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|While listening to Norwegian acoustic soft-rockers Kings of Convenience's Riot on Empty Street [Astralwerks / EMI ASW 71665 / 724357166522], "Homesick" impressed with beautiful harmonies by Erland Øye and Eirik Bøe and their melodic guitar accompaniment. The Kings' tight harmonies combined with their simple and tasteful fingerstyle acoustic guitar backing and thoughtful lyrics to give a dreamy and detached feel to the music that is altogether pleasing and refreshing. The Super 3s really shine on simple acoustic music where the vocals and guitars fall completely within the range of their Fostex drivers, leaving breathing room to spare. This is the sort of album that truly conveys a feel why single-driver loudspeakers are becoming so popular. There is a seamless continuousness from the lowest to highest notes, a sense of unfractured overtones that a multi-driver loudspeaker would be hard-pressed to match.
Revealed also are lots of subtle nuances that really pull me into the music. It's easy to hear the softer attack of finger-on-string guitar picking. Subtle sounds like fingers sliding along the windings of the 3rd through 6th strings while moving along the fretboard from note to note produce "you-are-there" intimacy that I really enjoy. When Canadian vocalist Leslie Feist joins the Kings' fun on "The Build-Up", she adds a beautifully haunting aura that makes me float away in wonder as I listen into the whimsical vulnerability of her voice. In the new acoustic rock movement, quiet is the new loud and nuance is the new in-yer-face just as in audio where simplicity is the new complexity and tone is the new king. If you listen to the Kings through the Super 3s and SETs, you'll understand how cool this approach to music really is.
Given the success of the Kings' simple acoustic music on the Super 3s, I thought I'd see if the speaks were up to something more challenging, namely Antal Dorati conducting the London Symphony Orchestra on Nutcracker. C. Robert and Wilma Cozart Fine at Watford Town Hall recorded this in 1962 on 3-track 35mm film with a vacuum-tube Westrex film recorder, and on half-inch tape with a vacuum tube Ampex using 3 Telefunken 201 microphones [Mercury Living Presence 432750-2] that I enjoy listening to during the Holiday season. I noticed that on certain dynamic peaks during the "Arrival in Fairyland", the violins sounded a little strident and aggressive.
Overall, however, the music was very interesting with lots of artful interplay of instruments by the LSO. In fact, the resolution of string detail and other low-level nuances that the 3s proved capable of was rather surprising the first time I cued up the Nutcracker. Also, there was real sense of size and scale comparable to my usual Avantgarde Duos, something I wouldn't have expected a small monitor to accomplish. When playing classical music, I was rather impressed by how much of the music spectrum remained present and communicated even with the 3s' low frequency limitations. I expect hard-core classical listeners to want more extension, however.
|I suppose this is as good a place as any to bring up the major consideration to keep in mind when matching equipment to the Super 3s. Fostex drivers are very revealing and a touch lean to my ears, so you'll have to choose associated electronics that are on the warm side to complement them or you'll likely be disappointed. If you do combine the Fostex with warm electronics, you will be rewarded with natural tonality, fast and clean sound, plenty of depth and space and a detailed sonic window into the music. But be warned: You must practice proper matching to realize these speakers' full potential. For example, when audio pals Stephæn Harrell, Pete Riggle and Bill Van Winkle stopped by for a listening session, we tried Pete's silver interconnects with my Nirvana speaker cables. It sent us running for the volume control. "Turn it off" said Stephæn, "let's get some other interconnects in there!" We replaced Pete's interconnects with my usual Nirvana SX interconnects and that settled things down quite a bit, but still more was needed. So we swapped|
|out the Nirvana speaker cables for the warmer Auditorium 23s which provided just about the right balance on most recordings so I used them throughout the remainder of the review. However and at times, the above-mentioned Nutcracker was still strident during certain dynamic string and horn sections and the leanly produced Trio II by Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parto and Emmylou Harris [Elektra 62275] that Stephæn brought over was stridently annoying throughout. This is not to condemn the Super 3s - they do very well when set up properly and on the majority of music I listened to during the review period. Still, they aren't going to play strident recordings with the soft and warm touch that a pair of Harbeths would, for example. But then, the Harbeths don't do the kind of detail that the Super 3s are capable of. And neither are they particularly friendly to low-powered SETs.
As far as classical recordings go, the Mercurys tend to be leaner than the RCA Living Stereo recordings of the same period like Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony [BMG Classics 09026614942]. I detected none of the stridency of the Mercurys when listening to the Living Stereo Also sprach Zarathustra through the Super 3s. What I did hear was lots of musically natural detail, a sense of speed and high resolution, and an altogether pleasing musicality that drew me into the music. While I knew that the bottom octave was missing, my attention was never once drawn to it due to the seamless and coherent way the 3s handled the rest of the musical spectrum.
