orbaudio-mod2-home-theaterIn the realm of home audio,finding speakers that look good and sound good is a rare event. Err, allow me to rephrase that –  “Ahem, finding speakers that sound good and have looks that are wifey/girlfriend approved is rare.” Granted that’s not for lack of trying on the part of manufacturers.

…this set should definitely be on your short list of mid-range home theater speakers systems to buy…

On the contrary, every major electronics brand with a horse in the home audio race has developed something in an attempt to solve this conundrum. Typically small and modern looking, these “lifestyle” systems are definitely a far cry from the bulky monolithic towers and monitors associated with higher-end, audiophile grade gear. However, their svelte and stylish exteriors often come at the cost of good sound quality. One company that bucks this trend is Orb Audio. Despite lacking the name brand recognition of other home audio titans such as Klipsch, Cambridge Sound Works, or Definitive Technology, our month long trial of the Mod 2 system proved that the company is a worthy competitor.

orb-audio-mod2The set, consisting of five Mod2 satellites (each comprised of 2, 4-inch orb speakers stacked vertically) and their acoustically matched super 8 super woofer, proved to be a stylish addition to our lab’s home theater straight out of the box. Their design blended perfectly with our interior decor and gave off an air of expense, which belied their actual price tag.

Sound wise, after calibration, the system created a remarkably seamless and even listening field ideal for movies. During our screening of The Dark Knight on Blu-Ray, each satellite acoustically “disappeared” into the room’s interior, making panning and rear channel effects all the more startling. Thanks to the low frequency oomph provided by the small but mighty super 8 subwoofer, explosions and crashes were also punchy and crisp, not to mention far less fatiguing than boomier larger woofers we’ve tested in the past. Trials conducted by Anthony and Eric on Call of Duty 5 yielded similar results.

orbaudio-mod2-home-theater-speaker

Musically, our copy of the Marvin Gaye Collection on Super Audio CD also shined. The sound of “Ain’t that Peculiar” across the tiny Orbs surprised us, as it filled our medium-sized room with ease. Based on how the included high-power neodymium magnets and advanced high excursion drivers handled acoustic guitar in stride with electric bass, synth, and vocals, it was easy to hear that the Orbs are far more than a one act show.

orbaudio-mod2-home-theater-copper-speakerIn terms of faults, I will say that the satellites’ gold binding posts were incompatible with banana plugs and somewhat small, which made inserting our Belkin speaker wiring a bit tedious. However, in light of the system’s overall performance, this is only a small quibble.

Bottom Line: Considering its price tag of $1,289 and availability in a variety of finishes, this set should definitely be on your short list of mid-range home theater speakers systems to buy. All the more so, if style and looks are a major concern. Also, if you can’t swing spending all that money upfront, the system’s modular nature allows for easy upgrades in the future, as your needs change or your budget allows.

Cost: $1289