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Orb Audio Complete Home Theater System review: A pint-sized, upgradeable music and home-theater marvel

Theo Nicolakis | Feb. 1, 2016
Orb Audio’s Complete Home Theater offering is a US$999, 5.1-channel system aimed at people who care more about music and movie soundtrack quality than getting all the most recent audio bells and whistles.

orb speakers denon receiver

Orb Audio has been making unique-looking, spherical speakers since 2003. Orb sells its products exclusively online with a 30-day, no hassle, in-home trial. People must like what they hear because the company claims it gets less than one percent of its shipments back.

Orb Audio’s Complete Home Theater offering is a $999, 5.1-channel system aimed at people who care more about music and movie soundtrack quality than getting all the most recent audio bells and whistles. Orb’s package is also a testament to the company’s drive to make its speakers domestically tolerable. In other words, their diminutive size (you can hold them in the palm of your hand), mounting, and color/finish options enable them to blend into most décors.

What’s in the box

The Orb Audio Complete Home Theater packs five of the company’s Regular Mod1X speakers in your choice of white or metallic-black gloss finishes; Orb Audio’s subMINI Ultra Compact subwoofer; a high-quality subwoofer cable, 100 feet of speaker wire, and a Denon AVR-S510BT 5.1-channel A/V receiver.

Orb speakers and subwoofer 
Orb's spherical satellite speakers are a departure from the typical box; the subwoofer is not. Credit: Orb Audio

Orb’s system approaches surround sound in textbook fashion: Each speaker is exactly the same speaker model, so they’re tonally balanced. This truly ensures that each speaker will sound the same and that the timbre across your entire sound field will match perfectly.

This package emphasizes speakers over electronics. The included Denon AVR-S510BT (available separately for $279) is an entry-level model with five HDMI inputs, three of which (along with the one HDMI out) are certified to support 4K UHD video with HDCP 2.2 copy protection.

The Denon’s network and streaming features are bit disappointing. The receiver supports Denon’s own HEOS Link multi-room audio technology, you can stream music from a mobile device using Bluetooth, or connect a digital media player to its front-panel USB port. But there’s no ethernet or Wi-Fi support, no Apple AirPlay, and no Spotify or other subscription music-streaming services.

denon receiver rear 
The bundled Denon AVR-S510BT is a somewhat plain-Jane model, apart from its support for Denon's HEOS multi-room audio and its three 4K UHD/HDCP 2.2 HDMI inputs.  Credit: Theo Nicolakis

Don’t judge Orb’s speakers by their size

Orb’s speakers measure just 4 and 3/16 inches in diameter, but they weigh about 20 ounces each. The carbon-steel enclosures house a three-inch, full-range aluminum/magnesium driver with a custom voice coil and a neodymium magnet. A standard 1/4-inch thread-mount on the back provides lots of placement flexibility (you can mount them to your walls or ceilings, to an entertainment center, or what have you).

 

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