Modern televisions may look great, but few can produce anything close to decent sound, making an external speaker set-up a necessity for those after a true home theatre experience. There are many options out there, but if you are in the market for a no-fuss and crisp-sounding addition, consider the SB60 – a gutsy TV base solution from Orbitsound that will set you back something like NZ$500.
The SB60 is large enough to produce a fat bottom end (60cm x 33cm x 8cm), and although it weighs fewer than nine kilograms and feels a little hollow, it didn’t budge when a 46 inch TV was placed on top.
It’s a black beast with a high-gloss finish that’s an absolute dust magnet, but the SB60 does come with interchangeable fasciae, so those with a silver setup are also catered for. A sole LED acknowledges any button presses from the remote, but otherwise it’s a monolith whose presence will go largely unnoticed until switched on.
Despite its relative cheapness on the spectrum of home theatre gear, the clarity and power of the SB60 are both excellent. There are only two ways to tweak the EQ – via bass and treble buttons – but you’ll struggle to find media that doesn’t sound crisp and defined through this system. Its two side-firing speakers shoulder surround sound responsibilities, while central drivers produce clean mids and capable highs and a down-facing sub kicks out some seriously impressive low-end. There's no doubt the latter is the star of this otherwise capable ensemble.
The system's sub was put to the test with a session of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood in which double-shotguns were wielded and both the bass and volume settings were turned up to maximum. Surprisingly, the bottom end never got saggy, and the overall clarity never wavered – even at a volume that probably had the neighbour’s pets hiding under their house.
At more sensible EQ settings, dialogue was at the head of the mix as it should be, but the bass still had a pleasing warmth. This performance was consistent across games, film, and music.
Where the SB60 is something of a let-down is in its feature set. It has two analogue AUX inputs and a digital optical port as expected, but there’s no support for Bluetooth which is a huge omission, and the lack of a front panel display means you are in the dark when it comes to your volume and EQ settings until you hear them.
Extra lights under the TV can be distracting, but a small indicator for each setting that fades out when remote input stops would have been great. Speaking of the remote, it’s a small, simple affair that does what it needs to in an unfussy fashion. Drunk operation would be a cinch.
The only other gripe I have with the SB60 is something inherent in all sound bases: its surround sound capabilities can’t match those of my current satellite speakers. It’s as good as these things get from a single source, but those jamming a lot of playing competitive shooters online will find themselves reaching for headphones after a while.
Even so, the SB60 is a piece of cake to set up, there are no wires to trip over, and sound-wise it blows my current system out of the park and the neighbour’s dogs off the porch. If you are after a great-looking, excellent-sounding setup that will serve you well across media of all types (particularly if you buy a Bluetooth dongle), the SB60 is well worth a look.