Review: Orbid Sound Prospero will make its way, I'm pretty sure. Their special appeal ensure that they can stage a large sound pattern.
“Favorite color?” – “Something that pops!” – “We can do it.” Orbid Sound Prospero;
Two weeks after this dialogue it is there, Orbid Sound ‘s latest development, the Prospero: in fire red, beautiful with aluminum decorative rings and the “good shoes”, i.e. aluminum-coated artificial coral feet. Makes a good visual alarm, the small floorstanding speaker.
That’s the nice thing about ordering your loudspeakers from a manufacturer – you can order them according to your own wishes. All RAL colors are available from the Baden-Württemberg company for a small additional charge. Okay, most of them will probably tend towards muted tones like white, black or light gray anyway, but if you want to put something flamboyant in your living room, Orbid won’t put any obstacles in your way.
Concept & Technology
The Orbid Sound Prospero (pair price from 1,780 euros; test sample: 2,210 euros) is only 80 centimeters tall, which can be considered manageable for a floor-standing speaker. The special feature: Despite the low height, it comes along in the bass very “old school” with a 10-incher. Accordingly, nothing has become of the slim-line front, it is 29 centimeters wide, and the Orbid adds another four centimeters in depth.
Their volume of around 50 liters is mainly available for the woofer, a model from the Spanish manufacturer Beyma, from which the tweeters and mid-range drivers are also sourced. The driver has a relatively soft suspended paper cone, which Orbid developer Daniel Beyersdorffer has further modified and fitted with a new, coated dust cap.
Inside the loudspeaker housing, which is made of 19 millimeter thick and supposedly particularly hard MDF boards, there is a separate volume for the midrange driver. Desired side effect of this 2.5 liter chamber: It additionally stabilizes the speaker. Their main purpose is, of course, to protect the 6.5-inch from the “pressure waves” generated by the bass driver. Beyersdorffer has also fitted the midrange driver with a new dust protection cap. As the third member of the group, a ring radiator with aluminum membrane and upstream waveguide orders the treble.
Orbid Sound does not want to answer the question about the exact crossover frequencies of the three-way speaker and instead points out that a “symmetrical crossover layout” is used in the high and low frequencies – the components are arranged on the plus and minus side . Side instead of “one-sided” – and the separation is quite flat. Only Mundorf components are used for the crossover , I find out later.
For the internal wiring, on the other hand, Sommer Cable is trusted, and of course everything inside is soldered. Which is not natural at all, as many manufacturers rely on plug-in connections for production-related reasons, which, to put it politely, is not conducive to the contact quality – especially in the long term. It’s commendable that Orbid Sound does things differently.
Orbid Sound Prospero: sound impression and comparisons
After a proper break-in period, I listen to a couple of albums – and it quickly becomes clear that the basic configuration of the Prospero lies pretty much exactly between the two Orbid models that I recently tested. Yes, that’s right, the Orbid Nandur has an even finer resolution and conveys a deeper spatial impression, and that’s right, the Mini Galaxis V works even more dynamically. But you can put it another way: Orbid’s Prospero kicks more than the Nandur, but it’s not quite as badass as the Mini Galaxy. And what we don’t want to forget: It doesn’t cost half as much as the aforementioned. That’s a good start.
Expectations and experiences
What are the expectations of a loudspeaker from Orbid Sound? Two things come to mind: He will definitely get down to business dynamically and lively – and tonally be on the lean and crisp side. Which in itself fits together quite well, unless you listen to recordings that are a little more sparsely tuned, in which case it can get a bit uncomfortable at times.
The Orbid Prospero does not meet my tonal expectations. Although it is far from being sonorous and comfortable, the powerful bass makes it appear fairly balanced overall and not really slim. In fact, I feel like it even ups an iota in the mid and upper bass range; in the basic tone there is again nothing to be felt. How do I get this idea? Well, a Leonard CohenFor example, she doesn’t sing with a broader chest than she already does – but when I switch to electronica with a lot of action in the basement, I’m amazed at the pressure that the 80 cm speaker conveys. There’s a wink: “Come on, let’s have some fun…” Sure, why not? But at the same time, this power in the mid-bass does not block the view up or down: the mids almost seem clean, and given the size and price range, how deep you can “listen down” to the bass cellar is really, really good.
