A Review of Orb Audio’s Premium Speaker Line
10/28/2009 4:36 AM
I don’t review a lot of AV products in my day-to-day role as editorial director, but when a product offer is particularly intriguing or of a certain "size" (shipping freight is such a pain), I’ll sometimes agree to test out “a loaner” for a few weeks. Such was the case when the PR folks for Orb Audio offered me a hands-on look at their client’s décor-friendly home theater speakers.
|Orb Audio's small, round satellite speakers are available in five finishes. |
The heart of the American-made Orb speaker system is the spherical Mod1 satellite speaker, which is a little bigger than a baseball and is made from high carbon steel. The Mod1 uses advanced technologies like rare earth magnets, Santoprene, Nomex, and CCAD voice coils.
The Orbs are handmade by metalwork artisans and hand-assembled in the company’s Sherman Oaks, California, production facility. The speakers are round and measure only about 4 3/16 inches in diameter.
I have to admit that the Orb speaker size and industrial design was a big selling point with me. I love my old B&W LM1s and did not want to fiddle with a temporary substitute system much bigger than a breadbox. In my review package I was provided an LCR set up and subwoofer, along with samples of the five finishes available. There was Metallic Black Gloss and Pearl White Gloss with premium baked-on powder coatings. Then there were representatives of the Metallum Series, which consists of three handmade metallic finishes created by California artisans in very small batches: Hand-Polished Steel, Hand-Antiqued Copper and Hand-Antiqued Bronze (which was the finish provided for my 3.1 review system).
To get started, there was some basic assembly required to combine satellite speakers. All Orb speaker systems are modular, which allows customers to configure each channel with one, two, or four Orbs per speaker (Mod1, Mod2, and Mod4). As a result of this model, you can start with a smaller stereo system and build it to a full-blown home theater system. For my review, I was given two extra satellites and a “cozy” bracket that connects the two speakers together to form a Mod2.
|All Orb speaker systems are modular, which allows customers to configure each channel with one, two, or four Orbs per speaker. |
After a proper “break-in” period of about two weeks, I found that the system warmed up and the subwoofer indeed got a tighter and louder. I noticed that while watching Blu-ray movies the system became more “invisible,” but while viewing Uverse “TV” content, I was a little more aware of the audio. For instance, there was a little sharper quality to the dialogue than I was used to hearing. Over time, I’m sure this anomaly would have been smoothed out as the speakers continued to break in.
My only other criticism is that the left and right speakers are so small and lightweight that they tended to get turned around a bit due to the weight of the speaker cable coming out the back. In a more permanent set up, I would have applied adhesive to the bases of the speaker stands to keep them properly positioned.
Overall, my Orb system performed very well despite its diminutive size. Credit, of course, should also go to the company’s very compact subwoofers, the Super Eight and the Uber Ten. Nonetheless, it was great to find a company able to offer such stylish and small home theater speakers that performed as well as they did for me.
If a buyer needs a complete system, Orb also offers a variety of choices and combinations of receivers and DVD players. Its most popular system is the Mod1 Plus Home Theater System, which includes five speakers, the Super Eight subwoofer, a handmade stainless steel speaker stand and all of the wires and cables needed to set up the system. All for $999.
Orb Audio sells direct via its website
, which is likely to tarnish its image in the eyes of the CEDIA channel ESC. Despite this fact, Orb Audio is worth a look and a listen the next time you’re looking to recommend an affordable starter system to your friends. The company is so confident that people will love its product that it offers a 30-day home trial with a “no questions asked” return policy.