We may as well accept it: convenience wins out, and in many cases convenience means bulk. Gone are bulky televisions, laptops and brick-shaped phones while elaborate setups like 5.1 speaker systems are deemed too substantial and complex for our increasingly minimalist sense of style. Step forward Orbitsound…
The company famous for its spatial stereo technology has come up with the 'T9', a drastically smaller version of its long running Orbitsound T12. Naturally enough Orbitsound claims this little brother will still deliver jaw dropping audio, but out the box this is initially hard to believe.
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Whereas the T12 soundbar was already compact measuring just 605 x 110 x 100mm, the T9 is less than half its length at 300mm with its depth and width a mere 94mm. It is smaller than a shoebox… made for one shoe. The accompanying subwoofer has also been hit by a shrink ray. While the T12 sub came in at 460 x 230 x 230mm, the T9's sub is 344 x 230 x 139mm meaning the whole unit should squeeze into the tightest of home cinema setups and appease even the most technophobic of partners.
Given the focus on compactness it is no surprise that Orbitsound has also made the T9's look discrete. Available in black or white, the units are made from lacquered wood (Orbitsound claims this reduces resonance) and each has a smart - if not matching - finish with good build quality. We also particularly like the magnetically attached speaker grill of the soundbar which makes it easy to remove or attach, depending on whether you prefer your drivers hidden or exposed. Less welcome is the sunken iPod dock which means you won't be connecting an iPad without an adaptor. When plenty of other docks have achieved this in an elegant manner, this is something of a let down.
As for the remote, it is the same as the one supplied with the T12 and gives access to bass and treble adjustment as well as iPod compatible menu navigation controls and the usual play/pause and skip buttons. It won't win any fashion awards and we would like the volume buttons to be more pre-eminent, but it is highly responsive and durable.
While the Apple dock connector will be crucial to many, the T9 crams a lot more connectivity into its tiny frame. At the back are 3.5mm and stereo phono inputs plus S/PDIF digital, and cables for all three are supplied in the box. There is also a power switch and a volume knob.
The one glaring omission is an HDMI input which will annoy those wanting a completely one-stop home cinema solution. In fairness this shouldn't be a deal breaker as the T9 is not a true 5/7.1 system, so it would be a compromise anyway. Besides, many will forget about this once the T9 is switched on.