Panasonic SC-HTB520 soundbar
Sound option for puny panels
Next you connect your Blu-ray player or set top box to the HDMI input on the soundbar and hook another HDMI cable back from soundbar to your TV. That way you can switch between sources by just hitting the TV or BD buttons on the credit card sized remote. However, if you’ve got a new TV with a HDMI port that supports Audio Return Channel you’ll only need a single HDMI lead running from your TV’s ARC port to the soundbar’s HDMI input.
Remote includes subwoofer control
The remote gives you control over not just the main sound level, but also allows you to adjust the volume of the subwoofer, which is handy when you need to keep bass levels down at night.
The soundbar’s onboard decoder can handle both DTS and Dolby Digital, although sadly higher quality formats like Dolby TrueHD aren’t supported. The decoder uses Dolby Digital Virtual technology to create pseudo surround sound. This does help broaden out the stereo soundstage quite considerably, but it doesn’t delivery a real rear channel experience in the way the Yamaha YSP-2200 does.
Nevertheless, movie soundtracks have a much more enveloping feel when fed through the HTB520 than when they’re delivered via normal TV speakers. The subwoofer also adds considerable bass thump which is excellent for explosions, car crashes and other shenanigans in action movies. The sub is also nicely balanced with the main speakers and the soundbars’s Clear Mode setting helps dialogue to punch through background music and effects without making it sound out of place in the mix.
Overall, the Panasonic SC-HT520 is one of the best soundbars on the market right now. It’s neatly designed, easy to use and delivers plenty of sonic thrills at a reasonable price. ®
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