kanto ora review canada

Kanto ORA Review – A Powerhouse in a Compact Frame – November 2023 Leave a comment

The world of computer audio has seen a surge of innovation, with brands vying to create that perfect auditory experience for users. Kanto has recently unveiled their new Ora Computer Speakers, and guess what? They were gracious enough to send us a pair to put through the wringer! Over the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of incorporating these speakers into my home setup to truly understand their worth. In this review, we’ll delve deep into the features that set the Ora apart, see how they stack up against other Kanto models, and most crucially, unpack the sound quality they deliver. Strap in, audiophiles – this is going to be a sonic journey!

ORA Speaker Overview

At first glance, the Kanto Ora Computer Speakers might seem just like another addition to the bustling computer speaker market. But Kanto claims these are more than just that. They boldly state that the Ora “bridges the gap between computer speakers and studio monitors,” aiming to deliver studio-grade, audiophile-approved sound without being imposing on your workspace. And honestly, they might be onto something. The Ora speakers pack a punch, presenting big sound without hogging all the real estate on your desk. One of their standout features is biamplification: the ORA’s tweeters and woofers each have their dedicated amplifiers, enabling them to hone in on distinct frequency bands without squandering power. This leads to what Kanto promises as ‘reference quality sound.’

On the connectivity front, the Ora stands tall. USB-C connectivity promises the crispest sound, but for those looking for versatility, the speakers also offer Bluetooth and a line level RCA for analog connections. However, it’s worth noting that unlike some of their siblings in the Kanto lineup – the YU4, YU6, and TUK – the Ora does not come with an optical input. But fear not! We did manage to connect them to a TV, a feat we’ll discuss in greater depth later in this review.

kanto ora speakers on media console

Setup & First Impressions

Setting up a new piece of tech can sometimes be a tedious affair, but with the Kanto Ora, it’s smooth sailing. Straight out of the box, the first thing that caught my eye was the departure from the typical copper speaker wire seen in other Kanto speakers. Instead, the Ora adopts a modern approach with a single cable connecting the two speakers – a neat touch for a clutter-free setup.

Rear of Kanto Ora Speaker
Rear of the Ora speaker showing available connections

Getting them up and running was a breeze. I simply plugged in the USB-C cable into my computer, turned on the speaker, and with just a single press of the front button, my Windows operating system seamlessly recognized the Ora. A significant advantage is the integration of the volume knob on the Ora with the master volume of the computer. As someone who frequently juggles the volume settings between Spotify, gaming, and web browsers, having a tangible volume knob is indeed a welcomed feature.

Aesthetically, the Ora speakers exude elegance. They boast a clean look that complements any desk setup, and I must give a nod to Kanto for the stands they included; they marry perfectly with my laptop stand, creating a coherent and stylish workspace. The size of the speakers also hits the sweet spot – substantial enough for a robust audio output but compact enough not to overpower the desk.

The black metal Kanto speaker stands are solid, free up desk space, and perfectly matched my existing laptop stand.
The black metal speaker stands are very solid, free up desk space, and perfectly matched my existing laptop stand. These are a must buy if you are getting the ORA speakers.

Kanto does put their weight behind connecting via USB-C for optimal sound quality. However, my Acer Nitro 5 laptop posed a slight challenge here. The lone USB-C port is located near the front, which isn’t ideal for a pristine desk look. Thus, I opted for a Bluetooth connection, and to my pleasant surprise, the sound quality remained top-notch. But a word to the wise for the professionals out there: if you’re using the Ora to track instruments, you might want to plug in to extract every ounce of audio brilliance.

Music Listening Test

The first track I played with the Kanto Ora speakers was the Canadian classic, “Head Over Heels” by Blue Rodeo. I began with the speakers positioned close to my computer, thanks to the constraints of a shorter USB-C cable. My first impressions? Decent. The audio clarity was evident, yet the midrange frequencies felt a tad muddled.

Not one to be easily deterred, I switched to a longer USB-C cable, allowing me the liberty to space the speakers further apart on my desk. And oh, what a difference that made! It was like the aural equivalent of drawing back the curtains to let sunlight flood a dim room. The soundstage just expanded, with the imaging perfectly centering around my laptop screen. The transformation was stark and unequivocally impressive.

As the music continued, the Ora made its prowess known. The acoustic instruments were resonant and clear, each note distinct and vibrant. And the bass? Not overwhelming, but assertively present, lending a warmth and depth to the overall listening experience.

Transitioning from the classic tunes of Blue Rodeo, I ventured into the more contemporary vibes of “Agora Hills” by Doja Cat. This track is characterized by its thick 808-style kick/bass, and I was keen to see how the relatively compact Kanto Ora would handle it. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Despite their modest size, the Ora speakers delivered the bass with surprising richness and depth.

For a solo listening experience, there’s certainly ample bass to make the track feel full and lively. That said, if you’re considering using these speakers to set the mood for a small apartment gathering or even DJ a modest party, you might crave a bit more punch in the low end. In such a scenario, pairing the Ora with a Kanto subwoofer could really elevate the sonic experience, adding that extra depth and resonance to truly get the party going.

kanto ora speakers

Gaming with Kanto Ora Speakers

Venturing into the realm of gaming, I put the Kanto Ora to the test with two of my staple games: League of Legends and Team Fortress 2. Both these games come with their unique audio challenges, given the myriad of sounds from spells to explosions to gunfire.

