Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

June 20, 2008 • Reviews

Review: Orb Mod 2 Speaker System — Getting A Big Sound From A Small Speaker System

In case you have not been able to tell from my plethora of media player and headphone reviews, I am something of an audiophile (heck, I was even a DJ at parties and weddings in college).  I have built my home theatre system over the past couple of years, carefully selecting each component.  The one thing which has always eluded me, however, are quality speakers which will fit in my space without sacrificing sound quality.  I have a set of bookshelf speakers that I got in law school.  They were cheap…and they sound cheap.  Not terrible, but nothing to write home about.  They are small speakers and they offer a relatively small sound.  And yes, over ten years later, they are badly in need of replacement.  So, I was extremely intrigued when we received an email from Orb Audio asking for a review of their Mod 2 speaker system.

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The Mod 2 speaker system consists of 10 speakers and a subwoofer.  And that is about where the similarity to any other speaker system I have used will end.  Most speaker systems have a dedicated speaker for each location.  This one is a front channel speaker, this is the center channel, and those over there are the rears.  Each is a particular size and shape, providing a fixed sound in each location.

orb audio The Orb speakers, on the other hand, are completely fluid.  The system is completely customizable in order to create a speaker system which will best fill your space with sound.

Rather than offering dedicated speakers for each position, the Orb speaker system features a set of interchangeable ball-shaped speakers.  Each speaker is identical to the others (though there are a variety of colors and finishes available) and can be used in any position.

The best part about the Orb system, however, is not placing a bunch of interchangeable sound balls around your room.  It is watching these balls of sound work in concert.  You see, an Orb speaker can consist of up to four balls strung together.  In order to fully customize your system, Orb offers a wide variety of stands.  These stands can hold between one and four speakers.  There are wall/ceiling mounted stands, free standing stands, and stands which can be placed on a table or shelf.  For my review, Orb provided me with three different stands:

— the tabletop single speaker stand

— the tabletop double speaker stand in a vertical configuration

— the tabletop double speaker horizontal configuration

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The actual Mod 2 system includes four tabletop double speaker stands in a vertical configuration and two single speaker stands.   Others are available at an additional cost when you order the system.

orb audio subwoofer

The last component of the Mod 2 system is the subwoofer.  The Mod 2 system includes the Super Eight 200W powered subwoofer.  You can, however, upgrade from the eight inch unit to the ten inch, 300 watt subwoofer.  Though for most home uses, the eight inch subwoofer will be more than adequate.  I was really impressed by how much control over your sound this subwoofer offers.

orb audio subwoofer

The back is filled with controls and dials (my other subwoofer offered a power switch and volume control).  With the Super Eight, you can set it and leave or you can constantly tinker with the sound until you get it just right.  Your level of customization is completely up to you.

orb audio speaker Let’s be honest though.  I could customize these speakers all day and night for you.  But if they don’t sound amazing then I am really just wasting my time.  You don’t spend over a thousand dollars on speakers because you like the way they look.  You drop that kind of money for the amazing sound quality they can achieve, and Orb’s Mod 2 fits this bill.

I used the Mod 2 system with my home theatre system for well over a month.  Not only were they completely unobtrusive, but they sounded amazing.  Both the high and low ranges, where distortion most often occurs were crystal clear, regardless of the source.  And the bass…oh the bass.  On the lowest settings, the sub-woofer was practically knocking dishes off the shelves.  And I think you saw above, this subwoofer goes to “11”.  I am going to be hard pressed to return to my ten year old mostly functional sub-woofer when I send this one back.

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One of my main concerns, however, was how well the doubled speakers would work together.  I mean, when you put two speakers on a stand together, they had better be working in harmony an receiving the same signal at the same time.  Otherwise…well, you can imagine the noise your music would become.  Not to worry, though.  Orb has devised a solution for this.  The speaker wire connection only attaches to one of the two speakers on each stand.  They then provide a separate jumper speaker cable which connects the other speaker or speakers on that stand.  This means all of the speakers are in perfect sync, receiving the same signal at the same time…every time.  These jumper cables were a little tricky to install, only because you need some very small fingers to squeeze into some of those tight spaced.  But in the end, they worked like a charm.

It sounds cliche, but I was truly impressed by the enormous sound that Orb Audio packed into such a small space with these speakers.

What I Liked: Pretty much everything.  These speakers are attractive and unobtrusive.  They look great without sacrificing sound quality.

What Needs Improvement: The jumper speaker cables were a bit tricky to connect.

Where to Buy: Orb Audio

Price: Base Price is $1,289.00, however, there are numerous upgrades which can add hundreds of dollars to this price.   A fully loaded system can run as high as $3000, plus the cost of any additional stands.

3 Responses to " Review: Orb Mod 2 Speaker System — Getting A Big Sound From A Small Speaker System "

  1. i-bystander says:

    Why don’t you tell us more about your HT system, Doug? How did you test the speakers? What did you hook them up to? What are the audio sources? Video sources? It seems like all you really talked about were the speakers and how they looked without really going into specifics of how they sound in real-world applications…

    I was excited to see another review of these speakers, but somehow this one fell short – I kinda expected more from you.

  2. Doug Goldring says:

    Sorry, i-Bystander. I don’t tend to talk about my system all that much because there is not much to say. It is on the higher end of average consumer level. I have a Pioneer receiver, and a Samsung Rear projection LCD tv (50 inches).

    I tested the speakers by using them every day for about a month. That meant everything from SpongeBob to DVD’s (I have two DVD players, a Sony and a Samsung that alternate which one works), and sporting events (not to mention everyday TV). They were even with me when the Penguins came oh so close to the Stanley Cup. Anyway, my test is basically to plunk them into my everyday life and see how they sound.

    There are by far the smallest set of speakers I have ever tested, but the sound was extremely impressive.

    Doug

  3. Review: Orb Mod 2 Speaker System — Getting A Big Sound From A… http://tinyurl.com/ydw4bfo

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