Panasonic SC-HTB10 £190
3rd Mar 2011 | 10:30
Does the lack of a dedicated subwoofer hinder the performance of this soundbar?
Panasonic's unassuming black monolith doesn't look much, but it's one of the most sophisticated offering HDMI inputs for greater convenience and signal quality.
And instead of a separate sub, you have two dedicated 8cm woofers firing forwards and back against the wall to deliver the bass channel.
This stumpy soundbar is shorter than a 32-inch TV, but it'll benefit anything up to a 50-inch set. Wall brackets that'll hold this deceptively heavy soundbar are included, but it's deeper than most soundbars, so it'll stand out from the wall a few inches.
Being quite complex to set up we had to resort to the manual at one point. This is because, like the Orbitsound T12, there's no front display, which means you have to squint at the tiny LED indicators to check what sound mode and input you're on.
The HDMI ports potentially simplify the wiring though, especially if your TV supports ACR (audio return channel). With new TVs at least one of the HDMI ports will be able to pass audio to the soundbar and automatically mute its own speakers when it detects the soundbar. It will also trigger the soundbar to switch on when the TV is turned on. Maintaining a digital signal means a cleaner sound too.
Connecting up a Samsung Virgin Media V+ box, the system delivered a punchy and precise soundtrack with clear dialogue and reasonable bass extension. The tone is a little bright, which means it sounds tiring and aggressive on very high volume, but for mid-level listening it strikes a good balance.
You can improve on the sound by activating Dolby Virtual speaker, which uses Dolby encoding in the broadcast to spread the soundstage with great effect.
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