|Orb Audio Mod2 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Ben Shyman|
|Sunday, 01 January 2006|
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The proliferation of surround sound in movies, music and high-definition television has made five-channel speaker systems a virtual necessity in home theater. Advances in technology and engineering have made opting for an out-of-the-box satellite speaker system, particularly smaller systems, a worthwhile investment for entry-level buyers and high-end enthusiasts more than ever before. This is especially true for consumers on a limited budget and/or with limited space.
Orb Audio’s approach to satellite speakers is unique. Their core beliefs rest in offering consumers high-end audio without the high-end markup. In order to keep their selling prices low, Orb utilizes a direct sales model, selling their products only via their website at orbaudio.com. Furthermore, their product line is built on a simple foundation of only one four 3/16” diameter satellite speakers and a powered subwoofer. This should not suggest, however, that their product offering is limited. To the contrary, Orb satellites can be put together in different combinations to create a system that fits your budget and décor. You can utilize one driver for each channel (Mod1 satellites) or stack two satellites together (Mod2 satellites) for a larger system. While an entry-level system would combine their Super Eight Subwoofer and five Mod1 satellites (a $749 system), an advanced system would combine the same subwoofer with five Mod2 satellites (a system around $1,169). The satellites are available in four finishes, including gloss black and pearl white, as well as hand-polished steel and copper. The polished steel and copper satellites cost slightly more, but in my view are totally worth it. They have a unique and rich look that is gorgeous.
The company sent me 10 satellites and a Super Eight Subwoofer and I experimented with several Mod1 and Mod2 combinations before finally going with three Mod2 satellite speakers in the front channels and two Mod1 satellites in the rear (a $999 system). On their website, Orb calls this configuration the People’s Choice Home Theater Speaker System, as it is their most popular offering. Upon unpacking the Orb satellites, I was taken by their outstanding build quality. Each driver has gold-plated binding posts, which easily accept virtually any speaker wire, even my Transparent speaker cables with their significantly oversized connectors.
The Orb satellite consists of a three-inch, full-range polypropylene driver with santoprene surround and a neodymium magnet. While the Mod1 and Mod2 speakers are rated at eight and four ohms, respectively, I cannot imagine that a Mod2 system would pose a serious challenge for any standard amplifier from a mainstream receiver manufacturer. In contrast, the system I tested was easily able to handle the high power of my Proceed AMP5, which produces 125 watts per channel into eight ohms and 250 watts per channel into four ohms.
Building a Mod2 system was as simple as screwing two satellites into the company’s mini-stands and using the supplied wire to bridge two speaker terminals together. As should be expected from any satellite system, all Orb drivers are fully shielded and hence can be placed directly next to a traditional CRT monitor without fear of gaussing. The company offers floor stands, as well as wall-mounting brackets for their drivers. The Super Eight Subwoofer is also easy to set up. The unit weighs only 30 pounds and measures 12 inches square. The Super Eight utilizes a 150-watt Class AB amplifier and an eight-inch front-firing driver covered by a handsome round gray grille. I connected the subwoofer to the LFE channel of my Proceed AVP2, set the crossover at about 80 Hz and, in less than 15 minutes, I had the entire Orb system up and running. After playing the Orbs at modest volume for several days to break them in, I was ready for some serious listening and evaluation.