Orbitsound A70 airSOUND Bar review

Can the A70's airSOUND tech make the stereo sweet spot obsolete?

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Our Verdict

The Orbitsound A70 is a decent, compact soundbar, with some interesting tech and great audio performance with vocals and dialogue. The airSOUND feature creates a wide soundstage which belies its diminutive size, but there's a question mark as to how that audio processing impacts overall sound quality.

For

  • Compact size
  • Wireless sub
  • Wide soundstage
  • Precise vocal reproduction

Against

  • Expensive
  • Slightly tinny audio

The Orbitsound A70 is the latest of the British company's soundbars to come sporting its patented airSOUND technology, and its compact design and relatively diminutive chassis belie the fact that it's been created to deliver room-filling sound.

Measuring just 75cm in length, the A70 is a rather unobtrusive slab of TV audio-enriching tech with an impressive feature set.

Top of that list is Orbitsound's proprietary airSOUND technology. This is something the company has been working on for the last decade, and has been created to rid the home cinema experience of the need for the audio 'sweet spot' other soundbars or surround sound systems demand.

Orbitsound A70 airSOUND Bar review

Sitting directly in front of the screen, with either the 5.1 surround or dedicated soundbar positioned perfectly for your ears, the experience is always going to be optimal – and that's great if it's just you filling your eyeballs and earholes with Hollywood's latest cinematic masterpiece.

If, however, a few people are watching, then some of them are going to experience a drop-off in sound quality, depending on how far from the sweet spot they're sitting.

airSOUND all round

The A70's airSOUND tech mixes audio processing and speaker positioning to ensure there's no sweet spot, so everyone gets a good audio experience.

The front-firing drivers on the A70 deliver the main channel, providing the full range of audio equally, while the twin side-firing speakers are the ones which drive home the airSOUND effect.

These peripheral speakers deliver the processed spatial sound, which mixes with the main channel to spread audio throughout the room.

Orbitsound A70 airSOUND Bar review

In the front of the A70 are a pair of 2-inch drivers with a 1-inch tweeter to deliver that main channel, and a pair of 45mm neodymium drivers on the sides to deliver the airSOUND spatial audio channel.

The Orbitsound A70 also comes with a wireless subwoofer to augment the room-filling sound with some real depth. The rest of the A70's makeup is pretty standard soundbar fare.

It's wall-mountable, has touch-sensitive, backlit buttons, and can learn your TV remote's volume up and down signals to cut down on the jumble of controls you have to delicately balance on the arms of your sofa.

There's an analogue 3.5mm input as well as the standard optical cable connection to attach the A70 to your TV. It's also rocking Bluetooth connectivity, with aptX support for playing CD-quality music from a compatible device, and an active NFC patch on the front panel to enable the super-lazy to tap and connect.

Performance

Setting the Orbitsound A70 up is a breeze. The compact, rounded-off design fits neatly beneath the TV, and connecting to its wireless subwoofer is quick and easy.

We did experience the very rarest of connection drop-outs between bar and sub, but almost as soon as it disconnected it was back up and running again. We've had more connection problems with far more established soundbar brands.

The display is neat and clean too, with the touch controls fading to black a few beats after being pressed so as not to distract unnecessarily when sat beneath your screen.

The A70 provides some simple controls for the sound too, enabling you to trim or extend the sub's bass levels or the bar's treble.

Orbitsound A70 airSOUND Bar review

There was a bit of a hitch when it came to the remote control learning, however. The remote for the 49-inch Sony I had been testing was quickly picked up by the A70, but the one for the LG Ultra HD TV I subsequently plugged into it wasn't.

That's peripheral to the core of what the A70 is all about though – beefing up the audio from your connected, slimline TV. And in that it does pretty well. Not stellar, but pretty good.

The airSOUND tech does its job of making the soundstage much wider than you might expect from such a diminutive soundbar, and even at fairly extreme angles to the TV and bar you get a decent approximation of the sound.

You're obviously never going to get any sort of surround sound shenanigans with the little A70, but it fills the room admirably.

I'm not 100% sold by the quality of the audio, however.

Orbitsound A70 airSOUND Bar review

While the A70 excels at dialogue, thanks to that central main channel, there's a certain tinniness to the rest of the sound which can be a little distracting. Certainly compared with other soundbars I've tested, and my standard audio setup, the A70 makes less impact overall.

It can run impressively loud though. The main unit itself is capable of pumping out some 130W of audio power, with the sub weighing in with another 170W.

Switching over and listening to music is seamless thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, although here again I felt there was a certain odd timbre to the audio.

Possibly as a result of the sound processing Orbitsound applies to create the airSOUND spatial audio, it sounded like there was a more digital edge to the music, which I don't get via my more traditional amp/speaker setup.