We've long been impressed by the ingenious spatial stereo, airSound, technology OrbitSound produces, with the OrbitSound T12 soundbar only just missing out on a recommended award. Now the UK company's back with its latest product, the T14, which adds a wireless sub and iPod dock to the mix.
AirSound technology uses a single speaker to transmit the 'main' sound of the system but then uses a pair of speakers to transmit the left and right signals to give the spatial effect. Think as the main signal being the sum of the left and right while the other speakers transmit the difference. What you receive as a listener is a strong stereo effect no matter where you are in a room, unlike tradtional stereo setups where there's a single sweet spot and otherwise the stereo effect is greatly reduced or eliminated.
The T14 soundbar uses this technology, just as the T12 did, but has increased power output from 100W to 120W and employs a completely new dial-based control system. Tap the parameter you want to adjust - volume, spatial width, sub level, treble - and rotate the dial to change the setting. The lights surrounding the dial will then show you what level you've adjust the setting to.
A large sub woofer is also included and it has its audio transmitted to it wirelessly using the Kleer wireless system as found on devices like the Sleek Audio W1 wireless headphone adapter. Also using this technology is the iPod dock, which also includes an analog input (and the appropriate ADC's to convert the signal to digital for transmission) which is always useful.
One advantage of removing the iPod dock from the main body of the soundbar is that the bar isn't now restricted to using a Class D amplifier but can use its own analogue one, which allows it to self adjust to the dynamics of a room. This is done by adding the speaker coil to the feedback loop of the amplifier circuit . The result is that when the device is in a large room it puts out more bass while in smaller rooms it tails things off for a less boomy effect.
The product on show was a prototype so its a bit early to judge performance but the final version will be arriving in shops around July time costing in the region of £400.