Stereo that follows you around a room – that’s the key promise from British company Orbitsound, with its T12 soundbar.
Fitted with just eight speakers housed in a long, slim gloss back cabinet that measures 600x96x96 mm, Orbitsound’s third (and longest) incarnation of the T12 is around the same length as a 24-to-27in PC monitor.
It’s fitted with an iPod dock on its top, so it can’t have a monitor stacked on top – but it will work with just about any audio source we can think of; on its rear are inputs for a simple 3.5mm stereo jack as well as stereo left/right phonos, digital optical and digital coaxial (most suited to use with an AV amplifier, which musicians, at least, are likely to have nearby).
There’s also a composite video output for iPod/iPhone duties, while the T12 ships with a host of iPod/iPhone cradles and a load of cables.
The Orbitsound T12′s controls are rather well hidden, the on/off switch being firmly ensconced in the middle of the back connections panel, making it hard to reach.
Ditto the volume controls, though they’re not nearly as important since once it’s been set to a middling level, a PC or Mac can adjust its own output levels.
Another hard-to-reach set of controls is the stereo width toggler that offers ‘normal’ and ‘wide’ settings, as well as an option to switch spatial stereo off.
For those concerned about the small size of the T12′s baffle and its suffocating effect on low frequency sound, worry no longer – this soundbar also comes with some dedicated speaker cable to hook-up to a 460x228x228mm subwoofer, again supplied in gloss black. We love the fact that it’s not a powered model – though that could have an effect on its responsiveness.
If you’re the type that watches catch-up TV and movies on a desktop PC or Mac – perhaps in a bedroom where your viewing (and, therefore, listening) position is likely to swap from desk chair to bed, the T12 is a winner.
My current setup involves two bookshelf speakers that are victims of geography and just can’t be positioned equidistant from my ears, so my desktop proved excellent testing zone.
Attached to a desktop PC, the T12 – which has six speakers across the front and two on its sides (covered by a metallic grille that attaches magnetically) – does indeed create a stereo sound that travels well.
If you listen from the wings there’s little sense of stereo per se, despite some audible separation, but it meets its brief by admirably widening the ‘sweet spot’ to most of a small room.
The subwoofer is perhaps the biggest improvement on previous versions of the T12, with suitably tight and responsive bass.
Great for a desktop or bedroom, we’re not as convinced this is suitable for pairing with a TV in a living room.
The results are decent enough in terms of stereo, but it never reaches anything remotely akin to ‘surround’ sound, and is no match for a separate 5.1 setup. Those planning to put their T12 in the living room should also know that it can’t be wall-mounted.
The iPod/iPhone dock, meanwhile, is treated as a separate source by the T12, which replenishes its host while taking video to a display (typically a TV) via composite video.
Contact: OrbitSound on 08456 521219
- Audio depth and width, tight subwoofer, handy iPod/iPhone dock.
- Boring gloss black finish.
The 'spatial' stereo pumped out by the third incarnation of Orbitsound's T12 soundbar is ideally suited to desktops in a bedroom or small room, where its great sense of depth and width will be fully appreciated.
This ultra-convenient, serious audio solution can underwhelm in a big room, but the subwoofer and handy iPod/iPhone dock do make this worth considering if you're after something to upgrade a flat TV's weedy speakers.