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Reviewer: Ken Micallef
Financial Interests
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Digital Source: Raysonic CD-168, Sony Playstation One (hollowed out dead tech used as planter/cigar ash dump)
Analog Source: Kuzma Stabi/Stogi turntable/arm combo, Denon DL-103 & Grado Labs Sonata cartridges, Auditorium 23 Denon step-up transformer [on loan], Thorens TD550/EMT Labs TSD15 cartridge with Super Fine-line Stylus [in for review]
Preamp: Shindo Allegro

Power amp: Shindo Haut Brion
Speakers: DeVore Fidelity Nines, ProAc D Twos
Cables: Auditorium A23 speaker cables, Shindo interconnects, SilverFi interconnects [in for review]
Stands: Salamander rack, 2" Mapleshade platforms (8" x 15" x 2"), Blue Circle custom amp stand
Powerline conditioning: JPS Labs Kaptovator, Shunyata Black Mamba and Anaconda Vx Powersnakes, Hydra 4 [on loan]
Accessories: Mapleshade Surefoot and Heavyfoot brass points and IsoBlocks; 3" studio treatment foam damping/ceiling-wall treatment, Large cotton rug on one wall
Room size: 24' x 12', short-wall setup, suspended wood floor, 1-foot deep plaster covered 2 x 4 walls, wood-beam 10' to 11' ceiling
Review component retail price: Ferrite magnet version $1,850/pr; Alnico version $2,750/pr

Chocho people
Louis Chochos is head honcho of Omega Speaker Systems, a company which makes single driver speakers that have the ability to change your attitude and, to quote an old song, perhaps change your latitude. In a word, they are head turners. Ear turners? That too.

I came in contact with Louis' designs as they made their way through the 6moons food chain. Stephæn Harrell reviewed the Grande 6, Paul Candy covered the Super 3R, Jeff Day got happy with the Super 3 and the Super XRS, Jim Bosha got it on with the TS33 and Michael Lavorgna found the sweet spot in the Aperiodic 8. Somewhere along the way I reviewed the Super XRS for the now defunct website American Wired. (Ian White, if you are out there, I hope your fast food career is going well). So you could say that Omega and 6moons form a family; a family affair. And like most families, opinions differ. But praise has been almost universal for Omega's single driver, crossover-less (and now entirely Hemp-enabled) designs. Louis's creations are sonically ultra-fast to a speaker and beautifully constructed. Louis got his start as a cabinet and music box maker and the exceptional visual beauty of his speakers is testament to the level of care and thought that go into his products inside and out.

Why mini monitors?
I've lived very comfortably with my classy, wide range, very human sounding DeVore Nines for around a year (and they're not leaving). But in the back of my mind, I always wondered if perhaps a smaller speaker might give me a different view into the music. Some guys have multiple amps, preamps and turntables. I have a thing about speakers. As I have pondered while owning other largish speakers in my smallish room from the Audio Physic Virgos and the ProAc 2.5s to the DeVore Super 8s, I couldn't ignore the notion that a smaller speaker would present music through a different lens. It's widely accepted that bookshelf monitors image like nobody's business though a lack of bass trade-off is standard. But as can be heard via the marvelous ProAc Twos, even that paradigm may be doomed. My quest was simply to find a different sound for my room as floorstanders can sometimes create too much of a good thing depending on source and material. That's my room. Yours may be different. But there is no denying the differing perspectives between mini monitors and floorstanders. With that in mind, I set out to explore all manner of bookshelf speakers and I am still on that quest (though my purchase of the ProAc Twos has somewhat tempered that search). Knowing that Louis's smallish speakers positioned somewhere between typical mini monitor and floorstander terrain had impressed me before, he was one of the first manufacturers I contacted. Louis suggested the SuperHemps and though they are much larger than I suspected, their ensuing sound and price point were to my liking.

Hemp specs
The SuperHemps are big fat speakers. Larger than mini monitors but without the tallish profile of floorstanders, the SuperHemps are practically in a league of their own. Measuring 23" tall x 15" wide x 12.5" deep at 35 pounds apiece, the SuperHemps arrived very well packaged and when I unsealed their double-layered packing boxes, their absolutely stunning finish was revealed. The accompanying Skylan stands arrived at the same time and once set up, they created a perfect fit with the SuperHemps footprint and height-wise.

You may wonder what the hemp label is all about. Well, it's hemp, hooch, marijuana, rope. Louis claims that hemp outperforms simple paper and polypropylene in all aspects. Omega's website offers these specs for all its Hempcone-equipped speaker models:
  • Patented A Brown Soun Hempcone.
  • Hemp cones are lighter and stronger than any other fiber cones.
  • Longer fiber than paper. The is the heart of the 'Hemp Tone'.
  • Far less cone breakup and distortion than any other fiber cone.
  • Higher resolution and see through transparency.

Furthermore, Louis said that "after hearing Hempcones for the first time, I was amazed at the clarity and the see-through transparency of the material and the way it reacted to micro detail. My cone weighs only 8.9 grams and is very light for an 8" driver. This is possible because the hemp fiber is so strong. It takes a lot to get them to break up. The cone is made from Hemp fiber with binder and enzyme. Adding other materials to hemp such as carbon fiber or Kevlar etc. defeats the purpose. Blends don't work."

"The SuperHemp was the first speaker I had designed with the 8" drivers," he continued. "As a large stand mount with good volume, it works out great with the new Alnico drivers in both vented and sealed box mode. In the SuperHemp design, the alignments I use are converted sealed box alignments so it's very easy to have the flexibility of both vented and sealed. It offers a little bump in mid bass and a great balance throughout the frequency range. The alignments are formulae I used to create the cabinet volume with the parameters that are measured when building the drivers. From the driver parameters I use my own formula to create the cabinet volume and tuning."

As well as exploiting the benefits of the hemp (Omega is the first manufacturer to use hemp as part of an OEM driver design), Louis uses an Alnico magnet in his SuperHemp driver. Ferrite is the more common magnet material: "I had the chance to put together an Alnico 8" driver close to two years ago," Louis explained. "Getting to build it with an Alnico magnet [is what took the drivers] to the next level. For me, the balance of sound is major. This includes the transition from bass/mids and treble. The bass texture and revealing all the nuances in bass is another attribute [of the Alnico] as well as the more natural midrange. The driver is made in the traditional format. It doesn't use a normal ring magnet but a pot and slug as they did years ago. The machinery used to build them is over 40 years old."

Louis's SuperHemp design is based on a novel if not new approach. From the single driver's 'whizzer' which produces the speaker's treble (transition at 9kHz) to its all Birch construction, crossover-less design and Alnico magnet assembly, the SuperHemp is a good example of a thought-intensive design pushing the envelope of me too.

"Design concerns are basically everything," Louis continued via email, "and since there are no electrical devices whatsoever in the speaker, I rely on mechanical means. This includes multi-layered construction with various materials, bracing and damping. Also, having an OEM driver built purposefully for my application is very important. I spent a lot of time on the whizzer cone and the blend is the smoothest with this unusually large version."