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Orbitsound unveils M9 and M12 wireless soundbars

Brings 'sum and difference' technology to a compact audio system
Thu Feb 21 2013, 00:05

BRITISH AUDIO FIRM Orbitsound unveiled its M series of wireless soundbars today, bringing its "spatial sound" technology that takes advantage of sum and difference audio signals to an updated range of products.

Though aesthetically very similar to the firm's previous T series, the M9 and M12 soundbars introduce improved features such as a wireless subwoofer and a new control panel.

More notably, however - especially for those wanting to wirelessly stream music from their mobile devices - the M series soundbars replace an integrated docking station with Bluetooth. This is so that any tablet, laptop or smartphone can be connected and play music through the soundbar.

m9 soundbar orbitsound features special sound technology

Bundled with the M9 and M12 soundbars is a 2.4ghz wireless active subwoofer with a physical volume control on the back so users can fine tune the level of bass they want. This is paired with the soundbar wirelessly to reduce the number of cables needed, allowing the device to be placed in different locations around the home.

The M series also features a settings memory, which saves the source, volume, treble and bass settings when the power is disconnected. These functions are also present in a remote control that is included in the bundle.

Connection options include Bluetooth, optical and auxiliary inputs.

Orbitsound said that the M9 is aimed towards those wanting high quality music output, as it is a more compact version of the M12, which is bigger and aims to improve the audio quality of television sets. We spoke with the firm's senior product manager Dan Fletcher ahead of the launch today, who explained that the firm has focused its efforts on improving television audio due to TV sets becoming thinner and thus producing poorer sound quality.

"You need the ability to move air to make sound, and you need to displace large amounts of air if you're going to make a big sound," Fletcher said. "The idea of having a unit which is a single box which creates a 'spatial sound' is what attracted us to the market."

Orbit sound m12 is aimed for heavy TV users

"Spatial sound" refers to Orbitsound's patented technology, which takes advantage of "sum and difference" audio signals, as opposed to left and right channels, to create what Orbitsound terms "a more solid image".

Fletcher explained that using sum and difference signals creates a more natural, wide sound that doesn't suffer from problems of overlapping signals.

"When a microphone catches the main signal or the 'sum', which is a microphone with a very wide pattern, you use a second microphone in the second place that records the 'difference' information," Fletcher said.

"The result is that you get two tracks, one which is the main information and one which is the signal that makes your ears respond differently to one another, and you need to mix them and treat them in the studio to be able to play back through a normal left, right signal."

m9 is aimed more towards music lovers

Fletcher highlighted that with sum and difference you don't get the problem of overlapping signals because you're recording everything in one place.

"Back in the day we were playing with this [technology] and to try it out we thought we'd do a playback system that works the same way," Fletcher added. "Instead of remixing the system, we played back our recordings through a sum and difference arranged loudspeaker and it worked.

"Though [the technology] itself isn't new, we saw the potential in the process of positioning speakers differently and playing back the sum and difference through them."

The benefits this brings to the listener to products utilising this technology is that they can fill a room with sound and create non-directional stereo where you don't need to sit in the "sweet spot" to hear a track at its best.

m9 soundbar front view

The M9 and M12 soundbars both reproduce this "spatial sound" audio technology with a set of mono speakers at the front of the soundbar and two side speakers to produce a stereo effect.

Orbit sound says it has developed the technology in the M series as a way to prove to other technology manufacturers, such as laptop makers, its capabilities in the hope they will look to implement it in their future product lineups.

The Orbitsound M9 and M12 soundbars will be available from retail stores such as John Lewis from March for £299 and £399, respectively.

We've got an Orbitsound M9 here in The INQUIRER office, so check back soon for our review to see if the firm's unique technology lives up to expectations. µ


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