Last year Orbitsound’s T9 Speaker bar was a big hit at the TDL user group. The M9 is its spiritual successor with a few clever tweaks. Indeed a lot of this review may seem familiar as there are so many similarities.
The size has remained much the same – one striking difference being the removal of pre iPhone 5 port on the top. In a nod to the fact that the iPhone is no longer King of the Hill this has been replaced by Bluetooth connectivity and the space where the port was replaced a nice control panel which makes it a little easier to control than the T9 was. Bluetooth seems limited to AD2P with sadly no mention of the music enhancing AptX but to be truthful very few of my source devices yet support AptX. Bluetooth pairing is a simple matter of pressing and holding the Bluetooth button on top the unit until the blue light flashes then pairing from your source device. I tried form Apple, Android and Windows Phone devices without issue. Bluetooth quality seemed excellent.
Like last year’s model this little marvel is equally at home producing sound from a high-end audio system or a television. Equipped with both coax and 3.5mm analogue ins as well as Optical SP/Dif and coming with a plethora of cables in the box this is a very device to set up. Indeed in our testing we were able to hand the speaker bar to someone with no instructions and have it outputting sound from a TV in a matter of minutes. It should be noted that there is no HDMI in which some people may see as an omission. Having said that input is limited to stereo with no on-board decoding of multichannel audio so HDMI might have been a bit of overkill. In rating this product I have categorised it with other speaker bars and docks that do not have HDMI.
Being only stereo might also seem limiting but this is no ordinary stereo sound. Like its predecessor and its bigger M12 brother, the M9 uses Orbitsound’s spatial stereo to produce a room filling sound that does not have a Sweet-Spot. This means unlike conventional stereo speakers where you have to stand in just the right place to get the correct balance with the M9 you can stand anywhere. It is truly great for parties.
That wouldn’t mean anything if the sound quality was poor but it is pretty exceptional this sub £300 combo of tiny speaker bar and reasonably small wireless subwoofer can put many much more expensive speaker sets to shame with good if not pounding bass merging effortlessly into transparent midrange and revealing highs. Indeed with the M9 the digital amplifications has been tweaked over the T9 leading to even better integrations across the frequency range.
The M9 introduces Orbitsounds new proprietary wireless link to the subwoofer. I love the convenience of wireless (well wireless up to the point of still need a power plug) sub-woofers but have previously been concerned about the slight time lag such wireless technology can introduce and its effect on integrations Orbitosound seem to have solved this issue and sub-woofer integration is excellent.
In fact that is one of my few questions, as with the T9, the M9 is so good, so refined and so capable of filling large rooms, I have to wonder why anyone would buy the bigger M12.
We had a really good demonstration of the T9’s room filling ability at the TDL user group. The hall we were in was substantially larger than any living rom I have ever been in but when we turned the T9 up we had people the other side of the room requesting we turn it down so they could talk. That was without any sign of distortion. The M9 seems to be able to go even louder. Unless you home is massive or you like your sound really, really, loud the M9 is going to satisfy.
It’s amazing to think that the room filling stereo is coming form such a small box and a box that really only has a mono front facing speaker array. The stereo comes from some clever use of audio acoustics powered by the two side facing speaker ports.
In conclusion as per last year’s model this is a great performer. The addition of Bluetooth and the wireless sub-woofer enhance what was already a fantastic device. Whilst maybe being perceived by some as lacking in connectivity and multi-channel ability it is a simply amazing performer in stereo which outweighs all such deficiencies for me. I have no hesitation in awarding the M9 a Highly Recommended
Sound Bar Specifications (from www.OrbitSound.com)
Frequency range +/- 3 dB [Hz] 45 – 16KHz
Control; response (remote control) +,-6dB at 100Hz and 10KHz
Maximum SPL [dB] 95dBA
Amp. power 200W total
Crossover frequencies [Hz] 190/5,000
Tweeter drivers 1 x 1” m/c
Front main drivers 2 x 2.5 “
Spatial drivers 2 x 2” full-range
Enclosure type Sealed/orbitsound spatial
Sub-Bass driver 1 x 6.5”
Enclosure type Low profile tuned reflex
Stereo Line level -10dBu
3.5mm jack and RCA.
TOSLINK optical digital input
Orbitsound 2.4GHz audio
Bar, in front of television
Sub, floor, port facing wall
Dimensions (H x W x D) [mm]
90 x 300 x 100mm (soundbar)
140 x 230 x 345mm (sub)
Soundbar: High gloss
Subwoofer: High density PVC
Weight (in packaging) 10.4Kg
Power consumption Standby / Idle 0.4W / 4W
Voltage / Power 22V DC / 110-240v AC
Remote Control IR lead code 6122/01FE