A lot of clever-sounding audio modes promise the world but fail to deliver (naming no names, virtual surround) but Orbitsound’s tech really works. In fact, it makes any source sound amazing, making this an ideal upgrade if you’re tired of your TV speakers.
Although it’s not found on the production version, the spatial stereo switch on the back allows us to gauge its impact on sound quality. And we have to say, the difference is revelatory – set to ‘off’ the sound is dull and lifeless, yet in Wide mode, audio suddenly bursts into life with a crisp, sparky and immersive quality.
The effect is natural and smooth, and you don’t have to strain to hear the benefits like you do with most virtual surround modes. Lengthy listening isn’t fatiguing either, and as claimed the effect works no matter where you’re sitting in relation to the soundbar.
With movies, the soundstage is wide and spacious, giving individual effects room to breathe. It inevitably doesn’t deliver the immersive soundstage of a 5.1 system, but it comes a lot closer than you might imagine a stereo soundbar to.
Dialogue sounds clear, while explosions and other bass-heavy effects are reproduced with gusto. That said, the sub suffers from a touch of boominess when really tested, which lets the side down slightly, yet the rest of the sound is so absorbing that you might not notice.
We also tried out the T12v3 with some Rugby World Cup matches on ITV1 HD from a Sky box and even CBeebies, and we were really impressed by the clarity and expansiveness it brings to any content.
Even music comes up smelling of roses, with a delightfully detailed and open presentation of songs from our docked iPod. Vocals and instrument solos sound clear but sit nicely in the mix, while hi-hats are crisp and kick drums are powerful, if slightly loose.
The Orbitsound T12v3 is a sonic revelation. Not only is its fundamental sound quality of the highest order, but the spatial stereo tech also works a treat, giving you immersive, engaging audio no matter where it’s placed in the room.
What’s more, it’s beautifully built, boasts a luxurious design and installation is a cinch, while the plentiful connections and iPod dock cater for lots of sources.
There are certainly areas for improvement on the next generation – a wireless subwoofer, even tighter bass performance and HDMI inputs please – but as it stands the T12v3 is a fantastic soundbar that’s ideal if space is at a premium.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 9