Orb Audio People's Choice Home Theater Speaker System Review

Embrace the Orb for your Home Theater

Orb Audio People's Choice Home Theater Speaker System
Orb Audio People's Choice Home Theater Speaker System. Images via Orb Audio

If you are looking for new set of affordable home theater loudspeakers, but don't have a lot of cash, put the Orb Audio People's Choice on your consideration list. In addition to good sound, Orb Audio's approach to loudspeaker design results in flexible configuration options and placement.

The People's Choice system provided for this review consists of five compact spherically designed speakers for the center, left, right front, and surrounds, and 200 watts 8-inch powered subwoofer.

Orb Audio People's Choice Product Overview - Center and Satellite Speakers

The heart of the Orb People's Choice home theater speaker system is its spherically designed speaker modules. Each module consists of a single 3-inch driver placed in a spherical enclosure. The result is a compact speaker module that can be used individually or combined with one or more, additional modules to form different speaker assemblies. The specifications for a single module, referred to as the Orb Mod 1 are:

  • 3-inch full-range driver placed in a spherical Acoustic Suspension metal enclosure.
  • Frequency Response: 80 Hz to 20,000Hz (effective response 120Hz to 18,000Hz).
  • Sensitivity: 89db
  • Impedance: 8 ohms.
  • Power Handling: 15 -115 watts
  • Custom gold-plated brass binding posts (fits up to 14 Ga. wire - not easily, tight fit for even 16 gauge wire)
  • Magnetically shielded for use near video displays or other magnetically-susceptible components.
  • Available in a variety of finishes, including Metallic Black and Pearl White at no extra charge, as well as Hammered Earth, Hand Polished Steel, Hand Antiqued Copper, and Hand Antiqued Bronzed for an extra charge.

In the People's Choice system, the Mod1 is used for the surround channels. In addition, the Left, Center, and Right channels are handled by the Mod 2, which is a speaker that includes two of the Modules that are used in the Mod 1, arranged vertically for Left and Right channel use, and horizontally for center channel use. It is also important to note that in the Mod 2 configurations, the impedance drops to 4 ohms as the modules are connected in parallel.

Orb Audio People's Choice Product Overview - Super Eight Powered Subwoofer

Here is a list of the specifications of the Super Eight Subwoofer that was supplied with the Orb Audio People's Choice review system:

Audio Performance

Although the Orb Audio People's Choice Home Theater Speaker System has a very interesting physical look, it is how a speaker actually sounds that is the most important consideration. That being said, I was generally satisfied with the overall sound quality of the People's Choice system.

The Mod 1 and Mod 2 assigned to the main and surround channels provided clean and undistorted sound that was projected and dispersed well into the room. The sound was also suitably immersive when surround content was prominent. In addition, the Mod 1 and Mod 2's were also precise with regards to direction and location accuracy.

Center channel dialog and vocals, which emphasizes the midrange frequencies, were clear and distinct and were not buried by other sound elements present. The mid-range vocals on Norah Jones' Don't Know Why, Sade's vocals in Soldier of Love, and Dave Matthews/Blue Man Group's Sing-Along were well reproduced.

Surround effects in several movie scenes, including the first battle scene from 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, the Tyrannosaurus breaking out of its enclosure in Jurassic Park, as well as the surround souind content from music sources, such as the SACD of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and the DVD- Audio of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody were all reproduced well, with good detail in the upper midrange down to the bass.

However, although the midrange response, image, and immersion were effective, the fact that the Mod 1 and Mod 2 do not have tweeters revealed itself in the higher frequencies. I found that the highest frequencies, such as transient sounds present in special effects, and presence information in vocals and musical instruments were more subdued, resulting in less sparkle or brightness, in the sound that was more revealed on the comparison speaker systems.

Moving to the lower end of the spectrum, the powered subwoofer was a very good match for the system. With its 8-inch front facing driver and down-firing port, the subwoofer provided very good lower frequency response, and also transitioned well with the rest of the speakers. The bass response was fairly tight and complemented both music and movie tracks appropriately, providing a good bass effect, without unnecessary boominess.

In two tests, the People's Choice Super Eight performed well. When playing Heart's Magic Man, the bass slide was smooth until it reached the bottom when the lowest frequencies flattened and become more subdued. Also, Sade's bass-heavy Soldier of Love did not have quite the impact that I have heard on some other subs. That being said, both the Heart and Sade tracks are challenging low-frequency cuts for any subwoofer and the Super Eight, although not providing as good a result as my Klipsch, did a credible job for its size and class.

In summing up the Super Eight's performance, it doesn't go for the big deep punch, it has a smooth quality that still gives you good bass presence without overemphasis, or boominess, in the mid-bass range.

Pros

  • The was a lot to like about the Orb Audio People's Choice Home Theater Speaker Package, including:
  • Overall system sound is very good with both movie and music content.
  • Center channel provided good midrange response.
  • The speakers assigned to the main and surround configurations, project a much larger sound image that their size would indicate, which is great for surround sound listening.
  • The Super Eight Subwoofer provides good, relatively tight, bass response especially considering its size.
  • Very smooth transition and blending between the Subwoofer and rest of system.
  • All the speakers can be either mounted on the provided table stands, or wall mounted (mounting hardware optional).
  • Speakers available in a variety of optional colors to fit various decors.

Cons

  • No tweeters - resulting in more subtlety on the more extreme high frequencies.
  • The People's Choice Sub rolls off slightly at the lowest frequencies, but more than holds its own with other subs of its size.
  • The speaker terminals are small, making it difficult to use 16 gauge speaker wire (although Orb states that you can use up to 14 gauge wire).
  • The Mod 1 speaker is 8 ohms, while the Mode 2 configuration is 4 ohms, as it is constructed with two Mod 1's connected in parallel. Although Orb Audio states that the Mod 2 4 ohm configuration is compatible with Receivers capable of handling 6 or 8 ohm loads, be aware that playing a 4 ohm speaker on a receiver that is only rated to handle 6 or 8 ohm loads could result in amplifier clipping and shut-off if you are running at excessively high volume for more than short time periods.

The Bottom Line

The Orb Audio People's Choice is a good example of an affordable home theater speaker system that delivers great sound.

The People's Choice does a very good job with both movies and music and although it is more subtle at the highest highs and the lowest lows, for just a few dollars more than many big-box store speaker systems, provides a much more satisfying listening experience.

The Orb Audio People's Choice home theater speaker system is definitely a good value worth consideration. If you are shopping for a compact speaker system for a modestly powered setup in a small or medium-size room, you definitely have to give the People's Choice a listen.

NOTE: Since this review was conducted, Orb Audio has replaced the Super Eight Subwoofer with the 8-inch SubONE (which is shown in the above photo). For more on its specifications and performance, refer to our review of Orb Audio's Mod1X speaker system.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer and returned at the end of the review period.