Orbitsound T12 review
Orbitsound boasts a whole new approach to stereo sound, and while we’re used to hearing such claims here at Macworld, we are mightily impressed with the T12.
The system consists of the iPod dock-equipped head unit (called ‘the soundbar’), and a large subwoofer. You also get a remote control and all the necessary cables. The soundbar carries the iPod dock, status LEDs and outputs for the subwoofer and a set of inputs for an auxiliary source, such as a CD deck or television. The system looks stunning beside a TV – even better, it offers video out, so you can wire your home-entertainment system up to it for video playback from your video-equipped iPod or iPhone.
The infra-red remote control is large enough not to lose down a gap in the sofa and is also well laid out and simple to use. It lets you switch between the iPod or auxiliary device for sound playback, offers library navigation, bass, treble, fast-forward, rewind, play/pause and volume controls.
What makes the soundbar so effective is its combination of well-thought-out technologies. The stereo sound field is produced by the speakers mounted in the side of the unit, which work with the main signal to produce real stereo sound. The soundbar also hosts the analog processors, the amplifier, and eight loudspeakers.
The shelf-sized speaker is powerful enough on its own, picking up a good amount of musical detail and delivering an impressive quality of playback that’s significantly better than a radio receiver or online music streaming service. Link it with the subwoofer, though, and the sound really hits you. You’ll experience deep, rounded, simulated surround sound that’s quite capable of attracting a noise complaint if you dare pump it up to full volume. If you like your music loud and undistorted, though, the T12 is well worth a look.
The groundbreaking technology that creates this sound playback is called ‘airSound’, an innovation capable of generating stereo sound from a single point. Test this by using the control on the back of the unit, which offers ‘off’, ‘normal’ and ‘wide’ sound playback. You can really hear the width of the sound in the wide setting.
Unlike many digital music systems, airSound doesn’t use digital sound-processing technologies, nor does it modify the original sound. Rather, the width-selection switch on the rear of the Orbitsound’s soundbar simply changes the volume of the side-facing stereo speakers that deliver the airSound signal.
Figure out the best set-up for you, including determining which width setting (off, normal, wide) works best in your room. There’s no stereo ‘sweet spot’ with airSound – your music sounds the same wherever you stand in the room.
Frequency response is 20Hz to 25KHz, so it covers the gamut of listenable sound for most people.
This compact system is distinctive-looking enough to make a gadget obsessive’s heart pound with glee, and delivers room-filling music playback. It delivers awesome sound clarity and width, but even the £249 price tag (reduced from £349) makes this a major, rather than a casual, purchase.