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The soundbars we review are usually designed to deliver surround sound. Not the T12. There are no HDMI inputs, surround sound processors or video upscalers here.
The sensibly sized speaker (slightly wider than a DVD player) contains eight drive units and comes with a subwoofer. The bar features an integrated iPod dock and analogue inputs – useful if you want to replace your TV's speakers.
An auxiliary input means you can connect an additional source. There's also a remote control that gives full control over iPod menus.
Spatial stereo, but no surroundInstead of attempting to create surround sound, the T12 uses airSOUND technology to create a more spatial stereo sound. There's a switch on the back of the bar that offers three settings: off, normal and wide.
With airSOUND turned off, music sounds muffled. Switch it to wide and, while the volume of the side speakers is increased, the sound is messy with vocals and instruments tripping over each other. The T12 performs best when set to normal.
Bass is detached and ill-definedThere's no real harshness or brightness in the treble. It's only when you switch to tunes with a decent amount of bass that the T12 is sent into a tizz. The bassline of Gwen Stefani's What you Waiting For kicks in, and makes the sub sound detached.
Consequently the system fails to deliver a coherent, rhythmic rendition of the song.
To its credit, the bar does a perfectly decent job when used as an alternative to tinny-sounding flatscreen speakers, but that subwoofer is a sticking point and one that prevents the T12 from really blossoming.
I have had this product for a quite a few months and I have had a lifetime of dabbling with hi-fi products but I was in the market for something more unobtrusive and yet something that still had decent quality. I have placed the sound bar to the front and beneath my flatscreen TV and the bass box behind the TV out of sight and quite near the wall. This means that I have to tune down the bass each time I turn it on since it sounds too heavy for my liking, but this is a minor point. I also find that the remote control doesn't always make the unit respond right away and it's not easy to detect visually whether the remote is doing anything at all (a faint blue light flashes behind the grill) so I feel that this is a let down to the device.
Having said that, I am pleased with this unit. The sound is good and gives a good and natural account of itself on films. I also use it for my iPod music and it's excellent. I don't miss "true stereo" since the sound seems to fill the living room quite well. I love this product, my only critisizam is the remote control which I find to small and sometimes you need to push the buttons more than once to make it work. This is a small niggle from an otherwise great product, I have already recommended it to a colleague who has also purchased one.
I bought the Orbitsound T12 because I liked the idea of surround sound but I didn't wires all over my living room and from that perspective, it's perfect. The depth of the sound is very impressive, a very good alternative to a traditional surround sound system at a very reasonable price. The iPod dock is a great feature, just place your iPod in the top and you can play all your music and charge at the same time.
But despite all the positives, my Orbitsound spends most of the time switched off and used as an oversized iPhone charger. The thing I found most annoying was that placing an iPhone in the dock automatically switches the sound source to the iPhone, so if you're watching something you lose the sound until you use the remote control to switch back to tv. I realise that this doesn't sound a huge problem, but it's one of those things that gets very annoying- particularly if you're like me and can never find where you've put the remote. Also, the remote isn't sensitive enough and you have to point it exactly at the right place to get it to work.
I think it comes down to your budget- this gives good quality sound for a very reasonable price and is great value for money. But if your budget is less restrictive, it might be worth paying a little extra for improved functionality.
I have one of these in my bedroom plugged into my PS3, (great combination). I hadn't even heard of a sound bar until I started looking into alternatives to surround sound and saw this affordable option.
My room wasn't big enough to set up multiple speakers around my room easily and as such I looking into many other reviews of these products offering to produce surround sound effects.
This sound bar gave the choice to set it up exactly how you want it to behave, the volume was more than anyone would ever need, mine was set to the minimum capability throughout its use.
This wasn't the easiest thing to set up but I managed to sort it out eventually. This sound bar came with all the required cables including the optical one which is plugged into the back of my PS3.
