We recently had the opportunity to test the Orb Audio Booster, consisting of two orb-like speakers and a clarity amplifier used to diminish background noise and refine dialogue.
The Good: Speakers are small and streamlined, yet still sound great.
The Bad: Slightly difficult setup, and lots of wires.
The Sound Worthy: The EZ Voice activation button lives up to its hype by significantly clarifying dialogue by lifting it above other background sounds.
For the most part setup was easy.
The following is the pictorial instructions provided, and you can see it’s pretty straight forward.
I had two issues.
We spoke with Orb Audio and they had this to say, “if you are having trouble with [the] audio output over the optical cable make sure the digital audio output defaults to PCM/Stereo. Most brands do this, but some might be set to Dolby Digital 5.1, which might need to be changed.”
I was testing this on a laptop that uses a 40″ television as the monitor and didn’t want to bother with the settings, so instead just opted to use the 3.5mm input instead.
The second issue I had was the wire connections. The connections themselves are simple, but if you notice in the instructions there are supposed to be silver dashes along the red (+) wire, and there weren’t any (at least none that I could see). Not a big deal, just a matter of tracing the red (+) that plugs into the booster back to the speaker.
One last thing I should mention is the number of wires.
The picture below is just a testing setup, so it wouldn’t look like this in its final configuration (i.e. I would hide the wires under the desk or behind the monitor and use cable ties for the extra wire lenght), but it does give you a basic idea of what you’re dealing with.
I found out after the review that there is an option for a Bluetooth adapter, which (if I understand correctly) makes the speakers wireless. Assuming there’s no delayed streaming issues, then this would be a must for me.
So how do the orb speakers actually sound? Does the EZ Voice (enhanced dialogue) actually work?
Let’s tackle general sound first. We didn’t have a subwoofer (there’s also an option to add one by the way), so we were really working with mids/highs. Overall they sounded good, probably slightly above average. No static or tinny sounds, good quality.
Then there’s the EZ Voice tech, which according to Orb “enhances dialogue and brings it forward, closer to you in the room. Crisp, clear, detailed, easy.” This is the game changing feature for me, and ideally I think everyone should have some type of clarifying soundbar or sound system if possible.
I was watching NBA halftime on TNT because I wanted to hear a lot of dialogue to really test this feature. It’s a simple button click on the remote and instantly background noises go away (not entirely, but significantly). Sometimes Shaq or Charles Barkely are difficult to understand because they have very deep/low voices, but Orb made it crystal clear.
In my opinion this is the reason you’re buying the Orb Booster, for the EZ Voice more than the speakers.
If you watch a lot of TV, especially something you’re paying attention to rather than just having on in the background, then clarity is key.
The absolute last thing you want to do is continually crank the volume up until it’s clear. You’ll end up like my in-laws shouting at each other on the same couch because they can’t hear over the television. And then you’ll end up at the audiologist with a pair of new hearing aids.
Orb Audio has been generous to offer the Everyday Hearing readers a special discount code. Simply use “Everyday20” for $20 off when you buy it from here: https://www.orbaudio.com/products/booster-basic-soundbar.
Note: There is a field at checkout for discount codes. Limit one per customer.