Sights, Sounds & Insights
BY SCOTT mICHAEL BOSCO
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
I’ve reviewed, and or owned, “tower” speakers by Polk, Mirage, Axiom and Cerwin Vega. There were also the large “Bookshelf” speakers as well like Boston Acoustics, Pioneer, Definitive Technology, Mirage and JBL.
Center speakers have ranged from equal size, to the large, “shelf speaker”, to smaller. The same can be said for the surrounds, direct, bi & dipole, and cross-hybrids.
I have also covered, and owned, smaller systems, let’s say "micro", or satellites - from the same manufactures previously listed.
What I’ve learned is within my 15’ x 25’ room larger towers are overkill. The output needed to fully allow these large speakers to breath and preform their best requires not only power, but volume - which, in the defined area is over baring for the space.
At the same time many smaller systems lack the dynamic punch and are incapable of covering the full sonic range causing a hole in the listening experience. (On a personal level this is my experience with – BOSE. The overall sound style is one of extremes, highs and mid-lows. Sure there’s the “boom” factor, but then again when pushing out mostly upper and mid-level bass it’s like impressing a monkey with a shiny object.
Within the audiophile community there is a prejudice and the need for at least 2, if not, three drivers to properly create a full sonic experience.
I have been no stranger to this train of thought; and I too was speculative to a company, and product and concept called ORB.
In fact, when I signed on to review the Orbs a longtime friend of mine who has seen a bevy of speakers in my home over the years was visiting from out of state and commented upon seeing the Orbs and said, “What’s this?”, pointing to the two Orbs at the time being used as a center channel, “Have you gone cheap?!” He said it with a grin but meant it having seen some big set-ups in the past. … then I gave him a demo, and his face fell.
Unpacking the ORBS
A overlay of sponge/foam, an equal size to the box, covers the contents, and makes the perfect work mat that protects your table and the ORBS while wiring.
Each ORB are nestled within a protective cut-out in the sponge/foam, wrapped in plastic along with any stands or brackets, and included hardware.
Mod4X Center Channel Stand
The stainless steel BOSS Desk Stand seen with Antiqued Copper Orbs ready to be assembled. Connecting wires between ORBS included.
Somehow The Orbs succeed where other “mini/micro” systems fail. They excel in presenting a wide sounding presentation that is both engaging and dynamic. Clear, and defined. Crisp, and substantial.
The magic they produce, against shape, and size, is astounding. In two channel stereo, with eyes closed they sound like towers.
It is clearly suggested by the manufacture to round out the performance with a sub-woofer. The company offers their own - 2 different models to be exact. But to prove a point made by the company that their products are “modular” I wanted strongly to see how the ORBS would integrate with my own subwoofers, an Axiom EP600 and a Definitive Technology Supercube. Even with the monster Axiom off (usually set for 60hz and below) the DT Supercube carried the heft and seamlessly folded into the ORB sonic structure securing a perfect palette of sound.
As mentioned ORB AUDIO presents the benefiting factor of their product as being “modular” – meaning the unique nature of the ORB allows both growth of the system, for financial convenience and the capability of power handling by the addition of more ORBS.
Inside each ORB is a single full range driver. There is no need of an internal cross-over – instead that’s handled by your receiver; and that would depend on your ORB set-up.
Not knowing how I would react to the ORBS the company’s founder suggested I start with a simple pair for stereo testing. Why invest more time and, set-up, if I didn’t like what I heard – especially since I was doubtful. The two simple ORB stereo presentation with my subwoofer surprised me by their openness and power handling capabilities. Enough so I was intrigued for more.
The ORBS can be combined, connected to each other for better power handling capabilities. The modifications (or Mods) are as follows: single, pair, or up to four. Stands and brackets are sold for each. In the end I opted for the following testing configuration.
Four ORBS (or Mod4) for a center, front left and front right channels with two (Mod2) ORBS for each surround, and Atmos channels. This made up my testing configuration of a 7.2.2 system.
However, I tested the system in different configurations from one ORB in each channel then building up to a 7.2.2 Atmos system to gage differences in performance and presentation.
In any set-up I was taken how well the ORBS performed and effortlessly filled the room with enough sound with no stress to their size. My receiver of choice was a Martantz SR7009 (125 watts per channel). The DF Super-cube would take care of upper to lower midrange bass while the giant Axiom would handle the 60hz and below. In essence the Super-cube would be in place of the sub that ORB sells.
ORB AUDIO prides themselves on intergradation and the modular aspect of their speakers. This allows the consumer not only to mix and match, but to grow into a system that fits their needs as well as their budget.
The interesting thing I noticed immediately was the clarity and openness of the sound field. Imaging is wide. Every room has its sonic imprint. There will always be the perfect layout and placement. Most speakers need to be away from surrounding surfaces to avoid reflective sound (aside from a few that feed off from it – case in point, Mirage)
Orbs available in: Metallic Black, Pearl White, Hammered Earth, Hand Polished Steel, Antiqued Copper, Antiqued Bronze
I found THE ORBS to be the least susceptible to placement than any other speaker I’ve dealt with. The results did differ slightly, and were more pleasing in one place than others, but still all placements yielded good results. For many it would come down to aesthetics, and for home theater set-ups in relation to the screen/monitor.
Connecting more ORBS to a single channel allowed more presence and more power handling from the receiver. The jump from one ORB to two was most apparent. Up to four ORBS can be connected – this would be the ORB equivalent to a “tower”. Yet there is no woofer, or tweeter, and thus – no cross over. The full range ORB when linked to more than one simply is capable to handling more power allowing the receiver to provide room to breathe out more sound.
ORB states the Frequency Response is 80Hz - 20,000Hz (110Hz-19,000Hz optimal), linking more than one ORB doesn’t change that, just supports the same. I set my receiver at 90hz, and even played with it set at 80hz on the Mod4s (Front Left, Center, and Front Right) - all performed fine without stress.