Or look outside the box
Liberty Audio XvoX
From its maker
Liberty Audio XvoX
From its maker
I have had OHms and Dynaudio Contour, not Focus, running concurrently off teh same gear in different rooms for several years now. So I am very familiar with these two.
There are significant differences between OHM Walsh and Dynaudio for sure. It should be easy to pick teh right one between the two based on your room, listening habits, associated gear and general likes and preferences regarding sound.
Build quality of Dynaudio Contours is pretty much as good as it gets in teh price range IMHO.
I can't really fault OHM build quality either however. I've owned OHM Walshes and run them regularly since the early 80's and have never had an issue or failure. They also have the ability to go as loud and clear as ever needed with the right amp without ever showing any signs of strain or breakup. Its a benefit unique to the Walsh driver design used I would say. Small Dynaudios do well for their size but like most conventional dynamic speakers will compress and peak out much sooner, although perhaps not at any practical volume in many cases. So if build quality = performance, there is nothing better IMHO. Whether or not one likes the aesthetics is another valid question.
There are many differences in that the OHMs are a totally unique design...too many to summarize but most aspects of teh OHMs are well documented here and elsewhere.
Regarding tonality, I would say the OHMs tend to be as dead neutral as anything I have heard whereas the Dynaudios tend to have a touch of warmth and a hotter more exiting top end that can also tend towards a bit more fatiguing depending on what's upstream, clean power, etc.
I've never heard an OHM sound fatiguing. More often they might sound flat or un-involving if things are not going well upstream.
I have also found taht OHMs and Dynaudios tend to work best with similar placement with some distance away from walls. Surprisingly, Dynaudios seems to sound best further apart and well away from teh rear wall in particular whereas OHMs can also go within a foot or so of side walls but just a couple feet from rear wall and sound their best.
I could probably live with either happily when set up correctly and well. I think both lines are absolute top notch and hard to fault save for individual preferences.
My Dynaudios are smaller monitors and cannot compare to my OHM 5s or even smaller OHM 100s for large scale classical works at realistic volumes. The OHMs are champs at that (with suitable amplification, the more watts and amps the merrier, same with Dynaudio) in their size and price class. The Walsh design just seems to enable more clean sound out of a given size driver and cabinet. My 100s (comparable to current 2000s) use an 8" Walsh driver and my big 5s an even larger one, 12" I believe and are the bomb for large scale works at realistic volumes.
Both are very sensitive to what they are fed and both respond to quality amplification, power, current, source, etc. I hear clear differences with most any change I make, including ICs, with both, but with the big OHM 5s teh most.
I run both OHMs and Dynaudios off Bel Canto ref1000m monoblocks. Performance and sound quality with both is absolute top notch. The Dynaudio Contour 1.3 mkIIs are small but the Dynaudio build quality delivers a lot of sound for the size. Pre-amp is an ARC sp16. I use both phono and digital sources, mostly music server for digital.
While I've never heard those particular Dyn's I have heard the Contour's (which I heavily considered buying) and currently own Ohm Walsh 3's which are way down the ladder from what you're considering. Comparing Ohm's to most direct firing loudspeakers is a tricky proposition, they simply project music in a way that is so relaxed and easy sounding that it's difficult to describe without hearing for yourself.
If you are an overly critical listener (which I used to be) they may disappoint, but for room filling, sound good anywhere Hi-fidelity I can think of nothing outside of Shahinians or the mega buck German Physiks which would compare to the Ohm's. They are the first speaker (out of WAY too many) that my wife actually sat up a declared "these sound great!" and she sits far from the sweet spot in the room they reside.
I hate to use this term but to me they are an audiophile's "Lifestyle" speaker, or if you prefer they are a music lovers speaker, either way, they are keepers for me, good luck!
Thanks, Mapman for such well thought-out information. It makes me want to hear some symphonic music thru the Ohms.
I have good power conditioning and a high power/high current amp with the Sunfire, so driving either speaker is no problem. The only flaw of the Dynaudio is the less than stellar performance at low volume; once it receives enough current is when it performs.
How does the Ohm perform at lower volume, IOW late nite listening?
The OHMs tend to shine best opened up at higher volumes, but do fine at lower as well and I listen to them both ways frequently. An amp that does not have too low a damping factor will help keep things clean and tight at all volumes.
