Lifestyle products are all the rage nowadays, offering a level of performance and sleek design consumers have been waiting for. However, not all lifestyle products, especially loudspeakers, are equal. Bang & Olufsen is a total lifestyle oriented brand yet their prices are astronomical. Bose isn't any better, though one could argue they started the trend. There are cheaper products; seemingly every mass-market manufacturer makes a small speaker and or satellite subwoofer combo, but they don't sound much better than the box they're shipped in. What's a budget conscious music and movie enthusiast looking for a high performance yet stylish loudspeaker to do?
Have a look at Orb Audio. Orb Audio makes high performance lifestyle oriented speakers for just about every budget and sells them direct to the consumer via their website. While Orb Audio's speakers may appear lifestyle oriented, their performance and round shape set them apart from most of the competition - including the few other "round" speakers in the market today. Don't look past Orb's slick design and think that they are all sizzle and no bacon. These are some real speakers with audiophile grade chops.
The Classic One is Orb's entry-level stereo system retailing for a modest $549. The Classic One system consists of two Mod1 satellite speakers and an eight-inch long throw powered subwoofer. The Mod1s come in a variety of finishes, metallic black gloss, pearl white gloss, hand polished steel ($60 up charge), antique copper ($60 up charge) and antique bronze ($60 up charge). Unfortunately the Super Eight subwoofer isn't as attractive as its Mod1 counterpart, clad in all black with a dark grey grill cloth covering its forward firing eight-inch driver. The Super Eight is small, roughly 12 inches square, and can be hidden relatively easily. However, for best results, lifestyle or not, proper sub placement is going to be key in getting the best full range sound out of the Classic One system.
Getting back to the Mod1 speakers for a moment, they're roughly the size of a softball at approximately five inches in diameter and weigh a diminutive 17 ounces. The Mod1s can be mounted on a tabletop via their included desk/table stand. If you want to wall mount the Mod1s, that is easily achieved via Orb Audio's Stud Zero or Stud Thirty wall mounts, which retail for $12.50. You can also floor mount the Mod1s via Orb Audio's HOSS and TOSS floor stands which retail for $318 and $218 respectively.
The Mod1 is a magnetically shielded, full-range satellite loudspeaker that features no crossover or separate drivers of any kind, just a single three inch polypropylene cone housed in a round metal enclosure. The Mod1 has a reported frequency response of 80Hz to 20kHz. The Mod1 can be driven by virtually any receiver, integrated or separates based system, thanks in part to its 89dB efficiency and eight Ohm nominal load.
On the bass side of things the Super Eight subwoofer is a ported, bass reflex design featuring a long-throw eight inch driver powered by a high-powered BASH digital hybrid amplifier churning out 200 Watts continuous and 450 Watts peak. It has a reported frequency response of 28-180hz and features an adjustable crossover from 40-160hz. The Super Eight features an adjustable phase control (0-180), and adjustable crossover control, RCA style inputs and outputs, a 12dB/Octave hi-pass circuit and an auto/on/off power switch.
Continue reading about the Classic One on Page 2.
In terms of sound the Classic One system, on whole, is big fun. The
single driver Mod1s possess a coherence that is addictive, making
vocals and/or movie dialog about as natural as it gets this side of
$2,000. The high frequency response is solid without sounding overly
accentuated or artificial, though it can't quite hit the highest
extremes nor does it possess all the top end air you'd get from having
a high quality, dedicated tweeter. The Mod1s don't have a great deal of
bass to speak of; however they do have a very robust and refined lower
midrange that reaches down just far enough to mate pretty seamlessly
with the Super Eight subwoofer. In terms of the Super Eight, it's not a
barn burner in terms of being able to fully energize a room but it does
round out the Mod1s sound, allowing the system to sound more like two,
high-quality floor standing speakers than a satellite subwoofer combo.
If you want a bit more slam and weight I would recommend using two
Super Eight subwoofer or upgrading to Orb Audio's Uber Ten subwoofer,
which is a $299 up charge. From a dynamic perspective the Classic One
system is surprising, capable of very high levels of output without
sounding strained, edgy or becoming fatiguing. In terms of soundstage
the Classic One is phenomenal, casting a very broad yet nicely detailed
soundstage that seems to go back just a touch more than it does side to
side. Seriously, for a $549 complete stereo system the Classic One is a
very solid performer and a stylish solution for those wanting to enjoy
their music and movies without necessarily being aware of the speakers.
• The Classic One system is beautifully constructed, especially the
Mod1 satellite speakers, and are assembled right here in the U-S-of-A.
The entire system's ability to be virtually invisible means no more
sacrificing valuable floor and or shelf space in order to enjoy your
music and or movie collection. Because of their diminutive size the
Mod1s can be treated like monitors or on-wall speakers with little
• I like that the Classic One system can be easily upgraded or added to
over time or as your tastes and needs change. If you wish to turn your
Classic One system into a 5.1 home theater you can easily purchase
three more Mod1 speakers or use your current Mod1s for the rear
channels and add three Mod2s across the front.
• All Orb Audio products are designed and assembled in the USA and come with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee.
• The Mod1's coherence across its entire frequency spectrum is a real
treat and allows for music, especially vocals, to sound very natural
• The Mod1's high frequency performance is solid and non-fatiguing
making it an ideal speaker for a wider variety of music. It's somewhat
forgiving of poorly recorded music and or downloaded music files as
• The Super Eight subwoofer mates nicely with the Mod1 and, like the Mod1, is small enough to be placed out of view.
• For true full-range performance for those lower octaves or for more
slam and bass output the Super Eight sub isn't going to hack it if you
have a medium to large room. If your room is a bit larger or you like a
bit more "meat" on your musical bones, you're going to want to step up
to the Uber Ten subwoofer or at the very least add a second Super
• The Mod1's binding posts are small and can really only accept bare
speaker wire. Orb Audio recommends and sells bulk 16 gauge wire to be
used with all of their speakers.
The Classic One speaker system from Orb Audio is a home run in my book
and a true triple threat: affordable, stylish and great sounding. The
Mod1s are easily integrated into virtually any living environment while
the Super Eight sub is compact enough to be hidden from view. Both
scored high marks from everyone I showed them off to, especially women.
There are a lot of so-called lifestyle speakers out there, but most are
either overpriced or sound like pure and utter crap. The Classic One
system is neither of these things, it is supremely affordable, looks
great and sounds even better.