Mirage OM Series Speakers / Component Matching

I purchased a pair of OM-5 speakers, for 2 channel listening, about a year ago. That decision was influenced by four factors:

- My listening/living room is quit large (approximately 27’ x 33’ with a 14’ vaulted ceiling). OM-5s are up to the task and fill the room in an authoritative manner.
- OM-5s produce a warm and delicately refined sound. A sound which could not be matched by the other large speakers that were available for audition in the Jacksonville, FL area.
- OM-5s have an expansive (but rather diffuse) sweet spot which allows freedom of movement throughout the room.
- OM-5s have powered woofers with frequency and output level controls. The bass response can be tailored specifically to the room, listening level, and listener’s preference.

I’m driving these speakers with a vintage NAD 208 (250 w/ch – Mosfet) amp and a Cary SLP 50B tube preamp. Therein lies the problem …. the 208 must go!!! By no means am I bashing NAD. The 208 has some attractive sonic characteristics. It is very dynamic. Instruments such as piano, guitar, and violins have a sense of body and they bloom into the room. Higher frequencies are stunning. Bells, chimes, and triangles shimmer as they float through the air. Horns have a distinct and naturally reedy sound. However, the 208 is unable to adequately resolve midrange frequencies. The results are glazing, glare and a significant loss of detail in male vocals. This lack of midrange resolution, which was simply annoying in the past, is now almost unbearable. I’ve tried three difference speakers, two other preamps, various sources, and many, many cable/interconnect combinations. It’s time to step-up to a new amp.

I’d like to spend about $1,500 for the amp and, if necessary, an additional $500 for cables and interconnects. Suitable candidates appear to be the:

- Bryston 3BST
- Classe CA101
- Belles 150 Hot Rod
- McCormack DNA 125
- Music Fidelity A3CR.

Only the Bryston is available locally, so this field needs to be narrowed down to 2 or 3 models before arranging for in-home auditions. If you have any experience mating these amps with Mirage OM Series Speakers, I would appreciate your observations, insights, and recommendations.

A few points of reference might be helpful in establishing the desired performance objectives:

- I have heard the OM-5s power by the B&K ST2140/Reference 30 combination, in a Sound Advice listening room, with their cables. It was rather dull, flat, and lifeless. No magic here!!!
- I’ve also heard the Cary Rocket 88/SLP 50B combination. It was my first real taste of tube amps. The presence and immediacy were astounding. You could almost reach out and touch the solo vocalists. However, there was a considerable loss of inner detail and microdynamics. Subtle vocal inflections, the sound of fingers running across guitar strings, and other sonic queues were missing. It was just too smooth and liquid for my taste.

The “right” amp should be dynamic and detailed, with a clear and natural midrange. Some degree of euphoria (body, bloom, and presence) is desired (a little more than the NAD would be fine), but not to the point where the sound becomes lush.

The struggle to put together a listenable system is beginning to take a toll and it sure would be nice to hit a homerun on this one. Please … help me if you can.

I have the OM 9s and have had the OM5... too large and boomy for my taste... but the Best combo short of Monoblocks for the OMs in my opinion was the Aragon 8008
or 8002... They are both dual monos...
I agree the b and k is not very musical... consider the
preamp though...a ref 30 is a ht processor.. I have the ref 20 and you cant expect a very musical presentation if you are using the processor.. You are on the right track with your current pre. I would try the Aragon, the Classe is nice but I dont think it is as detailed as the Aragon, and it may be a little too underpowered for the Mirages.. they arent that efficien. ...I have had the A3CR and it was truely a nice amp... I liked the nuvista binding posts... only downside is that it only had single ended inputs and was a little muddy on the bass. Otherwise a great value.. nice detail.
Bryston, cant comment havent owned one... people seem to like them..
You have some nice choices in that price range...
Good luck with the search,
Custom Audio LLC
I also own the OM-5s and love them. I am driving them with a Sim Audio Moon W-3 which does a great job. If you can audition a W-3 or the larger W-5.

Thanks for the response!! You've confirmed what I suspected .. it's going to take a much better amp to bring out everything the OM-5s have to offer. A new W-3 is probably beyond my reach, however it could show-up used at any of the three high-end stores in this area. If it does, what cables/interconnects do your reommend for an in-home audition?


Thanks!! A lot of insight was gained from your response, an examination of your input to similar inquiries, and several hours of research on Audio Review:

- It turns out that audio enthusiasts who like Bryston (3BST/4BST) also like Aragon (8002/8008). Several reviewers found it very difficult to make a final selection, after narrowing it down to those two amps. Apparently the Bryston has better bass control, greater midrange detail, and a more forward presentation. The Aragon seems to have a deeper/fuller bass, smoother mids, and sweeter highs. With two great amps, component compatibility and personal preference become the deciding factors.

- The consensus is .... the smaller versions (3BST/8002) are more musical than thier big brothers (4BST/8008).

- Your 11-24-02 response on "$1,000 - What amp?" gives a clear indication of how the A3CR stacks-up against the 8002 (using OM speakers). Note taken.

I just never considered Aragon, even though there is a dealer right here in Jacksonville. It's a contender now!!

Looks like you have been using a number of different speaker cables and interconnects in your SS and Tube systems. Based on your experience, what cables and interconnects and do you recommend I use when auditioning the 8002/OM-5/SLP 50B combination?
I have heard most of those amps in my system and the classe at a deal w/a familiar setup, I would put the Odyssey Stratos at the top of your list in that pricerange.

In that big of a room with full range speakers, you will not be happy with the Musical Fidelity, Belles or Classe, they will have no "balls" and will clip easily, being compressed at high levels. If you listen at low levels and to music with very limited dynamics strictly they might work, but who does that? I feel the Stratos is a much better amp then the Bryston and the McCormack, expecially they Bryston, and it will easily drive big speakers in a big room to any level, all while offering superior, simply stunning sound. Do a quick search on this amp on the net, the rave reviews of this amp do not lie (www.odysseyaudio.com).