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Once you move beyond simple computer speakers and speaker docks, audio equipment can quickly get extremely complicated, not to mention expensive. Orb Audio’s line of modular products aims to bring audiophile-quality components at relatively affordable prices. And best of all, you can start with a small desktop system, then later expand into a full home theater setup using your existing speakers.
Orb’s Mod1 speakers are handmade, and include small desk stands, making them great computer speakers. Our review package included the Booster mini amplifier, which is small enough to fit on a desktop, but can handle up to four separate audio sources--two RCA inputs and two 3.5mm stereo mini inputs. The included remote handles volume adjustments and muting, as well as switching between the four available inputs. Those controls are also echoed on the Booster’s front panel, in addition to an LED volume meter.
The Orb’s sound quality is impressive, especially when you consider their size and small footprint. The 3-inch drivers produce clean audio, and the round steel enclosures look great alongside a Mac or iOS device. Of course, at such a small size, you can’t expect much bass from the Mod1, but the Booster amp features a subwoofer output to help with the lower frequencies. (Orb’s Super Eight sub is $399, and the Uber Ten is $699, or you can use one you already have.)
We tested the Orb speakers with diverse content, both local and streaming, in a variety of formats and bit rates, and were pleased with the reproduction. The amp is more than capable for desktop use. At about 20 percent volume, the pair of Mod1 speakers were perfect for listening to iTunes while we worked at our Mac, or for background music. At about 60 percent, the Orbs were loud enough for an apartment-sized dance party. Thankfully, quality was fairly consistent across the volume spectrum, although there was slight distortion as we cranked the amp to its top end--which is admittedly louder than you’d want, anyway.
The bottom line. Orb’s speakers offer great sound and quality construction. They make a great Mac or iOS companion, and we love the flexibility to build up to a beefier setup down the road.
Booster & Speaker Package
Audio source, AC outlet
Clean design. Good audio quality. Modular & expandable. Available in basic black or five other color/finish options.
Bass reproduction is weak without adding a subwoofer. You have to bend stands to direct speakers where you want.