Orbitsound T12v3 review
Orbitsound’s T12v3 soundbar creates a pseudo-stereo sound, despite being a single unit. The spacial sound isn’t created by digital signal processing, but by the clever layout of speakers within the unit.
Inside the soundbar is an array of small speaker drivers that provide the midrange and treble coverage. All the speakers are wired together as one long mono array, rather than split into two stereo halves. The T12v3 creates its stereo sound effect with the help of two tiny midrange drivers, one mounted in each end of the rectangular bar.
There’s no attempt to coax deep bass from this compact soundbar. Instead, an auxiliary bass box plays the deep notes, standing 46cm high and 23cm square. Integration between the bass box and soundbar is excellent. While it’s not accurate in its stereo soundstaging – it’s not hi-fi in the traditional sense – the big, confident sound the system can make remains more than a little compelling.
The full-bodied sound covered the lowest range of the bass guitar. Acoustic piano and voices also benefit from this low-down sense of weight, making music far more life-like. Only in the higher treble registers was the T12v3 let down a little by the graininess of the amplifiers.
The result is a startlingly big soundstage, with great handling of all the central vocals and lead instruments that tend to be mono within the stereo mix anyway. However, heavily panned stereo mixes do sound somewhat different to how the studio mixed them – play music that pans effects hard left and right, and you just hear a spacier sound without any directional cues.
You can connect the T12v3 to four different audio devices. Aside from the iPod dock on top, there are two analogue and one digital audio inputs on the back; the digital option is further divided into Toslink optical or coaxial. You switch between inputs with the supplied remote control, which also gives some control of iPod track selection.
There’s no display on the soundbar to indicate how it’s set up, save a blue LED that flashes when it receives a remote command; so it’s impossible to see which input is selected, or what volume the system is set to, nor the setting of the basic bass and treble controls.
Orbitsound’s T12v3 soundbar is a versatile speaker system for playing sound from flat-panel TVs and iPods, possessing the kind of sound quality to get you nodding to the music. It’s not hi-fi as we know it, but it makes a great sound that will amply upgrade a TV’s own speakers, as well as engage you and your feet with music from your iPod.