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
An overlay of sponge/foam, an equal size to the box, cover the contents and makes a perfect work mat that protects
your table and the ORBS while working.
Each ORB are nestled within a protective cut-out in the sponge/foam,
wrapped in plastic along with any stands, brackets, and included hardware.
MOD4X CENTER CHANNEL STAND
The stainless steel BOSS Desk Stand seen with Antique Copper Orbs ready to be assembled - connected wires between Orbs.
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)