Some might prefer speakers that tend to be a little hotter or brighter at lower volumes though. Frequency response of human ears is not flat and tends to drop off for higher and lower frequencies at lower volumes in particular. Loudness controls used to be mainly to help compensate for that.
If I were restricted to low volume listening, the OHMs would probably not be my first choice. A smaller good quality monitor would work just fine. I tend to like my little, easy to drive Triangle Titus XL monitors best at low volumes actually, though in a quiet room in particular, The OHMs or Dynaudios are fine as well.
I think it has more to do with the dropoff from speakers playing at realistic volume levels to artificially low ones. With teh OHMs, the difference is bigger. With smaller monitors in particular not so much. In fact small speakers tend to sound their best at low volumes when not under much strain. It is really not very hard to get good sound at low volumes. Higher volumes is what separates the men from the boys.
The thing about the OHMs is over teh years I have run them indoor and out, off many amps of all sizes, and they are never the bottleneck. They can take whatever you throw at them, at most any level. Most amps will clip before the OHMs reach their limit. Plus, I have never had an amp manage to damage one at any volume, indoors or out. I'm sure they are not indestructable, but for all practical purposes, they may be the most so of anything out there. Plus all moving and delicate parts are enclosed and never exposed where nasty things can happen by accident. I would never let small children near my Dynaudios but there is little they could do to the OHM Walshs save perhaps knock them over or maybe tear the grill cloth if they really tried.
Also I would agree with Polarin's comments.
If you want to listen critically from anywhere in the room and not just a small sweet spot, then the choice is automatic. That's a big one for me personally. But the sweet spot done well is pretty darn good as well.
Currently I have a 60 w/ch Bel Canto c5i Integrated Amp driving my smaller OHM 100s3s in my family room and teh bigger OHMs and the Dynaudios in more dedicated listening rooms downstairs.
The c5i/OHM combo can't match the other running off 500w/ch ref1000m amps in terms of going loud and delivering the goods with large scale recordings at realistic volumes, but otherwise still goes plenty loud for most things and the combo is still one of the best I have assembled over the years up to its limits.
The ref1000m/OHM F5 S3 combo is still the best I have assembled overall ever by far and I feel that one can be compared fairly with any of the big boys I have heard in various places over the years.
The ref1000ms with the smaller Dynaudio Contour 1.3 mkII speakers in a much smaller room is absolute top notch as well with some minor limitations though in that it cannot be considered quite as full range as many. I run the smaller OHM 100S3 in taht room in place of the Dyns sometimes and with those, there is nothing more practically to want in there (my 12X12 office/listening room).
Thanks, Polarin. We're all critical listeners at times, but I think you made your point.
I'm not looking for a detailed speaker with crisp highs (as so many modern spkrs are). I'm looking for a natural presentation where I can enjoy symphonic music or a string quartet with realistic timbre and concert hall ambience.
And you used the term I wanted to hear; that these speakers are "keepers."
Mapman, I'm not limited to low volume listening by any means, but I wanted to get a sense of how they perform. Low volume is the Dynaudio's weak spot; just like you said, the lows and the highs are not as present.
I read that the Ohm driver can be fitted with a higher range tweeter if needed, do you know about this?
The ref1000m/OHM F5 S3 combo is still the best I have assembled overall ever by far and I feel that one can be compared fairly with any of the big boys I have heard in various places over the years.
This says a lot. It answers my question if the Ohms are good enough to build a system around. After this speaker purchase, my next move is to upgrade my preamp and I want a speaker that's in it for the long haul.
One last question...
I'd like some clarification on some aspects of the Ohm's. They project a wide, deep image where the soundstage is at the front of the room. The instrument position; eg, a guitar, is constant while the listener moves in space.
No additional sound comes from behind the listener, correct?
In the case of an orchestra on stage, the presentation would be as realistic as my electronics will allow. I have a low noise floor, so would the imaging present a good separation of instruments? I understand Ohms are not the last word in detail, but I'm looking for a realistic and natural reproduction of the concert hall.
Thanks so much for your help, guys. Especially Mapman.
Glad to share what I can.
"They project a wide, deep image where the soundstage is at the front of the room."
"The instrument position; eg, a guitar, is constant while the listener moves in space."
