INTRODUCTION TO BREAKING ACCEPTED BELIEFS
My first test was simple – two channel stereo. I worked my way up from a single ORB for each channel to 4 (Mod4). With the subwoofer set and matched (which was easy and quick) I was very surprised how smooth it integrated with the ORBS. With your eyes closed the sound field was amazingly larger sounding. To put it simply it was no different than having a pair of towers in front of me! The four connected ORBS completely paired with the subwoofer and created a rich, detailed stereo image that not only filled the room but made me check the receiver to make sure it was set to 2 channel stereo and not surround - the sound field created was that filling.
Single Orbs (Mod1x) with BOSS Stainless Steel stands and the SubONE 200watt Subwoofer, Walnut
Through the months I listened to various kinds of music – orchestral, new age, country, pop, and rock. Each recording held its own surprise. Always I found amazing details, wide separation, and super clarity. Never was there distortion or a feeling of pushing the limit of these speakers. The 4 ORB (Mod4) set-up held its own producing a powerful amount of sound at a lower volume level usually used - economical on setting, but not on quality.
Voices were super clear; strings were vibrant but not harsh. I was most impressed with how the ORBS presented any source with piano. The detail was precise, airy, but not straining. In certain cases, minor flaws of the recording were made apparent not noticeable previous.
When I first used only one ORB in each channel the sound although clear seem a bit over whelming for my room. Not that the ORB bottomed out, or distorted, it seemed a bit weak. I would suggest a single ORB stereo set-up in a closer listening experience, such as a desktop computer system; and smaller rooms – for that the performance will excel.
However, this changed when I bumped it up to a 2 ORB (Mod2) configuration per channel. The Mod2 allowed better power handling capabilities that allowed the receiver to be heard without limitations and amazing richness.
YOU AIN'T HEARD NOTH’IN YET
Having conquered the 2-channel stereo set-up with satisfying results, it was time for the more complicated and challenging set-up of multi-channel film sound.
With a 7.2.2 configuration broken down as follows – 4 ORBS (Mod4) for the front three channels (Left, Center, Right), and 2 ORBS (Mod2) for each subsequent channels – Surrounds (Left and Right, Back Surrounds – Left and Right, and finally overhead Dolby Atmos Left and Right – I worked my way up starting with a single ORB for each channel; as I did with my simple 2 channel stereo set-up. The single ORBS (Mod1) seemed to work better as team in a film based set-up than 2 channel, stereo, one. True, there’s a slight watt decrease in this configuration, but not enough to make a difference. The sound was easy on the ears, and extremely robust in presenting a film soundtrack.
Next I upped it to a 2 ORB per channel (Mod2) and noticed an improvement in power handling. This is where the system sang. Finally, I bumped up the front three channels to 4 Orbs (Mod4) and achieved the 7.2.2 system.
Truthfully the single ORB (Mod1) set-up held its own extremely well, and if my room was smaller it would have been fine. I felt more secure however with a Mod2 set-up and finally with Mod4 up front, mostly because of the power of my amp.
The wonderful thing about the ORBS is the ability to expand your system. Starting out with a system of Mod1s will provide an excellent listening experience for film and can be expanded slowly while still enjoying excellent sound.
But how did they sound?
The first thing I noticed over any center channel speaker I’ve ever owned, or reviewed, is the lacking of a shift in tonal quality. When a speaker is comprised of a series of drivers, whether it be any combination of a tweeter, mid-range, and woofer if you move from side to side you will hear a slight difference in the way the sound reaches your ears. This is bound to happen a little or a lot depending on the way the drivers are arranged across the speaker (usually horizontally for a center channel). Because the ORB is a single driver, even if Mod2 or 4s are used it’s the same sound across due to the full range drivers used - so this is not a problem.
A single full range delivery is produced allowing anyone seated to hear the same tonal aspect. This is crucial when you consider the center channel is so important. Dialog rises above the din of the other channels without effort. With other center channels I always had the need to raise the volume level slightly to compensate – not with the ORBS. Merged with the subwoofer mid-bass supports and melds with the ORBS presenting a natural tone for dialog. MONO film playing through the center channel have a strong presence holding their own, crisp, and room saturating.
Films evaluated with ORBS.
The precise stereo imaging I found with 2-channel testing was only a prelude to what I’d hear with films in their various multichannel soundtracks.
Again, because there is single driver it is the exact driver in any, and all the ORB speakers in the system. Sound transitions are natural and seamless moving effortlessly from location to location. They are clear and defined with no tonal change at all. No matter how matched other speaker companies state their speakers are change in cabinet size and shape will create a slight difference – all the ORBS are the same so it avoids this issue. Any tonal change put on the ORBS are via the owner and the frequency cut-off applied through the receiver. If all are set to 80hz, 90hz, 100hz or whatever it’s still the same clean sound from every location.
More than once I found myself startled due to the incredible clarity. It’s the preciseness of the sound from a single location that creates a sense of realism. The ORBS achieve a spectacular movement of sound, matched in timber that create a sonic atmosphere that surround the viewer.
Both the size and weight of the ORBS opens more options for placement; whether mounted on the wall, ceiling (for Dolby Atmos) or on stands. ORB Audio has several brackets and stands to fit various applications, and taste.
In testing with placement I found the ORBS are much more forgiving in terms of environment. They are less affected by boundaries. Although there will always be preferred placement due to each room’s acoustic signature I found a wider degree of forgiveness with the ORBS, and their performance.
The TOSS Floor Stand, the HOSS Floor Stand each available through ORB AUDIO.
