, they still had the scale of a large show room which I simply cannot get in a home office room.

I remember that early in my search, Omega owners seemed to rave about their speakers more enthusiastically than other makes - to the degree that it actually turned me off because I felt they were exaggerating.  Fanboys. Perhaps.  But eventually all that raving got the better of me and I thought I'd audition one for myself.  Glad that I did as it got me off the speaker merry go round for a while. While I am SURE that Omegas are not for every one, this quick and non-professional review is one way to say thanks to Audiocircle for all the help I have received.   

I note that no one, certainly not Louis who owns Omega, asked me for this review. It's simply a way to say 'Thanks' to audiocircle. If helps even one person to find a speaker that is a good fit, this review would serve its purpose. I also thank Louis for the few times when I called up up to discuss his speakers. He's known for his accessibility though I want to be careful to not send too many people to him who just want to chit chat.  :lol:

UL

ps: In my journey, I also heard a pair of Martin Logan Montis at a dealer. Those were amazing! But at $10K, considerably beyond our budget.  Devialet Phantoms are simply amazing for their size but they are still the most buggy and frustrating consumer product I have ever experienced in my life time.  Currently Devialet simply still cannot get its act together unfortunately.  The Omega Super 3i and Subs are better than the Phantoms but require separate dac, amps and cables which makes them a much larger and complicated system than the Phantoms.   Now that I've been comparing with the Phantoms a bit more (during their periods of stability), I can state unequivocally to me that the Phantoms are a lot flatter in their soundstage compared to the Super 3i. 
« Last Edit: 18 Oct 2016, 06:42 am by Ultralight »

JLM

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Thanks so much for sharing your journey.  Could you tell us what musical genres you listen to and something about the room?

That something that sounds right IMO is the coherency of a single driver design, but I agree with you about the Fritz speakers (at least the Carbon 7).  Too bad Devialet is going through such "growing pains" of customer interaction.

To fill in the missing mid/bass body of the 3i (something I've often found with smaller extended range drivers) others have recommended looking at Hsu MBM-12, what the company calls a mid-bass module that uses a lighter cone than typical subwoofers and is rated 50 - 250 Hz (should be the only sub(s) needed in a smaller room).

skifasterslc

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Ultralight, thx for sharing your experience and insight into your audio journey.  Very well done.  I'm curious what are you using for amplification and source?

Thx!    Ski

mr_bill

If you wouldn't mind elaborating on your experience with the Phantoms a bit more or in comparison with the Kefs or Omegas.

I would be interested to hear on their performance - bugginess notwithstanding

RDavidson

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Nice review Ultralight.
You're not the only one to find fault with the mighty KEF LS50's in comparison to the "lowly" little RS5 based Omegas. :thumb:

The KEFs are excellent all around speakers, but like you said, Omegas just have an innate ability to "connect" us with the music. They do it with pretty much no fuss either. The KEFs still top the value charts and their versatility may be unrivaled, but Omegas are beyond the charts especially where musical enjoyment is of central concern.
« Last Edit: 10 Nov 2015, 09:39 pm by RDavidson »

mca

Ultralight, what equipment are you using with the Omegas?

charmerci

Man, after a long search and saving money, I am about to buy some speakers....and then I read this.


Maybe down the road, I'll try the 3i monitor. It'll be a few years though... :(

Ultralight

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Thanks for all the follow-up query.  I replied to most of your queries about the Omega by adding to my original post.  I also added a few other observations so my original post is considerably modified.

Phantoms are interesting animals.  Nothing else that small can reproduce the decibels and bass extension. But they are not the last word in refinement.  The omega/sub combo is more refined in the sense that music is more real, transient is faster (Omega is really excellent here), and bass is more resolved like the rest of the frequencies etc.  Compared to KEF LS50, I think Phantoms are better.  Two  Devialet dealers think LS50 is better and one runs the LS50 for himself over the Phantoms. Of course, he is matching the LS50 with an $8000 amp that has an incredible grip on the LS50.  So there you have it - differing opinions.    I believe the Phantoms at the dealers were not optimized which includes having the latest firmware which changed the frequency responses.  It was quite obvious and I liked it. But some users did not.  So you are at the mercy of Devialet.  But for an all in one small solution you can pack in a large case and check into an airport, it is unmatched.  Nothing like it on earth.   Finally, with Phantom, you really need a pair. The audio quality with a pair due to stereo is vastly better than just a single.  For me to keep the Phantoms, I would have to sell off my entire rig including the Line Magnetics etc.  I decided against that and had a palpable sense of relief so I know I made the right decision for me.

Charmercy, go purchase your speakers if you already did your long search...:)  But of course, if you have the budget that goes beyond the Omegas, it may be worth a look...:)  Can't hurt to give Omega a call.  The soler proprieter, Louis, is a fine gentleman.