If location is clearly located in the recording and location remains constant then yes. Most recordings should but not all.
"No additional sound comes from behind the listener, correct?"
In most rooms with most recordings, no. But room acoustics play a factor. If the room is very lively behind teh listening position it is more possible. I seldom hear anything from behind me in any of my rooms. I can only think of of brief moments on one or two music recordings when that has occured. The one that comes to mind is when Mel Torme hits and holds a note perfectly for a good 5-10 seconds in "the Classic Concert" on Concord CD. The perfect resonance of his voice sounds like you are surrounded. Quite startling and impressive actually, but not a common thing at all.
"In the case of an orchestra on stage, the presentation would be as realistic as my electronics will allow. I have a low noise floor, so would the imaging present a good separation of instruments?"
Again a function of recording and setup and room size and acoustics and listening position (listening perspective from where you are seated, much like at a live concert), but again that is what I would expect when things are going well. That is the case in my main setup where I am able to optimize everything. In my family room setup which is less optimized out of necessity, not as much but that is the case there with any speaker I use. So like most things, it depends.
"I understand Ohms are not the last word in detail, but I'm looking for a realistic and natural reproduction of the concert hall."
The detail is hard to fault when set up right, when you are getting that big well defined soundstage, but they are not bright or etched at all. They excel with good live recordings. The only thing I have heard better is larger mbls in a much larger tailored showroom. The same mbls at most shows are nothing special. So as is typically the case its all in the setup and getting things optimized accordingly.
The main thing OHMs have that mbls I have heard do not is the coherency through the midrange (where most vocals and music occurs) of the wide range Walsh driver used. mbls doen right are impressive but use multiple drivers and a more complex crossover that makes them sound like most speakers in that regard, including Dynaudio. Not a bad thing necessarily when done well, but once you get used to a truly coherent midrange, you take notice more easily when its not as much there.
Also I will add that I have heard much deeper soundstage with mbl than OHM, but only in a tailored dealer showroom with non parallel walls running 10-12' or more behind teh speakers, not something most people can reproduce in their homes.
The OHM Walsh driver output is physically damped inside the "can" in teh wall facing directions to enable them to fit better into most peoples homes and closer to walls. That tends to limit absolute soundstage depth possible somewhat butits a very good tradeoff for most.
So I would say they are very good but not necessarily the nth degree of soundstage depth. If I had never heard those darn mbls in teh dealer showroom, I would probably have nothing better to compare them to and never even give that a second thought.
Mapman, I can't thank you enough for the info provided. My #1 question has been answered... can I enjoy realistic classical music, specifically symphonic with the Ohms. I have a season package for the Phila. Orchestra, so I know what live music sounds like,(although our new "SOTA" concert hall has many design flaws which they won't pay to correct).
That's a most generous offer to visit and listen to your system. I appreciate it.
BTW, don't be surprised if I have another question.
I've had my Ohms since 2009 and I'm extremely happy with them. I started with the Micro Talls, and I was so impressed that I upgraded to the 1000's. I run them with a basic 100wpc Yamaha receiver in an 11X11X9 bedroom.
Before this set up, I had a carver amplifier with a carver preamp with sonic holography. This configuration provided me with an interesting but unpredictable soundstage. None the less, when I needed a new system, I was looking for something comparable to my carver system. After much research and a recommendation from a picky audiophile friend, I took the plunge and ordered the Ohms. The rest is history.
The Ohms will require some break in, and experimentation with placement is a must. It took me about 2 weeks of moving the Ohms around until the speakers literally coupled with the room to produce a soundstage that still delights and amazes me. The final set up was 12" off the front wall and each speaker 33" from the side walls. At first the bass sounded flabby, so I moved them closer together, and to adjust the bass strength I moved them different distances from the front wall. The idea is to bring the Ohms "into focus" much like the lens of a camera.
I love the Ohms and what they do. They provide me with a soundstage that has a sense of depth and space that I find unique and appealing. The sound just permeates the room. Even at fairly low volumes, the Ohms still fill the room, with the soundstage intact, just more distant, like listening from the 20th row opposed to the 3rd row, depending on the volume.
The Ohms excel with all types of music, and as with any speaker, are recording dependent. I have a fair amount of classical music, including a number of classical samplers, and all the different recordings really show you what the Ohms can do. I do not think you would be disappointed.
