Orb and iSphere

Orb and iSphere

Have a ball with your iPod.


The typical four-sided speaker is so square. After spending some time with the iSphere and the Orb, we're comin' around to the round. And while the spherical shapes of the Orb and the iSphere may or may not match your home's d├ęcor, the form is excellent for a compact iPod speaker system.


At nearly 25 inches in circumference, the Orb is 2 inches bigger than the bug-eyed iSphere. Both come with a set of dock adapters to fit your particular iPod, but if you grow tired of stripping your iPod from its protective case, you might be able to fit your encased iPod into each device's dock without using an adapter. Both speakers use simple button controls, but the iSphere has controls only for volume while the Orb also includes controls for skipping tracks. The Orb also comes with a handy remote control that has bass and treble adjustment buttons - a welcome touch.


The iSphere and the Orb both have line-in jacks for connecting other audio devices. The Orb also has USB and FireWire 400 ports for connecting to your Mac and syncing your iPod with iTunes. The iSphere lacks such ports and connectivity.


When it came to sound quality, the Orb easily topped the iSphere. The Orb produced warmer, richer tones that gave a better overall impression. The iSphere offered better clarity for midrange tones, but it lacked warmth. Plus, the ability to adjust the Orb's bass and treble improves its midrange sound quality. Both speakers use rear-firing subwoofers, and the Orb's bass had a palpable thump, compared to the iSphere's splatter. The iSphere uses SRS WOW technology to create a 3D listening experience, but it was hard to detect.


The Orb is available in black, blue, green, pink, silver, and white. The iSphere is available in either black or white.


The bottom line:The Orb costs $30 more than the iSphere, but provides a much more well-rounded listening experience.



COMPANY: mStation
CONTACT: www.mstationaudio.com
PRICE: $129.95
Charges docked iPod. Deep bass. Connects to Mac for syncing with iTunes.
Mediocre quality with high-range sounds.





COMPANY: The Sharper Image
CONTACT: www.sharperimage.com
PRICE: $99.95
Charges docked iPod. Midrange tones sound good.
Can't connect to Mac for syncing with iTunes. Audio lacks warmth. No remote.





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