Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Orbs boost desktop audio


Orb Audio's home theater system matches a subwoofer with an array of small spherical speakers that are done up in stylish finishes, like black gloss or antiqued copper. Now Orb has expanded its product line to include package designed for a wider range of devices including computers, gaming consoles, digital audio players and secondary TVs, like the one in a game room or bedroom.

The Orb Booster package starts with a mini amplifier and a pair of Mod 1 speakers for about $400. Upgrade options include Mod2 speakers (double Orbs), a subwoofer (Orb has four models starting at $138) and a variety of speaker finishes, including one called Hammered Earth.

The booster amp is a no-frills black box that's slightly larger than a paperback book. There's an on-off switch, volume buttons, and a small remote, but not much else, like tone or balance controls. 

The amp's best feature is its ability to handle multiple audio sources. The backside has four input jacks, two for standard red-and-white audio cables and two for stereo pin plugs. If you want to connect a TV, a computer, an Xbox and an iPod, the Orb's got you covered.

And the sound? The little globes do their usual job of delivering higher frequencies with clarity and precision. That's welcome help for compressed MP3 music files and the dialog on movie soundtracks. The subwoofer will go to work in the basement on movies and games that have rich bass lines.

I tried the booster with a variety of inputs, including a tablet computer, iPod and a mobile phone and heard significantly better sound than what I get from a sound dock or amplified computer speakers.

The orbs aren't sold in stores, so the company lets you try them out at home for 30 days if you pay the shipping cost. Details are on the Orb website.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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