Re(al)view: Orb Audio Surround Sound Home Theater System

Re(al)view: Orb Audio Surround Sound Home Theater System

Sonia Zjawinski
Oct 14, 2008

We aren't surround sound folk. Not because we don't appreciate the all encompassing sound when watching an action flick, but because living in a large studio doesn't really give you much room for a TV, let alone five speakers and a subwoofer.

As you may remember, I was already having a problem figuring out what to do with my two cabinet speakers. I had nowhere to put them once I had tucked my TV into a closet. One reader suggested I relocate, which I did. Now the TV is is on an old school desk, with the speakers on either side, the DVD player in the desk cubby, and the receiver underneath the table. I was pretty satisfied until Orb Audio offered to send me their teeny, tiny, um, orb speakers to test out. Now I know why reader, illegal danish, suggested I invest in new, smaller, speakers...

The MOD1 PLUS system includes four satellite speakers, which are four-inches wide and come with desk stands though you can also invest in ceiling or wall mounts, a center channel, and a subwoofer (plus all the speaker wire and cables you need to set it all up) for $999. Orb packs a spool of 100 feet of speaker wire for you to use to set up your system.

It's super generous of them, but it is a pain preparing all the wiring for these guys. We've posted How Tos on preparing speaker wire, and as you can see it can be a bit time intensive. I didn't have a wire cutter and stripper, so I just used scissors and an x-acto knife to get my wires ready. Cutting up the wires was one pain, getting them into the small connectors at the back of the speakers was another.

Each spring loaded connector (there are two per speaker for the negative and positive wires of the speaker cable) has a tiny hole when compressed that you need to thread your speaker wire through. It took me an hour total to get everything set up.

Once I did though it was impressive to see how small of a footprint these guys take up. I set up two speakers on either side of the TV, put the center channel up on top of my CRT, and squeezed the subwoofer underneath the table, next to the receiver.

The rear speakers were placed directly behind my couch, one of which was simply resting on the backside of my couch and the wall.

Pretty sweet you can do that with speakers this small.

Once everything was set up I blasted some Wu-Tang via iTunes. Man, the Orbs were just as good if not better than my cabinet speakers. Plus with the subwoofer -- oof! -- I could have had a banging house party. Obviously my music was only in stereo, though my receiver let me split audio to all five speakers and that sounded pretty decent, but a bit too separated for my taste. That night I put in George Clooney and Tilda Swinton's thriller, Michael Clayton, into the DVD player. Not to spoil the movie, but there's a large explosion in the film that actually made me jump when I heard it directly behind me on the couch. Despite watching this movie in a space that's only 4.5 x 9.5 feet, I really felt like I was getting high end audio you'd find at someone's McMansion.

I've shied away from surround because of space and money constraints, but Orb's relatively inexpensive price tag (for a home theater system), diminutive size, and excellent sound quality is making me reconsider my stance.

The system's standard colors are either metallic black or pearl white, though for an extra $100 you can get them in polished steel (far right) and for an extra $180 you can get them in antiqued bronze or copper (middle two photos).

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