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Orb Audio Mini-T Amplifier and Speakers Review

on February 15, 2012 11:16 am

I recently reviewed the Booster Mini Amplifier from Orb Audio, and I had ordered a pair of Mod 1 speakers so I could review the amp.  I was very surprised to also receive speakers and a subwoofer with the Booster amp, and I ended up with 2 extra pairs of Orb Audio Mod 1 speakers.  I certainly didn’t want these beautiful little speakers to go to waste, so I decided I’d buy a couple of Orb’s Mini-T amplifiers to use with the “extra” speakers.  The Mini-T is the smallest amp that Orb sells for use with TVs, computers, and iPods.  I’ll be using these small systems in the bedrooms in my house.

Most of the pictures in this review can be clicked for an enlarged view.

Specifications

  • 15W/ch (more than enough power for the Orbs)
  • Distortion:  0.04% THD+N (9W, 4 ohm)
  • Efficiency:  88%  (10W, 8 ohm)
  • Dynamic Range:  102 dB
  • Input:  100V-240V AC 50/60Hz

The Mini-T is a gray, plastic box that measures 6″ wide X 5.5 ” deep X 1.25″ tall.  It’s very lightweight.  The front of the Mini-T has some prominent Orb Audio branding.  There’s only one control on the Mini-T – a large, rheostat-type button that pushes to turn the unit on/off and turns to adjust the volume.  The Mini-T has no remote control.

The back of the Mini-T has only one input.  A 3.5mm audio cable is required to connect your audio source to the Mini-T.  Unlike the Booster, you can’t use standard RCA connectors, you can’t have multiple sources, and there is no subwoofer connection.  They aren’t exactly like the speaker connectors on the Booster, but the Mini-T also uses bare-wire connectors for the speakers.

You’ll notice there are only right and left speaker connectors on the Mini-T amp.  There’s no possibility of surround sound.  You can connect a subwoofer to this amp, though.  Since there is no dedicated subwoofer connector on the Mini-T, you’ll need a subwoofer with hi level in/out speaker wire connectors.  You’ll run speaker wires out from the amp to the hi-level in on the subwoofer, then run more wires from the hi-level out on the subwoofer to the mid-/high-range speakers.  I don’t have a subwoofer for either of my Mini-Ts, though.

The FAQs at Orb say that any 8″ subwoofer will work fine with Orb speakers.  Most 10″ subwoofers should work as long as they have a variable crossover that goes to at least 120.  The beauty of the Orb systems is their modularity.  You can start out small and add to your system as your budget allows.

I was surprised to see battery compartments on the bottom of the Mini-T.  You’ll need four AA batteries for each compartment, but you can operate the Mini-T and speakers off batteries.  The Mini-T and the Orb Mod 1 speakers are small and light enough that you could put them in a bag and take them with you as you go about your day.

I don’t want to risk scratching up my Mod 1 speakers, so I won’t be using this as a portable system.

The only things in the box, other than the amp itself, are an installation brochure and the power supply.  Instead of one of those chunky wall warts that use up too much space on the power strip, the Mini-T has a normal plug  that connects into a power brick.  I like that because space on my power strips is always at a premium.

The speaker connectors don’t use RCA plugs.  Instead, there are + and – connectors for each channel.  You press on the colored tab to open the connector, insert the bare end of the speaker wire, and the connector clamps the wire into place.  To prevent damage to the system, be sure to connect the red connector on the back of the amp to the red post on the speaker.

One thing I found very strange was the placement of the right and left channels on the back of the amp.  Perhaps I’ve been doing it wrong all these years, but I always use my left and right when I place the left and right speakers.  When you look at the amp from the front, the right and left connectors are on the “wrong side”, and I had to cross the speaker wires at the back of the amp when I connected everything.  It doesn’t hurt anything; it just used up a couple of extra inches of speaker wire on each side.

If you read my Booster amp review, you’ll have already seen pictures of the Orb Mod 1 speakers.  These speakers are in the antiqued bronze finish.  They are also available in metallic black, pearl white, hammered earth, antiqued copper, and hand-polished steel.  The black and white have the lowest price; the other finishes are extra cost options.

These posts are for connecting the speaker wires.  The posts are marked with red or black tops.  Depress the post to insert the wire, making sure you are connecting the red from the amp to the red on the speaker and black to black.