UL

kbuzz3

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Nice review Ultralight.
You're not the only one to find fault with the mighty KEF LS50's in comparison to the "lowly" little RS5 based Omegas. :thumb:

The KEFs are excellent all around speakers, but like you said, Omegas just have an innate ability to "connect" us with the music. They do it with pretty much no fuss either. The KEFs still top the value charts and their versatility may be unrivaled, but Omegas are beyond the charts especially where musical enjoyment is of central concern.


Having heard the ls50s a number of times my take is whilst a technically supurb piece of equipment "-they got no soul "

Now omegas Are a different story altogether  and I can attest having just upgraded to the new driver

Ultralight

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Added points 9 & 10 to the advantages.  Realize that there are more thoughts coming to me.

Also, now that I've been comparing with the Phantoms a bit more (during their periods of stability), I can state unequivocally to me that the Phantoms are a lot flatter in their soundstage compared to the Super 3i.   If one is willing to crank up the Phantoms in a large space, then it is impressive to see something so small producing so much sound.  But qualitatively, they are a far cry from the Super 3i & Subs in terms of resolution, speed, scale and soundstage depth.  I am actually surprised by the disparity.   It doesn't mean the Phantoms are poor - audio wise, they are quite good.  It is just that the Omega & sub is wonderful.
« Last Edit: 14 Nov 2015, 09:26 am by Ultralight »

ACHiPo

Very well thought out and written review.  Thanks!

Russell Dawkins

Excellent review; thank you. Extraordinarily informative and detailed, leaving very few questions unanswered. I do have one, though.

You mention that grand piano sounded more like an upright on the Super 3i. Was that due to the limited bass extension? I am guessing (and hoping) that the Super 3i with a sub sounded more like a grand than the KEF LS50, since I consider the sound of a grand piano a quick and effective way to evaluate speaker sound and also find that most fail this test in an immediately obvious way.

I like the look of the Baby Boomers, but I wonder how the MJ King 18" H baffle sub would work with these, since I already have the parts. http://www.quarter-wave.com/Project08/Passive_Crossover.pdf

Thanks again for putting the effort in to such a useful review.

bladesmith

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Good work.....!

 :D

Ultralight

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Thank you. I'm a pure rank amateur.  All I did was to share as authentically as I know how.  That's all.   So many here have forgotten more about audio than I will ever learn.  I feel like a 1st grader still when it comes to audio.

1. I have yet to tray and open baffle but really want to do so.  Will do so if I can find something on a budget that I can move on without loosing $.  But anyways, open baffles are supposed to be very quick and natural right?  If so -my guess is that it will match well with the Omegas. 

2. Upright vs Grand Piano.

I agree.  A well recorded and expansive (in terms of range) piano piece reveals a lot about a speaker.  One reason is that the piano covers a broad range of frequencies, have very quick and subtle dynamics and yet can really pound out an authoritative presence.  I wonder if that is what people mean by 'microdynamics' and 'macrodynamics'.  When my sons tried some concert Bechsteins and such that were far far above our pay grade, they were absolutely amazing.   Ahhhh.....

So, great question. I am asking the same question as you.  I wondered if the difference was due to:
a. Frequency rolloff and also 'dips' in some of the mid frequency area.
b. Some other factor such as something inherent in the drivers themselves.

I asked a very well regarded amp designer a couple of days ago about amps in general and his response is that he thinks it is more than just decibels. My guess is that it is both factors, but with frequency roll off playing the greater part in the case of my Super 3i.  The alnicos for example is well known for tone and excel for piano.

So does my subwoofer then make it more like a full grand?  Absolutely - it goes a long ways.  But does it bridge the gap completely?  My gut level response is not quite yet.  Why? I believe that in the range ABOVE 140hz where my subs get, there may be still slight dips on the RS5.  I am PURELY conjecturing so please don't take this as gospel.   But it may also be something qualitative about the nature of the drivers themselves.  I don't know - but will eventually get around to isolating the qualities but that is still a couple of months away I think.

But I note that the KEF LS50 was selected initially because it does piano very well and naturally.  I've read elsewhere on the web that others think so to.  It is just that the RS5 drivers with sub is so much better. 

Does this help a bit?  Sorry I can't give you the definitive answer yet.  Or perhaps never...:)

UL


Excellent review; thank you. Extraordinarily informative and detailed, leaving very few questions unanswered. I do have one, though.

You mention that grand piano sounded more like an upright on the Super 3i. Was that due to the limited bass extension? I am guessing (and hoping) that the Super 3i with a sub sounded more like a grand than the KEF LS50, since I consider the sound of a grand piano a quick and effective way to evaluate speaker sound and also find that most fail this test in an immediately obvious way.

