When I’m not listening to my $4,500 Abyss headphones, I’m bumping my $300 M-Audio Studiophile BX5a monitors. Hey hey, before you judge, It’s the Deluxe edition baby. This thing packs a punch (without a sub) and frees me from my headphone leash. I primarily work in front of an LCD screen for more than 10 hours a day so headphones made sense. Recently I’ve gravitated towards listening to 2-channel instead.
There’s just something visceral about being immersed and enveloped in music. Allowing it to hit your chest and being provided an image and soundstage that even the best headphones can’t match. Most implementation of crossfeed is gimmicky so 99% of headphone users stick to the discrete, in-your-face sounds of each channel. Sure we’ll get better resolution and won’t have to worry about room treatments, but in hindsight, the sacrifices were much more profound than that. Sometimes the “room” of a headphone is the pad itself so mods have to be done there, which leads to similar headaches.
I initially skipped 2-channel systems for no other reason than wanting to remove the room from the equation. I have a 11.1 surround sound system and have built acoustic panels in the past. All that tweaking, measuring, trial & error…headphones rescued me. What I didn’t realize was that I sit about a meter away and having near-fields effectively removes (most of) the room. This allows me to appreciate all the things I love about headphones, including the resolution while getting all the acoustic benefits of having speakers.
Another awesome thing is that I don’t have a problem most normal people have. I’m a single 35 yr old who sucks at online dating, I don’t have to worry about kids playing Street Fighter with my tweeters, and isolation isn’t required because my neighbors are deaf. The acoustic stars have aligned for me. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about those Hadokens on my tweeter because I decided my first set of speakers would be a single-driver loudspeaker made by Louis Chocos at Omega Speaker Systems. I really admire his philosophy and approach to loudspeaker design:
Omega Speaker Systems offers a full line of single driver loudspeakers, each personally designed and hand built by me in Norwalk Connecticut. My philosophy is simple: every speaker is built from custom designed parts and cabinets to maximize performance at all price points.
It is not a cookie cutter approach, where off the shelf parts are merely assembled together.
I conceive, design, and construct my proprietary cabinet alignment algorithm, proprietary driver designs, four layer cabinet construction, and product assembly with a singular vision.
Every Omega speaker is designed to bring you closer to the original musical performance. With over 34 years of professional speaker building experience, 14 of which have been devoted to single driver designs, it is fair to say that I have accumulated plenty of real world experience. This experience helps guide me in building on the unique benefits inherent in single driver speakers (open & coherent sound stage). It also enables me in eliminating the sonic deficiencies you may have experienced while listening to mass market, or DIY single driver speakers, such as weak bass and rolled off highs. My speakers deliver detail, speed, dynamics, and above all, musical involvement beyond anything you would expect, at competitive price points.
My primary reasons for this choice:
- Single-driver loudspeaker
- Equipped with the proprietary 4.5″ RS5
- No crossovers
- High efficiency loudspeakers requiring only 2 watts of power
- Sensitivity of the SUPER 3i is 94.5dB @ 8 ohms.
- Being able to drive them directly from the Chord DAVE
- RCA jacks outputs 2 watts @ 8 ohms with very low distortion
- Ultra low output impedance of 0.055 ohms
I’ve actually driven these speakers directly from a Chord Hugo and iFi Pro iCAN. If you have a DAC with a preamp feature…you could have a lot of fun with this. You also have unlimited choices when it comes to amps (which could be a good or bad thing). I digress, that’s a topic I’ll touch on at another time. Let’s dive into the sound!
I’ve grown accustomed to multi-way speakers for years and I have to say I feel at home with a single-driver design. There’s this coherence and naturalness that I just haven’t heard from any multi-driver speakers. It’s definitely an acquired taste but I thoroughly enjoy it.
With the SUPER 3i, a subwoofer is pretty much mandatory. It was neat being able to evaluate how changing components affected the highs/mids without the low end getting in the way but that gets old and boring. I’m like the OKCupid for speakers so I setup the handsome 3i with his new sexy girlfriend, the deepOMEGA 8 subwoofer.