As a small speaker with limited low frequency extension, I have to say that I was rarely left wanting by the Omegas' ability to portray the excitement and grandeur of classical music. For the small-scale acoustic music that I listen to the majority of the time, I never felt like I was missing out. On Chris Smither's Train Home, the music was imbued with a sense of forward drive and Chris' playing on his OM Collings acoustic guitar was appropriately riveting. Like most acoustic guitar and vocal albums, Train Home sounded natural, detailed, resolving, spacious and engaging.
|A Couple of System Ideas
Maybe you're just starting out in the HiFi hobby. Or maybe you just got screwed out of your life savings by a swindler or ex-spouse and want to get the music back in your life. Or maybe you're just a sensible and frugal HiFi buff who wants superior performance at real-world prices. You can put together a terrifically good system around the Omega Super 3s that would put you on the upside of things.
|System # 1 -- $906: Start with an inexpensive SACD/DVD player like the Pioneer DV-578A-S for $129, a Sonic Impact T-Amp integrated that retails for $39 but can|
|be found for $20 bucks online, a Radio Shack Gold Series # 42-2483 6-foot interconnect for $8. Use the speaker wire that comes with the T-Amp and finish up with the Omega Super 3s and matching Skylan stands for $749. The total system cost is $906 for a system that will both sound great and play CD, DVD video/audio and SACD. This system is identical to the system I set up at my place with the exception of the Pioneer - I used an old and discontinued Toshiba SD-3109 DVD video player that I had on hand. It retailed new for less than $400, and I paid about $150 for it at a local discount electronics store. You would be shocked over how well this sort of combination works together even when compared to some high-dollar rigs.
|System # 2 - $1897: Starting again with an inexpensive SACD/DVD player like the Pioneer DV-578A-S for $129, but supposing you want to get the magic of vacuum tubes in your life you'd be hard pressed to do better than the brilliant Almarro EL-84 single-ended pentode integrated amplifier for $800' Analysis Plus Oval One half-meter interconnect for $74 and a 6-foot pair of Analysis Plus Oval Twelve Speaker Cable for $145' and the Omega Super 3s and matching Skylan stands for $749. Again, with the exception of the Pioneer & Analysis Plus cables, this is a system I had set up in my living room and it was awesome. I had the Analysis Plus cables on loan earlier and their friendly and soothing nature should make them a natural match for the spirited Super 3s. The Almarro is a wonderful amplifier with a warm, punchy and darkly detailed sound that is a wonderful match with the Super 3.
System # 3 - $2649 ($3529 with Auditorium 23 speaker cables): On the last system, let's break the bank! Based on my experience with my friend Bill's great-sounding Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player with its vacuum tube output stage, dual mono op-amps and toroidal power transformer, it's an easy recommendation for $699. Don Garber's Fi 2A3 X-amp integrated at $1350 gets my vote for the ultimate SET integrated to match with the Super 3s based on my experience with my own Fi 2A3 mono amps. For interconnects and speaker cables, I really like the 47labs Cable Kit at $600 and if you want to go whole hog, you could add a pair of the Auditorium 23 speaker cables for $880.
After listening to a plethora of albums and movie soundtracks through the Super 3s perched on their matching Skylan stands, I have to confess that I really enjoyed their way with the notes and scores. They are a true high performance loudspeaker system that when combined with appropriate electronics, sound natural, clean and clear, resolving and detailed, spacious, with superb soundstaging & imaging and enough musical satisfaction to make you quit worrying about sound. The 3s will not make poor recordings sound lush and warm nor will they probe the lowest frequencies. They do make well-recorded material a genuinely riveting musical experience. So that you won't have to read between the lines, I highly recommend these speakers. I really like them. The Super 3s with matching Skylan stands are in my opinion a bargain at their price, and the least expensive way I know of to get high-performance sonic and music-making SET-friendly magic into your listening room.
|Omega Loudspeakers comments:
Many thanks for the review. It looks fantastic. If you can just add 2 things, that would be great. The speakers now come with magnetic grills so there are no plastic grills fasteners on the baffle, and I added a new finish called Macassar Ebony.
I'm happy you enjoyed the speakers.Your review really shows the pros and cons of the speakers which is great. I'm very pleased too that you pointed out how important system synergy is regarding amps and cabling - it really makes a huge difference. Because of your reviews, I'm now the proud owner of the Almarro and Sonic Impact amps and I couldn't be happier. They are both fantastic. The Almarro has great synergy with the Super 3s and the the Sonic Impact is an unbelievable bargain. This little amp opens the door to very affordable great-sounding systems. It sounds great with the computer too. Also, it was clever that you added the section in regards to HT. There are so many attributes to what single driver speakers can do for Home Theater.