Should I buy the Panasonic SC-HTB480The SC-HTB480 offers an appealing range of features, a discreet, robust design and audio thatll knock your TVs speakers into a cocked hat, but there are soundbars on the market that deliver a more satisfying performance, such as the Wharfedale Vista 100, Denon DHT-S514 and Cantons DM50 soundbase.So when Blackout attacks the Qatar Army base, explosions and gunshots sound big and forceful.The SC-HTB480 is a soundbar and wireless subwoofer designed to give lacklustre TV sound a much-needed boost. Theres on-board decoding for Dolby Digital and DTS as well as support for multichannel LPCM. 3D Clear Mode Dialog aims to make audio sound like its coming more directly from the TV screen, while H.
Little things, like the awkward sockets, upward-facing LED display and dinky remote, dont help justify the asking price either.Panasonic SC-HTB480 Design and ConnectionsDescribed as a Delta Form design, the soundbars slim, sloping body will sit on top of your TV stand without blocking the screen. Its a 2.The soundbar musters 250W of power, with 60W per channel for the speakers and 130W for the sub, which certainly should be plenty for a powerful sound.
SEE ALSO: New TV Buying GuideOn the back is a decent selection of sockets, including an HDMI input and ARC-compatible HDMI output that pass through 3D but not 4K thats only found on the SC-HTB880.1-channel SC-HTB880 and 3. The soundbars listed above, particularly the Canton and Wharfedale, offer a smoother, easier presentation of these midrange and high-frequency effects.Another of the Panasonics positives is its clear, prominent dialogue reproduction then again, with two different dialogue boosters on board you were never in danger of missing any speech.
Usually theres an on/off switch on the back too, but not here.5mm minijack input. There are dedicated buttons for the setup menu and sound modes, both of which are displayed on the front panel and can be explored using the up, down and OK keys on the remote. This discreet, unobtrusive soundbar measures 950mm wide, which makes it best suited to 42in TVs.
Not only does the sloping top panel look cool, but it also allows Panasonics engineers to incorporate large speakers while keeping the bodywork at a slim 53mm.The subwoofer does a decent job too.Panasonics usual plethora of sound modes is present and correct, including a 3D Surround mode that intertwines with Dolby Virtual Speaker to expand the soundstage in all directions.Panasonic SC-HTB480 OperationThe SC-HTB480 comes with a mini remote that feels cheap and plasticky a far cry from the excellent full-size handset supplied with the LG NB4540.
The soundbars hard presentation makes Bluetooth-beamed music sound a little synthetic. Without it the soundstage is too narrow and muffled, but once activated everything feels more open.1-channel system positioned below the flagship 5. The SC-HTB480s timbre errs more on the brash side, which makes for a slightly uncomfortable and fatiguing listen after a while with the volume up loud.
Bass bolsters low frequencies. It lacks the out-and-out slam and control of more accomplished and expensive subs but theres a reasonable display of agility when blasting out rapid gun shots or stomping footsteps. The Panasonics brash sound becomes uncomfortable at high volumes, plus the boomy sub requires careful integration. Sadly the USB port is for service use only and surprisingly theres no 3.
Theres an optical input and a port for the IR blaster that passes on TV remote commands if the soundbar blocks the receiver however unlikely that is, although it only works with Panasonic TVs. The subwoofer is fairly large and attractively styled in a combination of gloss and matt black, although build quality is disappointing particularly the plastic base. Its also a prime candidate for permanent residency down the back of the sofa. Its black metal mesh gives it a solid, weighty quality, while the panels that cap each end sport an attractive brushed finish.
On one of these panels youll find a discreet cluster of buttons, including volume, standby and input selection. We switched over to The Desolation of Smaug and it exposes the Panasonic even more cruelly snarling Orcs, clanking swords and roaring dragons have a hard edge, which will frequently have you reaching for the volume controls.So far so good, but the Panasonics loud, bassy performance flatters to deceive. Dolby Virtual Speaker processing aims to deliver a surround effect through the bars stereo speakers.
Every bang and boom is accompanied by a thick whomp of bass that adds depth and impact. Dolby Virtual Speaker doesnt offer much evidence of surround sound, as is so often the case with virtual surround modes, but there is a vague sense of added width. Certain genres expose this more than others for example, jazz tunes with soaring sax and trumpet solos sound thin and reedy, but electronic genres like dance or hip-hop fare better, although its even more important here that you keep the subwoofer level in check. Skip to the scrap between Optimus Prime and Megatron at the movies climax and the thumping heavy metal soundtrack, exploding buildings and machine gun fire are delivered with gusto.
You can also adjust dialogue and subwoofer levels using the dedicated level controls, and there are six sound modes to play with Standard, Stadium, Music, Cinema, News and Stereo.Panasonic SC-HTB480 FeaturesOf greatest interest to music fans is the inclusion of Bluetooth, which offers easy streaming from smartphones, while NFC made pairing our Sony NWZ-F886 Android media player a painless process. Sure, its terrific compared with weedy TV speakers, but when you start weighing it up against the competition the picture isnt quite as rosy. This is not the high-fidelity sound of the Canton DM50 or Wharfedale Vista 100, nor the super-detailed presentation of the LG NB4540.
VerdictA good-looking, well-made soundbar system with some eye-catching features but its brash sound quality doesnt quite cut the mustard. These are turned on by default to turn them off you have to select stereo mode.Panasonic SC-HTB480 PerformanceWith the soundbar perched on our TV stand and the subwoofer in close proximity on the floor, we fired up Transformers on Blu-ray, and the ‘bar does exactly what it sets out to, namely delivering louder and bassier sound than any flatscreen TV is capable of. In the Sound menu, you can activate the various presets or adjust the dialogue and subwoofer levels, but these upward-facing menus arent much use when youre slumped on the sofa.
That renders it virtually pointless, unless you mount it on the wall using the supplied brackets.On the front edge of the soundbar is an LED panel that displays inputs, volume levels and menus, but because it faces upwards when laid flat you cant see it from the sofa. But the layout is fine and all the keys are clearly marked.SEE ALSO: Our pick of the Best SoundbarsBuild quality is excellent.
Next, check out your other options in our Best Surround Sound Systems roundup. We would recommend turning the subwoofer down to its lowest setting though anything higher is too boomy.Panasonic has had mixed fortunes in the soundbar market, offering impressive feature lists and designs but often letting the side down on sound quality lets see if the SC-HTB480 can turn things around.1-channel SC-HTB680.
Wed also recommend leaving 3D Clear Mode Dialog switched on at all times.. If you want to learn more about this post, just leave a comment.