They are small, round, and quite beautiful. But turn them on, and everything about them is big: a big, beautiful sound usually reserved for much larger speakers. A big change aesthetically over those clunky old behemoths of sound. A big difference in the way they’re made. And a big improvement over speakers costing 2 to 3 times their price.
Meet Orb, the line of handmade, highly affordable and décor-friendly audio products expanded and launched today by Orb Audio.
“We are more ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ as a product line than almost anyone else in the audio industry,” said Ethan Siegel, co-founder and CEO of Orb Audio. “This is very important to us, and it is made possible by our internet-only, direct-to-consumer business model that cuts out the wholesaler, the retailer, and the resulting markups in between. Our big advantage is that we spend more money than our peers on custom, advanced components, and then we combine that with a labor-intensive manufacturing and finishing process that yields a better sounding, better looking speaker that also happens to cost less. This is what sets us apart from most of the other systems out there.”
The heart of the Orb speaker system is the spherical Mod1 satellite speaker, which is a little bigger than a baseball and is made from high carbon steel. The Mod1 uses advanced technologies like rare earth magnets, Santoprene, Nomex and CCAD voice coils to produce big, full sound from the smallest possible package. “Using ultra-high quality parts, and using them conservatively, really allows us to push the limits of physics so that these little speakers have a lot of the characteristics of much bigger speakers,” said Siegel. “My partner (co-founder and Chief Designer, Gary Pelled) really pulled the rabbit out of the hat on this one.”
All that great sound emanates from beautiful steel cabinets that are designed with both sound and style in mind – the Orbs will sound great and look great in the living room. The Orbs are handmade by metalwork artisans and hand-assembled in the company’s Sherman Oaks California production facility. The speakers are round and measure only about 4 3/16 inches in diameter, so they fit anywhere. With five finishes available, they are sure to blend with any décor. The Metallic Black Gloss and Pearl White Gloss are both luxurious, premium baked-on powder coatings that rival the beauty of the finish of the most upscale automobile. The MetallumTM Series consists of three handmade metallic finishes, created by California artisans in very small batches: Hand-Polished Steel, Hand-Antiqued Copper and Hand-Antiqued Bronze. These finishes achieve a level of detail and beauty more commonly found in sculptures than in audio equipment, so consumers can fill their room with sound, not big, ugly speaker boxes.
Best of all, an Orb Audio speaker system is modular and upgradable, which is another completely unique feature. Each Orb speaker in an audio system can actually be made from one, two or four individual Orbs (Mod1, Mod2 and Mod4). A buyer who starts with the Mod1 system can upgrade to Mod2 or Mod4 at any time in the future, going from the entry level Orb system to the top of the line, as their needs or budget require. Other speaker systems have to be completely replaced if you want to upgrade them.
Orb also sells separately a choice of two high-quality, very compact subwoofers, the Super Eight and the Uber Ten, that again surpass the performance and sound of units many times their size and price. If a buyer needs a complete system, Orb obliges with a variety of choices and combinations of receivers and DVD players. Orb’s most popular system is the their Mod1 Plus Home Theater System, which includes 5 speakers, the Super Eight subwoofer, a handmade stainless steel speaker stand and all of the wires and cables needed to set up the system.
All for $999.
“We do things very differently than your typical consumer electronics company,” said Pelled. “Almost every part that we can feasibly make in this country is made here. With most other companies, it’s all done overseas. With Orb, we are designing this stuff ourselves, putting it together ourselves, and supporting almost 100 artists and vendors in California and elsewhere in the U.S. When you export your production, not only do you lose quality control, but you lose the benefit of the discoveries and inventions that come with daily problem solving. On top of that, style and design are the first things to go in mass produced audio systems. By keeping it as local as possible, we can still pay attention to all of these things…we can use expertly finished steel instead of plastic or fake wood, for example. So, it’s not just about great sound, it’s also about how our speakers look in your room, and the level of attention we are able to pay to every speaker that goes out of our door. But we couldn’t do any of this, since it costs quite a bit more, if we did not have our direct business model cutting out the enormous markups that plague the audio industry. Our average customer saves over $1,000 in markups, and they receive a speaker system that is superior in many ways to the more expensive, mass produced systems. That is really the key to our success, and our speakers make us proud. We are so confident that people will love them, that we offer a 30-day home trial with a “no questions asked” return policy. It is very easy to give Orb a try and people have embraced the idea from day one.”
Customer service also makes this company with the little speakers a big winner in people’s minds. “In retail, customer service in electronics is pretty much dead,” said Siegel. “But with Orb, you can look up the reviews online and see how our stuff is sent quickly and packaged really well. You will also see how we’ll gladly spend hours on the phone helping our clients set up their system, including parts of the system they didn’t even buy from Orb, like a TV. If you email us, you’ll most likely get a response within a few minutes. And if you call us, it’s not unusual for one of our executives, or one of our engineers or speaker designers, to answer the phone and help you. People might think that a store can provide better service than an online company, but we are proving that is not true. With Orb, you’ll always be talking to someone who’s very knowledgeable and who has the power to help you with anything you need. It’s all a matter of exceeding expectations, no matter how high, and we apply that belief to our service as well as to the quality of our speakers.”
Orb Audio products are priced starting at $239 for a Quick Pack of two satellite speakers, which of course can be upgraded to any complete Orb system in the future. More information about Orb Audio products, pricing and purchasing can be found at www.orbaudio.com, and at 877-ORB-AUDIO (877-672-2834).
About Orb Audio
Orb Audio is committed to being different. From the beginning in 2002, it has been our intention to deliver speaker systems with the finest quality components, an attractive, upscale design and an affordable price. The only way to accomplish all of this was to be different from the other players in the industry, make our speakers in the United States, and to sell them to our clients directly to avoid substantial (and totally unnecessary) markups. Our satellites are manufactured in the United States by craftspeople with years of experience in electronics assembly. We do not have to take mass market considerations into our design, so we can design our speakers for one thing — performance.