|2x50W (8ohm), 2x75W (4ohm) Class AB
|Signal to Noise Ratio
||>110dB (Line,A-weighted), 76dB (Phono MM,A-weighted)
||2 x SPDIF (Optical), 1 x DTS Play-Fi Streaming, 1xPC USB(USB B), 3 x Analogue, 1 x Phono (MM) , 1 x Power Ampliﬁer, 2 x SPDIF (Coax),
||1 x Pre, 1 x Stereo Speaker, 1 x Headphone, 1 x 12V Trigger
|Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
||< 0.003% (1kHz @ 40W / 8ohm)
|50 – 300 watts per channel
||440 x156 x 327 mm (WxHxD)
SUPPLIED BY Audioholics 011-453-2365
Omnia. How does one describe such a thing?
I suppose a stereo receiver is probably the best way of putting it – an amplifier with a built in CD player and wireless streaming via your favourite streaming device. Just add speakers.
And there you go – job done! Right?
Except there is a bit more to it than that. As of course there always is.
Audiolab have built quite a thing here. It’s designed around an all in one approach with the benefits that one box does it all and the drawbacks that one box does it all. You can of course link other components into it including alternate digital sources but the point of the box is that you probably won’t ever need to until such time as something really new comes onto the scene. I don’t quite see it happening – the Omnia is hitting a sweet spot for many wanting to upgrade their source/amp/both in one hit.
The CD side of things is pretty straight forward. Insert disc into the slim line tray and play. I think most of us have that under control. But more on that physical exertion further on.
The quality mechanics of the player carry on through the unit. It is top quality at every touch point with solidity and reassurance that the Omnia was built with longevity in mind. It’s a nice thing to connect up and the engineer in me appreciated the ‘correctness’ of the connections, the speaker binding posts and the logical layout of the inputs and outputs, all being instantly familiar and clear.
The streaming side of things takes connecting the unit to your wireless (or wired) network, adding the app to your mobile and driving using an app such as Play-Fi. The unit is ROON certified as well which is comforting but I streamed using Tidal primarily on review. Wireless is the order of the day and there are no less than three substantial aerials attached to the unit. Size it would seem is preferred as a sledgehammer to solid wireless connectivity because there is literally nothing worse than music hiccuping as you’re listening to it. Maybe having your eyes clawed out by a rabid tiger is worse -but honestly I’m not sure which is more irritating. I did find that the the Omnia wasn’t quite as stable as my Node in wireless stability initially but a quick wireless network analysis revealed a big overlap between the Omnia and one of my many other wireless devices. Turning that off solved the problem and streaming was established to operate without interruption.
And that’s pretty much where I left the Omnia for the better part of three weeks – streaming music into my Martin Logan Electromotions (MLs). Nothing fancy or complicated. Rated at 50W per channel the Omnia might at first glance appear to be under powered but this needs some discussion. Yes, at party music levels you might run into limitations when pushing against a tricky load such as that the MLs will push the amp into clipping. That’ll happen to most in fairness and if you give the Omnia’s something more sensible to drive the apparent 50W ‘limitation’ will not make it’s appearance before satisfying any but the most deafened of party goers.
AudioLab are no mugs further because you can run the Omnia as a pre-amp if you are really in desperate need…
And it’s this kind of thinking that makes perfect sense. Yes, the Omnia is designed to be an all in one unit and it is, by it’s very definition a space saver. But you can add to it if you so desire and use it to drive whatever needs you happen to have. However, if all that you do is to couple it to a pair of reference book shelf speakers or even smaller floor standers you will find that the match is perfect. It will give you music as a higher level than you’ll get spending a lot more on the individual components which then stack, add cables, add complexity and take up ever increasing acreage of precious real estate.
And the list of features that come in the box dwarf the inconsequential conservative amplification rating.
So what does it sound like?
I have to admit it’s pretty good actually. I benched the streamer against my now permanent Node and the Omnia is not embarrassed in its abilities to stream. The app is perhaps not as brilliantly simple as the Node’s but once you have it set up and you’re listening who cares? Of course being an integrated unit the benching and direct comparisons do become a little academic with switching between inputs and their differing gains and circuit paths having subtle influences and I’d have to say that I would be hard pushed to spell out in exact terms the differences that I was able to pick up. Perhaps the Node felt a bit more open but then again the Omnia seemed to have a slightly deeper bass bias. The MLs however remained as detailed and convincing as they ever have and I really did enjoy the fact that the Omnia is able to present music confidently and coherently in expectations of it’s price tag.
I streamed almost exclusively – but even the jaded cynic in me simply had to pop in a CD for fun. It’s been a while since I did so if I am honest because my reference Sony is showing it’s age these days. I challenge all readers though to undertake the exhausting process of selecting what it is you want to listen to, to hunt it down amongst the endless CD cabinets and drawers and hopefully if the correct disc is in the correct cover you can exert yourself sufficiently to load it into the tray and wait for it to read and commence playback. I realise the enormity of the challenge and I will recuse myself from revealing what it is that I heard which, I accept, is a cop out. However what I will tell you is that the experience is worth every joule of energy expended…
The Omnia is well balanced sonically. It presents with confidence and although the power limitations might be exceeded under ridiculously loud circumstances I didn’t find that I struggled in the slightest to live with the Omnia. It is equipment that is built for purpose, built well for purpose and executes against that purpose flawlessly. Perhaps the best of way of expressing it is that the Omnia is easy to live with and with it’s big friendly digital display (which you can set to display in analog meter mode as a nod to ’70’s styled amps), elegant high end looks and simple to operate functionality it is hard to fault on any front. I might add that it feels robust enough to outlast me.
Audiolab have then I think targeted quite carefully their customer for the Omnia. My sense is that for the discerning ‘space constrained’ / ‘clutter free loving’ audiophile it would be hard not to consider an Omnia as a serious contender for your beginnings of your journey into the audiophile space.