What doesn’t hurt, however, is if the driving amplifier brings some control with it, because the lower registers are already structured, but rather semi-dry than bone-dry. A great match resulted together with the small amplifier Abacus Ampino 15 – in combination the bass performance appears perfectly balanced: neither too dry-controlled, double basses and the left side of the piano sound credible and not unnecessarily slowed down or even cut, but at the same time controlled enough , so that sub-bass escapades are not acoustically obscured by an all too casual upper bass (e.g. on relevant albums by James Blake, The XX, Massive Attack etc.).
The midrange is nicely balanced, which is due to the straight basic tone, but also because this small emphasis on presence, which Orbid speakers sometimes bring with them, is hardly noticeable with the Prospero. For the acid test, Joanna Newsom (Album: The Milk-Eyed Mender): The voice of the beautiful New Folk harpist is whiny enough per se, with a touch more in the presence it can become too much. But it won’t with the Orbid Prospero. That sounds the way it’s supposed to be – challenging, not torturing. (Okay, some can’t stand Newsom’s childish voice in general, but that’s another topic.). But that doesn’t mean that it’s covered all around. No, above the presence range, i.e. from the middle and up to the highest heights, the Prospero adds an iota. Which is why the high notes of the harp shimmer extra-airy in the room, ditto the treble strings of a piano or the cymbals of a drummer. The Orbid works with a pinch more air, which gives it a very open and – well – airy impression.
So: The new Orbid appears tonally balanced, but has a little more pep in the bass and in the treble. That goes well with the “orbid cliché” number 2, which, in contrast to the tonal cliché, it also fulfills: Dynamically, it really gets down to business. It is already good in terms of fine dynamics, although that is not so surprising in this price range. But the bigger the level jump, it seems, the more it gets going. If Anja Plaschg listen to Soap&Skins “Vater” (Album: Narrow) grabs the keyboard more forcefully in the middle of the piece, I wonder where this pillar actually gets the verve from a loudspeaker with which it beams the drama into the room. Really not bad. In view of the size and concept, the rough dynamics are definitely one of the strengths of this box. But even more important than that seems to me to be the basically very brisk pace with which Prospero conveys music. Everything transient, all impulses affect her very suddenly and directly, she is always on the go. The livelier the music, the better it plays out this talent, of course, you can also use something else for solemn organ works …
All in all, the Prospero starts – as mentioned at the beginning – in the bass and as far as the dynamics are concerned, more boldly than the more expensive Nandur (5,400 euros), but also blessed with “more audiophile” virtues such as resolution, space, fine dynamics. And the Mini Galaxis V (4,800 euros), equipped with a horn and four woofers, is dynamically in another league, logically. But not only optically, also tonally, the Prospero should be more popular than the Galactic, which is suitable for discos.
The Prospero doesn’t go quite as clearly forward as with the Mini Galaxy. But compared to “normal” loudspeakers, this is still an offensive stage presentation, the music dares towards the listener and does not stick reservedly on the baseline – or even behind it. This drive forward supports the dynamic appearance of the small Orbid. I also give her credit for the fact that she can play the music beyond the side walls of the speakers if the recording allows it. It’s a bit like the virtual stage space in which the musicians move is projected forward in the shape of a funnel. If you step on the gas with the volume, the music almost surrounds you. I like this.
A depth gradation can also be experienced – namely from the imaginary front edge of the stage area to about the rear, real edge of the box. Not much going on further away. Mentioned Nandur clearly offers more. And even at the same price, boxes can be found that stagger more deeply. If you invest 2,000 euros in a compact Dynaudio, for example, you will experience something different at the back, the image will also be more precise and edge-sharper – the Prospero is a little softer, more lush here – and the staggering will appear more accurate overall. On the other hand, things are no longer as involved, dynamic and in the bass, compromises have to be made and the Orbid will have more level stability. They are two completely different sound philosophies.
