Review: Ohm Acoustics Walsh 3/3000 Speaker

Category: Speakers

I had started a thread quite awhile ago regarding my journey with a pair of Ohm 3XO's and upgrading their drivers to the newest 1000 series of driver/can that Ohm now has. Much of what was stated in that thread is carried over to this "review". And while I am not worthy of writing reviews, I just wanted to pass along my perspective of the Ohm’s along with a brief comparison of the original drivers as well.

I might add that while my 3/3000 project was underway, I was able to find a pair of great condition original 3XO drivers. One of the cans metal grill was loose, but the foam surrounds and tweeters were in fabulous condition. I bought them up thinking about a small shoot-out against the new drivers. I am glad I had them on hand.

After spending a great deal of time with Ohm’s again, I realized what I truly love about these speakers, even after all these years. I find myself totally immersed in the music they make, and instead of music being thrown at me like so many dynamic forward-firing speakers do, the Ohm’s present music in a fashion that I find more realistic, more like true live performances. While I have heard the Ohm’s called too diffuse, and ill-defined, I don’t feel that to be the case at all. Instead, I much prefer the large soundstage and lifelike images that are produced by them. I use live music/concerts as a reference, and while I know this can be a crap-shoot of sorts, I find the Ohm to be more true to live music more so than many forward-firing speakers that I have listened to or have owned in the past.

Speaking of the soundstage that is reproduced by the Ohm, another aspect I find so very realistic is the image height. The Ohm’s present the performers as a real live person in height, and dimension, not some miniaturization of who is on stage. To me, this is another positive aspect that makes listening to them more fun, more involving and pleasurable. In reference, I have been used to Magnepans for quite some time and thought they would never be replaced in my main system. Image height was always one of the Maggies trademarks as well, and one I find to be important. The Ohm’s do this as good if not better in my listening room.

Of course the soundstaging that stretches out across the room, and image height and depth that is so realistic wouldn’t be much good if the sonic characteristics of the speaker wasn’t good to begin with would it? Well, I can say that the treble is smooth and precise, has all the air you could want, and it doesn’t ever get spitty or sibilant. I would suppose that if you had some really terrible recording, it will only pass that along, but on well recorded music, the treble and midrange just shine. Voices, both male and female are reproduced with a clarity and accuracy that makes me want to continue to listen. I like to use K.D. Lang as one of my test vocals, and spin her CD “Ingenue” quite often. I also like Norah Jones, and have heard her live as well, the Ohm’s manage both of these vocalists with ease and clarity, and transport you right to the venue or studio.

Not to be outdone is the bass. It is solid as they come and not one-note or some blob of booming noise that so often robs music of it’s timing and structure. In living with my Magnepan MG-1’s and MMG’s, there is little bass to speak of, so the Ohm’s bass is a welcome addition to my music room. I find the Ohm’s much easier to place and integrate into the system than trying to get subs to work with the Maggies. I would say the 3000’s dig down into the mid 30 Hz range in my room, and that it is always tuneful and never out of control-unless the music of choice is to begin with.

If you are going to purchase a pair of Ohm’s, be certain to calculate your room size correctly and consult with John. This will enable you to purchase the right Ohm model that will fit your space in regards to bass quality and impact. As with all of the Ohm’s, you get the same basic “family” of sound, same treble, midrange, but the larger cabinets obviously bring about better and deeper bass.

My music choices typically range from pop recordings to jazz, a little gospel and R&B thrown in. I can say that the Ohm’s shine on it all, and while the speakers don’t bring attention to themselves, they just make great music, and that is what I am after. Are the Ohm’s after all these years outdated? No, even as I listened to the older drivers in the 3’s, the music was all still there. Maybe some rougher edges and not quite as detailed, but still wonderful transducers. Briefly, what I found with the new versus older drivers was a level of detail that the older drivers just didn’t have. The midrange and treble of the 1000 series of drivers is just better all around, greater detail, ability to play louder without becoming strident and shrill, and overall just smoother and more listenable. The bass on the newer drivers dig a bit deeper and is not wooly sounding. I thought the original driver bass could lack a bit of definition at times and just not sound as clear. Maybe even tubby at times. The new driver cures this in the 3000. Also I feel as if the speaker as a whole is more open, the soundstaging even more improved and open, and the older speakers were no slouches in that department to begin with.

The newer drivers are supposed to be a bit more efficient as well, I can’t really tell though. I drove them mainly with my Anthem MCA-20 rated at 200 WPC, and also my Audio Research D130 at 130 WPC. Both amplifiers drove them to levels that could be unbearable without any break-up from amp or speaker. I do feel that the Ohm’s do require some power/current behind them, and anyone considering them should watch what amplifier they have to power them. I didn’t find the Ohm to be fussy, they just loved the power. One other thing that goes along with this, I find they like to be played loud(er). While they didn’t lose focus or detail at lower volumes, they were just more fun and enjoyable at a higher volumes(not excessive).

