The Orbitsound T12 does not claim to be able to deliver real 5.1 sound. Yet, it is not a conventional stereo. The elegant, black soundbar delivers true spatial stereo sound, and positions itself as a soundbar that delivers true spatial stereo sound, regardless of the positioning. It does not claim any sophistication but the airSOUND technology it employs does give some good value to this system.
The outlook carries a relatively modern design that will match with most flatscreen tv and monitors out there in the market today. This is also one of the smallest soundbar there is in the market and can be easily wall-mounted underneath a flatscreen tv or monitor. It measures only 530mm x 13mm x 100mm. The subwoofer is tall, measuring 230mm x 23mm x 450mm, and best located near the screen, one of the reasons being that the thin speaker wire provided is relatively short.
There is no HDMI input on this soundbar that was shortlisted by Macworld for the Best Consumer Audio Product of 2009. There is also no surround sound processor nor video up-scalers. The only input is a single pair of analogue line-level connections to run the tv, and a stereo minijack for hooking up another portable device. In short, this system is one that is far behind other soundbars in the market that has gone as far as reading Blu-Ray movies and streaming YouTube downloads.
However, there is an iPod connection, changing this speaker into a mini hi-fi to a certain extent, and users may feel slightly better knowing that there is full control via the remote.
Setting up the Orbitsound T12
It is easy to set up the Orbitsound T12 unit, as wires are direct and there are nothing fancy on the input and output panel to confuse users. Purchase comes with a thin and short connecting wire which makes it logical to place the main unit and the subwoofer close to each other.
There is an on/off button but almost everything else can be controlled via the remote.
Orbitsound T12 is not a conventional stereo, even if it does not claim to give users a real 5.1 surround sound experience. Its proprietary “airSOUND” technology reproduces the main signal (mono) and spatial (the ‘difference’ signal, between the left and right channels). The airSOUND technology creates a more spatial stereo sound instead of attempting to create surround sound. For controls, there is a switch on the back of the bar that offers three settings: off, normal and wide.
Orbitsound does not offer any HDMI connections to this system because they said that it presented no benefits since the airSOUND processing and amplification is analogue. It is true, and rightful that Orbitsound concentrates on the development of airSOUND to give the stereo sources more depth and a wider field. The treble details were good, and made TV dialogs a little more intelligible. The additional subwoofer is a big advantage for a flatscreen tv as they usually lack of a decent bass.
The unit’s front-firing drivers produce the main signals and the spatial information emanates from the side-firing transducers in reverse-polarity to one another. As they combine in front of the soundbar, they produce a single point stereo soundfield.
However, when the airSOUND is turned off, music sounds muffled. Sound becomes messy when the “wide” option is turned on, with vocals and instruments tripping over and against each other. That leaves the “normal” option where the soundbar performs its best.
For audiophiles, however, the subwoofers may still be slightly insufficient. Audiophiles may compliment that there is no harshness to the treble tones, but there is also no ringing clearness either. It is only when the tunes are switched with a decent amount of bass that it creates a little hint of effect. Hence, for audiophiles, the subwoofers do not help much to impress users with the technology.
Pros and Cons
Perhaps the most interesting feature that sells this product is the iPod/iPhone dock, and it charges automatically once an iPod is placed on it. It gives a different dimension with the airSOUND technology, creating a more spatial stereo sound, but then again Orbitsound T12 never attempted to present itself as a projector of real 5.1 surround sound experience.
While it may not be a consideration if users are looking for a surround sound experience, the unit is an interesting add for users who would like to enjoy some spatial stereo sound. There is not much complain about the airSOUND technology and users should take the best advantage of the airSOUND rather than turn it off. Turning it off will not show off the best of the system and in fact it could be a lot worse than expected. Also, this may be a system that can be highly considered if a user would like to use it with the iPod / iPhone.