The ORB verdict is in [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


View Full Version : The ORB verdict is in

01-28-2004, 12:53 AM
I took the 30 day audition challenge on the ORB Mod 2's and Super eight sub and I decided to keep them. Let me say that I am new to the sat/sub system and being a former Klipshorn owner it is hard to put into perspective this smaller system. I did get to briefly audition the Paradigm/sub, M&K/sub, and the B&W without sub. I also did a quick listen to some polks and was going to listen to the energy's at the same store where the M&K's were but the dealer told me they couldn't hold a candle to the M&k's so I passed on them. Also auditioned a couple of years ago the similar Gallo Acoustic Micros, NHT, and PSB.

I may have muddied the auditioning waters somewhat by shopping for a new DVD player at the same time to serve as my audio source. This made it a little more difficult to sort out what the speakers sounded like compared to the DVD. Luckily I was able to compare 5 different DVD players on the ORB's.

Of course I allowed some time for break-in. I'm not sure whether the speakers needed all that much break-in but I am a believer that most components need some breaking in. It's pretty hard for me to buy into the placebo effect when my head is throbbing on day one and a week later I'm not uptight. I do use a Sheffield labs breakin CD on new components.

Now, in my humble opinion comparing the ORBS to the other sat/sub systems that I auditioned I have concluded that the ORB's are in a class of their own. I really liked the B&W's but they had no sub setup to audition. This audition may have been skewed a little because the speakers were driven by Rotel equipment in a very nice sound room of a high end audio store.

I'm sorry to say that I was not that impressed with the Paradigm/sub system. The sats were played with both a 10 and 12" sub. I believe the source used was a Denon DVD 2900 and a 100 watt + yamaha receiver. Without writing a whole review let me say that they were easy to listen to but just not involving to me. They seemed to lack what ever it is that makes music exciting.

I really liked the M&K's initially but when driven a little bit they fell apart. Again they seemed to have decent components which I believe consisted of Rotel and NAD.

Conclusion, the ORBS are small metal spheres in a nice white finish. To say that the bass from this little 12"x12" 230 watt 8" sub is impressive is an understatement. I say this knowing what 2 15" Klischorn woofers can do. This system can play very loud without distortion. The detail is superb, the highs extended and sweet, and the midrange is smooth, large, and round. I would describe them as neutral sounding. Symbals sound metallic with excellent reverberation, drums are tight, bass is well defined and surprisingly deep, and they are dynamic for their size. If this speaker system is this impressive using a DVD player as my source, I must conclude that a real nice stand alone CD player and a refined amp would have blown me away.

Admittedly I haven't listened to every sat/sub system out there, but I'm pretty confident that for $629.00, the ORB system owns the market.

Bottomline, is they will never compete with some larger speaker systems in soundstage size, dynamics, etc., but they do compete with every bookshelf speaker I have listened to, and many highly touted tower speakers that I have heard.

My Equipment
Cambridge 500 Amp/Pre amp

Denon 2200 DVD (this is the player I decided on as the best overall player. Other players auditoned were Sony 685?, Denon 1600, Pioneer 45A, and another Sony and Panasonic player that I forget the model number)

Transparent interconnects and Transparent speaker cable.

ORB Mod 2 satellites and 1 Super Eight powered Sub

01-28-2004, 05:07 AM
... when a hithero unknown poster uses his first posts to spout euphoric over the greatness of an unknown speaker in a syntactical manner resembling that of an advertisement, I tend to wonder about his/her motives. ...and from whom they draw a paycheck.

01-28-2004, 11:57 PM
... when a hithero unknown poster uses his first posts to spout euphoric over the greatness of an unknown speaker in a syntactical manner resembling that of an advertisement, I tend to wonder about his/her motives. ...and from whom they draw a paycheck.

Actually, it's not my first post. My first post asked for some feedback on these particular speakers and I recieved one response from one who apparently purchased the ORB's shortly before I decided to give them the 30 day audition.

But forgive me, I didn't know you were so insecure. I'm new here and I didn't know that I should I have trashed the speakers to sound legitimate, or post a positive review of the ORB's only after the 25th or greater post. I didn't realize that positive reviews were reserved for only the speakers you like.

I do find it interesting that you would assume that I have some ulterior motive considering the cult like following of a few brands of speakers that get recycled here. I would think that an objective person would come to the opposite conclusion if someone came along and posted something that differed from the thousands of other posts that promote the same brands day in and day out.

