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Monday, June 17, 2024

Are you ready to explore the outer limits of audio?

The OMA Imperia speaker and OMA electronics.
Cynthia van Elk

I think it’s a little strange for a man who owns a high-end audio company, but Jonathan Weiss readily admits he doesn’t cater to audiophile customers. There are some of course, but Weiss’ Oswald’s Mill Audio (OMA) designs are far more likely to attract artists, actors, musicians, hedge fund managers, and other wealthy creative types.

The OMA aesthetic is radical, dynamic, but still highly functional, and the company’s sound doesn’t square with the usual audiophile ideal. I’ve auditioned three or four OMA speakers at Weiss’ spectacular Brooklyn loft/showroom, and the speakers all shared a live, this-is-happening-now quality that reached out and riveted my attention. The frequency response may not be as smooth or accurate as, say, a Wilson Audio speaker, but the OMA speakers communicate more of the music’s DNA — there’s more soul, more of the essence of the original recording event.

That’s my take on the sound, but I’m pretty sure that anyone who visits the OMA showroom will have a very different, mind-expanding experience than they would in an average hi-fi shop. The presentation is as dramatic as the sound, and the main reason for this most recent visit to OMA was to check out the new, 400-pound, cast-iron Ironic speaker.

The OMA Ironic speakers
Cynthia van Elk

Each mold for the entire iron baffle frame is 3D printed, and the mold is destroyed in the process of casting the molten iron. Two casts are required to make a pair of speakers. The complex curves and shapes of the speaker are derived from quadratic diffusers used in some studio and broadcast applications. Viewed from the side, the Ironic is a fairly thin panel, while from the rear you see a vintage 15-inch woofer and a ribbon tweeter. The woofer is free to radiate sound forward and to the rear. The Ironic is a work of art that also plays music.

Weiss will happily sell separate OMA speakers, amplifiers, turntables, and so on, but the products are designed to work best when used together; complete OMA systems are recommended. Prices are commensurate with OMA’s extraordinary build quality and engineering. The Ironic speakers are limited editions and retail for $95,000 per pair. The slightly more conventional OMA Mini speakers are $25,000 per pair.

Extreme audio designs — at their most audacious (pictures)




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