Name: Orbitsound T9
Type: Soundbar/ iPod dock
Price: £199.99 direct from Orbitsound
Who said that good things can't come in small packages? Orbitsound's latest soundbar/iPod dock combo, the T9, is as dinky as they come, but doesn't scrimp on either volume or audio quality. Read on to find out why we may have a new favourite soundbar.
Whereas your average soundbar can be upwards of 20 inches long and a few inches deep, Orbitsound's T9 is positively minuscule by comparison, measuring just 300mm x 94mm x 94mm. Even the supplied subwoofer is relatively small, measuring 230mm x 139mm x 344 mm. Available in either black or white (we got our grubby mitts on a white version), the T9 set is small enough to fit into even the busiest of home cinema set-ups. As with earlier Orbitsound soundbars, it looks very nice too; both the soundbar and the subwoofer are simple, inoffensive boxy shapes, with a metal grille attached to the front of the soundbar magnetically, which can be removed if you prefer the look of the T9's exposed speaker array.
Being so small, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the T9 would struggle to hit higher volumes without distorting, or be capable or the width and space a more traditionally sized soundbar could achieve. But you'd be wrong. Orbitsound's T9 makes use of a patented audio system called Spatial Stereo Technology. As well as housing speakers (two mid-high drivers and one tweeter) at the front of the T9, Orbitsound also pop two midrange speakers onto the side. Combined with some clever audio-processing wizardry, the result is that, no matter where you position yourself ion relation to the T9, you'll always feel enveloped by that stereo "sweetspot". It's impressed us before on earlier Orbitsound gear, but with the size of the T9 so dramatically smaller, it's even more marvellous an achievement here.
Volume levels too can reach disarmingly loud heights with the T9, despite the size. You'll easily fill a decent sized room with sound, be it for a party filled with guests or a booming blockbuster movie night. There's little sign of distortion even towards the top decibel levels, with volume maxing out at 140RMS from the soundbar and sub combined. Made from a lacquered wooden case, lows can resonate without ever rattling, and overall the sound is always warm and smooth at the preset EQ levels.
The sub and soundbar feel well balanced with each other too; the sub here is a little less boisterous than with earlier Orbitsound gear, making it (to our ears) better suited to music playback than before, which a handily placed iPod/iPhone dock on the top of the T9 easily accommodates. Again, the speakers are well tuned, with great detail no matter what the genre. Likewise, movies sound just as good, with dialogue cutting clearly through even in busy action scenes.
If you do feel the need to tinker with the well-balanced EQ presets, a tidy little remote control lets you do so. You can tweak bass and treble settings, but the jump between notches is quite significant, so a delicate touch when refining the sound to your own personal preferences is needed. The remote also lets you pick the audio source connected to the T9, as well as jumping through iPod tracks, and feels sturdy enough in the hand.
A strong array of audio connections mean that the T9 can hook up to practically any audio source. As well as the iPod dock, you've got 3.5mm and stereo phono inputs, as all as an optical S/PDIF input, with an optical cable popped into the box for good measure. If there's one thing missing, it's HDMI, which Blu-ray audiophiles will likely miss. Other than that, it's a thorough offering.
The Orbitsound T9 ticks almost every box for a soundbar. Room-filling, crystal-clear and spacious sound is complimented by a balanced subwoofer, all in a package small enough to fit into even the most cramped of AV set-ups. The Spatial Stereo technology continues to impress, and though it's a shame that high-quality Blu-ray sources aren't better catered for through HDMI, there are plenty of connectivity options to counteract that. Take into account the relatively low £199.99 price too and the T9 quickly climbs to the top of the soundbar pile. Great stuff.