The bottom line is that I really love my Ohms. If I ever get the money, I will buy their top of the line model Walsh 5000 ($6600 Pr.) with a better amplifier and be done with it. They do so many things right, and they continue to impress and amaze me even after having them for 6 years.
As for fit and finish, I personally didn't like any of the offered veneers, so I had them painted gloss black. The build quality is solid. If you go to to the Ohm website, ohmspeaker.com, it will give you an idea of what to expect.
So the choice is yours, but I think you'd be foolish not to give them a home audition. I'll tell you, it's the best chance I ever took! Good Luck! Joe
I think your characterization of the Dynaudio 260 is accurate: it is a great all around speaker that should be easy to position in your room. I have heard Shahinians, but not Ohms. I liked the Shahinians for Orchestral Music, and to fill a bigger room, but thought the imaging was less precise for smaller ensembles. For Orchestral music, a subwoofer would be useful with the 260s. I am a Dyn fan, but you should listen to as many speakers as possible to avoid buyers remorse with a $5k investment.
Thanks for offering your experiences, Joefish. The Ohms probably make your room sound bigger than it's physical size.
I like your description, similar to Mapman's. That's interesting that the distance of the image changes with low volume.
I'm very glad to hear the build quality is solid; and I've spent quite some time on the website.
You mentioned a subject that I've been wondering about, control of the bass. Can these speakers get a tight, detailed bass with only a flat plinth sitting on the floor?
How is reverberation and coloration thru the floor controlled? My room has a hardwood floating floor...is there an option to use spikes?
Many thanks for your input.
Both of my OHMs (100S3 and F5) are older refurbed cabinets with no plinth underneath.
Floor interactions are not unqiue to bottom ported OHMS butsomething to take into account.
I use Auralex Subdude isolation platforms under my 100s to manage floor interactions with a floor similar to yours.
FWIW floor interactions proved to be a similar problem for me with other conventional monitor speakers on even heavy quality spiked stands in other rooms on that floor as well, so an issue to get a handle on but not necessarily unique to OHMs. I use isoacoustics pro monitor stands under my small Triangles in that other room and those turned out to be the only stands that worked well enough in there.
Nothing needed under my large F5s in teh basement on carpeted concerete foundation, which served as my reference for getting things on teh upper level under control.
In the end I learned that managing floor interactions is a big key to getting the best sound.
Of course there are many factors that affect room acoustics, floors being only one of them, so each case will be unique and may call for a different approach or in some cases even nothing special at all.
New OHm Walsh cabinets have a plinth built in underneath whereas neither of my OHM Walshes do so that should make for some difference. Others might be able to comment further on those.
Most of the main issues have been covered here and I don't really know Dynaudio. So, forgive me if this is a bit redundant, but at least it's one more data point for you...
I use Ohm 100s and I'm pretty sure that the spatial presentation will be the make or break issue for most listeners. That's not possible to qualitatively recommend to anyone - you just gotta hear it for yourself and make a call.
The 100 is close to dead neutral IMO and has limited deep bass capability. Further, like a lot of modestly sensitive/efficient loudspeakers, dynamics can be understated at modest listening volumes. The net effect is a "polite" presentation at low SPL. I use a pair of subwoofers with my Ohms which seems to help address all of these issues. As a true full-range system (integrated and crossed in the digital domain via Audyssey), this is IMO a ridiculously good sounding system for the $.
BTW, I also own SF Cremonas, Verity Parsifal/Encores, and Merlin VSMs (as well as Maggie MMGs for use with the same subs as the Ohms). The Ohm/sub system is my loudspeaker of choice for 80% of my listening and 100% of my orchestral listening. FWIW.
Martykl, the fact that your Ohm's SQ can compete with your collection of such fine speakers says a lot. (btw, I believe Merlins use Dynaudio drivers).
It's also good to hear another recommendation for listening to orchestral music on the Ohms.
I'm thinking the T-2000s in my room should supply an ample amount of bass.
Your post is much appreciated.
I don't think anyone brought this up yet, but with qualities such as imaging, staging, level of detail, bass, and what ever else you are looking for, your choice of electronics is equally responsible, if not more so, than the speakers. You can take a normally good imaging speaker and if you don't match it to the right electronics, you won't get those qualities. The speaker may be able, but you need well matched components to get the best from them.