Technical Specifications for Mod 1 and Mod 2 Speakers

  • Speaker type: Magnetically shielded full-range satellite speaker.  Crossover-free design for coherent, lifelike sound.
  • Driver: Advanced high-excursion 3″ full range polypropylene driver cone with Santoprene surround.  These materials maintain their sonic characteristics over long periods of time and also through a broad range of temperatures and operating environments.
  • Magnet assembly: Fully shielded, high-density neodymium magnet with proprietary voice coil in high tolerance gap to create strong, highly focused magnetic field.  Compact magnet design allows for maximum free internal volume and extension of low midrange performance.
  • Binding posts: Custom gold-plated brass binding posts (fits up to 14 Ga. wire)
  • Frequency response: 80Hz – 20,000Hz (120Hz-18,000Hz optimal)
  • Efficiency:  89dB
  • Impedance: Mod1:  8 ohms nominal; Mod2:  4 ohms nominal. (Mod2 is compatible with all popular receivers & amps rated at 6-8 ohms)
  • Power handling: 15 – 115W (also compatible with most higher wattage receivers, max. recommended volume setting of about 3/4 will be LOUD!)
  • Speaker dimensions: 4 3/16″ W x 4 3/16″ H x 4 7/8″ D
  • Construction: American carbon steel, assembled in USA
  • Finishes: metallic black, pearl white, hammered earth, polished steel, antiqued bronze, antiqued copper
  • Included accessories: 16 gauge American steel adjustable desk stands (available in black and white)

The backs of the speakers are threaded to attach them to the speaker stands.  Mod 1 speakers come with the standard black (or white) metal stands.  The stands come with a large screw to attach the speaker.  No tools are required for assembly.

The topmost picture shows the Mini-T amp (under the small white and blue lamp) and Mod 1 speakers in my bedroom.  This picture shows the amp (behind the remotes) and the Mod 1 speakers in my teenage daughter’s room.

In Rachel’s room, I have the Mini-T amp plugged into an Apple Airport Express Base Station so she can stream music wirelessly from her iPad.  She doesn’t use the system for her TV sound.

In my bedroom, I have the Mini-T connected directly to the TV.  I prefer to listen to music using the larger Orb setup with subwoofer in the living room.  The TV in my bedroom has wimpy speakers, and the Orb system delivers much better sound.

You’ll notice from the technical specifications for the speakers that their frequency range is 80-20,000Hz.  These speakers are missing a thumping bottom end, but they still sound better than my TV’s speakers.  In the future, I’d like to add a small subwoofer to my bedroom system.  The Orb speakers sound good by themselves, but bass is never a bad thing.

Even though the speakers and the amp are small, I get clear, clean, room-filling sound from the Mini-T setup.  It improves the sound from my TV without taking up a lot of room.  Rachel loves her little system, too.  If she’s good this year, Santa may bring her a small subwoofer for Christmas, but she’s certainly enjoying her music now.  The only thing we both would like is a remote control, because we both have trouble remembering to go over and turn off the amp.

 

Product Information

Price:$69 for Mini-T amp; pair of Mod 1 speakers starts at $239; Mini-T bundled with a pair of Mod 1 speakers starts at $299
Manufacturer:Orb Audio
Pros:
  • Compact and inexpensive
  • Can run on batteries, so it can be a portable system
  • Can add a subwoofer, if desired
  • Powerful enough for bedroom use
  • Designed for computers, TVs, and MP3 players
Cons:
  • No remote
  • Has only one audio input
  • May require a special mini-headphone-to-RCA adapter cable to connect the audio source

Comments

  1. 1
    Rick Meszaros says:

    Very well written and detailed description of the Orb and Mini-T amplifier setup. Thanks for taking the time to illustrate how you set up and use the system.

  2. 2
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @Rick Meszaros Thanks!

  3. 3
    Gerardo says:

    Janet,

    I’ve bought cheap amplifiers before, and all have the same problem: A lot of noise, buzz and pops. Do the Mini-T amp produce any noise? I mean, when you power up the amp and turn the volume up, with no source connected, is it silent? Or a hum is noticeable?

    Thank you for your help.

  4. 4
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @Gerardo With no source connected to the Mini-T and with the sound pegged at maximum, I can hear a faint hum from both speakers if I put my ears up against the speakers.

  5. 5
    Gerardo says:

    Wow! Thank you Janet. For $69 it is incredible… That`s exactly what I`m looking for.

    And it`s just that there`s a lot of receivers from other brands at $200 that have more inputs and better looks than the Booster, but there are less options at $69.

  6. 6
    Janet Cloninger says:

    @Gerardo You’re welcome!

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