Your cynical response begs the question of why you would feel threatened that I might influence someones buying decision. Unfortunately you will have to audition them to find out for yourself. But remember it could be a sophisticated trap. I may be the great deceiver. Be warned that these speakers may contain alien implant devices that could alter your true perception of their performance through the use of subliminal radio frequencies.

Seriously, I could care less if you buy or consider these speakers. My opinion, and it's only an opinion was derived from comparing many of the very systems that get plugged here everyday.

To tell you the truth I had no idea what to expect and I took a $629.00 chance on a new product from a new company that may be out of business in 6 months for all I know.

I intend to post an overall positive review in the review section, but I will also be critical of a number of things that I feel could be improved.

01-29-2004, 04:15 AM
...some people actually use this forum to shill products. I know that you might not have seen it yourself but, this is a big, nasty world and some unscrupulous people actually do prey on the unknowing here. .. .and in white vans as well, which actually do show up on the review pages periodicaly.

I'm (we are?) always open to new and worthwhile products but sometines they are met with skepticism, for good reason. I'm surprised that nobody has seen anything on them in print.

So, if you've got anything on these miraculous apeakers, please share. Like, where are they available, who makes 'em, company backgtround, etc...?

So, you see, it's not actually a matter of paranoia but past experience that causes me to react as I did. One might also wonder why you bristled so at being challenged, as if something hit too close to a nerve.

Jim Clark
01-29-2004, 01:05 PM
If you like them, that's the main thing isn't it? That said I have several reservations about the speakers and their ability to do anything right. I looked over website, admittedly very briefly, and saw no specs, which strikes me as very odd. I couldn't even find the specs for the sub and it would be kind of nice to know their claims for the subs extension. What I did find, and for me I found it most troubling is that they say you can use their speakers with your existing sub, given certain limitations. The say, and I quote: Subs using a 10 inch woofer will also be fine as long as they have a variable crossover that goes to at least 120." At this point you don't have a sub, you have an ordinary woofer, and only one at that. Since it's widely accepted that bass is directional at over 80, any claims of stereo imaging are going to be severely compromised by this set up. Can't see where it's going to help soundstage either for that matter. I just don't see how this is a better alternative than anything I've ever seen.

I've never heard them so take the comments as they were intended, puzzlement as to why they would make a good choice for anyone.


01-29-2004, 05:39 PM
That's all that really matters.

It would've been a little more useful for the readers if you would've posted which models of Pardigm, B&W, M&K, et. al. that you auditioned against the Orbs. Although, the more I think about it, I guess it doesn't really matter simply because your review would have no bearing on my or likely anyone else's decision making process. The simple truth is we all have very specific, very personal ideas of what good sound is. What you think sounds great could be a completely different concept from the next guy. If we all aspired to the same definition of "great sound," we'd buy Bose :)

btw, I would've kept the Klipschorns.

01-29-2004, 06:27 PM
I guess specs are a place to start but having been around for almost half a century now, I have determined that specs are the bait of the deception because if specs were true then buying would be easy. Just buy the product with the best specs.

I learned this a number of years ago when I bought a 130 watt Yamaha integrated amplifier only to find that my 100 watt B&K separate blew it away in raw dynamic power. And I'm convinced that my current Cambridge 65 watt amp is fairly equal to the B&K because I have yet to clip that amp. I trust my ears more than I do specs. I swear that some of the DVD players I auditioned sounded smoother and more refined than others even though they had a higher THD. Now correct me if I'm wrong but isn't distortion a major factor? I mean isn't distortion by definition garbage that is added to an otherwise unaltered signal from the source material?

My Klipschorns were another example of sound defying specs. I used to get these question alot from friends who were not Klipschorn friendly like.. I heard that these speakers have limited bass or... Is it true that they only go down to 35 hz? I could usually leave them with wide open mouths by playing a piece of well recorded thunder. I believe Paul Klipsch understood better than most what the most important factors were when it comes to audio reproduction. He believed that too many speaker manufactuers emphasized measurements while Klipsch concentrated on perfecting the most important areas and then added unbelievable dynamic range which as he put it went beyond measurements and into the emotional realm. Music has always been about emotional involvement not technical specifications.

Since I'm getting a little off topic let me state for the record my real bias. I believe Klipschorns to still be the finest all around speaker ever assembled. I sold my Klipschorns a number of years ago because the wife gave me the ultimatum of either her or the speakers. I agonized over the choice but finally gave into my base instincts and kept the wife. Anyway, having listened to hundred thousand dollar plus systems over the years to this day nothing can do goose pimples like Klipschorns.

