Orbitsound A70 airSound Bar review: For all encompassing sound
The last few years have seen televisions change from huge cabinets to svelte, thin frames, but their newfound slenderness has come at a price. While modern TVs offer a clear and sharp picture, sound quality from built-in speakers has taken a dramatic nosedive.
Soundbars represent a cost-effective way of giving your images the audio they deserve, and the Orbitsound A70 3D could well be one of the best. Plenty of other soundbars claim to create a three-dimensional sound from a single soundbar, but force the viewer to sit in a small “sweet spot” to experience the desired effect. The result? Those seated to the side miss out on the best audio quality.
The Orbitsound A70 aims to improve the situation, by using cutting edge technology to produce a wider sweet spot, and top level sound quality. So, should the Orbitsound A70 3D be your next soundbar?
OrbitSound A70 airSound Bar: Design and features
Soundbars are designed to boost the performance of your existing equipment, so it’s important that they blend into your existing set up. Featuring a polished, piano black finish, the Orbitsound does just that, and at 750 x 74 x 65mm (WDH) it looks stylish yet understated, whether it’s underneath your TV or mounted on the wall.
While Orbitsound provides a sparse yet functional learning remote, controlling the soundbar via its clear, LED illuminated touch controls is much more rewarding. The soundbar’s controls appear to glow through its highly polished exterior, and look fabulous. The system’s accompanying 6.25in subwoofer is less stylish, but wireless pairing means you can easily tuck it out of the way.
The Orbitsound is more advanced than most soundbars, and sets itself apart from the crowd with a one key feature: airSound. Most soundbars play stereo sound through two different, distinct channels to give the listener a sense of space when watching films or playing games. While this works most of time, it’s highly sensitive to where you are in the room, which can ruin the immersion.
But airSound works completely differently, employing three audio channels to create an immersive experience. Two centred 2in speakers play the majority of the sounds, while side firing neodymium speakers on each end broadcast the differences between the left and right channel (this is similar to the way MP3 compression works, just in the analogue domain). The result? Stereo sound is just as immersive as with a stereo setup, but you don’t need to sit directly in front of it.
OrbitSound A70 airSound Bar: Setting up and connectivity
As with most soundbars, the Orbitsound is extremely easy to set up. After finding a suitable space under your TV, or in your equipment cabinet, getting the A70 working is as simple as turning on the power and finding your TV’s optical audio output. If your TV doesn’t have one of those, the Orbitsound A70 isn’t too fussy – it’ll also accept a traditional 3.5mm cable. After pairing the soundbar with its wireless subwoofer, you’re ready to watch films with greatly improved sound.
However, this soundbar isn’t just for watching films. It also has Bluetooth with support for both the aptX and standard SBC codecs, and with NFC support pairing is as easy as it gets.
OrbitSound A70 airSound Bar: Sound and performance
The Orbitsound won’t worry speakers like the Devialet Phantom with its room-shaking volume, but it does offer impressive sound in its own terms. Three-hundred watts of power mean the Orbitsound is no slouch, and its subwoofer offers measured but explosive bass. The Orbitsound itself delivers a balanced, poised sound that’s significantly fuller and richer than anything you’d get out of a flat screen’s integrated speakers.
While its lower and mid ranges offer a step up compared to a normal TV, it’s in the vocal ranges that the Orbitsound really excels. Dialogue and voices are presented in a forthright manner: clear, full and right at the front of the sound stage.
With music, the Orbitsound is less impressive. The soundbar’s airSound technology works well for the wide spatial soundscapes of films, but it can leave music feeling thinner than it should. Acoustic and guitar-based tracks can sound unfocussed and a little too airy or trebly, while electronic tracks with a more homogenous soundstage are robbed of much of their punch. It’s an annoying drawback of the technology, but it’s important to remember that the Orbitsound is a soundbar with the added bonus of music playback, not the other way round.
OrbitSound A70 airSound Bar: Verdict
Is it worth buying? In a word, yes. While it may not offer the audio fireworks of the higher end Yamaha or Sony soundbars, or indeed the Devialet Phantom, it offers balanced, hi-fi-like sound and delivers a huge improvement over the sound from a modern TV.
The only sticking point is the price. At £500, the Orbitsound is expensive, but if you’ve already spent more than £1,000 on your TV, you owe it to yourself to invest at least this much in decent audio.