Orbitsound T12v3 £299
30th Sep 2011 | 08:30
A speaker dock that promises 'spatial sound without the extra speakers'. Does it measure up?
Home cinema soundbars are increasingly popular these days and it's easy to see why – they're a relatively cheap, simple and family-friendly way for people to enjoy better sound quality than they would get from the speakers in their TV.
And in the Orbitsound T12v3's case, you end up with a handy iPod/iPhone speaker dock as well.
Now in its third generation, the Orbitsound T12v3 aims to stand out from its rivals by offering 'spatial sound' as opposed to regular stereo or surround sound. The aim is to eliminate the 'sweet spot' that normally forces you to sit in a particular part of a room to get the best sound effect, effectively enabling you to sit anywhere.
It does this by using its main soundbar speaker complement to fire forwards, while spatial array speakers at either end fire the difference between the left and right audio channels sideways.
An improved passive subwoofer also joins the fray to add some much needed welly. The catch, of course, is that the Orbitsound doesn't really do stereo or surround sound, but presents you with a Phil Spector-ish wall of sound instead. That's okay for regular telly viewing or even for music to a certain extent, but it can limit enjoyment of the surround steering effects you expect from Hollywood blockbusters.
That's a shame, but not unexpected, so what about sound quality instead? Here the Orbitsound fairs much better, delivering surprisingly good mid-range and treble sound quality for the money.
The problem is the subwoofer lets the side down rather badly. It's both domineering and boomy and you have limited room to manoeuvre when it comes to calming it down: you can tweak the bass volume using the remote or you can physically move the sub further away from walls or corners, and that's it.
Our other complaint lies with the limited outputs. The iPhone 4 can deliver 720p video via component and HDMI connections, yet the Orbitsound only has composite video on board. That's disappointing, but not unexpected given the price.
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