I apologize, now it sounds like I'm working for Klipsch. To quell any fears let me also state that Klipsch's new line does'nt do a thing for me. Only the Heritage line and a few models that followed lived up to the legendary Klipsch sound in my humble opinion.

01-29-2004, 08:31 PM
Was that an ST140? I would've loved to heard the Klipschorns driven by that amp (just smooth enough to warm up those horns). Coupled to a great turntable and cartridge that would be a system that would truly make me either rethink the wife or buy a bigger house! LOL

01-31-2004, 04:35 PM
I visited their website and saw the price for the system you are mentioning lists for $1099.00. The Mod 1's were in that $700 range.

01-31-2004, 06:44 PM
the guy that recommended the orbs to know...Johnny99...well you two join this fourm the EXACT SAME huh?...i was so weirded out i tried to email him ta get more HOT orb info.....but he don't take emails...hmmm now thats strange....but...come ta think of it....neither do you...(walks away scratchin' his head).....

Jim Clark
02-01-2004, 10:14 AM
Keep calling'm like you see'm Poguester. Just be sure not to scratch yourself a bald spot on this one.

Hearingimpaired, nice dodge on the lack of published specs but the fact is that the specs on any Klipsch speaker are easy to find unlike the Orbs making any connection pointless. Go on all you want about dynamic range but since the Orbs don't even make a claim about dynamic range so what's the point? Now, either this company doesn't have the resources or knowledge to do the measurements (no real crime in that but do you want to spend even 5 dollars on such a speaker?) or has something to hide. Don't you find it curious that a sub has to be set up so the variable crossover is set "at least" to 120? What you got there is some bose cubes in a round hole and that's the best case scenario.

02-02-2004, 04:36 PM
First of all, I hope that I didn't give the impression that I'm comparing Klipschorns to the ORB's. I not comparing speakers that are obviously assembled in a 3 step fashion to something whose cabinet is supposedly cut with a special saw capable of cutting real wood to 1/10,000th of an inch tolerance. I not comparing them to a speaker containing a diaphragm which utilizes such a precise amount of special glue to work properly that it must be weighed on a specially designed scale that can weigh your breath. Nor am I comparing them to a speaker who's finished cabinet alone, absent of working drivers is a beautiful piece of furniture that will impress anyone who has a discerning eye for quality. And I'm 100 % certain that the ORB's are NOT tested in the most sophisticated anechoic chamber in the world. I'm comparing the ORBs to other sat/sub systems in a like or similar class and price. These are not world class speakers but they may very well be the best sub/sat system for the money on the planet.

Secondly, my point about the Klipschorns was only that Paul Klipsch himself put specs in a diminished perspective in the overall audio reproduction picture.

Let me confess something here and now. When I was introduced to Klipshorns I didn't know a single spec on them or any other speaker for that matter. I didn't know the difference between a woofer and a midrange, or frequency response from efficiency rating. I did however have the presence of mind to recognize what sounds real. I did have the perception to determine what got me excited about listening and what bored me to tears. I came to my conclusions by listening to the other highly touted speakers on the market. I have never bought a pair of speakers in my entire life based on specs or the reviews from some Stereophile magazine writer. Those things are only useful to get me to go out and audition a product. Show me a guy whose buying decision is based on specs and I'll show you a pathetic insecure person who can't use the bathroom without permission.

I have a friend who is an electrical engineer who thinks in your typical black and white engineering fashion. Generally speaking he doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven with equipment and numbers. However since he has recently been in the market for new speakers, he went into the local Ultimate Electronics store to shop around. I found his remarks to be surprising. He told me the sales guy came up to him and started the sales pitch up with a it has this and that and rated this and that. He responded back to the sales guy, just cut the crap and let me listen to what you have. Engineers don't like to be talked down to by some punk kid who obviously got his talking points from the senior sales manager who got his from training class 101. Well anyway after auditioning everything up to about $5000.00 he told the guy that it all sounded like crap and walked out. Well so much for specs.

It may very well be that ORB doesn't have the resources to have their own anechoic chamber for measuring and it may be a valid point. Maybe I'm a sucker for supporting the little guy who has visions of changing the world. After all I've been a Mac user since their inception. And yes Apple Computer did start out of their garage. And yes everybody and their dog told me to go with Windows because Apple was going out of business. Well some 20 years later I recently purchased a new G5 1.8 ghz and I could'nt be happier even though I know the rest of the world may still think I'm clueless.