In terms of chosen material, I made sure to use films (Blu-rays & DVDs) produced from different decades. Films produced in the 50s, in stereo differ from those in the 60s, 70’s and so one. Each have their own unique signature given by the technology, both lack of, and kudos of the day.
Because each speaker manufacture has their own sonic signature as well the same film will sound different on several speakers systems.
The ORBS presented each well and in some cases beyond what I heard before. Not bound by internal cross overs the sound is, I believe purer and truer. A full range speaker (even with its limitations is simply projecting unaltered sound. In what is considered the standard approach of dividing sounds between given drivers, then applying crossovers is creating how a company wants you to hear, not hearing the sound as it stands.
Whether it was 4.0, 5.1, 7.1 or Dolby Atmos I definitely noticed more detail on favorite titles I know extremely well. Transitions of sounds were more pronounced from location to location. Ambient sounds filled the room more naturally. … and, as expected, dialog was always clear.
In the end I have learned a lesson and swallowed my snobbery as to how speakers “should be”.
ORB AUDIO offers a 30 year trial period. I knew within a very short time these speakers were beyond what I expected. In the evaluation my testing was longer, not so much to decide a positive decision, but rather to find a source material that didn’t play well. I was looking for that one piece of music, that one film soundtrack that didn’t reach my personal expectation; or disappointed when compared to a previous listening experience. … I couldn’t find one.
If you have any questions, or need more detailed findings, especially on either the ORBS or results on films used in evaluationing feel free to contact me via the MAIN MENU above, under "more".
On a side note concerning Audyssey Room Acoustics Correction - The receiver I used in this evaluation, Marantz SR7009. offers a manual set-up or Audyssey Room Acoustics Correction. After following the step by procedure I found the results less than impressive. This is only the second time I’ve come across this (the first in conjunction with AXIOM speakers).
Without any equalization the ORBS were fresh and performed well. With AUDYSSEY they fell flat and lost their sparkle. The subs too suddenly didn’t seem to match well into the system. Oddly, the ORBS suddenly seemed to sound their size, and weak.
Not only did the AUDYSSEY confuse the ORBS on being large full range speakers it also misread some in the configuration as being out of phase – which wasn’t the case.
In the end I found that matching the subs went smoother and quicker on manual, and the built in equalizer can easily cater the system with little push.
Why this is the case I don’t know. My only guess is that with less structural interference little, or no filter, or compensation in conjunction for room acoustics is needed, – which of course is a merit to the ORBS.
The ORB products are only available online via their site
For more information visit www.orbaudio.com
or call (877) 672-2834
System Type - High-performance modular satellite/subwoofer design with acoustically-matched custom components
Total System Frequency Response
28 - 20,000hz (subONE & satellites)
MOD1X & MOD2X SATELLITES
Speaker Type Magnetically shielded full-range satellite speaker. Crossover-free design for coherent, lifelike sound.
Advanced high-excursion 3" full range aluminum driver cone with Santoprene surround. These materials maintain their sonic characteristics over long periods of time and also through a broad range of temperatures and operating environments.
Fully shielded, high-density neodymium magnet with proprietary oversized voice coil in high tolerance gap to create strong, highly focused magnetic field. Compact magnet design allows for maximum free internal volume and extension of low midrange performance.
Custom gold-plated brass binding posts (fits up to 14 Ga. wire)
80Hz - 20,000Hz
Impedance Mod1X: 8 ohms nominal
Mod2X: 4 ohms nominal*
*Mod2X is compatible with all popular receivers & amps rated at 6-8 ohms
Mod4X: 8 ohms nominal
15 - 125watts
(also compatible with most higher wattage receivers, max. recommended volume setting of about 3/4 will be LOUD!)
Mod1X On Desk Stand:
4 3/16" W x 5" H x 4 7/8" D
Mod2X On Desk Stand:
4 3/16" W x 9 1/2" H x 4 7/8" D
(may also be assembled horizontally)
Mod1 No Stand:
4 3/16" W x 4 3/16" H x 4 7/8" D
Mod2X No Stand:
4 3/16" W x 8 7/8" H x 4 7/8" D
(may also be assembled horizontally)
Weight On Desk Stands:
Mod1X: 17 oz.
Mod2X: 33 oz.
American carbon steel, assembled in USA
Black Metallic Powder Coat
Pearl White Powder Coat
Hammered Earth Powder Coat
Hand Polished Steel
Hand Antiqued Copper
Hand Antiqued Bronze
16 gauge American steel adjustable desk stands (available in black and white)
High-performance ported bass-reflex design.
Port Type - Precision-tuned flared snorkel port.
Amplifier Type - & Power Custom high-power 2nd generation digital hybrid amplifier with digital switching power supply for enhanced peak power output
Amplifier THD <.05% (100hz at full power)
Amplifier S/N >95dB
Driver - Super long-throw 8" high-performance driver with composite paper/high density ABS cone. This yields rigid, lightweight design with excellent low frequency performance and increased detail and musicality.
Magnet Assembly 30 oz. ferrite magnet
Frequency Response 28-180hz
Adjustable Crossover (40-160hz)
Max SPL Peak 111dB
Max SPL Long-Term 107dB
Features Adjustable phase (0-180)
Adjustable crossover (40-160hz)
Temperature protect circuit
Signal overload protect circuit
Auto voltage sensing
Weight 26 lbs
Dimensions subONE Cabinet
12" H x 12" D x 12" W
(on 1" feet)
9" H x 9" D x 9" W
(on 1 1/2" feet)