Orbitsound SB60 Soundbase Review

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Brand: Orbitsound
Model: SB60 Soundbase
Price: £299
Website: http://www.orbitsound.com/product.asp?id=8

Today we’re reviewing the SB60 airSound BASE (SB60 from here on) from Orbitsound which is the company’s newest ‘sound bar’ offering after forty years’ experience in the sound industry. The SB60 is targeted at those who may want to substitute their TV’s limited speakers, or, are looking for hi-fi level of sound and power without the room or need for one. A unique feature of the SB60 is that unlike other sound bars and indeed, some of Orbitsound’s own sound solutions, there is no external sub-woofer. There is an integrated sub-woofer furthering the low footprint appeal for those who may be looking at a sound bar for more than just replacement TV speakers. The SB60 packs an array of four drivers – two at the front, and two at the side to create a dynamic sound field as well as a down-firing sub concealed within the unit which all adds up to 200W of combined power.

The SB60 is priced at a modest, if not competitive, £299. Whilst this may appear steep in terms of outlay, sound bars from other home AV brands typically start at around the £100 mark and you’re required to be approaching £200 to have any noticeable difference over the dearth of ‘tinny’ integrated speakers that has plagued TVs over the last few years.

Specifications:

  • Frequency response: +/- 3dB, 38Hz – 16KHz
  • Control; response (remote control): LF: +/-8dB (sub volume), HF: 10KHz +/- 8dB EQ
  • Maximum SPL [dB”]: 95dB @1m
  • System power: 200W
  • Crossover frequency: 220Hz
  • Front main drivers: 2×2” Orbitsound mk2
  • Spatial drivers: 2×2” Orbitsound mk2
  • Sub-Bass driver: 1 x 5”
  • Enclosure types: Front – asymmetric sealed, Sides – sealed chambers, Subwoofer – hybrid mode down firing.
  • Connection input(s): Stereo Line level -10dBu, 3.5mm jack and RCA, TOSLINK optical (Stereo).
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 60x33x8cm (WxDxH)
  • Cabinet finish: High gloss
  • Weight (in packaging): 9Kg
  • Power consumption: Standby / Idle 0.4W / 4W
  • Voltage / Power: 22V DC from 110-240v AC
  • Remote Control IR lead code: 6122/01FE

With the introduction out the way let’s take a closer look at the SB60.

First up is the SB60’s packaging. As you can see, the box isn’t anything fancy nor offensive and really, does all it needs to do. The back mimics the front in minimalism and there isn’t a spec rundown in sight but just a few bulletpoints about the SB60’s prowess and features.

Taking the SB60 out of the packaging we’re presented with the accessories. Orbitsound ship the SB60 with everything you’d need including RCA cables for analog devices and a TOSLINK cable for your digital ones. On this note, with the RCA and TOSlink connectivity it’s clear how the SB60 really is an all in one device rather than just a soundbar. There is also a silver bezel should that fit your tastes or decor better. The bezel pops on and off quite easy without any hint of undue flex or strain.

First thoughts upon holding and installing the SB60 is that it’s heavy and doesn’t feel plastic.  Now there are two reasons for this weighty feel. Firstly, there is a tightly packed sub in the chassis of the SB60 and secondly, Orbitsound have stuck with a wooden construction. Whilst the subwoofer is going to be the headline grabber on the store shelves, the wooden construction really impressed me. Not only would taking this route result in added cost, it has been added because it sounds better – and it really does. Orbitsound definitely won a fan with this pursuit of quality even in such a device category that the SB60 occupies.

The SB60 has a glossy finish which whilst fitting in with a good portion of people’s AV setup, glossy finishes do attract every finger print and speck of dust possible. From my experience with the SB60 it cleans quite easily with a duster and doesn’t need as much effort to remove dust and fingerprints as say, my own glass TV stand and a “fat” glossy PlayStation 3. Although hard to tell from the pictures, the glossy finish isn’t detrimental to build quality as far as i can tell the shell of the SB60 seems solidly built and i have no qualms about Orbitsound’s claims that it can hold ~55″ sets on top of it. You can also get a better feel for the size of it i the above picture and how impressive it is they’ve squeezed so much into such a slim box.

As we can see from the back there is the easy to locate power switch and volume knob as well as the connectivity options. Personally, i always prefer my equipment to have a hard switch on the device itself too so this is a bonus for me.

