The Omega Subwoofer: Living with the Omega 2.1 Desktop System

 

Starting at just under $600 for the pair, the Omega Super 3 Desktop speakers from Omega Speaker Systems represent an incredible value. The clarity, naturalness, and imaging capabilities that they provide is almost unheard of at that price. In fact, they performed so well that after I finished reviewing them, I decided they weren’t going back! Combined with the Woo Audio 5 amplifier and its 10 watts of tube magic, the pairing is absolutely phenomenal and now serves as my primary speaker system. However, as I mentioned in my previous review of them, I really wish I had some real bass, especially when listening to heavy electronic and hip-hop music. Needing more than a single 4.5″ driver to satisfy my basshead needs, it was time for the Omega Subwoofer, the deepOmega 8!

The deepOmega 8, as its name suggests, is Omega Speaker System’s 8 inch subwoofer and their smallest subwoofer ever, though they promise it can deliver as much bass performance as the deepHemp Cube it replaces. Like the Omega speakers, the deepOmega 8 is hand built and designed in Norwalk, Connecticut by Louis Chochos, the company’s founder. Louis uses high quality custom-made components to make his products perform as good as possible while keeping prices competitive. Thus, just about every major component including the built-in amplifier is made in-house with nothing being outsourced.

The deepOmega uses a down firing 8″ OmegaCone driver enclosed in a sealed cabinet that like the speakers, uses multiple layers of softwood MDF, ladder bracing, and heavy duty rebond foam to eliminate resonance and vibrations which can add distortion and lower sound quality. The subwoofer weighs about 40 pounds (heavy!) and like the desktop speakers, has three vibration absorbing spiked feet with coasters for them to rest on. Unlike the desktop speakers where the coasters can slide around and come off the feet when moving the cabinet, the spiked feet on the sub are larger and due to the weight of the sub, are very sturdy.

The cabinet is available in two finishes, level 1 and level 2. My subwoofer came with a level 1 finish which is made of a material called “tweed”. Tweed is made of natural fibres which are resin impregnated and coated and is available in various earthy wood-like colors. The graphite finish example I received has a high quality texture and feel to it that is kind of in between wood and some hard composite material, it doesn’t feel cheap at all but rather modern and unique. For a couple hundred dollars more, Level 2 high quality wood veneers are available as well. The Omega subwoofer features excellent build quality throughout and there is no evidence of cost cutting to be found anywhere in its construction. Everything is well put together and there is only metal, wood, and premium materials to be found, no cheap plastic! This is a proper premium audiophile-grade subwoofer.

The deepOmega 8 with its built-in amplifier can output up to 150W into 8 ohms or 250W into 4 ohms with a sensitivity of 88dB at 8 ohms. Its frequency response is 28-160Hz which at first worried me a bit, but in the end it felt like it could go even deeper! It is important to note that this subwoofer, with its sealed cabinet, was made with musicality, speed, transparency, and precision in mind rather than just tons of one-note-in-your-face bass. The back of the subwoofer has line and speaker level inputs (I personally used the speaker level inputs) which allow you to connect it to just about any amplifier or system. The sub also has a phase control switch, gain knob, and 40-180Hz crossover knob to allow you to properly configure the subwoofer according to your system and personal preferences.

Connecting the subwoofer to my speakers using the speaker level inputs was extremely easy as it only required an extra pair of speaker cables to connect it to my amplifier. I placed the subwoofer underneath my desk slightly to the left of my speakers. My Super 3 Desktop speakers remain on each side of my monitor, about 6 inches away, and about two and a half feet apart. The Super 3 Desktops were driven by a Woo Audio 5 (WA5) tube amplifier which can output up to 10W of power into 8 ohms. The WA5 was using EML 300B power tubes, Tung Sol 6F8G drivers, and a pair of USAF 596 rectifiers. I used a pair of Audioquest Type 4 speaker cables to connect my subwoofer to the Woo and a pair of Wywires Blue speaker cables to go to my speakers. I also used Audioquest King Cobra RCA interconnects and Audioquest Power and USB Cables. My source was lossless music files from my computer fed to my Mytek Stereo192 DSD DAC. As always, music choices varied and included just about everything.

After I connected the subwoofer to the speakers, I played a couple tracks and adjusted the Gain, Crossover, and Phase to what I felt was the most balanced sound for my system. For this review, my Gain knob was set to 2 o’clock, which made the bass slightly above “neutral” but not too much and the crossover was set to about 2 o’clock as well, or what I would consider to be around 100 Hz. I played around with this quite a bit as it affected the mid bass but eventually I found a sweet spot. I set the phase on the subwoofer to reverse as this sounded best to my ears. Note: These settings worked best for me but should not be considered “right” or “ideal” as they may vary greatly depending on your own system and listening preferences.

In my first review, I fell in love with the Omega Super 3 desktop speakers and their ability to provide me with a musical experience like no other. While headphones can sound insanely real and can allow one to go deeper into the music and hear every little nuance better than most speakers can, they are still unable to fill a room with music and bring it all to life. Like energy that permeates every corner of the room and just makes you feel like you’re there, in that moment, touched by every frequency and every note, the emotion in the music takes over.

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One of my best moments with the Omega speakers was listening to the unplugged vocal edit of DHT & Edmée’s “Listen to your Heart”. The piano and vocals were so clear, floating in the air over the black background, you could easily pinpoint where the sound was coming from on stage. The image was just so vibrant and lifelike, the music so beautiful and alive, it really was like being there and having your own private performance. The ability of the speakers and the 300B tubes to convey such realism is incredible, the euphonic warmth of the tubes was present in every breath and every note, it was a truly special audiophile moment for me. It was this moment that told me, wow, these speakers are really awesome and this is what its all about, what I was missing!

