I often wonder if we are close to seeing stereo supplanted by a more naturalistic sound reproduction method. If I’m being hypercritical, stereo is quite an artificial version of how we really hear sound, and while even sophisticated multichannel surround sound systems can sound astonishing, they can also come across as a bit contrived.
Pioneering British company Orbitsound, which has its roots in Torquay, has long been developing a patented reproduction system called Airsound. It takes a standard stereo sound input and converts it into an interesting hybrid, in which the room is filled with mono sound from two centre drivers and a tweeter, while a certain band of frequencies (from 500Hz to 4KHz, since you ask) is channelled through to small drivers to the left and right of the central mono output. The resultant sound is unusually, and strikingly, natural. The thinking is that most sound, a piano for example, is mono as it comes from one location, and is then modified and altered subtly by the room.
This is what Airsound simulates brilliantly, and this super-slim new Orbitsound soundbar, good for music as well as TV, is quite remarkable. It’s also very cool-looking, thanks to input from LA industrial designer Frank Nuovo, founder of Vertu and inventor of that other innovative Orbitsound product, the 360-degree Spaced360. A rare Torquay/LA venture, then, that is both distinctive and commendable.