I like the look of the Baby Boomers, but I wonder how the MJ King 18" H baffle sub would work with these, since I already have the parts. http://www.quarter-wave.com/Project08/Passive_Crossover.pdf

Thanks again for putting the effort in to such a useful review.

Russell Dawkins

I guess my question was whether the Super 3i with sub sounded more like a grand piano than the KEF LS50 without a sub, even if without the sub it sounded more like an upright.

I was auditioning speakers for studio monitor duties about 6 months ago in a room with a lot of highly regarded monitors (like 50 different pairs) and the piano recording I brought made it relatively easy to sort the wheat from the chaff—even when it was confusing with other recordings I brought and with which I was familiar. As soon as the piano recording started I would know that the speaker I was listening to and enjoying for the most part was way off, tonally. If you have a good recording of a voice that you know, that is good, too. Alan Shaw who designs Harbeth uses his own voice or that of his daughters to voice his speakers, and they are very good through the midrange.

Rocket_Ronny

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Thanks for sharing. I would think system synergy comes into play here. The Line Magnetic with it's 22 tube watts would mate well with the 94 db full rangers and struggle more with 85 db speakers at volume.

I really enjoyed my foray into the single driver arena with the the Fostex 4" drivers. Very dynamic and image very well. What got to me after a while was the grain in the high frequencies. This is evident when comparing to a good 2 way. Hopefully the RS5 driver does a better job. The price certainly is right.

P.S. I would like to see a frequency response of the speaker and or drivers. The 94 db eff. might be some peak at 2-3 khz.

Rocket_Ronny

Ultralight

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I see....good question. You know, I don't remember precisely.   When I tested the 3i versus the LS50, it was largely without the subs.  And what I heard told me all I needed to know.  I added subs later for a short period and knew immediately that they made the Super 3i.  So I can't say precisely which would be more 'grand' piano like with the subs integrated but I am pretty sure that even with the subs on BOTH, the LS50's advantage in a fatter mid will still remain.    But so will its weakness relative to the 3i.  The 3i has better highs, resolution and transients to me.  That's a bit crazy because the LS50 has a dedicated metal dome tweeter.  That's just to my ears.

I will say that many owners I've chat with said that the Omega small drivers are magic when coupled with subs - so much so that I won't consider them without subs for myself. It is not that the 3i are poor by themselves - it is that they improve so much with a sub.

I should make something clear - when I said more 'upright', it is RELATIVE to say the Omega Alnico or the LS50.   Currently as I listen, it sounds great and I don't miss the 'grand' feel - though intellectually I know that I can get a fatter tone with different drivers. The RS5 is by no means a dry or thin tone.  By those who have owned all of these, the RS5 is noticeably fuller than the Fostex and the Hemp that improved on the Fostex.

Does this help? 

UL

I guess my question was whether the Super 3i with sub sounded more like a grand piano than the KEF LS50 without a sub, even if without the sub it sounded more like an upright.

I was auditioning speakers for studio monitor duties about 6 months ago in a room with a lot of highly regarded monitors (like 50 different pairs) and the piano recording I brought made it relatively easy to sort the wheat from the chaff—even when it was confusing with other recordings I brought and with which I was familiar. As soon as the piano recording started I would know that the speaker I was listening to and enjoying for the most part was way off, tonally. If you have a good recording of a voice that you know, that is good, too. Alan Shaw who designs Harbeth uses his own voice or that of his daughters to voice his speakers, and they are very good through the midrange.

Ultralight

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Rocket Ronny,

Good point.  I thought about that too.

Except:
1. There is one review (Stereophile?  Don't remember) that talked about how well the Line Magnetic's 22 watt worked with the LS50.  I thought it worked well too.

2. I was initially actually comparing Omega with LS50 not primarily with the Line Magnetic but a used Vinnie Rossi Lio.  Many professional reviewers have said that the LIO has tremendous synergy with the L50.   I wanted to make sure I gave the LS50 every advantage possible.   Like you, I was a bit suspicious that the Line Magnetic was enough for the LS50.  But I believe that they are - my dial was generally around 9 o-clock.  And when I wanted it loud, I think at most I was between 10 & 11 o'clock.  Incidentally, I think the LS50 is more efficient than the 84.5db rating . Or every other speaker I tested is less efficient than rated. I am going by a decibel meter.

BUT a key is that there is subjectivity - what I hear is not what another may hear.  For example, there are some people woh say the Phantoms come close to their near $100,000 rigs.  I just don't hear that though they are nice.  So there is subjectivity. I'm just one guy.  There are a few others out there who also prefer the Super 3i to the LS50 so it is not just my ear. But I'm sure there will also be many who thinks the reverse.  I can't tell.  I can only tell what seem like the most transparent music to me, reflecting what live instruments sound like.

