Orb Audio Mod1X Home Theater Speaker System - Review

Orb Audio Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary With A Great Little Speaker System

Orb Audio Mod1X 5.1 Channel Speaker System with SubONE
Orb Audio Mod1X 5.1 Channel Speaker System with SubONE Photo. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Orb Audio is one of a small number loudspeaker companies that departs from traditional "box-style" loudspeaker design by placing their speakers inside spherical enclosures that provide a compact, stylish appearance, and deliver surprisingly good sound. The Orb Audio Mod1X system, released as part of their 10th Anniversary product line, consists of five compact spherically designed speakers for the center, left, right front, and surround channel, complemented by a 200 watt 8-inch powered subwoofer.

Orb Audio Mod1X Product Overview - Center and Satellite Speakers

The heart of the Orb Mod1X home theater speaker system is its Mod1X center and satellite speakers. Here are some of the features and specifications for the Mod1X speaker:

1. 3-inch full-range driver placed in a spherical Acoustic Suspension metal enclosure.

2. Frequency Response: 80 Hz to 20,000Hz (effective response 110Hz-19,000Hz).

3. Sensitivity: 89db

4. Impedance: 8 ohms.

5. Power Handling: 15 to 125 watts

For a more in-depth look and further explanation of the Mod1X speakers provided with the Orb Audio Mod1X home theater speaker system, refer to my Supplementary Mod1X Photo Profile Page.

Orb Audio Mod1X Product Overview - SubONE Powered Subwoofer

Here are some of the specifications for the SubONE subwoofer supplied with the Orb Audio Mod1X review system:

1. Driver: 8-inch driver with 30 oz. ferrite magnet, complemented by downfiring port, bass reflex design.

2. Frequency Response: 28 to 180 Hz

3. Amplifier Type: Digital Hybrid amplifier with a Digital Switching Power Supply.

4. Amplifier Power Output: 200 watts (RMS), 450 Watts (Peak).

5. Phase: Continuously adjustable from 0 to 180 degrees.

6. Crossover Frequency: Continuously adjustable from 40 to 160 Hz

For a more in-depth look at more features and specifications of the SubONE Subwoofer, refer to my Supplementary SubOne Photo Profile Page.

Although the SubOne subwoofer is provided, you do have the option, with extra charge, to order the system with the larger 10-inch 300-watt Orb Audio Uber10 subwoofer.

Additional Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705 and Yamaha RX-V775WA (on review loan).

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 used for comparison (5.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3's, Klipsch C-2 Center, and Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High-Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Software Used

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Audio Performance - Mod1X Satellites

The Mod1X satellite speakers assigned to the center, main, and surround channels projected clean, undistorted, and well-dispersed sound into the room, creating an immersive surround field for movies, and an inclusive sound field for music.

Center channel dialog and vocals were clear and distinct, and both directional and immersive sound effects were reproduced faithfully.

However, although the Mod1X speakers produced a very good, fuller-bodied midrange than their small size would indicate, the fact that there are no tweeters resulted in some special effects transient sounds, and presence information in vocals and musical instruments being little more subdued at times, relative to the performance of the speakers in the comparison systems used in conjunction with this review.

Using the audio tones provided on the Digital Video Essentials test disc, I determined that the Mod1X speaker modules produced, on the lower end, an audible tone starting between 70-75Hz with strong output between 110-120Hz. This provided a good match for the companion SubONE for continuing into the lower frequency range.

In terms of real-world surround performance, the Mod1X system did very well on scenes that I commonly use for testing, such as the first battle scene in Master and Commander, the library scene in Hero, the echo game scene from House of the Flying Daggers, the train wreck scene in Super 8, and intense Robot vs Monster battle scenes in Pacific Rim (definitely a good test disc), as well as the surround content from music sources, such as Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (SACD version), and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (DVD-Audio version).

Audio Performance - SubONE

Using the subwoofer crossover test provided on the THX Calibration Disc and a 120Hz crossover point, the transition between the subwoofer and Mod1X speakers was seamless. with no observable volume dip between sub and speakers. In real world listening, the SubONE provided very good, fairly tight, bass response that complemented both music and movies, without distracting boominess.

Once again, using the Digital Video Essentials Test Disc, I observed that, on the low end, the SubONE produced an audible tone starting at between 30-35Hz, which an effective output beginning at 40Hz.

In real world performance, the SubONE came up a little soft on the bass slide Heart's Magic Man and lacked the punch on Sade's bass heavy Soldier of Love. However, the bass frequencies on both of those tracks are challenging for most subwoofers, and although the SubONE didn't reach far down enough with that extra punch, it delivered good bass presence without overemphasis, or boominess, in the mid-bass range, which is sometimes problematic even on some larger and more expensive subwoofers.

What I Liked

There was a lot to like about the Orb Audio Mod1X Home Theater Speaker Package, including:

1. Great sound for both movie and music content.

2. Good center channel depth, despite small speaker.

3. The Mod1X speakers project a much fuller and broader sound image than you would think, given their smaller size.

4. The SubONE Subwoofer provides very good, relatively tight, bass response especially considering its size.

5. The subwoofer to satellite speaker transition is very smooth - no observable dip in volume when approaching crossover point.

6. The Mod1X satellites can be either mounted on the provided table stands or wall-mounted (mounting hardware optional).

7. Speakers available in a variety of optional colors to match various decors.

What I Didn't Like

1. No tweeters - This results in some subtlety on extremely high frequencies.

2. The SubONE rolls off slightly at the lowest frequencies but is deep and tight enough for its size.

3. The Mod1X satellites are equipped with small push-in connection terminals don't accommodate larger 16 and 14 gauge speaker wire very easily (although Orb states that you can use up to 14 gauge wire).

Final Take

The Orb Audio Mod1X with SubONE system is a great sounding compact speaker system for both movie and music. If you are shopping for a speaker system for a modestly powered setup in a small or medium-size room, you definitely have to give the Mod1X a listen.

Also, before I conclude this review, I also want to make a special note about the SubONE. For added installation convenience, the SubONE can also be made wireless with the purchase of an optional wireless kit that comes with a receiver that can plug into a special port on the back of subwoofer and a transmitter that plugs into the subwoofer output on a home theater receiver.

Taking everything into consideration, Orb Audio Mod1X Home Theater Speaker System is definitely worth considering.

For a visual look and additional perspective on the Orb Audio Mod1X 5.1 channel home theater speaker system, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile

Official Product Page (includes available accessories, upgrade options, pricing, and ordering information)

Also available in a 7.1-channel configuration: Official Mod1X Plus System Product Page

Also, be sure and read my previous review of the Orb Audio People's Choice 5.1 Channel Speaker System.

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