Hey folks Valkor here with a final post-CES 2008 review before we kick in with CES 2009. Oh yes I'll be there, and before that CES Unveiled 08. As always I’m looking forward to these events not just for myself, but to give you, our loyal TOV readers, a first look at some hot new products that'll make there way into your ever loving homes. And speaking of CES 2008, I had the pleasure to meet the folks behind then airSOUND, a soundbar speaker that sounded phenomenal in its prototype stage. airSOUND is now Orbitsound (using airSOUND technology), and the soundbar speaker has been polished up quite nicely, plus they now have a portable speaker to go along with it, so this will be an Orbitsound dual review. They both look great but how does the Orbitsound T12 and T3 sound? Read on to find out.
First up: the Orbitsound T3. The T3 is a compact speaker that’s about the size of an Ipod video but shorter and thicker, plus it’s like having a 2.1 speaker stuffed into a small package. It has a nice glossy finish and it’s very lightweight, so much so that you can carry it by its strap or in your pocket without hindrance. It’s powered with its own rechargeable battery, on one side the power switch and on the other you have a switch for the airSOUND. If you keep the airSOUND off, music sounds muted, like it’s being smothered. However switch it on and now your music has some breathing room and every instrument has their moment to shine. Turn it to max and the music embraces you, surrounds you, filling your personal space, and making so that you can pick out the different instruments, separating the vocals from the tunes. In testing the T3 I used my PSP, Iriver Mplayer and my Toshiba Tecra laptop for movies, CD, and MP3 audio.
Now the T12 is something to behold. I recall it in its prototype form and it wasn’t much to look at, but damn did it sound sweet. Even in the vast room of the Sand's Convention hall, the airSound kicked ass. Now with its glossy finish and added Ipod dock, plus a subwoofer that can act as a sitting stool (though I wouldn’t suggest trying it), it’s lookin mighty fine and certainly turned heads to those who watched me unpack it. Set up is simple and can be done in minutes. After that it’s go time. I put the T12 through the usual tests: Polar Express on DVD, 300 on Blu Ray, some PS3 gaming action with Metal Gear Solid and Devil May Cry 4, and finally MP3 and CD audio.
How did both speakers fare?
With the T3, audio is clean with little distortion (Until you turn the volume way up). The whole point of airSOUND tech is that it immerses you in sound and that it does well. Close your eyes and you can totally feel the music. Plus being a 2.1 in a box, it handles directional sound quite well, which I notice more so in movie watching and gaming on the PSP. For that reason I give it major plus points when compared to Altec’s iM237 or Logitech’s MM28. Not only that but the cable is just the right length so that I can handle my gaming without having to stay so close to the speaker. (Failings of both the iM237 and the MM28).
Now the T12 is where it’s at and all I can say is: WOW!!! When compared to non-soundbar speakers such as the Razer Mako 2.1 or Logitech’s x540 5.1, hands down the T12 gives you equal if not supremely better sound. Because of the airSOUND technology, not only does sound fill the room, it surrounds you. The Polar Express is my end all be all sound reference DVD and with certain scenes such as the “Hot Chocolate” song or towards the end when Santa enters the scene, everything from toe tapping to the sounds of cheers can be heard crystal clear. The same goes for music, especially CD audio, but MP3 audio sounds just as good depending on the quality; low: quality so so, high quality: Yowza! Now when it comes to gaming, the T12 is incredible, because like it's little brother T3, the T12 can also handle directional sound. In the opening battle of MGS 4, you can hear gunfire from all sides and vocal audio is crystal clear. With DMC 4, you can make out every slash, every crunch, every gunshot and vocals with such clarity you’d swear you were in the game. I kid you not! Turn it up during gaming and you'll really feel the power behind the T12. Finally I had the pleasure of testing out the Ipod dock, which not only can you control with the added remote, but you can also view your videos and pics on your televison by plugging a video RCA cable from the T12 to your TV.
Neither the T3 nor the T12 are without faults. For starters with the T3, sound gets distorted once the volume gets too high, so things have to be kept mid range. Also bass is too soft when compared to Altec's iM237, which had a decent level.
With the T12 my only complaint would be the remote control. It’s the clumsiest piece of gadgetry I’ve come across recently. I like how it’s thin and that I can control an Ipod while docked, but at times it’s either unresponsive or lags. I literally have to press the volume buttons twice just to raise or lower the sound. TWICE! And I’m not feeling the design either because it's confusing as to what’s up and what’s down.
The heavens dun shine upon that which is Orbitsound and lo and behold it has behest upon them two wonderful creations for us, its humble masses, to embrace into our aural bosom. Embrace it I say!! And yee shall be rewarded with the gift…. Aahhhhh scrap all that corny nonsense, the Orbitsound T12 and T3 kicks ass and that’s all that needs to be said. If you're looking to invest in a soundbar or a great looking portable speaker, then look no further than the T12 and T3, which I am giving both 4.5 stars out of 5. And they’ve been Valkor tested, TOV Approved.