The subject of today's review, the Orb Audio Complete Mini sound system, includes a pair of the spherical Mod1X satellite speakers, the subONE powered subwoofer, and Orb Audio's new Mini-T v3 amplifier. The whole system costs $649. Optional finishes or cables are available, as are smaller and larger subwoofer options. The base package costs $549 and features the smaller subMINI subwoofer.
The Mod1X is Orb's satellite speaker and is a softball-sized speaker with a single driver. (Check out our feature review of the Orb Audio 10th-Anniversary People's Choice Speaker System for more on this speaker.) The spherical cabinet is metal, with six different finish options available. My sample was finished in Hand Polished Steel, which is an attractive silver-gray brushed metal. The review samples came with the standard table mount, which adjusts via a simple screw that locks the speaker in place. Floor stands and other mounts are available depending on your placement needs.
Given the Mod1X's diminutive size, its bass capabilities are extremely limited, which is why this system includes the subONE subwoofer, which features a 200-watt amplifier driving an eight-inch cone driver in a cabinet that measures about one cubic foot. The back of the cabinet has a two-position phase switch, adjustable crossover and volume, a wireless receiver input, and auto-on controls. Orb Audio recommends setting the crossover point in the 100- to 120-Hz range, but I found that moving it up toward 140 Hz provided the smoothest transition between the satellites and subwoofer.
The final component in the system is the Mini-T v3--a small, 20-watt-per-channel integrated amplifier. The Mini-T measures about four inches square and one inch high, with rounded sides that give the faceplate an oval shape. The aluminum cabinet has a volume-control knob and input-selector button on the front. The back has two 3.5mm inputs, a subwoofer output, and a 5v USB output to connect either a Bluetooth or wireless subwoofer adapter. The speaker connectors are micro connectors similar to those on my Niles distribution block. The Mini-T does not come with a remote control.
I connected the system with cables supplied by Orb and offered as a low-cost option when ordering the system. The cables appeared to be well made. The speaker cables came with the proper micro-connectors on one end and tinned lead on the other, which easily fit into the spring-loaded connectors on the back of the Mod1Xs. The connectors felt a bit flimsy but have worked well thus far, even holding the cables in place when I've moved the speakers around.
I used my iPhone 5S as the source for all listening, streaming content over Bluetooth. Music was either from lossless files stored on my phone or from Tidal HiFi, a full-resolution streaming service. I streamed Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve" from the City of Angels soundtrack (Reprise, AIFF file from CD) when I was setting up the system. Getting the bass perfectly balanced with the right amount of detail and weight took a little effort but wasn't too hard. The subwoofer ended up being a tiny bit slow compared with the mids and highs of the satellites, but I was able to get a relatively smooth transition between the satellites and the subwoofer with some experimentation. Gabriel's voice was slightly thin in the lower regions when I had the subwoofer's crossover set around 120 Hz; moving the crossover point up to 140 Hz smoothed this out nicely.
After getting the system dialed in, I listened to a wide variety of tracks from the Tidal HiFi streaming service, which streams music at 16-bit/44.1-kHz resolution (same as CD) and sounds a lot better than highly compressed MP3s. Listening to "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors from Oh What a Life, I found the presentation of the guitars to be strong, with a smoother transition to the subwoofers than I heard with "I Grieve." Hozier's "Take Me to Church" from the album Hozier (Columbia, AIFF file from CD) presented well-formed, solid vocals in the front center of the soundstage, with the drums slightly less distinct and farther back in the soundstage.
• The Orb Audio Complete Mini system packs a lot of performance in a system that is diminutive in both size and price.
• The system is well made and comes with a money-back guarantee to allow for easy in-home auditions.
• The critical midrange frequencies are coherent and enable the Orb system to reproduce natural-sounding vocals.
• The Orb system is scalable, allowing the addition of other Mod1X satellites and subwoofers to expand the system as needed.
• Orb Audio is well-known for excellent customer support for their products, as well as other brands that they sell on their site.
• The integration between the Mod1X satellites and subONE subwoofer can take a little work to get perfectly blended.
• Not having a remote is no problem if you can control the sound from your source device, such as an iPhone via Bluetooth; however, it can be annoying if you are using a hardwired source and need to keep getting up to adjust the volume.
Comparison and Competition
The Cambridge Audio Minx speaker system is also available in various prices and configurations. The Boston Acoustics SoundWare XS 2.1 retails at $399, which is $150 less than the base Orb Audio package, but you would still need to add an integrated amplifier get an operable system.
The Orb Audio Complete Mini system provides a very good-sounding system in a small and stylish package. I spent an afternoon listening to songs from Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, and other bands streamed from Tidal's HiFi streaming service. While the Orb system could not reach the levels of clarity and dynamics of my full-sized reference systems, my listening enjoyment was in no way diminished. This system easily fits in many places and budgets, and I can easily recommend it.