NACSound Omni

Hardware Review

NACSound Omni
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
hanging loudspeaker
René van Es

Hanging loudspeakers on a wire from the ceiling is nothing new. Neither is the use of reflectors under or above driver cones to create an omnidirectional sound pattern.  But a combination of both techniques in one design is different. NACSound is the only company offering these sorts of speakers. Originally based in Italy, now stationed near Cambridge in the UK, they manufacture speakers often made from ceramics to house the chosen units. Francesco Pellisari, owner of the company New Acoustic Concept Sound, is an acoustic designer who has garnered praise for public address projects, you can find his designs in hotels, churches and auditoriums.

One of the products intended for use in a hi-fi-system or home theatre setup is the Omni, a two-way loudspeaker system in a ceramic enclosure finished to customer’s wishes. The Omni is intended to hang from the ceiling on a steel wire, but an optional stand is available. The top half of the enclosure is a round tapered tube that houses a 14 cm down firing woofer. The bottom is formed like a bowl and supports an up firing dome tweeter hidden under a perforated metal cover. Three metal rods are used to connect the two parts and keep them 13.9 cm apart. These rods also hold a hardwood double sound reflector that bends the sound waves into a horizontal plane. This way a sound field is created around the speaker in all directions. It is intended for indoor use, but an outdoor version is also available. The Omni works just the same as any normal loudspeaker with a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms and a sensitivity of 86 dB. The lack of available stands and my objection to drilling holes in the ceiling at home for the review made us decide to listen to the speakers at the Dutch distributor’s place. The reader should take into consideration that his room and his system were unknown to me before and that time was limited to a single evening. The actual review is therefore more a listening impression than a formal test. I used my own very familiar pieces of music of course.

 

 

The distributor’s Omnis hang from the ceiling with the double reflector positioned at ear height, the left speaker is about 90 cm away from the back wall and a meter from the side wall. The right one is free from side walls but this does not seem to be a problem. NACSound speaker cable is connected to a Belles Soloist One integrated amplifier, fed by a Sony XA5400ES SACD player and an experimental streaming computer. Some Polish made Albedo cabling is used between components and the equipment is positioned on a Spider Rack. No filters are used in the mains supply. The room is very large and sparsely furnished but the sofas are big enough to add some damping, together with a wool rug under the coffee table. Reverb is pretty strong compared to my own room and this makes it difficult to hear the speaker alone.

After getting accustomed to the room acoustics during some conversation with the distributor, serious listening starts with a nice recoding of singer Ingram Washington. He has a low voice, full of warmth and What A Difference A Day Makes just appears in the room, I am unable to point to the speakers with my eyes closed. This is the great advantage of an omnidirectional speaker of course. The low part of the voice does not suffer from the rather small woofer and its special enclosure, on the contrary the closed system produces tight and resonance free bass. It’s limited of course without an optional subwoofer, but good enough to enjoy a full range sound. The large room might add reverb but standing waves are non-existent. Soon I get the impression that music is played live in a small parlour, where I sit halfway between the entrance and the stage. Piano is placed a bit further back, sounding good but the speaker won’t give you the full power of a grand piano due to its small size. But male voices are no problem with Ingram or Paul Simon who is next with his interpretation of Homeless. Again the distance between the stage and the listener is maintained, this is something I rather like as it makes music easy on the ear. The separation of voices is above expectation and shows the Omni’s sublime midrange. The Italian singer Paolo Conti is surrounded by his musicians, all of them seem to enjoy playing in this lively set-up. The NACSound might not give you ultimate resolution, this is partly due to their omnidirectional radiation pattern, you get the same impression with MBL or Duevel loudspeakers for that matter. The Kings Singers let you hear how good the stereo image is, in depth and width that is, height is hard to determine, we’ll get back to that aspect later. The feeling of being part of the recording is again very strong.

