The beginnings of multi-directional sound recordings (read quadrophonics) and similar techniques, many years ago, gave a lot of us an early taste of the “nearly there” accomplishment. The early solutions and available content offerings were, to be blunt, lacking…
Thankfully, we now have emerging technologies which impact our perception of omnidirectional propagation of sound, which is more natural to the surrounding environment. This comes in a very eye-catching, simple, solution. A pill. A monster pill at that.
The culprit? Mr Tomasz Rogula, author of Zeta Zero speakers and his crazy ORBITAL360 speakers.
Knowing him personally doesn’t help in understanding why in heaven he would manufacture these speakers. He seems as stable as his speakers’ sound-stage. But I wonder … something is weird in the implementation of his ideas. The only way to check his “sanity” is to listen to his ORBITAL360. Much recommended to hear something much different from the ordinary! I am sure some people would like to lock him up as a danger to HiFi community.
Norman was with me in this endeavour to either understand this magic, or spill the beans on this contraption. It was difficult as the big listening room at the National Stadium always seemed full. After several tries we cunningly snuck past the petrified and awed audience, and took front seats.
Well, it was worth it. Crazy design (not my taste, too futuristic/post-modern in shape). Tomasz must have had read too much of Verne or Wells to realize such a projectile. But, this is has nothing to do with the projectiled sound. Enormous? Yes! Disconcerting. Difficult to digest initially. Mind pulping.
We agreed it was difficult to pinpoint the source of sound, but the overall perception was that the sound was enveloping us! Tomasz suggested we walk behind the speakers, a couple of meters behind glass walls of the stadium’s recording studio. Wow, no change at all, no reverberations. Shocking!
We then heard a request from a participant to kill one speaker and listen to the orphan. Hardly any change in perception, still very omnidirectional.
So how did it sound overall? Sadly, Tomasz did not find the time to present my beloved Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture with the original cannons, but the sound was very full-frequency in capability. There was no sweet spot, all was sweet! I wish I could have it tomorrow at my home in Geneva. Highly recommended for those who have an outstanding pair of loudspeakers, but still like the taste of spice in music.
I found these speakers better for rock/pop music, and perhaps heavy jazz than say, female vocals or chamber/nightclub music. These speakers and the burly SS Zeta-Zero amps powering them are capable of delivering LIVE concert level sound pressure in a typical room, as the special high-tech ribbon membrane used can withstand temperatures of over 600C and not be damaged in any way. They can easily be driven by kilowatts of power without fear. I didn’t get a chance to listen to any classical music, so can’t tell if this would be their forte. What I can say is that the demo (as enchanting as it was) was likely held back by the source, which was a stock Oppo spinner. Insert a high end server and a top-level DAC as a front end and I imagine that everything would have been taken up a notch or two.
In 2014, the Orbital360 was just a prototype and was covered by the “shroud of Turin”. This year it was uncovered in its full glory. Other models (like the Venus) were shown last year and came back for an encore appearance in 2015.
Some interesting tech facts:
Orbital360 Radiates the acoustic energy horizontally in full 360 degree around plus vertical cone up-down support, giving fantastic acoustic space and realistic stage sound in the listener room, sound perfection completely unknown from any traditional/conventional loudspeaker box.
No directional radiating. No “hot spot”, nor unwanted “sweet spot”, no acoustic beam nor dipole effect on bass. No any drawbacks of traditional loudspeaker box.
With Orbital360 all the room filled with the real live sound evenly distributed. The sound first time “out of box”. Total freedom for the listener’s seating position.
Suitable for tube amplifiers too, starting from 5,5 Watts because of high-efficiency up to about 94 dB/1 Watt.
Impedance 2, 4, 8 Ohm depending of the power level and model.
Freq. resp. depending on model size up to: 16 Hz to about 50.000 Hz. (real conversion of energy starts from about 13-14 Hz in the biggest unit).
No traditional L-C-R crossover. NO crossover coils in “Orbital360” at all. Only one capacitor per one mid/high/ultra high loudspeaker.
As it is, the looks will prove challenging to some, but if you are looking for a great sounding Omni, they are a MUST demo. If I recall correctly, the runt of the Omni litter starts at €18K retail and the largest runs to about €40K. There are 3 models 1.32m, 1.47m and 1.58m.