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Orbitsound T12 v2 Soundbar review

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Summary

Our Score

8/10

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Traditional stereo speakers setups have one shortcoming above all others: to hear the left and right channels in the correct balance you have to sit in a rather particular position, or sweet spot. Stray too far left or right and the spatiality is lost. Not so with the Orbitsound T12 v2 Soundbar; using a nifty technology it dubs 'spatial stereo' the Orbitsound T12 v2 radiates stereo sound the full stereo effect of which is experienced no matter where you place yourself in relation to it.

The Orbitsound T12 v2 soundbar uses a technology called airSOUND, developed by a rather brilliant chap called Ted Fletcher. In very simple terms it works as such: a single loudspeaker produces the 'main' sound of the system, while a pair of speakers (in the same enclosure) directs the 'spatial' sound out to the left and right. You can think of it as the 'main' signal being the sum of the left and right channels, while the 'spatial' signal is the difference. When the two converge at the listener, you get the same stereo effect as you would sitting in a 'normal' stereo system's sweet spot.

Because the signal for both channels is emanating from the same point - the T12 v2 soundbar in this case - the signal path for both the 'main' and 'spatial' outputs is the same even if you move about. This is unlike two-speaker set-ups where moving towards one speaker will bias the audio balance in that direction, distorting the stereo balance.

Technical tomfoolery aside, what's important is that the system works. The Orbitsound T12 v2 really does produce a stereo output that remains stereo whether you position yourself directing in front of the system or off in a corner of a room - it's almost eerie.

Moreover, aside from the benefit of being able to pick out the 'stereo' of the T12 v2 easily, there's spatiality to the output that you really don't expect from what is, after all, a relatively compact system. We'd argue that the feeling of 'space' this soundbar creates is better than many 'virtual 5.1-channel surround' alternatives. That shouldn't be surprising, really - the Orbitsound T12 v2 isn’t using tricks to make you think you're listening to surround sound; it's delivering actual stereo.

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Mike Turner

July 14, 2010, 12:33 pm

I have had the T12 soundbar for the last 6 months. It is the first version without the optical inputs. To say that I have been impressed with the sound quality of this thing is an understatement! It has transformed my family's TV watching experience. The depth and space it creates is uncanny coming as it does from a modest sized unit that sits happily under the TV with the sub tucked behind a curtain out of sight. Action movies are amazing. I used to have a decent 5.1 surround sound system but succumbed to the wishes of my wife to reduce mess and wires. The T12 has proved to be the perfect replacement. I would recommend this in a heart beat!

the near side

July 14, 2010, 4:53 pm

PLEASE, Please, please, look out for similar offerings (with a smaller sub-woofer with volume cotrol,or no sub-woofer at all) and review. There must be many people who, like me, want decent sound without enormous expensive speakers and a forrest of wiring.





Thanks too for the information provided in the other reviews I have read.

Keithe6e

July 14, 2010, 7:10 pm

@the_near_side: PLEASE, Please, please, look out for similar offerings





Try typing soundbar into the search.


http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

the near side

July 14, 2010, 11:13 pm

@Keith - Possibly I should have added that my search would be limited to soundbars with stereo only and without a "sweet spot". Thanks anyway, I have seen most of the other TR reviews of soundbars.

Tony Walker

July 15, 2010, 8:29 am

@Hugo





The wireless option would be equally limited (perhaps more so) by the need for it to be near a plug

simonpjd

August 26, 2010, 7:21 pm

How would I connect this to my SKYHD box. It has a digital audio output - does this work. Or do I simply use the usual audio cables.

JohnSC

September 25, 2010, 11:30 am

Answering Simonpjd's comment, the T12 v2 does have a digital optical input and comes with a cable to connect to your digital audio output, but rather than connecting to your SkyHD box you are much better connecting direct to the TV using the digital input. Then the T12 soundbar will play whatever you are watching on the TV at the time and you don't need to change anything if you are playing a DVD or Blu-ray. My own personal favourite feature of my T12 v2 soundbar is the video out - i love watching video content from my iPhone through the T12 on my flat panel TV - the old version i had before couldn't so this so this is a big step forward.

Stereophile

January 8, 2011, 6:49 pm

It takes a bit of perseverance to get the best out of this system. Positioning of the subwoofer is critical. It needs a good deal of free space around it (especially the rear ports) and should be placed well away from a corner; otherwise it is horribly boomy and distortive and drowns out the sound bar. It took quite a lot experimentation to get that right. Secondly, I found the sound improved hugely after the rather basic speaker cables supplied were replaced with good quality audio cables. Finally, be prepared to keep adjusting the tone controls according to the type of music you are listening to. Follow these rules and it works pretty well.

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