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Orbitsound SB60 airSound Base review

Tom Morgan
24 Sep 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT

An ideal speaker for anyone lacking the space for a sound bar, but it's not perfect

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A sound bar is ideal for anyone with a wall-mounted TV, or for those with a convenient shelf directly above or below the screen. Otherwise, you can quickly discover that your new speaker obscures the base of your TV and blocks the IR receiver, rendering your remote controls useless. That certainly isn't the case with the SB60; Orbitsound's first speaker base sits directly underneath the TV stand, elevating it off your TV cabinet and providing a clear line for both sound and IR signals.

The piano black gloss finish looks the part but the SB60 is also satisfyingly sturdy, comfortably taking the weight of even the heaviest plasma TVs. It's 60cm wide, which Orbitsound says is large enough to comfortably support up to 55in TVs. Even so, it's worth measuring your set before you buy, because one of the Samsung models we tried to test it with had a wider base and wouldn't balance safely.

Orbitsound SB60

The black metallic grille at the front of the unit is held on with magnets, letting you easily pop it off and replace it with the silver one included in the box to better match silver TVs. The bezels are satisfyingly minimal, with just an Orbitsound logo on one side and a power LED on the other. You can't disable the light, which turns from red to blue when you power on the system, although you could feasibly cover it up with electrical tape by removing the grille, should it prove distracting.

Unfortunately, this also means there's no way to tell what volume level the unit is set to at a glance. With several different sources, plus bass and treble controls on the remote too, adjusting the sound signature is more trial and error than we would like to see.

Disappointingly, the bundled remote control is the same basic model found in Orbitsound's sound bar models, complete with iPod controls which do nothing here. We would have liked to see a little more attention to detail here, as it feels cheap compared to the look of the unit itself.

The rear of the unit is almost as simple as the front, with just three inputs; analogue 3.5mm and phono, and digital optical. There's also a volume dial to set the default level and a power switch, in case you prefer to power down your gadgets completely rather than leave them on standby. There are no HDMI inputs, meaning you won't be able to pass video from a set-top box or games console, and no on-board Dolby or DTS decoding either. This basically means you'll be pumping audio from the TV directly to the SB60, regardless of the original source.

Orbitsound's "infinite sweet spot" approach to sound bars carries across to the SB60, with twin 2in drivers at the front of the unit and an additional 2in pair on the sides to create the widest sense of stereo sound possible. It worked very well, filling our test room with sound that could be heard from virtually any angle, although given its size, there should be no surprise that it is best suited to smaller rooms. Positional audio was never going to compete with a true surround sound system, but it does a good job with stereo separation to at least give you the feeling of having multiple speakers.

Orbitsound SB60

The 5in subwoofer is also built into the main unit, rather than coming as a separate box. This keeps things tidy, but unsurprisingly you won't be rattling the furniture with it. Even so, the SB60 still managed to put in an impressive performance during our testing. It gave both films and music much greater presence than the average pair of integrated TV speakers, giving explosions and car crashes a lot more weight. However, this also brought out the SB60's weak spot; a somewhat harsh high-end. Although you can reign it in slightly using the treble controls, there's no escaping the overly bright higher frequencies.

Unless you absolutely can't make room for a sound bar, either because you don't want to drill holes to mount one or lack the shelf space, we think the Philips HTL5120 is a better buy - it includes Bluetooth connectivity in the box for smartphone streaming and costs less. However, if you want an all-in-one speaker which will blend into the background, the SB60 is still a good buy.

Details

Price£300
Rating****

Connections

HDMI inputs0
HDMI outputs0
Component inputs0
Component outputs0
Output resolutionsN/A
Total SCART sockets0
SCART socket typeN/A
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs0
Composite outputs0
Stereo phono inputs1
Stereo phono outputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs0
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF inputs1
Optical S/PDIF outputs0
Multi-channel inputno
Speaker configuration4.1
Main unit end speaker connection typeN/A
Speaker end speaker connection typeN/A
Other connectionsnone
Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking supportnone

Playback

Surround sound formatsnone
Optical driveno
Region freeN/A
Supported playback disc formatsN/A
Audio format supportN/A
Video playback formatsN/A
Image viewing formatsN/A

Speakers

Speaker configuration4.1
RMS power output200W
RMS power centreN/A
RMS power frontN/A
RMS power surroundN/A
RMS power subwooferN/A
Wall mountableno
Centre speaker cable lengthN/A
Front speaker cable lengthN/A
Surround speaker cable lengthN/A

General

Extrasremote control
Size600x300x80mm
Subwoofer dimensionsN/A
Centre speaker dimensionsN/A
Front speaker dimensionsN/A
Surround speaker dimensionsN/A
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on8W

Buying Information

Price£300
Warrantyone year RTB
Detailswww.orbitsound.com

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