(Pocket-lint) - Ahead of its official unveiling, Pocket-lint got some hands-on time - and, indeed, ear time - with the latest Orbitsound M9 soundbar speaker and subwoofer system.
The M9 is the wireless update to the T9 model which, when we reviewed it in 2012, we thought was small without scrimping on the sound.
READ: Orbitsound T9 review
The M9 builds on that heritage with a couple of obvious changes - there's no longer a wired iPod dock, instead it's Bluetooth all the way with a main control panel on the top of the soundbar unit.
The concept of Orbitsound is to deliver what the company calls "spatial sound" - a single point-based system that can give the impression of more-enveloping sound by processing the stereo input channels and - alongside the M9 soundbar's twin 2.5-inch mid-high drivers and single 1-inch tweeter - outputs a tight mid-range frequency from side-positioned speakers. It's like a digital negative of the main stereo sound which eminates from these side speakers and, because of the processing, there's a good sense of space to the sound.
There's a new digital amp inside which delivers 200W of output. Even when cranked up, the sound remains quality and devoid of distortion - much like its predecessor.
On the rear of the soundbar there are inputs for optical, AUX and 3.5mm which will cater for most consumer audio products and, if not, then Bluetooth connectivity needs no extra wires at all.
The pre-production unit we saw did produce audible "clicks" when firing up Bluetooth, but we're assured that these have been ironed out for the final production models which also feature audio fade-in to avoid any unnecessary sudden ear-bashing.
The M9's subwoofer is also all-new. It's an active unit, not passive like that featured with the T9, and features a separate analogue dial on the rear for independent volume control of the lower frequencies. It pairs with the soundbar using 2.4GHz digital wireless and manages to deliver a tight 10ms delay to keep a unified sound between it and the soundbar. Particularly useful in a home cinema set-up. There's even a fetching white Orbitsound logo across the front of the unit.
Available from March, the Orbitsound M9 will cost £299. It may be pricier than its predecessor, but then wireless brings the added cost for the sake of convenience. A shame that there's no NFC, however, as we can see this unit being used for audio just as much or even more than with a TV.
Looks and sounds like logical progression to us. If the 50 per cent price rise compared to the T9 is no bother then Orbitsound has delivered yet another highly capable system that's still fairly priced.