I had started a thread quite awhile ago regarding my journey with a pair of Ohm 3XO's and upgrading their drivers to the newest 1000 series of driver/can that Ohm now has. Much of what was stated in that thread is carried over to this "review". And while I am not worthy of writing reviews, I just wanted to pass along my perspective of the Ohm’s along with a brief comparison of the original drivers as well.
I might add that while my 3/3000 project was underway, I was able to find a pair of great condition original 3XO drivers. One of the cans metal grill was loose, but the foam surrounds and tweeters were in fabulous condition. I bought them up thinking about a small shoot-out against the new drivers. I am glad I had them on hand.
After spending a great deal of time with Ohm’s again, I realized what I truly love about these speakers, even after all these years. I find myself totally immersed in the music they make, and instead of music being thrown at me like so many dynamic forward-firing speakers do, the Ohm’s present music in a fashion that I find more realistic, more like true live performances. While I have heard the Ohm’s called too diffuse, and ill-defined, I don’t feel that to be the case at all. Instead, I much prefer the large soundstage and lifelike images that are produced by them. I use live music/concerts as a reference, and while I know this can be a crap-shoot of sorts, I find the Ohm to be more true to live music more so than many forward-firing speakers that I have listened to or have owned in the past.
Speaking of the soundstage that is reproduced by the Ohm, another aspect I find so very realistic is the image height. The Ohm’s present the performers as a real live person in height, and dimension, not some miniaturization of who is on stage. To me, this is another positive aspect that makes listening to them more fun, more involving and pleasurable. In reference, I have been used to Magnepans for quite some time and thought they would never be replaced in my main system. Image height was always one of the Maggies trademarks as well, and one I find to be important. The Ohm’s do this as good if not better in my listening room.
Of course the soundstaging that stretches out across the room, and image height and depth that is so realistic wouldn’t be much good if the sonic characteristics of the speaker wasn’t good to begin with would it? Well, I can say that the treble is smooth and precise, has all the air you could want, and it doesn’t ever get spitty or sibilant. I would suppose that if you had some really terrible recording, it will only pass that along, but on well recorded music, the treble and midrange just shine. Voices, both male and female are reproduced with a clarity and accuracy that makes me want to continue to listen. I like to use K.D. Lang as one of my test vocals, and spin her CD “Ingenue” quite often. I also like Norah Jones, and have heard her live as well, the Ohm’s manage both of these vocalists with ease and clarity, and transport you right to the venue or studio.
Not to be outdone is the bass. It is solid as they come and not one-note or some blob of booming noise that so often robs music of it’s timing and structure. In living with my Magnepan MG-1’s and MMG’s, there is little bass to speak of, so the Ohm’s bass is a welcome addition to my music room. I find the Ohm’s much easier to place and integrate into the system than trying to get subs to work with the Maggies. I would say the 3000’s dig down into the mid 30 Hz range in my room, and that it is always tuneful and never out of control-unless the music of choice is to begin with.
If you are going to purchase a pair of Ohm’s, be certain to calculate your room size correctly and consult with John. This will enable you to purchase the right Ohm model that will fit your space in regards to bass quality and impact. As with all of the Ohm’s, you get the same basic “family” of sound, same treble, midrange, but the larger cabinets obviously bring about better and deeper bass.
My music choices typically range from pop recordings to jazz, a little gospel and R&B thrown in. I can say that the Ohm’s shine on it all, and while the speakers don’t bring attention to themselves, they just make great music, and that is what I am after. Are the Ohm’s after all these years outdated? No, even as I listened to the older drivers in the 3’s, the music was all still there. Maybe some rougher edges and not quite as detailed, but still wonderful transducers. Briefly, what I found with the new versus older drivers was a level of detail that the older drivers just didn’t have. The midrange and treble of the 1000 series of drivers is just better all around, greater detail, ability to play louder without becoming strident and shrill, and overall just smoother and more listenable. The bass on the newer drivers dig a bit deeper and is not wooly sounding. I thought the original driver bass could lack a bit of definition at times and just not sound as clear. Maybe even tubby at times. The new driver cures this in the 3000. Also I feel as if the speaker as a whole is more open, the soundstaging even more improved and open, and the older speakers were no slouches in that department to begin with.
The newer drivers are supposed to be a bit more efficient as well, I can’t really tell though. I drove them mainly with my Anthem MCA-20 rated at 200 WPC, and also my Audio Research D130 at 130 WPC. Both amplifiers drove them to levels that could be unbearable without any break-up from amp or speaker. I do feel that the Ohm’s do require some power/current behind them, and anyone considering them should watch what amplifier they have to power them. I didn’t find the Ohm to be fussy, they just loved the power. One other thing that goes along with this, I find they like to be played loud(er). While they didn’t lose focus or detail at lower volumes, they were just more fun and enjoyable at a higher volumes(not excessive).
To sum the Ohm’s up, when I think about what they do, is pretty simple. They just make great music, they pass along what is given them in the chain, no more, no less. And for me, they are one of the most realistic sounding speakers I have heard and had the pleasure to own. For me, that is the greatest compliment I can give to a speaker. I think that John Strohbeen has done a fantastic job in voicing these speakers! I come away from a listening session with a great admiration for what he has accomplished with these. I hope Ohm and John is around for a long time to come, I look forward to what he may come up with next. Now if I could just find a way to purchase the 5000’s!
If you are in the market for a pair of speakers, I would certainly urge you to give them a try. Too many people pass them by, not "audiophile approved" or whatever, but that is a shame. These are great speakers worthy of an audition, and with John’s extremely generous in-home trial period, it is hard to go wrong! If you are just in the market for upgrading your older Ohm’s, again, give John a call, there are many options and he will be happy to go through them with you. I believe the driver upgrade to be worth the money, and to be able to bring new life to an older pair of speakers is an even better deal. Sorry if this sounds like a full-on Ohm plug, it is of sorts, but also I am just a very happy customer! Enjoy the music, that is what we are hopefully after to begin with!
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