By swapping to the underside of the SB60 you can get a real feel of why Orbitsound are pushing the SB60 the way they are. The downfiring sub has a diameter of 19cm. Given the size of the SB60 this allows it to punch some meaningful bass in a relatively small package. As i mentioned further up, most soundbars in the SB60’s range have a separate subwoofer, with the Sb60 you’re getting it packaged in the same space and a meaty subwoofer at that. Also in shot are the extremely sturdy feet which can be swapped out for different profile ones which are also included.

Lastly there is the remote. I’m not too sure what the line of thinking was here, but everything in the box even before you turn it on screams “solid build” and then you’ve got the remote which looks like it should be packaged in with a portable DVD player. It looks cheap, it feels cheap but most importantly for most, it works fine.

Firstly, performance from the SB60 is great. I delayed writing this review completely because i received the SB60 just before the release of Grand Theft Auto V. Whilst the game may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it proved a great exercise of the SB60′s limbs whether it was general in-game voices, the radio stations over the top of character’s voices, but always with a clear separation between the different sources in-game but not enough it sounded artificial – testament to Orbitsound’s spatial sound design. Of course, it wouldn’t be Grand Theft Auto without some explosions and here is where the SB60 truly excelled. Bass wasn’t earth shattering, but it was just what I’d expect from the SB60. There is a necessary ‘oomph’ to sounds that should have it and no application on one’s that shouldn’t.

The consistent and measured sound carried over to some Jools Holland shows we have saved too. Once the desired volume was set there was no need to turn it up or down, fiddle with the bass because it was too deep or too light between performances or when Jools is interviewing artists. Beforehand on our set’s built-in speakers we tend to have to turn it up and down every time an advert comes on, switch channel or sometimes even scenes. The soap watcher in the house has absolutely loved having the SB60 during my review time and even i didn’t mind hearing Coronation Street’s theme every other night through the SB60.

Finally, there is the ease of use aspect to the SB60. I eluded to it earlier on the SB60 was more a receiver than a sound bar and that’s what it is, really, and its name implies as much. Whilst I’ve been referring to it as a sound bar during the review Orbitsound call it the soundbase and a base for your living room sound needs is exactly what it is. Switching between sources is simple and perhaps missing another optical or even a HDMI port, i imagine most people the SB60 is aimed at would have their needs covered.

To conclude my thoughts on my time with the SB60, I’m in two minds about where i put Orbitsound’s effort. The performance is great and i was surprised by the sound that came out of such a slim line device, especially when i had the pretence that these types of devices weren’t actually that great no matter how much you spend. Performance is great across all areas and even with the rather cheap remote aside, I’ve no reason to believe that its £300 badly spent if you’re in the market for such a device. It fits a niche that most of its competitors haven’t got their hands into yet and as such it’s unique and also part of its attraction.

The second train of thought i have is that £300 is a lot of money for something which – whilst not limited to your TV at all – is a component to a TV in the first place, i feel. At this price point the lack of an extra input did leave me thinking “why not”, along with cheap feeling remote.

As I’ve pointed out in the first paragraph of the conclusion, i don’t believe there is a genuine reason this wouldn’t be money well spent if you was in the market for such a device as the SB60 and you’re going to get maximum use out of it. I’m myself not as massive TV person, and again, whilst this isn’t the SB60’s only purpose, it’s a significant one where it excels and for this reason i feel the £300 is hard to justify for anyone who wouldn’t get maximum benefit. It isn’t that the SB60 isn’t worthy of such a price tag, it just isn’t an amount i personally would spend on such a device.

With the above in mind, i feel the SB60 deserved five starts for both performance and design which i can’t fault at all, but 3 stars for value, giving it an average of 4.3. If you’re in the market for a soundbase at the SB60’s price range there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider it.

 

With the above in mind, i feel the SB60 deserved five starts for both performance and design which i can’t fault at all, but 3 stars for value, giving it an average of 4.3. If you’re in the market for a soundbase at the SB60’s price range there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider it.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

I feel the SB60 deserved five starts for both performance and design which i can’t fault at all, but 3 stars for value, giving it an average of 4.3. If you’re in the market for a soundbase at the SB60?s price range there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider it.

4.3

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