To sum the Ohm’s up, when I think about what they do, is pretty simple. They just make great music, they pass along what is given them in the chain, no more, no less. And for me, they are one of the most realistic sounding speakers I have heard and had the pleasure to own. For me, that is the greatest compliment I can give to a speaker. I think that John Strohbeen has done a fantastic job in voicing these speakers! I come away from a listening session with a great admiration for what he has accomplished with these. I hope Ohm and John is around for a long time to come, I look forward to what he may come up with next. Now if I could just find a way to purchase the 5000’s!

If you are in the market for a pair of speakers, I would certainly urge you to give them a try. Too many people pass them by, not "audiophile approved" or whatever, but that is a shame. These are great speakers worthy of an audition, and with John’s extremely generous in-home trial period, it is hard to go wrong! If you are just in the market for upgrading your older Ohm’s, again, give John a call, there are many options and he will be happy to go through them with you. I believe the driver upgrade to be worth the money, and to be able to bring new life to an older pair of speakers is an even better deal. Sorry if this sounds like a full-on Ohm plug, it is of sorts, but also I am just a very happy customer! Enjoy the music, that is what we are hopefully after to begin with!


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Magnepan's, Martin Logan, Eminent Technology, many box/forward firing speakers
Thanks,very interesting and well written.

I like Ohms but IMHO a toss up between 4K$ and a pr of MMG's easily found at %500 isn't much of a desision.
Thanks for the review, Frazeur! I agree with most of what you have written, based on my 20 months with my Walsh 2000s. One point I would make, though, is regarding poor quality source material. While IMO, the Ohms will reveal poorly recorded source material, I have found that these lousy sources are still quite listenable with these speakers. This was really important to me, as I like a lot of music that is poorly recorded/mixed/mastered. Because the Ohms do not add any grain, etch or high frequency hash of their own, these recordings are much easier to enjoy. I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum how I can now listen to some really bad CDs from the late '80s and early '90s, and I get the impression that I am hearing what the recording engineer heard in the control booth. Not great sound, but listenable. I used to have a parametric EQ in a tape loop on my preamp to deal with these recordings. Now I have a preamp with bass and treble controls instead. But with the Ohms, I rarely engage these controls, and usually leave them on bypass.

I am finding, though, that the Ohms are very revealing of changes in the associated gear and wires. A recent change from a CD player as a transport to a universal player as a transport does not seem to be an imporvement. So, while the Ohm Walsh speakers will sound good with a wide range of gear, it is worth some experimentation if you want to get all they are capable of out of them.
I had larger Maggies prior to newer OHMs. OHMs can sound like Maggies on steroids when set up right enabling one to feel and experience the bass as well as hear it, which is important for teh emotional impact of a lot of music to me. MMGs cannot do this. That's why I moved back to OHMs from MAggies. I had also owned 1st generation OHM Walsh 2s prior to and concurrent with Maggies. Those older OHMs could not match modern speakers for overall detail and clarity. Newer ones can and do and have a very unique presentation that I find to be most "natural". Also I find OHMs much easier to place for good sound than planars. That may or may not matter to some.
"If Ohms were priced better they would do MUCH better."

No doubt any good product will sell more if cost is lower, right?

One can compare the OHMs to smaller, very high value speakers like MMgs or larger and more full range speakers that tend to cost more as well. I think they compare quite favorably in terms of both value and overall quality and quantity of sound you get for the dollar. OHM also offers same drivers on refurbed older cabinets that are tuned to deliver similar performance as new cabinets. The highly scalable (to room size) OHM Walsh CLS driver design is pretty unique in enabling this. That makes for an even better value proposition.
1250$ for their cheapest speaker, little less than knee high Micro is IMHO, a plain ripoff.
"1250$ for their cheapest speaker, little less than knee high Micro is IMHO, a plain ripoff."

Well, there are definitely decent speakers out there for less. Its a unique design though with a unique value proposition and the company has been around 40+ years with a dedicated customer base. I've dabbled with lots of speakers over the years and still seem to always end up with the OHMs. Have you ever heard the Micro Walshes?

I was at the local B&M shop the other week and marveled at how small most speakers selling for $1000 are these days. Lots of very small monitors. None sounded anywhere near as "big" as even the smallest OHM Walshes I have heard. I think the Walsh driver design principles enable smaller drivers to do more.

My favorite $1000 speakers I heard in that visit were the Goldenear Aon 3s. Not bad sound at all for $1000 these days, but also not very big. Totem Arros are another small footprint floorstander in their case I have heard that deliver a lot of good sound out of a small package.

