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Reviewer: Jim Bosha
Source: Modified HHB Pro CDR-800, VPI Scout w/Grado Master Reference cart on 9" JMW arm., iPod Mini with Belden connections, Sherwood mono all-tube tuner
Integrated Amp: Antique Sound Lab MG SI 15-DT w/Genalex KT-88s and Telefunken diamond plate 12AX-7s, plus upgraded internal point-to-points, damping and switching
Speakers: Omega Grande 8/R, Dayton Titanic Mk II subwoofer
Cables: Audio Magic Silver, Harmonic Tech Fantasy and Virtual Dynamics Basic Power PCs; interconnects by Signal Cable and AR
Sundry Accessories: Shun Mook and other big juju scattered about the listening room.
Review Component Retail: $849/pr
|Lions and tigers and bears, Omega!
The first thing I noticed about the Omega TS33s after their Shaker-simple good looks was their impeccable coherence. After all, for years I've been associating Omega with single driver, Fostex specific, crossover-free bass reflex loudspeakers in artisan cabinets representing excellent if not mind-boggling value for money. All of that remains dead true except in the case of the TS33, which is very prominently dual driver.
|The TS33s stare back at me through twin 4.5" full-range drivers that are, as usual, mysteriously modified by Louis Chochos. Soft-spoken, industry heartthrob Louis is founder, chief wizard and bottle washer at Omega Speaker Systems (in fact, I'll lay you easy odds that Louis is the only CEO in HiFi who packs and ships his|
|products himself, and that's after he builds them for you.) These are, in the Omega tradition, Fostex drivers, very light, attractively bleached paper cones mated with an especially muscular motor. Yes, this design yields high sensitivity. But what else can I, a self-styled, Louis-created single driver guy get out of this atypical new package?
My reference speakers are the Omega Grande 8-R, chosen from Louis' line (at the time) for their fearless dynamics and confident (for a bass reflex single driver) low end. And as we live in close proximity, Lou does a pretty good job of enticing me into trying his newer designs as they take form.
After an extennnnnnnnded break-in (70+ hours, de rigeur as per Fostex drivers), I grew to love the Grandes. Would my affections remain true after these comely 33s showed up in my room? Fact is, unless the product is made on Mars to accomplish a function we never knew needed doing, a reviewer is simply going to go into a listening term with some degree of pre-existing prejudice. Mine was simple enough: how could two drivers, even in the absence of a crossover, match the pinpoint "what speakers?" effect that singles are justly renowned for? Here's how.
The review pair I received was already fairly well broken in but as is my habit, I let them purr for a few weeks fed by first classical, then rock FM. When I settled in for some serious ear work, I was plainly overwhelmed by what I found. Here was speed, transparency and excellent detail with amazing low-level resolution. The TS33 is a dual point source that is fully phase correct. Imaging and soundstage are not affected in any way I could detect, by splitting duties on the same signal. On the contrary. By incorporating twin drivers, the TS33 is able to reproduce more complex music with more dynamics and more low-end life than the excellent, cult-inspiring TS3.
The twin drivers' sharing of the same full-range signal increases sensitivity and lowers distortion. The TS33 has dual sets of beefy binding posts connected to the drivers individually, enabling the TS33 to be run in either 4 or 16-ohm impedance, which allows your amp to season the main dish to its specific tastes. High quality hand-made jumpers and a clear diagram are provided for easy switching between ohm options.
Like all of Omega's line, the TS33 is a compact bass reflex speaker so positioning in your listening room is easy. And Louis' gifts as a cabinetmaker make these speakers very easy on the eyes (Omegas are regularly reported to have very high WAF scores across the audio web and I can report similar success with all things Omega chez Bosh).
Bottom line for this punter? I'm staying with the Grande 8s. As stated oft before in these pages, I'm a bass ass. And there the reference Omegas had a stronger hold. Impact is also important, both to me and the music that comprises my most regular diet. There again the 8" drivers in bigger cabinets stole the ribbon. But...
I did hear more things going on within the layers of recordings I know very well with the Omega TS33s in place of honor. So, hey. Maybe even I will grow up some day. And when I do, Louis Chochos can expect the usual call from me. From my mobile phone. While double-parked in front of his workshop.
Listen to these things no matter what your budget. 'Cause as the wise man once said, it takes a lot of money to learn -- in audio -- that you don't have to spend a lot of money. Bravo, Omega.
PS: A special note of thanks and an apology to Louis of Omega and my chief, Srajan: This review pair arrived just before the holidays and for reasons as uninteresting as they are personal, this review took an unfair amount of time to prepare for and finish. Thank you for your patience and understanding, Louis. And yes, Srajan, I'm still alive (in a manner of speaking).