Most helpful critical review
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Good - not great - small surround speaker
on August 19, 2010
The Mirage NanoSat, NS, is a not-quite-so-small satellite speaker. This model is slightly larger than the Orb speaker (4.2" X 5.8" H) but is constructed much like the Mirage MX. It has a 2.75" titanium/polypropylene mid-woofer and a 0.75" titanium hybrid tweeter mounted in an acoustic lens assembly. The NanoSat specifications claim the frequency response is from 110 Hz to 20 kHz with a crossover at 2.7 kHz. Measurements indicate that the 110 Hz specification is optimistic since the woofer has a resonance at 152 Hz (broken in) and a response at 137 Hz that is 10 db down while at 111 Hz is minus 20 db - too low an output to be very useful. I would estimate that the correct crossover frequency to a sub would be about 145 Hz. It has an 87 db efficiency specification but sounds like it plays louder than the MX (which also has a 87 db spec.) at the same power input. The NanoSat's power rating is 100 watts maximum (8 ohms). It also has what Mirage calls an Omni-polar design; where the woofer and the tweeter each fire almost straight up onto an acoustic lens that disperses the sound through ~360 degrees. Mirage claims the only 30% of the sound will be direct, with 70% of the sound energy reflecting from the walls, etc. While this gives the speaker a larger acoustic size, is reduces imaging ability making this speaker best suited for surround applications. It should be mounted "upside-down" if it is mounted above 6 feet off the floor to direct the tweeter output down toward the listener. It also should be mounted close (~one woofer diameter) to a wall to improve the low frequency response.
Listening impressions: The Mirage NanoSat, mounted at 2.5" from a wall, has a sound that is well balanced and quite articulate with a good mid-range and mid-highs but not quite as smooth as the MX - the lower mid-bass is a bit stronger than the MX. Like the MX, the sound has little impact (It has a small radiating area of only ~ 6 sqin (almost twice as much as the MX) compared to the ~16 sqin area of common mid-woofers). It has an audible resonance at 152 Hz and a few upper mid-range resonances that make the response somewhat uneven and lead to a hollow sound especially noticeable in reproduction of piano music. Tympani sound good and the flute is nicely rendered. Strings are good and brass has some nice ring but is missing a solid bottom. The tweeter does not have quite the bite of the MX but seems quite smooth - the treble may even be a bit recessed.
The Mirage NanoSat (NS) sounded a bit congested compared with the MX, but at ~$120 each it is the lowest priced speaker in this comparison test. Willie Nelson's voice sounded better on it than on the MX. Piano music was disappointing - sounds hollow - likely cause is the strong 150 Hz resonance.
The Mirage MX (~$150) sounded noticeably clearer than the Mirage NS but the sound was a slight bit lightweight compared with the others - one must drive it hard to get any bite in the strings. The MX sounds much better than the NS on piano music.
Conclusions: The Mirage MX sounds slightly better in balance and clarity than the NS overall, but the NS is somewhat better in reproduction of male voices. The Mirage NS and MX are pretty close in sound quality, but I would give the edge to the MX and say it is well worth the extra $30 per speaker in cost.