Speaker driver technology has certainly come quite a ways over the years to enable what it does out of smaller packages. Pair them up with a good quality modern Class D amp (also very small plus also very efficient) and see what they might do! Small is not necessarily better of course but it often fits the bill for many these days it seems, plus it also would help keep speaker vendor profits intact as well I would think.
Map, well true they are not the only ripoff out there.

A pr of used Silverline Preludes which usually go for 6-700 hundred on A-gon wil ,in a smaller room, smoke any speaker you mentioned.

Even at 1500$ new they are VALUE for money.
Maybe. The Silverlines do not look big either but do look nice and always get good reviews. They would seem to have an efficiency advantage on paper. The OHMs might need a somewhat beefier amp to get the most out of them. Same tends to be true of Totem Arros.

Have you heard both Silverline and modern OHMs?

What other speakers would you go for in that price range?
I have heard modern Ohm just once, sounded OK.
I think Triangle and Focal are both very good and probably the best values on the market. Small Sonus Fabers sound good to me as well.
Own some Triangle Titus 202 which were Stereophile Class B at one time, nice speaker but Silverline were better IMHO.

As I write this Silverline Preludes are playing Tony Bennett driven by an 8 watt per ch Eastern Electric MiniMax tube integrated, sounds like Tony is in the room.
I also have a pair of Triangle Titus XS bought new ~ 1998 for about $500. Still love them. They are similar efficiency to the Silverlines and tend to sound best with tube amps. But they are small sounding compared to my OHM 100 series 3 speakers. I picked those up for $600 used here on Agon a few years back. That was a steal. They are the bomb in my 12X12 listening room running off Bel Canto ref1000m monoblock amps. 100 series 3 (actually 100 series 3 drivers in refurbed pyramid shaped Walsh 2 cabinets)are slightly larger than current OHM 1000s I believe. 1000s are 1 step up from Micro Walshes. Have not heard Microwalshes but I would love to have a pair to try in comparison in that room.

I also listen to a lot of rock even metal electronica and and other modern pop like some rap and R&B in addition to jazz classical, you name it. The OHMs are quite versatile and can do it all extremely well I find. The Triangles and even my other larger Dynaudio monitors tend to sound smallish on a lot of mainly electronic music in particular compared to the OHMs which have a lot of muscle and "meat on the bones" to go along with all the other usual good audio attributes.

Have also heard various Focal speakers and am always impressed. Have never compared price points between OHM and Focal, but I do know the largest OHMs with built in subs go for ~ $10K (OHM F5015s) and Focal cost can run into 6 digits I believe and are physically much larger than any OHM, but I find my OHM F5 series 3, which are similar size as F5015s but have no built in subs, are bigger sounding than I will ever need in any room in my house.

I would say also its probably worth emphasizing that I find my more efficient Triangles sound best with a tube amp whereas the OHMs do best with high power high current SS amps. I find the BC Class D amps to be ideal. So to compare Triangle (maybe SIlverline also which seem more like Triangles electronically on paper) to OHM, different amps are probably needed to bring out the best in each. Choice of amp will likely factor in greatly to determine which speaker sounds better in comparison I would guess.

I run my Triangle Titus XS speakers in my second system currently off the TAD Hibachi monoblocks seen in the lower right corner of my system photo montage. I chose the TADs for more tube amp like performance out of a SS amp. The Triangles tend to sound too lean and thin off the 500w/ch Bel Cantos whereas Dynaudio monitors and OHMs do exceptionally well with the BC amps. The BCs have very high damping factor of 1000 which works particularly well with the OHMs but I believe it is a big reason the more bass challenged Triangles tend to sound too lean with the BCs.

I got my Titus's for 200 bucks off the Minneapolis Craigslist from a Korean M.D.
Sooner or later almost everything shows up there as Twin Cities is one of the most sophisticated places in US.C-list keeps me broke!
Focal has several excellent floorstanders in the 1K range.

I never said Ohms sound bad, I said they are overpriced.

I've owned at least a hundred pair of speakers over the last 40 years, the only ones I could find NO fault in are the Silverline Preludes !
Look at Underwood Wallies long-running ad for them on here,
quotes a major reviewer saying they embrassed many 30K speakers at a show. No joke, they do.
I'm looking for a new pr of speakers right now for my larger room main system in the 3k range. probably will be the last pair I ever buy.About decided on KEF R900, bit if I was not so old and they were not so heavy. I'd sit tight waiting for a pair of Silverline Sonatas to show up.

