As televisions get thinner, the quality and loudness of their internal speakers has taken a nosedive; even high-end screens struggle to match even a cheap set of dedicated speakers. Once answer is to install a cinema-grade 5.1 surround system but not everyone wants speakers dotted around their room. Step forward the soundbar – and in particular, the Orbitsound A70.
You would be forgiven for not knowing who Orbitsound is. A British speaker company, it has a patented technology that fires sound both straightforward and out to the sides, helping to create a wider source and fuller sound without relying on multiple speakers spread evenly around you. For £500, the A70 package includes the soundbar and a wireless subwoofer, plus a small remote control that can be configured to handle your television volume too.
Orbitsound A70: Design
The main unit is made of wood and has a glossy, piano black finish ensuring it complements most people's living rooms and existing setups. At 7cm tall, the bar is shallow enough to fit below your TV without blocking the screen, although Xbox users will need to move their Kinect to the side when they are not using it. The subwoofer box contains a 6.25in driver and is surprisingly large, but thankfully it is very simple to pair wirelessly with the main unit, then you can put it out of the way.
Connecting the bar itself to your TV is as simple as plugging in an included optical cable. I ran this straight from my TV to the soundbar, ensuring everything attached to the TV (Sky, Xbox One, PS3, Amazon Fire TV) delivered their sound to the A70. There is no HDMI input here, but for me – and most consumers, I'd imagine – this is not a problem.
Orbitsound A70: Performance
Once set up, the A70 works like any other soundbar, providing a huge improvement over the poor speakers in my television and offering a simpler, tidier and more convenient alternative to a full 5.1 surround sound system. The A70's remote is a high-quality accessory with a rubberised finish that feels great in the hand. Large volume buttons are joined by a red power button and the option to adjust the bass and treble. There are also play/pause and skip buttons for Bluetooth music playback.
It may sound like I'm overanalysing here, but the remote feels of a much higher quality than many that come bundled with speakers; the buttons have a solid, tactile feel and a pronounced click.
With 300 watts at its disposal, the Orbitsound A70 produces a well-rounded sound with strong, punchy bass and high but precise treble. The volume can be cranked up to neighbour-annoying levels, while levels remain well balanced with a wide range of material; various genres of music, film, TV show and radio were all produced clearly and accurately.
The A70's breadth of talent is one of its key selling points, as is an excellent Bluetooth function for pairing with your smartphone (via NFC, where available) and replacing any stereo or speaker dock you already have in your living room. There's also a 3.5mm jack for connecting a non-Bluetooth source such as an iPod.
Orbitsound's unique selling point remains how its patented technology can produce a field of sound so wide you think it's coming from multiple sources scattered across the room. It cannot mimic true surround sound, but it is a huge improvement over regular TV speakers. You need to make sure there is some space either side of the soundbar, otherwise the sound sent out sideways will be bounced straight back – this is unlikely to be a problem for many, given most televisions are much wider than the 75cm A70.
Orbitsound A70: The verdict
At £500, Orbitsound is pitching the A70 up against the likes of Bose and some of Samsung's high-end offerings. Stiff competition for a company that many consumers will never have heard of. But do not be put off. The A70 is as deserving of such a price tag as any of its rivals. The design is top notch, it is incredibly simple to set up and use, and the sound quality is excellent. Perhaps the A70's best feature is how flexible it can be; whether it is TV, film or music over cable or Bluetooth, the soundbar performs excellently. A quick change to the bass or treble is all that is ever needed to get the most out of any situation.
At £500, OrbitSound is pitching the A70 up against the likes of Bose and some of Samsung’s high-end offerings. Stiff competition for a company which many consumers will never have heard of. But don’t be put off. The A70 is as deserving of such a price tag as any of its rivals. The design is top notch, it is incredibly simple to set up and use, and the sound quality is excellent. Perhaps the A70’s best feature is how flexible it can be; whether it is TV, film or music over cable or Bluetooth, the soundbar performs excellently. A quick change to the bass or treble is all that’s ever needed to get the most out of any situation.
- Design: 9/10 - Classy and subtle, the A70 will look great in almost all home settings
- Connections: 8/10 - Bluetooth, NFC, optical and 3.5mm; only HDMI is missing
- Sound quality: 8/10 - Mostly excellent, although bass and treble need adjusting depending on what you are using the sound bar for
- Easy of use: 9/10 - Incredibly simple set up and a basic remote which gives you everything you need. Audiophiles will want more, but for the majority this is perfect
- Value: 7/10 - £500 is a lot of money in anyone's book and while true surround sound isn't possible, you can't ask for much more here
- Sleek design
- Very simple to set up and use
- Great sound and volume
- Subwoofer unit is quite large
- Price will be out of some budgets
- Lacking in features for some audiophiles