Right off the bat, I noticed that the Ora speakers added a tangible depth and dimension to these in-game sounds. Spells in League of Legends felt more potent, while the chaotic firefights in Team Fortress 2 had that much-needed punch. The explosions and gunfire weren’t just noises; they had weight and substance, making the gaming experience truly immersive and gratifying.

While gaming, I often prefer to have my Spotify playlist on, muting the in-game music for a personalized soundtrack. The Ora didn’t disappoint here either, delivering crisp and clear music playback even amidst the cacophony of game sounds. And once again, the hardware volume knob proved its worth – it was a breeze to quickly dial down the volume when things got a tad too explosive, especially during late-night gaming sessions.

Kanto ORA in the Home Music Studio

Switching gears, I integrated the Kanto Ora speakers into a home music studio setting to evaluate their performance in a more professional context. The verdict? Impressive, to say the least. The quality delivered by these speakers was commendably high, making them perfectly suitable for tracking and even some rudimentary mixing tasks.

Now, to set realistic expectations: Are these speakers about to dethrone industry giants like ATC Loudspeakers in professional studios? Not quite, and truthfully, they aren’t designed with that intention in mind. Instead, they fill a niche for home studio enthusiasts who desire a high-quality audio output without the hefty price tag of top-tier studio monitors.

In a typical home studio environment, it’s common to rely on headphones for more intricate mixing and mastering tasks due to their precision and ability to isolate minute details. However, prolonged usage of headphones can be tiring, and there’s a certain charm to experiencing music in an open environment. That’s where the Ora speakers shine. They serve as an excellent alternative for tracking sessions or when you simply want a reprieve from the confines of headphones, providing a spacious and accurate sound that complements the studio ambiance. While they might not be the primary choice for professional studios, the Kanto Ora speakers find their groove in home studio setups, striking a balance between quality and practicality.

kanto ora speakers with decor
The Ora’s sounded great when gaming, or watching TV shows

Pairing Kanto ORA Speakers with A TV

It’s important to note from the outset that the Kanto Ora speakers are primarily designed as computer speakers. However, given their versatility, particularly the Bluetooth connection feature, I couldn’t resist experimenting with them in a TV setup. Modern televisions, such as the Samsung Frame TV that I own, now come equipped with Bluetooth audio transmission capabilities, providing a seamless opportunity for such a test.

Connecting the Ora speakers to the TV via Bluetooth was straightforward and hassle-free. The immediate result? A noticeable uplift in the audio quality of the TV. Now, when I delved into action movies, I did find myself frequently adjusting the volume to balance the contrast between dialogue scenes and the louder, action-packed sequences. The dynamic audio range of movies can be quite vast, leading to this need for adjustment. On the other hand, TV shows, which typically have a more consistent audio level, sounded absolutely fantastic on the Ora.

Connecting ORA's to smart TV
Connecting the Kanto ORA to the Samsung Frame TV was straightforward.

Taking the experiment a step further, I tried gaming on my Nintendo Switch. The audio output was robust with a clear distinction in the left-right stereo field, enhancing the gaming experience.

Generally speaking, I walked away quite impressed by the Kanto Ora’s performance as a TV speaker, especially in my smaller living room. However, for those with expansive or open-concept living spaces, I’d steer towards the Kanto TUKs. Not only do they offer a larger sound stage suitable for bigger rooms, but their optical input also simplifies the process of TV connection, ensuring an optimized A/V experience.

Portability of the Kanto Ora Speakers

One of the understated features of the Kanto Ora speakers is their portability. During my review period, I found myself frequently transitioning them from my office to the living room. What struck me was how effortlessly I could relocate the entire system, stands included, in just one trip. The ease of setup and teardown each time further highlighted their user-friendly design.

This portability presents an intriguing proposition: the Kanto Ora can seamlessly serve dual purposes. By day, they can be your dedicated home office speakers, providing crisp audio for work calls, music, and everything in between. Come evening or the weekend, with minimal fuss, they can be transitioned into another space, setting the mood for relaxation or entertainment.

Final Thoughts

Reflecting on my week with the Kanto Ora speakers, it’s remarkable how swiftly they cemented themselves as an indispensable component of my desk setup. In terms of value for money, the Ora stands tall – it’s arguably the premier choice in its price bracket for computer speakers and can undoubtedly challenge many higher-priced counterparts.

One suggestion for the Kanto team would be the inclusion of LED lighting. Personally, I keep a fairly dark home office with dim lighting, and the black speakers get a bit lost in the shadows. A touch of illumination around the tweeter or woofer might be a captivating addition. That said, the existing status light exudes a certain warmth and reassurance, making its presence felt in the room.

A word on the Kanto speaker stands – whether you opt for one version or the other, they are undeniably a worthy investment to pair with these speakers. They enhance both the aesthetics and the audio experience, and I can’t stress their value enough.

Now that the speakers are back at our shop and ready for you to come listen to, my desk feels empty! The ORA’s are my top choice for the best computer speakers under $500, and I will be looking to add them to my work from home setup soon.

Want to find the Kanto ORA Speakers in Canada? Click here to go to our ORA product listing page, and click the Check Availability popup to find a local dealer near you.

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