Orb Audio Classic Two Stereo Speaker System Review

By Jonathan Spira on 1 December 2010
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Growing up, I was taught that, when it comes to speakers, bigger was better.  Indeed, this is one area where size has always seemed to matter.  Bigger speakers can play music louder – plus they generate more bass.  But small speakers are now in vogue and this begs the question, can they ever sound as good as (if not better) than large ones?

The answer, at least in one case, is a resounding yes, thanks to the engineers at Orb Audio, a company that designs and sells its own line of small speakers.

My package (the Classic Two Stereo Speaker System) arrived with four speakers (two double Orbs in the company’s parlance), stands, speaker wire, and the subwoofer.

The speakers themselves are finished in an elegant black gloss (other finishes ranging from white to hand-polished stainless steel are also available) and the 200-watt Super Eight subwoofer is a 12” square box with a matte black finish.  Each sphere is 106 mm (4 3/16”) in diameter and, after two spheres are mounted on a stand, the combined unit is  241 mm (9.5”) high.

The spheres are made out of American carbon steel and are assembled in the U.S.  The subwoofer is manufactured in Canada.

Setup and installation were fairly straightforward (see Tips for Setting Up Your New Speakers for ideas on installing new or reconfiguring existing setups) .  The receiver’s left and right stereo outputs were fed into the subwoofer and the subwoofer’s built-in crossover distributes the higher frequencies to the spheres.  The subwoofer has a power switch, volume control, phase control, and crossover control.

The manufacturer recommends a break-in period and states that the sound will get warmer over a period of several months but I was taken in by them from the moment I turned my receiver on.

I tested the speakers with a variety of music sources ranging from Internet radio stations such as Radio Swiss Classic, CDs, and MP3s that I ripped from my CDs.  My reference recordings include the Vienna Philharmonic playing the Radetzky March (Johann Strauß senior) at the 1991 New Year’s Day concert conducted by Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, the Eroica, and Dire Straits’ Walk of Life from the Brothers in Arms album.

The tiny speakers handled the various tracks with great aplomb.  Jazz passages on the piano placed the pianist within my living room.  The orchestral selections momentarily shifted me to the Musikverein in Vienna.  The sound was so open and alive that I tended to forget how small the Orbs speakers really were.  Every track I could find was clean, detailed, and delivered without any noticeable distortion.

In short, the Orbs are one of the best-sounding speaker systems I’ve heard in a long time.

Orb Audio offers a 30-day trial period (although I doubt the company gets many returns) and a five-year warranty (except for the subwoofer amp, which has a one-year warranty).

$698. www.orbaudio.com

–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.

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