After weeks of listening these were my impressions:
- Unlike some misconceptions about single-driver loudspeakers, I thought the Omega Super 3i sounded incredible across all genres of music. I was able to play R&B, hip-hop, classical, electronic, acoustic, everything.
- I didn’t realize how poor the imaging is with headphone until I heard what these Omega 3is could do. In one word…startling.
- These speakers are unbelievably fast, you won’t miss a thing. Provides more insight into the rhythm, pace, and realism of every recording.
- I sit about a meter away and it has more than enough SPL for me. Probably just needs a single watt.
- The mids and vocals are remarkable. Sometimes it straight up just scares the unicorn crap out of me.
- Amazing clarity and dynamics even at very low listening levels. I couldn’t enjoy this level of quality from the M-Audios at anything close to this volume level. Not to mention, I don’t have to use headphones.
- These speakers are beautifully made. Amazing craftsmanship on the cabinet.
I mentioned how versatile the Super Omega 3is are across genres. Here are some of my raw notes:
Adele – Love song [Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall] (44/16)
- You could hear the depth of the whistle that comes the crowd in the intro of this song. It sounds like it’s really coming from the rear of the venue.
- An amazingly effortless sound overall. The decay tails from the venue are telling of how transparent this monitor is.
Daft Punk – The Game of Love [Random Access Memories] (88/24)
- The robotic vocals just fade in from black from that melodic intro.
- Drums are impactful with a tonal density and resolution I haven’t heard on any speaker system.
The Modern Jazz Quartet – Animal Dance [Lonely Woman] (192/24)
- I didn’t realize there was so much detail in the rumble at the beginning of the song. On other systems it sounded a bit smeared and monotonous.
- The PRaT is amazing, it’s able to keep pace with the bass and the reverb/decay is very convincing.
- Instrumentation timbre and delineation is beyond excellent. Cymbals and piano notes have the proper timbre.
Billie Holiday – A Foggy Day [Songs for Distingue Lovers]
- Startling realism from beginning to end. Lip smacking galore if you’re into that kinda thing.
- When the pace picks up at the minute mark, her voice doesn’t falter and you’re greeted with a very realistic image as the bass and piano provide amazing tunes from the left side.
Banks – Someone New [Goddess] (44/16)
- A beautiful song, goosebumps from beginning to end.
- Her emotionally purpose is quite transparent in this track with the combination of dips, rise, and rhythm of her voice.
- There’s a higher sense of desperation in her voice towards the end of this song that I haven’t realized before.
Santana – Oye Como Va [Greatest Hits] (44/16)
- I heard this song on a pair of $100k Kharma speakers and was blown away. The Kharmas were better at texturing and provided a bit more body and tonal density but I found myself as emotionally involved in the track. The music just flows beautifully out of the Super 3i.
- Every instrument remains undisturbed by the one next to it while maintaining an accurate tonality.
- The drum build up at the 3:00 mark was quite a treat.
Dusty Springfield – The Look of Love [Casino Royale Soundtrack] (192/24)
- Mary’s voice completely seduces you into the song.
- That guiro scraping sounds are so organic and palpable.
- The Super 3i’s were able to resolve the nuances of how she carries her voice across the song. From the 1:40 to 2:00 mark, the transition is smooth and beautiful.
Hans Zimmer – The Battle [The Gladiator Soundtrack] (44/16)
- God, I’ve heard this track many times on my 11.1 home theater system and what I’m hearing from these two unassuming speakers and tiny sub is a force to be reckoned with.
- I never realized the complexity involved in the explosive section at 6:20. The sharpness of the strings and weight of the percussions
- That bass drop at 7:18 is terrifying. I need to watch this movie again.
Lorde – 400 Lux [Pure Heroine] (44/16)
- One of my favorite tracks to test sub-bass quality. Window rattling bass.