Last point. It could also be argued that the other guys with all the resources have the resources because they rip people off and then use those resources to continue to paint the image they want you to see so as to suck in more unsuspecting prey. I think a good portion of this audio obsession may have more to do with status than music.

Hey Guys, show me something that sounds better for the money that I have not already auditioned and I'll gladly sell my ORB's on ebay and replace them with that system.

Orb Audio
02-02-2004, 11:07 PM

My name is Ethan Siegel and I am the President of Orb Audio LLC. I am writing to confirm that the user who posted the review here has no affiliation whatsoever with our company and was not encouraged to post his review in any way. I suppose some degree of skepticism is healthy in these internet forums, but to assume that this person is a shill and that our speakers are somehow deficient because we don't put specification on our website is taking things a little overboard. We use high end audiophile components in our systems and can do so because of our business model. Our performance is far, far above and beyond our price range, with a particular focus on imaging, clarity, accuracy and tight, musical bass. If you heard our speakers, you wouldn't be so skeptical, you would be bemoaning the amount of $$ a lot of people waste on markups and middlemen to purchase fanciful specs on paper that may or may not translate into real world performance. This is a non-commercial forum, so I will not go as far to promote our product, the purpose of this email is to stand up for our customer, who without any prodding from us chose to enter a public forum and discuss our speakers. You have our assurance that hearingimpaired acted completely on his own by posting and that Orb Audio neither encouraged him to post or communicated with him in any way about the content of his post until after he emailed us today asking for some backup specifications to post here. So, you may subtract your worries about bias from the equation and get back to your discussion without that worry. And, I must refute the uninformed assertion that our speakers are "bose cubes in a round hole and that's the best case scenario," as nothing could be farther from the truth. One listen is all it takes to understand the fact that we have a fantastic, custom full range driver and high performance, acoustically matched subwoofer that is changing the price/performance equation in this industry and eliminating the "midrange hole" in many small sat/sub systems. If you would like to discuss our speakers further with me, or with our speaker designer, please email or call us, as I do not believe this is the right forum for a company to post extensively about their products.

Jim Clark
02-03-2004, 06:58 AM

My name is Ethan Siegel and I am the President of Orb Audio LLC.

Hi Ethan and thanks for visiting our tiny little space on the internet. Don't know if you have changed any suspicions about the two posters touting Orb products but that's just the nature of the beast. I'll do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I've asked this question twice, and it's never been addressed, even remotely. At this point a wiser person would may chaulk it up to the fact that there is no answer but I'm not very wise and I'll give it one more try. Most everyone would agree that bass is non-directional when that signal is below 80 Hz however on your site you say subs should be set up so that the variable crossover is "at least" 120 Hz. Not only would the bass be easily located at this point, at 120 Hz the possiblity of bleed over of male voice is not out of the question. How do you respond to this?

I'm also quite interested in knowing your claims for the sub's lower extension including the SPL at the lowest point. I am of the opinion that while specs may be useless to many, including myself, that aspect of sub performance is vital to know before spending time and money on a product.

I wish you luck with your venture and keep in mind that if you want an unbiased review of your product, you can always send me a demo set up!


Orb Audio
02-03-2004, 08:55 AM
Jim, you are definitely correct about bass being non-directional at the very low-end. I would agree that there could be some directional effect at 120hz and up, but the fact that our satellites play low enough to meet the subwoofer perfectly alleviates this. Even if you set up our subwoofer all the way on the left of your room, a drum or bass solo exclusively in the right channel will appear to come exclusively from that channel. I've done extensive testing of that with our system and others, and I think the difference can be attributable to whether the satellites can play low and create the correct positional apparent bass. We have a demo CD that we play at the Consumer Electronics Show to demonstrate this very fact, since people do occassionally ask us about directionality and bass. You have to remember that this is a small sub/sat system and most of our competitors have subwoofers or bass modules that play much higher than ours, or simply give up and leave a low midrange/high bass hole where the sats and subs simply do not meet up. One of the defining characteristics of our system is how big and full it sounds, and this is largely attributable to the low end on our satellites and the fact that we use a better, tighter subwoofer than most. The signal at 120hz would sound directional if the satellites were not playing down to the subwoofer, but since they do, that problem is moer of a "theory" than one in practice. I think a lot of the "theory" of whether the bass sounds directional in our system is resolved by a quick listen, which is not always in the cards for us since we sell direct and not everyone is willing to make a leap of faith and try them out at home. That's a problem we can live with for the moment, since we are a small company, make our satellites by hand in the US, and have enough of a struggle keeping up with demand. The sub plays flat down to 30hz, 96dB SPL (1m) (+/-2 dB). There is signal below that, too, that rolls off. This is about the best performance you can squeeze from an 8" subwoofer, in my opinion. I could definitely get into this more, but I'd prefer some guidance on how much of this is appropriate for this forum and whether it is more appropriate to discuss our products privately. My main intention was to clear up some of the misunderstanding I saw at the beginning of this thread.

