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Orbitsound T9 review

David Ludlow
14 Jun 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
199
inc VAT

Incredible audio: something this small shouldn't sound so big

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As soundbars get more popular, the general trend for improving stereo separation and creating room-filling audio has been to make them bigger and bigger. While this technique works, to a degree, it can make positioning a new soundbar rather difficult, partly defeating the reason for buying one in the first place.

With its T9 soundbar and iPod dock, Orbitsound has taken a completely different tack, making its product as small as possible, but promising not to compromise on audio quality. This is all possible thanks to the company's spatial stereo technology.

Spatial stereo is about creating high-quality audio, but removing the directionality of it. In short, it means that wherever you stand in a room, you should get the stereo effect, eliminating the sweet spot of normal stereo sytems.

Although the system uses some rather clever processing to achieve this, the concept is pretty easy to understand. As well as providing speakers (two mid-high drivers and one tweeter) at the front of the soundbar, there are two midrange spatial generator speakers on the side. It's the way that the spatial generators interact with the traditional speakers that creates the spatial stereo.

Orbitsound T9 front

Forward-firing speakers mix their audio with speakers mounted on the side to create the spatial stereo effect

We've seen this technology in action on the Orbitsound T12, which is a traditionally-sized soundbar capable of producing some of the highest quality sound we've ever heard.

As it's the clever spatial stereo technology that fills a room with audio, Orbitsound has been able to use its engineering to make the T9 smaller than traditional soundbars. What's impressive is how small it actually is: the T9 soundbar is around the same size as a centre speaker on a high-end home cinema system, and there's a slimline subwoofer you can tuck out of the way.

Orbitsound T9

Although the soundbar is incredibly small, it produces stunning, rich audio

To look at the product, you certainly wouldn't think that it's capable of producing such amazing sound. In fact, we'd go so far as saying that something this small simply shouldn't be able to produce sound that big.

We had our first brush with the T9 in a crowded bar showing a Euro 2012 match, with the audio from the TV pumped through the soundbar. Even in a loud space filled with shouting football fans, the T9 cut through everything, producing loud, detailed sound that completely filled the room. Impressive doesn't even begin to cut it.

Getting the product into our labs let us test it in anger. In short, it sounds brilliant and maintains the high acoustic quality we've come to expect from the company. The smaller size of the T9 means that the sound is different to the T12's, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. If the Orbitsound T12 was capable of large, booming cinematic moments, the T9 is a poised, tighter unit that's arguably better suited to music.

The balance between the soundbar and the subwoofer is absolutely perfect, with the sub adding that extra bit of bass into the mix, without being boomy and overbearing.

Vocals were clear and distinguished from the backing track, but that's not to say that everything else disappears, as the full detail in a song is brought out. From the individual plucks of a bass guitar to a subtle high-hat or triangle, the full range is brilliantly reproduced.

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