Orbitsound M9 review

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Smooth, room-filling sound
  • Bluetooth

Cons

  • Remote
  • Can’t see LEDs on top
  • No USB port

The M9 is Orbitsound’s follow-up to the T9, which was released last year to almost universal praise. The key selling point of Orbitsound’s soundbars is Spatial Stereo Technology (SST), which aims to engulf the room in sound and create one big sweet spot. But what’s most remarkable about the M9 is that it aims to deliver this room-filling sound from a compact unit that measures just 300mm wide.

It comes with a wireless subwoofer and Bluetooth support, making it a versatile, convenient and discreet sound system.

Design and features

The soundbar is a beautifully designed unit, with its high-gloss black finish and curved corners lending a sense of elegance. Its compact dimensions (300 x 90 x 100mm) make it easy to place on shelves or furniture without much disruption.

Even more impressive is the build quality – the gloss-black finish oozes luxury and there’s a satisfying solidity to the bodywork. That’s due in part to its wood construction, chosen for its acoustic properties.

The metal magnetic grille that covers the front drivers is also first-rate, sitting on six acoustically damped mounts.

On top of the soundbar is a rubberised panel embedded with source, Bluetooth selection/pairing, volume up/down and power buttons, while four small LEDs indicate the selected source and status. One minor criticism is that you can’t see these LEDs from the sofa, so you won’t know what source is selected unless you approach the unit.

On the back is an optical digital audio input for connection to a TV or Blu-ray player (a cable is provided) as well as analogue stereo input and a 3.5mm minijack input for portable audio devices. A USB port would have been the icing on the cake but with Bluetooth on board it’s no great loss.

The subwoofer shares the robust build quality as the soundbar, except it sports an attractive matt PVC finish instead of gloss black.

Spatial Sound Technology uses a combination of side-firing drivers and proprietary processing to radiate sound into the room. The unit isolates sounds that create a sense of space and sends them to the side drivers, which interact with the main front drivers to generate extra width and depth.

The M9 uses a 1in tweeter sandwiched between two 2.5in cones on the front, while the side drivers are 2in full-range affairs and the sub features a 6.5in woofer. The new on-board digital amps kick out a claimed total output of 200W.

Bluetooth is another stand-out feature, allowing you to wirelessly enjoy music from phones and other devices using the A2DP profile. Sadly there’s no audio enhancement tech like apt-X, but hopefully that won’t be an issue.

Cleverly, the M9 ‘grabs’ your Bluetooth device when you hit play rather than automatically connecting whenever it’s in range. There is a fairly loud pop when the connection is severed and reconnected but it’s tolerable.

Operation

The M9’s remote is styled in a fetching gloss black finish. While not quite full size, it’s bigger than the usual credit card style zappers you normally get with a product like this.

The curvy buttons are neatly arranged in two columns, broken up by a cluster in the middle that includes track skip, up/down and enter.

The hard, clicky keys aren’t particularly comfortable to press and the layout is clumsy, but you’ll get used to it. There are dedicated controls for bass and treble, plus you can pause and skip tracks on Bluetooth devices and toggle through inputs using the Source button.

Bluetooth pairing is quick and easy. Hold down the Bluetooth button on the M9 and it appears on your device’s menu – connect and away you go.

Linking the soundbar and sub is equally simple – they’re paired at the factory, but you can reset the connection by holding down the buttons on the back of the soundbar or the sub.

Performance

Let’s not beat about the bush – the M9’s audio performance is sensational. Whether you’re playing a movie from your TV or music from an iPod, it’ll leave you wondering how such a small unit can muster such a big sound.

Let’s start with Spatial Stereo, which works brilliantly. As promised, it floods the room with sweet, detailed sound that envelops you no matter where you sit. It brings more depth and emotion than you’d expect from a soundbar.

I played the live versions of Au Cinema and No Room For Doubt by Lianne La Havas and the M9 accentuates the subtle echo on certain parts of the song, such as drums, vocals and crowd applause. This opens up the soundstage and makes you feel a little more involved than most soundbars would. Purists might think this sounds like too much interference, but even they’d have to admit that Orbitsound’s technology is impressive.

I played Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack and the sweltering funk sounds punchy and urgent, while the swirling strings and soaring saxophone made the hairs on my neck stand on end. There’s no harshness – each instrument is conveyed with stunning smoothness and clarity.

The subwoofer plays a significant role too. Bass is tightly fused with the soundbar and perfectly timed, with no signs of delay caused by the wireless transmission. Its punchy character makes uptempo dance tracks sound terrific.

I also connected a TV via optical input and discovered that the M9 treats movies with the same crisp detail and composure. Spatial Stereo is no replacement for real 5.1 sound and nor is it supposed to be, but the way it envelops you and spreads out positional elements in the soundtrack makes for an engrossing, entertaining listen.

Dialogue comes through clearly and the subwoofer injects deep, taut bass during action scenes without suffocating the soundbar. Great stuff.

Verdict

Orbitsound’s M9 stands head and shoulders above most stereo soundbars on the market thanks to Spatial Stereo’s ability to fill a room with smooth, detailed sound. Both music and movies sound wonderful, underpinned by tight, punchy bass from the wireless sub. What’s more, built-in Bluetooth offers hassle-free music playback, while its chic, compact design and luxury build quality make it a classy addition to your living room.

Specifications

Manufacturer and model

Orbitsound M9

Quoted power

200W

Channels

2

HDMI output

No

HDMI inputs

No

Component video output

No

Composite video output

No

Ethernet

No

Digital audio inputs

1 (optical)

3.5mm minijack input

Yes

Analogue stereo input

Yes

Dolby TrueHD decoding

No

DTS HD Master Audio decoding

No

Dolby Digital decoding

No

Bluetooth

Yes

DTS decoding

No

USB port

No

Built-in Wi-Fi

No

iPod/iPhone support

No

DLNA media streaming

No

Online content

No

3D ready

No

Dimensions (soundbar) W x H x D

300 x 90 x 100mm

Dimensions (subwoofer) W x H x D

230 x 140 x 345mm

Smartphone control

No

Audio Return Channel support

No

Radio tuner

No

Sound processing

Spatial Stereo Technology