Jim Clark
02-03-2004, 11:50 AM
Jim, you are definitely correct about bass being non-directional at the very low-end. I would agree that there could be some directional effect at 120hz and up, but the fact that our satellites play low enough to meet the subwoofer perfectly alleviates this.

I'm not aware of the rules AR has for vendors and I appreciate the fact that this in many ways limits your replies. As I've said, I've never heard your company's speakers so to travel any further down this path is a waste of everyone's time. I do however feel that particularly in this instance, specs would be extremely helpful in evaluating the claims of the maker. While I remain highly skeptical of your claims I'm content to live with that. I do wish you and your company the best. There is clearly a market for your product and I hope you are able to reach the people for whom this product would be a good fit.


09-28-2004, 12:32 PM
I want to post a tiny bit about Orb Audio. I just ordered a set of their Mod 1 satellites and subwoofer for primarily home theature surround. I am by no means an audiophile but I'll follow this up with a post once I get the speakers and have used them for a while.

My main thing I want to post about is the company, Orb Audio, and how they've been so far. I'm amazed by the availability and frankness of the owner that I've been speaking to, Ethan. This thread came up in a google search while I was reading more about the speakers I was about to buy.

I agree, specs would be a nice thing but personally, I didn't go searching for the specs pre-purchase. They (as a company) and their products (the Mod 1 & 2) have a really strong word of mouth that I believe is very authentic. One thing that makes me comfortable with that belief is that they have a no-questions-asked 30-day trial. For any reason you can send these back within the first month. They don't charge for shipping. They have lots of information on their site - faqs, manuals, etc. Ethan (one of the owners) was who responded to my initial email has been available with fast responses to all of my various questions. They don't have a hard-sell ethic but rather seem pleased to tell you about their philosophy and I have the sense that they'd be the first to tell you if you should consider different products based on your needs.

I have to think that a company that is this well run is doing something right. They obviously stand behind their product. This has been the most pleasureable buying experience I've had in a LONG LONG time. Anyone can be a skeptic but at some point I think it's fair to trust that someone is going to deliver on what they say when they (a) have a lot of indepent experiences that can back up their products (b) they openly state that they will stand behind their product or give you back your money. I know that for some people the proof is in the specs but also isn't the final determination going to come from one's own ears?

With this much self-conviction from the owner that they have a good thing to offer, I think it was worth the 'risk' of buying them based on word-of-mouth they have and the return policy. I think I'll be very surprised if in fact I return them - I don't think the company could have a viable business if they were making the offers they make and not being able to back them up the great majority of the time.

I'll certainly follow this up with my experiences after installing them.



PS - I can't speak for the authenticity of the original post in this thread, but I don't doubt it personally. As far as I'm concerned I'm glad to validate this in any way when I post again with speakers in hand - I'll put up a copy of my sales receipt or a photo of them in my place or whatever...

09-29-2004, 07:00 AM
RE: specs
"... The sub plays flat down to 30hz, 96dB SPL (1m) (+/-2 dB). "
Performance of super eight subwoofer according to Orbs website. You would think the "owner" would know the specs of the speakers he makes and be able to direct others to where they can find them.

Frequency Response 32-180hz (+/-3dB)
30-180hz (+/-6dB)
Adjustable Crossover (40-160hz)

Mod 1

Frequency Response 120hz - 18,000hz (+/- 3dB)

09-29-2004, 03:53 PM
Didn't realize he bought the mod 2s

80hz - 20,000hz (+/- 6db)

10-03-2004, 01:29 PM
Well persoanlly i have never heard of Orb Audio (where you guys at the High End 2004 in Munich?).

I for myself would never buy a box in my life, but i would still be interested in hearing a product that as to this point seems pretty unkown and which acording to comments sounds better than well established names.