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Pseudo-surround is here

This Panasonic soundbar doesn’t cost the Earth and delivers audio that’s better than cheap HT systems.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2012 17:39 IST
Nikhil Hemrajani
Panasonic

Panasonic-s-SC-HTB520

It’s a common fact that large screen televisions can’t play good audio. No matter how much you may have spent on purchasing that 50-inch plasma TV, play Watchmen and you’ll miss all the delicate voiceovers. And if you aren’t looking to spend a packet on a surround sound system, this soundbar will fit your bill nicely.



Panasonic’s SC-HTB520, though thoroughly unassuming, is a brilliant upgrade for your flat-screen and packs in a variety of features to make the movie experience as seamless as possible.



The set consists of two units: a long, rectangular main speaker and a wireless subwoofer. Approximately a metre in length and 4.5cm in height, the main unit fits discretely under the TV and doesn’t call for any attention. There’s a wall-mounting bracket provided too if you want to install it on your wall. The subwoofer isn’t bulky and thanks to wireless connectivity can be placed anywhere in the room. However, it still needs to be connected to a power source, so make sure there’s a plug point nearby.



Setting up the B520 is a tad messy, so keep the manual handy. The rear panel sports two HDMI v1.4 connectors and a digital optical input. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t support the newest Blu-ray audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, so you can select ‘PCM’ in your Blu-ray player’s settings. The HDMI cables have to be bent a little to be properly connected to the unit.



One handy trick up this Panasonic system’s sleeve is an infrared blaster. Basically, if the soundbar is placed in front of your TV, the chances are high that it’ll cover your television’s IR receiver, rendering your TV remote non-functional. To fix this problem, there’s an IR transmitter at the back of the B520 that will accept and transmit IR signals to your television. Kudos to Panasonic for incorporating such an ingenious feature.



Sound quality wise, you’ll be very pleased with the HT-B520. The soundbar reproduces audio well and dialogues are crystal clear. The subwoofer delivers bass impressively, regardless of whether you’re playing Halo 3 or watching Inception. The great part is that the system tries to simulate a surround sound experience and succeeds.



Verdict


Priced at Rs 26,990, Panasonic’s SC-HTB520 is a great piece of audio engineering that’s the perfect replacement for your TV’s built-in speakers. If you aren’t interested in messing around with 5.1-channel home theatre systems, this soundbar packs in deep bass, clear mids and simulates surround sound well. So whether you’re watching a drama with hushed vocals or an action flick packed with special effects, the B520 will serve you well.



Rating

: ****

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