Lindsey Stirling – Crystallize (orchestral version) [Lindsey Stirling] (44/16)
- Most transducers will lose control at the 1:13. The Omegas were able to maintain composure.
- Quick transients and effortless sound. The synergy with the deepOmega 8s is much appreciated here.
Dr. Dre – The Next Episode [Chronic 2001] (44/16)
- In my much younger days, I used to c-walk to this track all the time. This is the cleanest I’ve ever heard it. Did I get off my seat and c-walk? You bet I did…and I still got it. 😉
- The bass hits distinctively in the back whereas on most headphones I’ve used, the drums were on the same plane as the vocals. The Super 3is are very capable monitors.
Marilyn Manson – Third Day of a Seven Day Binge [The Pale Emperor] (44/16)
- The energy and darkness of this song was easily conveyed across the low notes of this song and slower strums.
- The guitars were easily on tap when Brian calls for it. No matter how busy the track gets, the Super 3i never cracks or crumbles.
Led Zepplin – Black Dog [How the West Was Won] (48/16)
- This 1972 recording does not disappoint. Clean and crispy. Guitar riffs are convincing, vocals are on point, and rock keeps on rockin’
- The soundstaging is incredible on these speakers. The speakers just disappear and aside from the lack of some mid-bass textures, sounds like you’re there.
So single driver loudspeakers do work across all genres…as long as you give it a girlfriend (aka subwoofer).
I find that single-driver designs are fantastic for near-field and desktop applications. One thing I did notice was a slight fall off on the 4.5″ RS5 drivers which presents a gap between 160-300 Hz. Given the size of the driver, it’s an expected compromise. The SUPER 3i won’t have the impact that of a larger driver could deliver but luckily for near-field listening, the driver doesn’t have to be much larger to fill that gap. Omega’s Compact Alnico Monitors with 6″ HempCone drivers should do the trick.
My overall impression of the Omega Super 3i and deepOmega 8 combo is that there are no glaring faults and that the bottleneck will most likely be your source, cable, and amps. I’ve heard this system over the course of a few weeks while upgrading gear and it scales beautifully. It could handle anything you throw at it. One interesting thing to note is that the loudspeakers themselves were the cheapest component in the chain. It’s difficult to believe the Omega SUPER 3i is his base model (at only $695) as it sounds better than other flagship monitors I’ve heard. It has left me speechless more times than I could count on tracks I’ve been familiar with.
The midrange on this combo is otherworldly. However, one thing I did yearn for was for more richness and texture in the upper-lows and lower-mids. As far as highs, I thought these speakers did a splendid job. Never abrasive or bright. These are just very transparent and musical speakers. I spoke to Louis about my needs and he suggested the Compact Alnico Monitor. It has the aforementioned 6″ Alnico hemp driver which supposedly has what I’m looking for. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate to place an order.
When someone comes into the room and points out how you’re bobbing your head more often (and violent) than usual…that’s always a good sign. The Omegas have convinced me to re-evaluate some (much more expensive) speakers I’ve heard in a few listening rooms. Music is my one religion. With the Omega Super 3i, I felt like a newborn being baptized by the acoustic gods. The Omega SUPER 3i has been quite a revelation for me and my journey.
- Gigabyte BSi5HA-6200
- Roon Server in shell mode
- Windows 2016 Server
- Audiophile Optimizer (SS: 3, DF: D)
- Danacable USB
- SOtM iSO-CAT6 SE (black)
- 2 x SOtM dCBL-CAT7
- sMS-200 + mBPS-d2s
- Chord DAVE
- Chord Hugo
- Omega Super 3i
- deepOMEGA 8
- Interconnects / Cabling
- High Fidelity Cables
- 2 x CT-1 power cables
- 1 x CT-1 Ultimate power cable
- Hemisphere MC-6 power conditioner
- CT-1 Enhanced RCA ICs
- CT-1 speaker cables
- AU24 SX Balanced XLR
- Sapphire Reference ICs
- Sapphire Reference Mk.2 speaker cables
- High Fidelity Cables