As to comparison with Fostex, this is what I know.
1. Fostex were the initial Omega drivers.
2. Then the Hemps came out and many thought they were a lot better than the Fostex.
3. Then the RS5 came out and many thought they were a lot better than the Hemps.  Someone on the Omega thread just upgraded to the RS5 drivers and in a few days, gave the Hemp drivers away for free.

I'm by no means nearly as knowledgeable as most of you here.  But I will say that after listening to speaker up to the $4.5 range with many for quite a few days, there's something about the Super 3i that tells me I've arrived.  I'm now looking at various permutations of the RS5 such as bipoles etc. 

I am listening to the Super 3i now at low volume between 45 and 50 db.  And it is so HERE. Of course, if I turn it up, it gets more 'here'.

Hope this is helpful.

UL

Thanks for sharing. I would think system synergy comes into play here. The Line Magnetic with it's 22 tube watts would mate well with the 94 db full rangers and struggle more with 85 db speakers at volume.

I really enjoyed my foray into the single driver arena with the the Fostex 4" drivers. Very dynamic and image very well. What got to me after a while was the grain in the high frequencies. This is evident when comparing to a good 2 way. Hopefully the RS5 driver does a better job. The price certainly is right.

P.S. I would like to see a frequency response of the speaker and or drivers. The 94 db eff. might be some peak at 2-3 khz.

Rocket_Ronny

RDavidson

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Something important to note, and others have observed this too (Thanks UL. We shared the same thought at the same time) : The LS50's (and many other lowish sensitivity speakers which also tend to require a stout amp due to significant impedance dips), DO NOT come alive and fill-out when played at modest levels. In fact, the LS50's sound thin until you turn the volume up a bit and get that woofer moving. However, I can see where the under damped nature of a tube amp could easily allow the woofer to "loosen" up a bit sooner / with less volume. Does this make them bad speakers? No. It's just a characteristic that needs to be taken into account one way or another. Generally speaking, if you have the space, the power, the listening distance, and enjoy listening at levels significantly louder than that of conversation regularly, the LS50's can work quite nicely.

Omegas, on the other hand, sound fantastic even at moderate levels. It's not just their high sensitivity and simple load, it's that the drivers are also very low mass. No need to crank the volume up for them to come alive. You feed them even a small signal and they react. About the only thing lighter and faster are electrostats....and that's why there are folks that are fanatical about those types of designs (think old Quads), quirks and all. If you are like me, and tend to enjoy listening at modest levels and/or have a modest listening space, I have little doubt that Omegas will serve you beautifully. That's not to say Omegas can't play plenty loud for all but maybe headbangers or those with cavernous rooms. It's just that they don't NEED to be played loud to be fully enjoyable.

Ultralight

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Absolutely.  I noticed that too.  At very low volume - say 45db, the LS50 is really quire week/poor.  So for LS50, I had to turn the volume up to what I call medium loud for them to come alive. 

As to playing the smaller single drivers loud, I think if you high pass around 100hz and up, you can really drive them to very high volumes.  I 'chat' with a couple of full range speaker designers & small scale manufacturers, both of whom said the best speaker they have ever heard or designed are small driver high passed, with a woofer at the bottom.  How's this different from traditional two ways?  The main drivers are still doing most of the full range.  I thought that was an interesting consistency between two experts in this full range stuff.  (No, they were not Louis of omega.)  i do intend to high pass my Omegas after all is said and done.

UL

Something important to note, and others have observed this too (Thanks UL. We shared the same thought at the same time) : The LS50's (and many other lowish sensitivity speakers which also tend to require a stout amp due to significant impedance dips), DO NOT come alive and fill-out when played at modest levels. In fact, the LS50's sound thin until you turn the volume up a bit and get that woofer moving. However, I can see where the under damped nature of a tube amp could easily allow the woofer to "loosen" up a bit sooner / with less volume. Does this make them bad speakers? No. It's just a characteristic that needs to be taken into account one way or another. Generally speaking, if you have the space, the power, the listening distance, and enjoy listening at levels significantly louder than that of conversation regularly, the LS50's can work quite nicely.

Omegas, on the other hand, sound fantastic even at moderate levels. It's not just their high sensitivity and simple load, it's that the drivers are also very low mass. No need to crank the volume up for them to come alive. You feed them even a small signal and they react. About the only thing lighter and faster are electrostats....and that's why there are folks that are fanatical about those types of designs (think old Quads), quirks and all. If you are like me, and tend to enjoy listening at modest levels and/or have a modest listening space, I have little doubt that Omegas will serve you beautifully. That's not to say Omegas can't play plenty loud for all but maybe headbangers or those with cavernous rooms. It's just that they don't NEED to be played loud to be fully enjoyable.