In traditional speaker set-ups, the left and right speakers work in tandem to create a sweet spot in the centre, where you receive well-balanced sound. But, when you move around the room, your bonce breaks free of the optimal zone and you start picking up one channel more than the other. Orbitsound hopes to eliminate this problem with the T12, a soundbar and subwoofer combination that purports to offer stereo sound from anywhere in a room. You can use it as a music system, or as an upgrade to your TV's built-in speakers.
The T12 can be yours for around £300, but is it worth it?
Barred for life
The soundbar, which features a dock on top for connecting an iPhone or iPod, isn't as chunky as we'd expected. At 605 by 100 by 110mm, it'll fit pretty snugly under your telly, or anywhere else. The subwoofer is a good deal chunkier, at 230 by 460 by 230mm, so you might have more trouble finding a home for it.
We see the T12 being used mainly as a music player if you're part of the iCrowd, but others can use it to upgrade their telly's rubbish built-in speakers, thanks to two digital inputs around the back of the soundbar. There's an optical cable included too, so you can plug in an MP3 player, laptop or anything else with a 3.5mm socket.
Setting up the T12 is pretty simple. Aside from whacking in the power cable, you'll only need to wire up the subwoofer to the soundbar using the included cabling and you'll be ready to rock. But does this system actually sound any good?
The answer is: yes and no. On the one hand, the T12 does a really good job of delivering stereo sound without the need for separate speaker units. It does so thanks to two side-firing speakers built into the left and right of the soundbar. Listening to Ke$ha's Tik Tok (yeah, yeah, we know), we could hear elements of the mix that were panned to the left maintaining a strong presence even when we moved over to the right. We didn't find the mix becoming unbalanced, no matter where we moved to in our testing room.
On the other hand, things aren't so rosy when it comes to actual sound quality. Although there's a decent degree of clarity in the high end and mid-tones, we found the low end rather overwhelming.
The subwoofer doesn't feel hugely potent as far as floor-rumbling bass goes, but the low-end sound still has a nasty habit of swallowing up the rest of the mix. Listening to Skee-Lo's I Wish, which has a strong bass element, we found the low end quickly bounced up into the mids and drowned out many of the lighter instruments. Unhooking the subwoofer solved the problem to some extent, but, without it, the low end was pretty non-existent.
We did, however, find that the T12 gave real punch to TV shows, movies and games, with which audiophile-level sound reproduction isn't so important.
The Orbitsound T12 is a great step-up from your telly's built-in speakers, but audiophiles and dedicated music fans probably won't be satisfied with the sound quality this system produces.
It's much chunkier, but, if sound quality is your number-one priority, you'd do well to check out the Onkyo HTX-22HD.
Edited by Charles Kloet