The strange thing is that a real live recording, Mary Black Live, sounds like a studio performance. The stereo image on the recording is now rather small and this might be the problem. But Mary’s voice is full of expression and comes close to what I heard during her concerts. The piano is a hard sounding electronic device, it doesn’t even come close to a wooden instrument. When the public joins in on Katie they seem to be positioned behind the stage instead of in front of the band. I’ve heard this before on other speakers as well under other conditions. Again the room reverb spoils a bit of the quality NACSound puts into the system. Later that night we wheel in ‘normal’ speakers and these show that the Omnis do handle the room acoustics very well indeed. Better than large monitors with a directional radiating pattern.  Back to the NACSound I think this product should be rated as a total package and less on individual merits. You simply enjoy music at a high standard and this is combined with the looks and the way sound waves travel through the room, but a lot of audiophiles will probably prefer high definition, direct radiating speakers.

 

 

Turning to classical music I find that the Dance Macabre from Saint-Saëns really needs a decent subwoofer at the beginning of the composition. As soon as more instruments join the bass this thought is forgotten due to unexpected dynamics from the NACSound. The midrange is the clear winner compared to the slightly muffled bass tones. Solo violin is placed precisely on the stage, clear and pure without any harshness. It’s important to remember that these speakers are aimed at a public with high interest in design. Classical music might not be the Omnis biggest strength, it is however enjoyable enough to keep the listener happy and entertained. A piano piece shows that soloists come into their own easily, more so than large orchestras. The piano recording is a nice one on Arabesque by Crystal Cable, so is the reproduction; easy, fluent, in a nice stereo image of the omnidirectional style. The feeling of being in a concert hall comes back to me. Then I turn back to a small jazz combo with Sophie Millman as the leading lady. This is by far the most engaging music you can feed the NACSound Omni. Nice voice, laid back sound stage, well positioned and a very open midrange. The more the midrange opens up in the recording, the more the Omnis will shine. After getting used to the soundfield, these speakers will grab your interest and neither your interior designer nor your partner will have any objections. I have heard the Omnis before at an audio show with Diana Krall singing parts from the Great American Songbook and it comes back to me that she was the trigger for my interest in them in the first place.

 

Adding a last comment on these loudspeakers, I would not position these as a true audiophile product, not even when the audiophile price level is taken into consideration. Look at the Omni as a means of getting fine sound into a living environment without having to turn the place into a listening room. They combine excellent performance from the drive units with a highly sophisticated design. The reflector between the tweeter and woofer spreads the music all over your room in an easy and fluent style. They are good enough to drag you into the music and are always engaging and entertaining. If you want more bass because of your musical taste, just add a NACSound subwoofer. If I had a separate listening room I would not hang a pair of these from the ceiling, but I would sure want a pair in the living room, not only to make my partner happy but to make me happy too. These are loudspeakers that solve acoustic and relationship problems. It might take some effort the get your hands on a pair, production levels are low and there’s no extensive dealer network, but if you are after a speaker that reaches into music  far beyond most (too small) designer speakers, even the very costly ones, the NACSound Omni will serve you very well.

Specifications: 

Dimensions HxD: 86.7 x 16.4 cm
Cabinet: porcelain
Power max: 75 Watt
Power RMS: 50 Watt
Impedance: 8 Ohm, min. 6.7 Ohm
Effective frequency range: 50-18.000 Hz
Efficiency: 86 dB
Cabinet acoustics: conical transmission line
Cabinet volume: 5.9 litres
Woofer: 142 mm, aluminium basket, not shielded
Tweeter: 19 mm soft dome
Wave emission: omnidirectional
Connections: 5 meter cable
Weight: 7.2 kg
Waveguide: natural hardwood
 

Price: 
from £7,699 depending on finish
Manufacturer Details: 

NACSound Ltd
T +44 1223 890152
www.NACSound.com

Distributor Details: 

Dune Blue
T +31(0)638548126
www.duneblue.com