The Orba is mostly a musical curiosity, but a compelling one especially at the reasonable price of $100. But for its next version Artiphon is hoping to go beyond fidget toy and turn its little MPE grapefruit into a legit groovebox.
Physically almost nothing has change about the Orba 2. It's till the same black half orb with eight touchpads across the top. It still has a builtin speaker and synth engine, the latter of which was recently opened up for anyone to design their own patches. It's still a capable MIDI controller with support for multiple gestures including shake, tilt and spin.
What makes the new version immediately more impressive, is that it now supports sample playback. You can even record your own samples using the Orba app on your phone and then turn that into a preset that can be played. So you could record a bird call, a car horn or just another instrument and play that melodically.
But that's not all, Orba 2 can also quantize your playing, which is extremely helpful if your rhythm is lacking. Lastly, where the original was limited to an eight bar loop, the sequel can handle up a 128 bar loop — or about five minutes of music.
All of that additional power comes at a bit of a premium. But even at the new price of $150, it's still one of the most affordable MPE controllers out there and no doubt still a great fidget toy. But perhaps it will also now be a great groovebox too.