Sound is not the same as noise.
Sound is the pleasant ambience of the world. The birds chirping, the bees buzzing, the gentle traffic crashing on the shore of Tottenham Court Road. It is also the essence of a good speaker system - and of one of these, the Orbitsound T9, we will hear more in a moment.
Noise, however, at its worst, is a death sentence.
Recently outside this reviewer's flat in Central London, there has been a loose manhole cover.
A manhole cover of such outrageous looseness, that any time a car, truck or gust of wind passes over it, the rise and fall of the round metal disc sounds like a construction crane deflating cataclysmically onto a loosely stacked pile of iced sheet metal.
That noise is relayed so loudly, and frequently, around this reviewer's home that life in all important respects has become unlivable.
So when a press release announcing the Orbitsound T9 - a very small, simple soundbar that promises 'room filling' sound - came into my possession, I had to try it.
In design and form the T9 is a resounding success. Like the best speaker set-ups, it keeps its look simple and bold. It's all hard angles and strong lines with a white (or black, but we tested the white) matte finish and a magnetically attached, dampened grille, which fits in unobtrusively to nearly any home.
At just 30cm in length the soundbar is designed to fit in front of small TVs, but has 140W RMS of power and an included, but again compact, subwoofer, made of lacquered wood.
It also comes with a basic remote, which is usable if not stunning, and a full set of cables including optical, AUX, speaker, AUX in and VID out phono cables. It's an iPod/iPhone dock and charger too, but it isn't Airplay equipped - which is a shame.
In sound, the T9 is also perfectly functional. In fact it's way above what we were expecting from something so tiny. We have previously stated this publication's aversion to 'purple prose' adjectives when describing how speakers and headphones perform, but the clarity and depth of the T9 really is something. As usual, you have to hear it to be able to tell. But from a package so small, you wouldn't anticipate that it would sound this good.
(Statswise the T9 should also have enough to convince audiophiles on paper that its worth the shot - see below).
Power: 140W RMS. 80W Sub, 35W Main, 25W Spatial Crossover Frequencies: 160Hz/5KHz
But what about the manhole?
Unfortunately, that's where the T9 let itself down a little.
As it turns out, as much as we wanted it to succeed, a package this compact wasn't quite enough to drown out a noise so obviously ripped from the CD collection of Hades.
Don't get us wrong - the T9 is loud enough to do most of the job, but really a few more additional speakers would be needed to stop this noise in its tracks. As much as we tried, the sound wasn't quite thick enough to make the difference.
And like most systems of its size, the T9's performance dropped off a little at higher volumes, whatever the quality of the music played.
So in this battle, the noise won out against the sound. Alas.
Having said that if you can justify the price, and don't judge a speaker system by its ability to cure your major emotional, residential and psychological problems, this might be what you're after.
The T9 soundbar will be available from mid-July 2012 from John Lewis and selected independent retailers, priced £199.99.Suggest a correction