Not every room has the space for five speakers plus a subwoofer. In fact, most rooms don’t. Then there are those of you who want to experience surround sound but don’t want to be surrounded by a clutter of speakers. Most manufactures have addressed the space concern by miniaturizing speakers into what they call cube speakers and bundle them together into lifestyle systems. These speakers are small but need to be mounted on stands to bring them to your ear level. Unfortunately your living space is still surrounded by the same number of speakers, now on unstable speaker stands. Not only that, but most tiny speakers sound just that – tiny. They may be acceptable for movies but forget about listing to music through them. Toronto-based Mirage developed a clever solution that takes care of both concerns and does it with style.
The Mirage Uni-Theater is a solution that integrates the left, centre and right channels into a single speaker and features Mirage’s OMNIPOLAR technology. Unlike traditional speakers, these speakers tend to throw the sound away from the enclosure in order to create the distance normally associated with conventional speakers. Like satellite speakers, the Uni-Theater should be complemented by a subwoofer to augment the low frequencies.
Our review set consisted of two Uni-Theaters ($1350 each), one in the front of the room and the second in the back, and a Mirage OMNI S10 subwoofer ($650).
Finished out of aluminum, the Uni-Theater has a unique look that is sleek and visually pleasing. With a length of nearly 37 inches and a depth of only 4.6 inches, it makes a perfect companion for any larger sized flat panel television set but of course could be teamed up with any television where space is a concern.
The Uni-Theater speaker is a magnetically shielded enclosure divided into three independent chambers. An active 3″ woofer, two passive 3″ polypropylene titanium deposit hybrid radiators, and a 3/4″ pure titanium hybrid tweeter are housed in each chamber. Each tweeter is mounted above the active woofer in Mirage’s OMNIGUIDE module to create the unique OMNIPOLAR dispersion pattern. The OMNIGUIDEs for the left and right channels are angled slightly in order to direct the sound toward the sides. This allows the Uni-Theater to achieve a large and spacious soundstage comparable to that of three separate speakers. A rounded metal grille covers all of the speakers of the Uni-Theater. On the back of the enclosure there are five-way spring-loaded speaker terminals and a two-position boundary compensations switch (‘wall’ or ‘stand’). The boundary compensation switch should be in the ‘wall’ position if the speaker is wall-mounted or in the ‘stand’ position if used on a speaker stand. A wall/ceiling mounting bracket and a glass table-top stand are provided with each speaker. Each 8 ohm (nominal) Uni-Theater is rated to play from 80 Hz to 20 kHz (+/- 3 dB), has a room efficiency of 88 dB and is recommended to be driven by 10 to 100 watts of power.
The Mirage OMNI S10 subwoofer is a down-firing 10 inch woofer with a ribbed elliptical surround driven by an amplifier capable of putting out 200 watts of continuous power (800 watts peak) and goes down to 21 Hz. The level, frequency and phase controls are conveniently located on the front and are covered when the grille is on. High and low level inputs are provided on the back.
Both the Uni-Theater and the OMNI S10 subwoofer are available in platinum and black finishes to match the rest of your equipment.
The setup was very easy as I only had to position two speakers and the subwoofer and run the appropriate wires. The Uni-Theater spring-loaded speaker terminals are small and I found using heavy gauge wire to be a bit of a headache, although the terminals did accept it. In a matter of minutes, my 6.1 system was ready to play.
I must admit that the first thing that came to my mind was these speakers are going to be another gimmick and won’t come even close to being able to handle the demands of a good movie or multi-channel recording.
First off, I ran a few SACDs from Miles Davis, Pink Floyd and some DVD-Audio discs from Outkast and a Various Electronic Artists compilation. Soundstaging was definitely larger than I was expecting and radiated in a 360 degree pattern. It was actually pretty amazing how sounds went well beyond the speakers. While listening to a track from the Pink Floyd SACD, I could follow the person walking around the room by the sound of their footsteps. The soundstage did not exactly have the pinpoint accuracy of direct radiating speakers but was definitely better than any lifestyle speakers that I’ve heard in the past.
Of course, soundstaging and imaging are not all that music is made up of. On the music side, I found the speakers to remain a little closed. The sound was never harsh with splashy cymbals or spitty tweeters but more towards a slightly boxy sound. I experimented with the provided stands and the boundary compensation switch. I found that the wall setting worked best for me with a more clear sound and less of a lower midrange colouration. The sound was easy to get into and very natural. I found blending the subwoofer with the Uni-Theaters to be a little tricky. When I set the crossover range closer to the roll-off of the Uni-Theaters, it became easy to place the lower bass direction. When set lower, I felt that there was an area that was being sucked out. This seemed to be more of an issue with music and not as much with the movies – a common experience with many lifestyle systems. The timing of the lower bass kept good pace with the rest of the music. Perhaps some more experimentation or a different room might change your experience. Summing it up for their music performance, these speakers are a little closer to a warm but slightly filtered sound with a little less than an extended top end.
The stronger side of this system showed itself during movie watching. After all, the Uni-Theater was designed mainly with the home theatre in mind. The first movie I watched was the Manchurian Candidate. It is amazing how many times I have seen this movie but only in stereo. The 360 degree field of sound brought me right into the action. At times I could almost feel the emotion or mindset trying to be portrayed. The centre dialogue was clearly understood and always centred. Any little movement to the sides such as a little phone going off were realistic and properly positioned in the soundstage. Of course when action happened the speakers never felt strained or compressed. Perhaps a touch of that laid back character I experienced during music playback was a blessing during films.
During a city shot in I, Robot, I felt as though the sound stretched at least 20 feet beyond my walls. This produced a great picture and helped create the illusion that the movie was trying to show. The subwoofer added the lower foundation when the bass pulsed or growled, completing the home theater experience. The OMNI S10 subwoofer produced a tight and powerful bass that was never boomy. The Uni-Theaters did a good job at imaging as the sound panned from one channel to another. The overall picture was great and I completely forgot that all this sound was coming from only two speakers.
I ran this review with Kenwood and Onkyo receivers and an Audio Research power amplifier. Not once did I feel the need for more power but the better the source, the better the speakers sounded. Also noteworthy, was when I changed interconnects or speaker cables there never seemed to be much difference in the sonic picture – at least none that I could tell.
Mirage managed to create a beautiful-looking lifestyle speaker that is easier to place and simpler connect than most lifestyle systems. Two Uni-Theaters combined with the OMNI S10 subwoofer made a system that most lifestyle systems would have a hard time competing with.
Mirage Uni-Theater $1350.00 (each), Mirage OMNI S10 Subwoofer $650.00 (Canadian)
Frequency Response: 80 Hz – 20 kHz (+/- 3dB)
Impedance: 8-ohm nominal, 4-ohm minimum
Power Handling: 10-100 Watts
Room Efficiency: 88 dB
Crossover Frequency: 2.7 kHz
Dimensions (WxHxD): 36.7 x 5.2 x 4.6 inches
Weight: 18 lbs
Mirage OMNI S10 Subwoofer
Woofer: front firing 10” titanium deposit polypropylene cone
Ports: two downward firing
Frequency Response: 21 Hz-120 Hz (+/- 3dB)
Amplifier Output Power: 200 Watts continuous, 800 Watts peak
Woofer:10″ woofer with ribbed elliptical surround
Dimensions (WxHxD): 14.7 x 16.97 x 18.46 inches
Weight: 41 lbs