With today's economy in such dire straits consumers and home theater enthusiasts are having to prioritize how best to spend their hard earned money towards luxury goods like home theaters and flat panel displays. This fact hasn't been lost on most of the large AV manufacturers as we've seen prices fall dramatically in the past two years on items such as HDTVs, receivers and Blu-ray players. This is all well and good; however few speaker manufacturers have thought to follow suit. In the past year I've noticed more loudspeaker companies raising their prices versus slashing them, and if they do have a true affordable solution it's often not very good. So, what's a consumer or enthusiast to do? What speakers do they mate with their new HDTV? Many have said "screw it" and have invested in soundbars, which I can completely understand, while others have had to make sacrifices and either go without or purchase a home theater in a box solution, which I can say without hesitation is almost always a bad decision.
Knowing this and knowing that some of you may find yourselves in this very dilemma right now, I would like to bring another option to your attention: the Orb Audio Mod1 Home Theater Speaker System. Retailing for $798 direct from Orb Audio's website, the Mod1 system is a full 5.1 speaker package consisting of five Mod1 satellite speakers and a single Super Eight subwoofer.
The Mod1 speakers are spherical in shape and very small, roughly five inches in diameter, and come in a variety of décor friendly finishes such as metallic white, metallic black, hand polished steel, copper and antique. The hand polished steel, copper and antique finishes do carry an up charge of $150 bringing the total system price, should you want one of the before mentioned finishes, to $948. Beyond the Mod1's beautiful finish, the softball sized speakers come ready to be mounted on a table or shelf but can also be mounted to the wall or ceiling via a simple bracket (sold separately), which you can also purchase from Orb Audio for $12.50 per speaker. The Mod1s can even be mounted on a floor stand of which Orb Audio offers solutions including the HOSS and TOSS floor stands which retail for $318 and $218 a pair respectively.
The Mod1 itself is a single driver loudspeaker featuring a magnetically shielded three-inch full range driver. The Mod1 has no crossovers of any kind and has a reported frequency response of 80Hz-20,000Hz and an 89dB efficiency into a stable eight Ohm load. The Mod1s can be driven beautifully by any modern home theater receiver with 50 Watts per channel on tap or more. Rounding out the Mod1's lower register is the Super Eight subwoofer, which features a long-throw eight inch driver powered by a 200 Watt BASH digital hybrid amplifier. The Super Eight has a reported frequency response of 28-180Hz with an adjustable crossover covering a range of 40-160hz. All the usual suspects in terms of control and connection options are present on the Super Eight minus balanced inputs and outputs, otherwise it's a rather full featured yet compact sub.
In terms of sound the Mod1 system is something else - the sound it produces defies its diminutive size. The coherence across the midrange and treble is unlike anything you're going to hear for less than a grand and perhaps more. The Super Eight does a good job of rounding out the Mod1's performance and mates well with the Mod1's sound; however I wouldn't call it a subwoofer but more of a bass module, for if you want earth shattering bass you're going to want to add a second sub or perhaps step up to the Uber Ten. That being said, those of you with modest sized rooms should be fine with a single Super Eight sub. The entire system is so compact and easy to "hide" that the Mod1 system almost feels like an in-wall speaker system versus a true satellite / subwoofer combo. Either way the Mod1 system is capable of musical and cinematic feats no sound bar can touch or home theater in a box can touch for a price that isn't far from what either of those two alternatives are going for.
Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing Orb's Mod1 speaker system against other systems, please read our reviews for the Aperion Intimus 5T-DB Hybrid HD 5.1 speaker system and the Boston Acoustics Classic CS 2310 5.1 speaker system. You can also find more information in our Floorstanding Speaker section and our Bookshelf Speaker section.
• The Mod1 system scores high in the wife acceptance arena with its
small stature but big sound, not to mention good value for the money.
• All Orb Audio products are designed and assembled in the USA and come with a 30 day satisfaction guarantee.
• The Mod1 speakers themselves have a beautiful coherence that is
perfect for much of today's modern music and movie soundtracks. The
dialog track of any film shines with the Mod1 speakers.
• The Super Eight sub mates well with the Mod1 satellites and is compact
enough to be "hidden" in most installations, though I would treat it
more like a bass module and less like a subwoofer.
• In terms of overall enjoyment the Mod1 system is just plain fun. It's
practical, affordable, looks great and is simply more engaging than
anything a soundbar or home theater in a box can hope to recreate. It
competes with satellite subwoofer systems costing twice as much.
• The Mod1's binding posts, while stylish, are a bit cumbersome to deal
with and accept only bare wire. Orb Audio recommends and also sells bulk
16-gauge wire to be used with their speakers at little cost to you.
• There is only so much air a small speaker like the Mod1 can move and
while the system can play loud, loud enough for most tastes I'm sure, if
you push them too hard they will compress and distort. Keep the volume
within reason and you should be just fine. Those of you who have larger
rooms may want to step up to Orb Audio's Mod2 line of products.
For well under a grand, $798 to be exact, the Mod1 Home Theater Speaker
System from Orb Audio is a value leader in the truest sense of the word.
The Mod1's single driver design multiplied by five matching speakers
makes for a surround sound experience that is hard to fault and beat at
this price point. The bass performance of the Super Eight subwoofer is
respectable and mates nicely with the Mod1 satellites. However if you
want a little more punch you're going to have to spend a little bit
more. Regardless of how you integrate the Mod1 system into your home
it's one of those rare systems that does all the necessary things right
at a price you'll find hard to believe after you've watched a few DVDs