Ask any guitarist - valve amplifiers look the best. Orbitsound knows this, and has moved to combine the undeniable coolness of valve amplification with its unique stereo technology - the latter of which created quite a stir last year.
Both the lounge-filling T12 Soundbar and the personal audio oddity that is the T3 received considerable praise and plenty of press upon their respective launches. And so Orbitsound has released the T6, a home audio speaker with its own iPod docking valve amplifier.
Two in oneThe T6’s speaker unit is about the size of your usual bookshelf-sized hi-fi speaker. Except that there’s only one of them, which may be a psychological barrier for some - it looks like a step back into a mono world. But fear not - the T6 uses the same airSOUND technology as the T12 and T3.
This internal trickery creates a stereo sound from a single source, with the aim of giving you a more natural sound. With conventional stereo, two channels are presented separately, to create a sense of space. Thus, you need to stand in the stereo ‘sweet spot’ to get the best sound.
With airSOUND, the idea is that there’s no sweet spot, it sounds just about the same wherever you stand.
It works too. While the T6’s stereo separation isn’t as striking as the elongated T12 Soundbar, it does give off a very natural sound, as though the music is being played in front of you. It’s also a very roomy sound - reverby vocals and guitars sound delicious, while the bass response is also strong, considering the size of the speaker unit.
There’s a switch on the back of the speaker unit for flicking the airSOUND effect to ‘Off’, ‘Mid’, or ‘Max’. The ‘Mid’ setting is OK for smallish rooms, while the ‘Max’ setting can sound a bit full-on with music that has a lot going on.
The valves are used as the first stage of preamplification, and while they’re predominantly eye candy, may help to produce that warm, lush sound. But when they’re glowing their faint purple glow, they almost makes your music sound better just by looking at them.
The T6’s valve preamplification gives it a classic look, but the single speaker jars on the eye slightly, and the smaller size of the T6 means it doesn’t quite reach the sonic heights of the T12. That said, Orbitsound’s approach to stereo is refreshing, and the T6 is another lovely sounding unit.