Review: Ohm Acoustics Walsh 5 mkII Speaker

Category: Speakers

I became an Ohm customer 25 years ago with the audition and purchase of a pair of Ohm H’s from my local stereo store. I used them for a small while and then decided to somehow scrape the money together to get the speaker that I really wanted, the legendary Ohm F. When I listened to the Ohm F, I didn’t hear the Walsh driver, I heard the unrestrained music for which the F was famous. Besides looking like no other speaker in the world with its 12-inch inverted cone driver on top, it sounded like no other speaker. The bass was deep and strong and the highs clear. Needless to say, I was the envy of my audiophile friends.

I enjoyed my speakers until 1993 when the surrounds on the original Walsh drivers finally gave way. Since Ohm was now factory direct, I called Ohm directly and much to my horror, the original F driver was no longer being made, but they had adapted the newest Walsh 5 driver to fit my cabinets. Since I had not kept up with new speaker technology, I decided to see what was in the market place before spending the $1295.00 to upgrade. I heard speakers costing four and five times the amount of the upgrade but they didn’t come close to the sound of the F’s. Now convinced of the bargain, I ordered the F-3 upgrade. I placed the new drivers on the cabinets and there was the sound of my F’s back again, only with a much more efficient driver and with even more extended highs. Even with a 15-year-old receiver, the speakers could now play CD’s even better than the F’s. They played at louder levels while keeping the deep base that I grew to love.

I kept the F-3’s until 2000 when the allure of the new Walsh 5 Mk-2’s beckoned me. I wondered how much better they could sound and contacted Ohm to ask about the new speaker. They assured me that I would hear a significant difference. After some thought, I traded in the F-3’s (Ohm is famous for supporting their products and allowing upgrades and trade-ins for speakers over 20 years old, this being one of the reasons Ohm customers tend to be very loyal) on the new Walsh 5 Mk-2’s. When they finally arrived (they took a few weeks to build since I ordered them in a mahogany finish), I was excited as when I had taken my original F’s home 25 years prior. I hooked them up, configured the controls in the rear of the driver, and turned on the stereo and wow! The bass was strong and tight, the highs even more open and clear than the F-3’s, and the soundstage even larger than before. The shape of the speaker changed from my beloved pyramid to a more rectangular configuration, but the insides were pure Walsh. But there was something missing in the sound. They sounded good but in my mind, they should have sounded even better. After a few weeks of listening I finally figured it out. The new Walsh 5 Mk-2’s were now showing me that my now 25 year old receiver (yes, the same one I used for my F’s), was now the weak point of my system and a definite bottleneck. Deciding that this quality speaker needed high-end electronics, I opted for Mcintosh components including their 600 WPC power amp. The first time I powered up the new system, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and not hearing. The bass of the new Walsh 5 was now earthshattering. The mid and high ranges even more unrestrained and the soundstage increased by a factor of two. The speakers loved the new power and headroom of the Mcintosh components and now really opened up to their full potential. Even on very loud passages, there was no distortion and the soft passages were whisper quiet. I finally felt that I now had sound that surpassed my Ohm F’s in every way. With the right components mated to them, the new Walsh 5’s easily outclass speakers costing 4 times their $5,000 price tag. Placement is not a problem and with the 81 position controls on the back of the driver, they can be set up in any room. Mine are actually still breaking in and sounding better with each session. If you are in the market for a true audiophile speaker, you owe it to yourself to audition the Wash 5 Mk-2’s. It is without a doubt one of the best bargains on the market today and a speaker that you will probably own for the next 20-30 years.

Associated gear
Mcintosh MC602 Power Amp
Mcintosh C-40 Preamp
Mcintosh 7009 CD player

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Erdoc: While i'm glad that you are happy with your recent purchases, i can pretty much guarantee that you've never heard what the F's were capable of if you were powering them with a late 70's vintage receiver. Most of the "hi end" amps made back then weren't capable of showing what they could do, let alone a receiver ( modern day OR "vintage"). For that matter, i've run across more than a few highly respected "good sized" amps of recent production that were not up to the task of driving the F's.

The F is the only speaker system that i know of that can "slam" on the bottom end and still do 17 KHz with good linearity while using one driver. It does this with no other type of low frequency reinforcement ( port, passive radiator, etc..) or the addition of a supplementary high frequency driver. As such, there are NO passive parts such as crossovers, impedance compensation, notch filters, etc... between the amplifier and the speaker, making it VERY revealing of what is up-stream. It does all of this while radiating 360*. It presents a wide and deep time and phase coherent wavefront from a point source radiator that is untouched by most other designs. Ohm ( and many other companies ) may strive to reproduce what the A and F achieved, but it is both physically and theoretically impossible when running a multiple driver array. I do agree that sensitivity and power handling could be improved, but every design has its' drawbacks.

Best wishes and good listening... Sean