Zd, that is very true; I think it was mentioned early on. I feel that my electronics are up to the task. I've worked on creating a low noise floor with a Blue Circle Thingee FX2 PC, Blue Circle Power line filters, Furman PC, Audience PowerChords, and Purist Audio Aqueus Luminist speaker cables.
My modest system; ARC CD, Rogue Pre, Sunfire 300 has a synergy that currently creates a warm, wide, deep soundstage with deep bass with my PSB Synchrony Twos. I get terrific separation of instruments, but the overall system lacks some detail, a smooth midrange and transparency. This is a known weakness of these speakers. As I said earlier, a later upgrade will be the preamp.
Thanks to all the good advice, taking the plunge into purchasing the Ohms sounds like a safer move than going for the Dynaudios.
Thanks for your post.
High current SS amplification is key to best bass with the OHMs.
Marty, correct me if wrong please, but you use tube amplification with your OHM/sub setup. That's another good way to go but most tube amps will not cut with the OHMs alone for best bass I suspect. Definitely not with most Dynaudios. Or most any other speaker design that attempts to maximize bass extension out of a smaller package. You need larger speakers with extremely benign impedance curves for that.
Glad that you decided to test drive the Ohms. If you decide you don't like them you can always ship them back. I really don't think you're gonna want to send them back once you get them set up properly and hear what they're capable of.
Please keep us informed of your Progress, impressions, questions, and any problems that you may encounter. There are plenty of Ohm owners here that can give you tips on how to fine tune everything for maximum enjoyment.
I've used a half dozen different amps with the Ohms over the years, most of them tube designs. Over the last five or so years, I've used solid state amps pretty much exclusively. I still use tubes with the Merlin and sometimes with the Verity.
I use an RTA to measure on-axis FR in my listening room and the 100s get down pretty close to 40hz, (which is actually not at all bad - better than most folks think, I'd imagine) before dropping off quickly. (For context, the Verity P/O cannot get quite that deep, tho it feels more dynamic in the bass than the Ohm). It's quite likely that there's some destructive interference at work in the room, limiting the Ohms' output below 50hz. Obviously, the equalized subs can extend that (pretty much however deep I choose), but they also provide some welcome punch in the kick drum region (50hz). For orchestral music, the subs add weight when the recording provides it (not always).
In my room, depending on speaker position, the bass response also gets quite lumpy below 125ish hz. I can re-position the Ohms to smooth things nicely down to 75ish hz, but I lose some deep bass response. Hence, I use room correction software on my subs to fix that while extending the bottom end (vs stand-alone Ohms) by almost a full octave. This improves integration between the Ohms and the subs, as well as smoothing and extending bass response. The subs also relieve the Ohms of the heavy lifting down low, which seems to provide better dynamic performance when the SPLs are modest.
Like any speaker, the deep bass output from the Ohm 100 is going to be room dependent. In my set-up, the subs make a world of difference, but YMMV.
No doubt adding a powered sub or two done well almost always ups the ante as mentioned.
I used to run a large M&K sub with my smaller 100s that are somewhat undersized for the open concept room they are in and liked the results. The sub went up a couple years back and I have gone solo with the 100s since mainly just to keep things simple. Currently I run them off a 60 w/ch Bel Canto C5i integrated amp with very good results.
I have always run the much larger F5s solo in my 30X20 foot L shaped room where they reside and have never felt a need for any sub there, though they most always add value (when done right). JS now makes the 5015 model which is similar size and cabinet to my F5s but each with built in powered subs and he has referred to these as the best OHMs ever.
I do believe that no speaker can lay a claim to being the best without including a powered sub driver in its design. The low frequencies suck power exponentially as the frequency goes down. That needs to be addressed somehow otherwise not only can the bass not be as good as it might but the power drain most likely also has negative effects on all the rest as well.
having said all that I gotta say teh OHM F5 series 3 speakers driven by teh 500 w/ch Bel Canto ref1000m amps never show any clearly audible signs of stress or breakup together and I like to push things to realistic volumes from time to time. I'd do it more except that very loud sound damages teh ears no matter how well done, so I am trying to preserve those as best I can.