FWIW, I run my Preludes off an 8 watt EE tube integrated with the cheapest wire I own, old Norquist flatline with WireWorld Oasis 3 Ic's. Makes no never mind. I'm scared to put my best on them !
I like the newer KEF speaker technology a lot on paper. I've almost pulled the trigger a few times. If I ever do, a KEF/OHM comparison would be forthcoming. :)

Schubert, also keep in mind that the wide range omni design of the OHMs and the large "sweet spot" for listening that results is a big unique feature of the OHMs that many including myself value. THere are many speakers I have heard that sound top notch in teh sweet spot when set up right. But I often listen to my OHMs many feet away from the usual "sweet spot" and still come away 100% satisfied. WHat other speakers out there can do that and do all teh rest as well as OHM for the price? Not mbl, that's for sure. I'm pretty sure the most expensive OHMs do not cost as much new as the least expensive mbls, at least not in the USA.

FWIW, OHM is based in Brooklyn, NY USA and still make all their speakers except their subs as I understand it in good ol' Brooklyn, USA. They also market their speakers in Germany and other foreign countries where they compete against the likes of mbl, German Physiks, etc., both very pricey lines with a focus on omni sound.
Thanks for letting me know that Ohm was still an active speaker company. I remember hearing their "model A" speakers when they were introduced and was really impressed with the sound stage. At the time, I couldn't afford equipment of that caliber.
If you listen to rock, pop etc buy OHM.
Classical Music or acoustic Jazz, KEF .
I have some tentative plans to do some listening and comparisons between KEF ls50 and OHMs on my system probably sometime in September. Looking forward to it. Will be able to say more about KEF versus OHM after actually hearing some newer highly regarded KEFs. I'm expecting a lot of similarities in the sound. I'm particularly interested in how "big" the SOTA but small ls50s can sound compared to my larger OHM 100 series 3 or 5 series 3. Also what happens both in and out of the "sweet spot".
Mapman, I'm thinking the LS50's are going to sound a little small compared to the Ohms. We'll see. I certainly can't imagine they would fill a room the way the Ohms could. Looking forward to it!

ls50 uses 5.25" bass driver I read. Similar size to my Triangle Titus XS from the late 90's. Smaller than my Dynaudio Contour mkIIs which have >6.5" bass driver. Dyns have a much bigger sound, closer to OHM 100 series 3, but not as extended. I'm expecting the KEFs to hit with more authority that what size would indicate from what I read. Matching the Dyns in a smaller newer package would be an accomplishment. I look at ls50s mostly as a potential upgrade to Triangles and to be competitive and perhaps superior to Dyns in some ways but in an even smaller package. Maybe viable option to my smaller OHMs in my smaller 12X12 rooms. Should be interesting.
Mapman, I've listened to LS50's quite a bit, IMHO they are most "un-KEF" like in that they are very forward as opposed to the trad KEF sound mid-hall sound they made them so great on Symphonic music.
I personally would much rather use Ohms than them.

YEs, I recall sound of older KEFs before their Uni-Q driver based technology hit. Had a very small pair of KEF monitors once. I did not really have the rest of teh system at teh time to do them justice most likely. Sound was most laid back as I recall. What you feed most any good quality speaker can make a big difference.

If I like the small ls50s as an upgrade/alternative to my smaller Dyn and Triangle monitors , I might be tempted to sample some larger models someday when needed as well. I would not categorize either the Dyns or Triangles as "laid back". Triangles more so perhaps. The OHMs tend to lean more that way of all my current speakers I toy around with.
A year or so back, I was able to attend a orchestral concert at Carnegie Hall. Seats were dress circle, just left of center. Sound was glorious. OHM designer John Strohbeen is said to use Carnegie Hall sound as a reference in voicing the OHMs. I heard many similarities there live, so I would not dispute that particular piece of trivial audio folklore.
Seikosha and I did our joint listening session a week or so back. HE brought his ls50s and we listened to those and my OHMs a good bit.

We ran the ls50s both in my wife's 12X12 sunroom off my main system off 500w/ch Class D Bel Canto ref1000m amps, and in my larger family room area off TAD Hibachi 180 w/ch monoblocks.

I think we were both underwhelmed with the little KEFs off the smaller ampin the larger room in comparison to Dynaudio Contour 1.3mkII monitors in there.

ls50s perked up considerably in the sunroom off Bel Canto amps. Did not have a chance to do too much fine tuning, but it was a sound I could live with in there with a nice mix of good sonic attributes and not as muddled by bass hump issues I seem to have in there with any larger speaker I try.

Did not do a direct OHM/kef shootout, but Seikosha spent a good bit of time listening to both my larger and smaller OHMs in their particular rooms. I think the KEFs would have held up pretty well against the smaller OHMs in the smaller room. My Dynaudios do quite well in there and the somewhat smaller KEFs did nicely in my slightly larger but much more acoustically lively sun room.