When it comes to resolving power, you have to differentiate – according to frequency ranges.
In the important middle band, the cute Orbid sorts itself neatly into the price range. Voices sound rich in detail, open, but not sharp. Spatially you are close anyway – see above – but otherwise the impression of “closeness” prevails, no veil clouds the view of what is happening. Whereby the tricky tonal tuning may also play a role here. In any case, I noticed that gnarly, brittle voices – such as Cohen, Cash, Lanegan – come across as a tiny bit “extra brittle”, as if the vocal organ was zoomed in very slightly. I suspect that the pinch of more treble is also noticeable here. The good thing about it: This mixture sounds “particularly full of character”, but not harsh. It’s not 100% pure teaching, but it’s quite smart and interestingly balanced.
In the treble, the level of detail is not as high as in the middle register. Do you love the fine silky texture that is characteristic of Dynaudio’s Esotar domes to bring the Danes back into play? Well, the Orbid Prospero doesn’t deliver quite as finely granulated, and it doesn’t come close to well-made, AMT-proven loudspeakers such as those from the Saxx Clubsound series . But you can forgive her, because the highs have the function of supporting an open and lively, impulsive sound pattern – and not counting the grains of rice in the shaker individually on the back left. And even if the analytical competence in this frequency range is not the highest, the Orbid does not bring any artifacts into the sound image.
In the direction of the bass, on the other hand, the resolution gets better and better, and here the circle to what was said at the beginning closes. Deep, contoured and tiered, but not rigid. Decent power, but far from dumb banging – yes, the bass of the Orbid Prospero appeals to me. And that too in terms of quality. For the price league and especially in view of the manageable size of the box, it is a strength.
Conclusion Orbid Sound Prospero
Orbid’s new floorstanding Prospero will make its way, I’m pretty sure. Their special appeal lies in the fact that they can stage a large sound pattern despite their manageable size – at least in rooms that do not significantly exceed 30-35 square meters.
The Orbid, which is just 80 centimeters high, scores with a powerful and information-rich bass, great coarse dynamics paired with a lively, impulsive pace and a stage that opens up to the front, which takes the listener along instead of leaving them untouched on the sofa. In addition, it is tonally quite balanced, if not 100% neutral – and the fact that it does not resolve super-finely in the overtone range is easily forgiven in view of its other strengths.
Profile Orbid Sound Prospero:
- Overall tonally balanced with a little more boost in the bass and treble.
- The bass has power, but never comes across as plump. The draft offered by this compact standing model is astounding. Qualitatively rather semi-dry: Acoustic instruments don’t seem too wiry/rigid, electronic bass escapades are nevertheless well structured – even if more could be done here. Ultimately a good compromise and therefore a strength.
- The middle band is unobtrusive, more neutral than warm, and the resolution of details is good.
- More resolution is possible in the treble, but it’s still not a “construction site”, especially since it plays artefact-free – and brings a pinch more energy.
- Good in terms of fine dynamics, even better in terms of coarse dynamics – given the size of the box, its power is astounding. Timing, rhythm, impulse reproduction are the Prospero’s hobbies. This is a very lively speaker.
- The stage area opens up to the front, the music sometimes plays beyond the lateral limits of the loudspeakers – and a depth graduation can also be experienced, although other competitors sometimes offer more. The individual sounds are reproduced somewhat more generously and with a “softer edge” – this seems more organically coherent than gridded.
- Modell: Orbid Sound Prospero
- Concept: Three-way speaker (bass reflex)
- Pair price: from 1,780 euros (test model: 2,210 euros)
- Dimensions & Weight: 77 x 29 x 33 cm (HxWxD), 21 kg/each
- Versions: Colors (front/corpus): satin matt or structured lacquer in black and white (standard), individual colors (RAL color palette) also available on request; Decorative rings around the chassis and fabric covers optionally available
- Guarantee: 5 years