The mStation Orb is a very intriguing looking iPod Speaker System. The spherical design stands out just about anywhere you put it, and the size of the unit makes it an instant eye catcher when you walk into a room. It comes in a variety of glossy colors – black, white, silver, blue, green, pink, or limited-edition red – with a fabric speaker shield to match. If you don’t have an iPod attached to the mStation, it is very likely that, at first glance, friends, family and co-workers might not know what it even is.
From a design point, I was impressed immediately – the real question is…how does it sound?
The Orb is a 2.1 Stereo sound system with a dedicated sub-woofer, driven (along with 2 two inch speakers) by a 30 watt amplifier. It features standard on-board controls (On/Off, Volume Down, Volume Up, Back, Forward, and Play/Pause), and a 10 key remote.
On the back of the device you’ll find a row of ports including an A/C port, a 1/8-inch stereo input jack for connecting another audio source, a USB 2.0 port, and (surprisingly) a FireWire 400 port. For people with older iPods the FireWire port will be a very welcome addition, as it is very rare to see them included on modern iPod Dock/Speaker Systems.
The system also comes with a variety of inserts to match your iPod, but the one I like the most is the dust cover. If you’re not using an iPod in your orb, you can close the the dock connector off, completing the round shape of the device. This is very useful for those of you that might want to use the Orb for your iPhone, but don’t want to connect it through the Dock because of compatibility issues. You can easily plug the provided audio cable into the iPhone dock that came with your iPhone, then into the Orb – and you have a nice looking iPhone audio system ready to go.
The unit features Treble and Bass control on the remote, which is a feature that is sorely lacking from most iPod Speaker System in this price range – and that’s a big plus for me. However, the remote itself is somewhat lacking. It’s very light, but very wide. The width of the remote is almost the exact same width of an iPhone, which in my opinion is just too big for a stereo remote for a system with this feature set. It’s clunky and awkward in the hand.
Remote complaints aside, the Orb sounds wonderful. The device has a full, rich sound that manages to fill every room I’ve put it in completely. The Treble and Bass controls allow you to have much more control over the sound quality, and the system can handle everything from the thumping beats of hip-hop to the banjo strumming of Bluegrass with ease.
The Bottom Line
I’ve looked at at least a dozen iPod Speaker systems in this $100 – $150 price range so far this year. I can say, without hesitation, that the mStation Orb is the best iPod Speaker System I’ve heard in this price range so far. It is priced at $129, and is available from a variety of outlets including the mStation official site.
Rating: 4 out of 5