Just when you thought those annoying tinny tunes blasting from the back of the bus couldn’t get any more annoying and tinny, Orbitsound unleash the T3 portable speaker onto unsuspecting commuters. Although Orbitsound says that there is a time and a place for headphones – i.e. on public transport – that’s not going to stop those who insist on sharing their love of 200+ Bpm Hi-NRG trance with everyone else on the 07:15 to Waterloo.
Luckily, the Orbitsound T3 doesn’t work well in that capacity. This neat external speaker works best when it’s plugged into a mobile phone, PMP, or laptop and placed down on a flat surface rather than worn around the neck. You connect phones and devices to the T3 via a 3.5mm cable. So if you’re out in the park with your friends on a summers day and want to give your phone’s speakers a bit more of a kick, or are watching a DVD on a laptop, then the Orbitsound T3 will give you that little bit of lift you need.
We found that whilst the Orbitsound T3 is a noisy little beast, sound quality varies between handsets. When we played music from an iPhone 3G it didn’t sound that hot. At anything higher than half the maximum volume, we found that music would distort and was pretty horrible and flat, with not a lot of bass response. Music played on a Nokia N95 sounded much better, even at 100% volume there was barely any distortion.
Orbitsound’s angle is that headphones and Bluetooth headsets don’t offer a ‘true’ stereo listening experience, as all you’re actually getting is two separate mono signals routed to your ears. When worn round the neck, as pictured, the T3 with it’s trio of external speakers allows you to bask in the swirl of a ‘uniform stereo soundfield’. We tried this out, again with an iPhone 3G, Nokia N95 and a Creative Zen Vision: M portable music player for good measure. We have to say that this is really impressive, that is, until you start walking. If the 3.5mm ports on your mobile are a bit dusty, then you’re greeted with that characteristic crackling sound every time you take a step. Bluetooth would have been a much more practical solution, and you wouldn’t have to have an ungainly black umbilical trailing down the front of your chest.
Perhaps the most obvious drawback here is that your personal enjoyment of music becomes a whole lot less personal. Whilst it sounds great for you, you have to appreciate that other people might not share your enthusiasm for Genesis, Huey Lewis and the News or Whitney Houston.