I guess I am a bit old-fashioned when I still see a quality set of speakers as being constructed of just the right mix of components. B&O, German Physiks and Hansen Audio are those that dreams are made of one day when I win the lottery. Even then, I think I might still cringe at the price one can attain for true audio perfection. That said, the real world becomes a bit different where pure audio isn’t enough and most aspire to build systems that might accommodate their music pleasures, just as it might home theater. Recent years have seen my system accommodating JBL, Bose and Wharfedale in order to find that perfect mix.
Throughout this time, Orb Audio seems to have jumped in and out of the picture and I always thought their look was unique, but just how could true audio quality be gained from a small metal sphere. Digging deeper, I learned that their larger systems were simply built upon multiples of the exact same speaker; this definitely discouraged my closer look. It was only through the encouragement of an industry associate, and some lengthy conversations with Orb Audio themselves, that we decided to take the Orb Audio challenge in the building of the new Technology X Studio.
Our report today is on our Orb Audio Mod4X Custom Home Theater Speaker System, a system that holds a website build value of $3619 before taxes and shipping. In the interest of disclosure, we didn’t pay full pop, but most would consider our cost still hefty. It arrived on a 30 day ‘no questions asked’ return policy and….well let’s just say that these speakers are staying right where they are.
OUR ORB AUDIO CUSTOM BUILD
Our build consists of a center channel Mod4X speaker installed under our monitor in a parallel fashion, along with left and right Mod4X speakers on HOSS floor stands. Along with that, we have dual center and rear surrounds which are all mounted vertically, three with BOSS mounts to the wall, and another on a BOSS desk stand on the fireplace. The subwoofer is an Orb subONE Audiophile 200 watt black subwoofer. Much of the cost for this build is absorbed in aesthetics as we fell for the hand polished antique copper finish and premium mounts which jumped the price by just over $1500 list. The Peoples Choice Mod4X base system retails for $2098.
ORB AUDIO HISTORY
Orb Audio first opened it’s doors (if you can say that) in 2003 and is proud to state that it’s products are all handmade in the USA. Unless you are in New York or L.A, don’t expect to find Orb Audio Speakers in a store near you as they choose to remain a direct-to-market in order to eliminate 3rd party overhead. You may not have gathered that impression with the price of this system, but give us a bit and you just might find yourself jumping aboard the Orb. For the most part, Orb Audio purchases can be made through their website, or on e-tailers such as Amazon. For this reason, Orb Audio stands by their 30 day ‘no questions asked’ 100% return policy which applies to every system they sell.
ORB AUDIO SPEAKER BUILD AND SPECS
It may seem a bit unusual but the entire Orb Audio business is built on a single speaker. There are no others. It is called the Orb and is a modular speaker that is constructed of a perfectly round carbon steel sphere. By modular, it is to say that the spherical acoustic suspension enclosure is sealed, enabling the contained suspended air to provide a much deeper base than typical speakers. When tapping on the Orb, one can immediately sense the thickness of the cabinet and vibration is reduced significantly compared to a wood or plastic finish.
The speakers feature a custom voice coil design and a neodymium magnet, neo magnets traditionally found in much more expensive products. The smaller more powerful magnets take up less internal volume than the ceramic or iron magnets typically seen in loudspeakers. The more free internal airspace means the speaker behaves like a much larger speaker with midrange you would expect from a high-end bookshelf product. The 3″ full range driver is aluminum and magnesium (previously polypropylene) to give the sound more presence in the high-end as well as better power handling capability. Frequency response is listed at 80-20000Hz (110Hz-19,000Hz optimal) with efficiency of 89db. Mod1X satellites are 8 ohms with Mod2X and above at 4 ohms, with full specs on the Orb Audio website.
There are several choices of external color and texture should you choose to buy from the website, our personal favorite being hand antiqued copper. Our complete system consisted of 20 speakers and we were pleasantly surprised when we were given the heads up that we may see a small deviation in color with this many speakers. It seems that not only is the metal of each speaker hand polished, but also, the coppers require 12 steps of plating, antiquing and polishing. As for the final product, feel free to see for yourself in our included pictures.
When examining the binding posts, one can immediately see that they are gold-plated brass and we learned pretty quickly that they are limited to 14 gauge wire. This gets a bit difficult considering that some binding posts require the insertion of wire into both sides of the post. As well, the Orb Audio subONE subwoofer is constructed of an ultra-long throw, high-excursion 8 inch driver and a custom 200 watt hybrid amplifier design. It features accurate, snappy bass and low-end extension well beyond what you would expect from a 12-inch cube.