B&W's Panorama soundbar

Worthing is an unsentimental sort of a town – the building where Oscar Wilde wrote The Importance of Being Earnest is, these days, a used-car showroom. It could well be the country's only second-hand dealership featuring a blue plaque commemorating a giant of letters.

But anyway, latterly Worthing is arguably more famous for being home to B&W loudspeakers. So it was with a due sense of historical perspective that I struck out for B&W's expansive seaside headquarters.    

The reason was to see and hear B&W's latest product, the Panorama. In spite of the word 'panorama' applying strictly to visuals, the Panorama is an audio product – a soundbar, in fact. B&W intends the Panorama to do for soundbars what its wildly successful Zeppelin has done for iPod docks – that is, make them credible.

Voiced by the team that voiced B&W's high-end 800 series (I enjoyed a comprehensive explanation of the company's aspirations for the Panorama from concept to execution from the charming Krestian Pedersen) and benchmarked against competing products from the likes of Denon and Yamaha, the Panorama is a big boy.

A full metre across, it's designed to fit beneath screens of 40in diameter or more. A wall-bracket is included.A better understanding of digital sound processingB&W's work with Jaguar helped the company's understanding of digital sound processing, and that understanding made the desire for Panorama to be a strictly one-box solution with no need for a subwoofer achievable.

And given B&W's proud stereo tradition, the company is adamant it's as authentic a performer with music as with movies.

On paper, a price of £1500 doesn't automatically square with a product with no HDMI switching and no HD audio ability. Connectivity is restricted to a pair of analogue RCA inputs, two digital optical and one digital coaxial input. There's a pre-out for a subwoofer (should you desire) and that's the lot.

In practice, of course, it all depends on how the Panorama performs, and if B&W makes good on its promise of a review sample next week, we should be in a position to answer that question in our June issue.

More after the break