For some time now I have been searching for a one-box solution to fit a hole in our portfolio of something that bridges the gap between the Blue Aura Blue 1, which we think is brilliant for the money, and some of the other more up market one-box systems like the Lyngdorf TDAi-1120 or the Naim Uniti Star. Both of which are fantastic performers of course, but at £1,995 and £3,999 respectively, might be pushing the boundaries of a reasonable budget in the current economic times!
Here at Expressive Audio we have been selling Audiolab since we had our first shop in West Sussex, but when we moved up to our Lincolnshire showroom we found ourselves exploring other options. However, with new products under their wings we are now very excited to be bringing Audiolab back into the Expressive Audio portfolio.
So, I present to you the fantastic Audiolab Omnia! An all-in-one system with CD, radio, Bluetooth, USB DAC, streaming via DTS Play-Fi and even a phono stage for us vinyl enthusiasts. It just requires a good pair of speakers and some decent cable to complete a fab little HiFi system.
Starting off with how good it looks, it's a beautifully clean unit with a very sleek CD tray and a really lovely LCD screen with a host of different display functions depending on what you are listening to. Although personally I rather like the VU meters :)
Based on the award-winning Audiolab 6000 series products, you can tell straight away that this unit has great value for money and performance. Playing The Corrs Unplugged album, the system sounds nicely detailed and musical with an impressive scale, and dynamics that would compare exceptionally with other mid priced separates.
Sometimes it's the case with units like the Omnia that they try to do too many things, and because of this the overall system suffers, but because this unit is based on elements of already existing products like the CD6000T, 6000A and 6000N, you simply don't get that impression at all. Audiolab have just taken all of those parts and integrated them into one slick package.
Moving on to the streaming function, the Omnia uses the DTS Play-Fi app which in its early days was a bit clunky to use but has been through many upgrades since then and now couldn't be simpler. Logging in to our Qobuz account and streaming Fleetwood Mac's The Dance live concert (which has to be done after the unfortunate passing of Christine McVie) the Omnia was up and playing in within seconds and hammering out the wonderful bass lines of The Chain with an authority that impressed me greatly. Skipping on to the track "Everywhere" sung by the sorely missed Christine, the Omnia images superbly and you can place all the band members on the stage, with Lyndsey Buckingham's guitar twinkling over the top of everything.
Time to try the turntable, using the Rega Planar 3 to spin Queen's Night at the Opera. Listening to one of my favourite tracks, '39, I'm again very impressed with the phono stage input and how good a job it does of reproducing Brian May's 12 String guitar along with his instantly recognisable vocals, combined with the very high harmonies of Roger and Freddie.
For listening purposes I switched between the Fyne Audio 501SPs and the Dali Opticon 6s, both of which worked very well with the Omnia and produced a staggeringly fun system to listen to. In fact I found myself streaming all sorts of music just because of how much I was enjoying listening to the system, which is always a good sign!
John | General Manager