MOVIE PERFORMANCE To check out movie performance, I screened Minority Report, a suitably creepy Spielberg murder mystery set in the near-future of 2054. The opening montage projection of the precognitives' predictions puts the sound field right to work. Accompanied by Schubert's' Eighth Symphony, effects smartly slide to and fro. The width of the soundstage conveyed by the UNI-Theater was perfectly suited for this, placing the effects at locations corresponding to the size of the onscreen projection. This is contrasted to live scenes of the murder-to-be, where the onscreen events occur in larger spaces. Here, although the sound field was more narrow than is optimal, it was still adequately airy.
The rear UNI-Theater was pretty good at conveying surround effects. When Tom Cruise walks through a mall and is retina-scanned, displays call out his name as he walks by. In an alley fight scene, jet-pack equipped police fly around like mutant fairies and crash through numerous building partitions. And in the chase through a Lexus factory, Cruise is harassed by laser beams, robot arms, and all manner of industrial technology. Throughout, the UNI-Theater had good front-rear sound distribution but, not surprisingly, lacked convincing side fields. How costly is that drawback? It depends on how much you value complete immersion. Estimating that the field was 80% that of discrete speakers, I was satisfied.
The center speaker delivered good dialogue intelligibility. It also accurately revealed a few subtle (and documented) equalization flaws in the dialogue tracks.
For a relatively compact 10-inch sub, the OMNI S10 was a genuine heavy-hitter. It pounded out chase and factory low-frequency effects with real gusto. When the cops unleash their stun guns, they punch out a real sonic jolt - an ass-kicking thump in the sub. No issues here.
BOTTOM LINE Can you convey 6.1 channels from 2.1 cabinets? I was skeptical, but soon grew impressed (then, almost blown away) by this innovative design. Sure, you sacrifice some sound field, but for many installations, these will do just fine, and they'll mate beautfully with many a flat-panel TV. Whether part of a 3.1, 5.1, or 6.1 system, the Mirage UNI-Theater speaker system single-handedly holds its own against many trios.
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