If you read my first review of the speakers and then try to imagine what the subwoofer sounds like, you’d probably be correct – it sounds like an Omega! Like the Omega Super 3 desktop speakers, the Omega subwoofer is able to reproduce bass frequencies in a very natural way with tons of depth, texture, layering, and emotion. The bass response is fast and articulate, notes are well-defined and never sloppy or one-noted. It is an accurate and natural sounding subwoofer that is also very musical and fun! It is important to note however, that this is not a subwoofer for bassheads. Though it certainly holds its own at the lower registers and doesn’t have any problems with sub-bass extension, it will not shake the house, this subwoofer is more about moving your soul and body to the beat of the music. Like many 8 inch subwoofers, its fast and musical rather than deep and powerful. The bass always remains balanced with the rest of the sound and never becomes overpowering, even on the highest gain setting. The sub-bass is very well controlled with a fast decay and never distorts or gets boomy. Because of this, the bass blends very cleanly with the midrange, always supporting it, but never getting in the way. Overall, the Omega subwoofer impressed me with its tight, fast slams and excellent detail and transparency, it just made everything sound good!

The Omega subwoofer’s strengths were really apparent to me when I listened to Daft Punk’s “One More Time” from their Discovery album. The bass was quite present and it allowed me to really feel the beat, like a more powerful subwoofer displacing more air would, but it never overpowered the midrange or treble. The initial bass punch is strong and dynamic, but the decay was quick and the notes didn’t linger for very long, which allowed the subwoofer to keep up with the music at all times. The Omega subwoofer excels with all types of electronic music. Listening to Ferry Corsten & Nat Dunn’s “Hyper Love” provided me with a similar experience, crystal clear electronic music and fast, punchy bass! Hyper Bass! At lower volumes, the bass quantity always felt just right in my own little desktop bubble, my own little private EDM show. At louder volumes, the bass filled the room quite nicely and scaled evenly with the sound coming from the speakers. Echaskech’s electronic album Shatterproof really shined with the Omega subwoofer as every beat was so perfectly reproduced, the resolving capabilities of the sub revealed every little detail in the bass in tracks like “Digital City” and “Reduction”. The bass was addictive and the quality was as good as any headphone I have ever heard, I have no idea why I waited this long to buy a speaker system!

The Omega subwoofer has zero distortion and control at just about every frequency. Though its frequency response goes down only to 28Hz, it feels like it can go even lower and there is no roll-off, the subwoofer was able to output deep, powerful bass even at louder volumes and it handled everything I threw at it. The Echodub compilation, Anechoic Chamber, is one of my go-to albums for bass testing as it really pushes the drivers to the limit. The Omega subwoofer remained tight, accurate, and never lost its composure. The decay was quick and clean and deep bass was fully reproduced. However, sub-bass response was leaner than that from a more powerful 12″ or 18″ subwoofer with a longer decay and the ability to move more air. The Omega still had more than enough bass for me and was a little more than what I would consider to be “neutral”. My final deep bass test was with Three 6 Mafia’s “Late Night Tip” from the The End. The bass drops about as low as most tracks will get and is a challenge for most systems, its generally something that bumps best on a car stereo with good subs or a good home system. The Omega resolved the bass perfectly and there was no distortion or congestion, just bass! At louder volumes however, the bass does seem to reach a point where it just won’t get any louder and it just kind of maxes out, this happened here but only at the very limits of loud, pretty much blasting the subwoofer; again, quality over quantity is the focus here, this is a real hi-fi reference sub!

As a whole system, the Omega speakers synergize perfectly with the Omega subwoofer, the sound is a liquid and coherent whole, and imaging is even better than with just the speakers alone. The Omega subwoofer adds so many layers of bass detail to the music that I cannot imagine listening to just the speakers alone again, it’s just so much better having the full system! The Omega subwoofer’s incredible precision and speed allow the bass to keep up with the speakers and music at all times, there is absolutely zero congestion. I was re-discovering my music again after I added the subwoofer, everything sounded so different, a whole layer was missing with just the speakers alone! Norah Jones’ “Sunrise” was one of my favorite tracks to revisit as it showed me the naturalness and depth that the subwoofer was capable of. The bass was full and warm with tons of micro-details in the bass, deep palpable layers of detail that until now, I thought could only be perfectly resolved with a pair of headphones, or subwoofers that cost much more than this one. Rock albums such as Rise Against’s The Sufferer & the Witness or Tool’s 10,000 Days improved greatly with the subwoofer as the added bass added dynamics that weren’t previously present and the music just felt more complete overall. Almost every genre of music benefited from the subwoofer, I had to listen to everything again!

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In conclusion, the Omega subwoofer is everything I expected it to be; fast, transparent, and musical. The deepOmega 8 subwoofer is a serious upgrade to my desktop system and will remain in my house to serve as my reference sub. Starting at $895 for an Omega 8 with the basic finishes or $1150 for a wood-veneer finish, the Omega is an incredible value as I believe it outperforms just about every mainstream subwoofer out there and has speed and musicality that is generally only found in higher-end products that cost much more. As a complete system, the Omega speakers and subwoofer can be purchased with a level one finish for just under $1500, or the price of a brand new pair of Sennheiser HD 800s. What a steal! I never thought I would be able to buy a solid 2.1 system for my Woo Audio 5 without spending thousands more, this is a no brainer! Highly recommended.

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