Not as heavy as I thought it would be, very mobile if that is the use you with for it. I found out it was surprisingly robust as well, my tv could be rested on top of it.
I have been toying with the idea of buying a surround sound system for many months now but I was always put off by the fact that you need wires all over the living room to connect it all up. You can, of course, get wireless speakers but then each one has to be plugged in so there is still an issue there.
I recently discovered the Orbitsound T12 soundbar. For those of you who, like me up until recently, are not aware of what they are, a soundbar is basically a smallish bar (H95 x W540 x D90 mm) which is placed underneath the television or mounted on the wall in order to improve the sound. In essence, it does the same as surround sound without all the wires and speakers.
The way it works is the soundbar has eight speakers built in including two at either side of the bar as well as out of the front which means that the sound comes out sideways as well as forwards. The sound waves then bounce off of the wall giving the impression of surround sound or, as Orbitsound call it, airSOUND.
There are three settings to choose from - "Off", "Normal" and "Wide". The difference between the three is simple. "Off" means that the soundbar will only send out sound through the front speakers and a small amount through the side ones. "Wide" means that all the speakers are used and gives you the best surround sound experience. "Normal" falls somewhere in between the other two. Personally, I always leave mine on the "Wide" setting.
As well as the soundbar, you also get a sub-woofer that needs to be connected to the soundbar. This is simply done by connecting a cable between the two (supplied in the box). While the sub is much bigger than the sound bar (H460 x W540 x D540 mm) it does not need to be in full view and can be hidden away a bit.
The other feature of this particular soundbar is that it is also and iPod / iPhone dock. By simply plugging your Apple product in, you have full access to the music features via the remote control and it also charges it.
These are at home on the back of the soundbar (the bit that no-one will see). The main connections to note are the coaxial and optical digital input (cable supplied in the box) as well as 3.5mm aux stereo inputs. There is also a video out connection that can be used with the Ipod / Iphone as well as the main power connection.
All I can say is that I was shocked that such a small thing can provide such an amazing sound! When I first plugged it in I kept switching between the tv speaker and the soundbar and what a difference it makes! I watched Inception a few days ago and the sound almost blew me away! The deep bass means that you really get engrossed in the film and you also feel every bit of music. Even watching films that I have watched many times before feels very different and you feel a much bigger part of it.
One other thing I love about it is that the sound doesn't vary depending on where you are sat. I have seen other speakers in the past which will give a poor sound in one part of the room but great sound in another. There is no such problem here as the sound is the same no matter where you are.
When playing music it sounds great as well. The vocals sound great and you can hear every instrument so much clearer.
The remote is distinctly average. It is quite a small remote but feels a bit plasticy. On the remote there are a few basic controls. You can adjust the treble and bass, the main volume and control the Ipod / Iphone. When controlling your Ipod / Iphone, you have full access to all the music features so you are able to switch between artists, songs, albums, etc which is a real benefit. The remote also has a button which lets you change sources so if you're Ipod / Iphone is plugged in you can switch to it without having to get up!
While I am overall extremely happy about it, there are a couple of niggling things that I should mention.
My soundbar is plugged into the mains and every night this gets switched off. However, when you switch it on again, the bass and treble levels get reset to normal and you have to readjust it which is a bit of a hassle.
The second is that it does not have an equaliser. Because different channels have different sound levels, it often means that you need to adjust the volume every time you change channel.
Finally, while you can change the level off bass and treble, I find that even at the lowest setting, the bass can still be a bit too bassy. This has only happened once or twice but is still worth noting.
I must say that I am extremely happy with this. I was a bit dubious when I first heard about the idea but after seeing one in action and through my own usage I think they are absolutely brilliant.
For me, I wanted the surround sound effect without the hassle of all the wires and the speakers and I believe I have definitely found this with the soundbar.
The only sticking issue which I'm sure will put a lot of people off is the price. Currently retailing at around the £300 mark it certainly isn't cheap but if you're looking for a decent sound system then this one is the way forward.