Compared with the relative glamour and finesse of the LG's NB4530A and JBL's Cinema SB400, this Panasonic SC-HTB570 looks rather dowdy. The silver finish looks dated, and the general construction and presentation feels insubstantial.Panasonic SC-HTB570 review: specs/connections
A separate receiver box hosts the various connections and some amplification, but this doesn’t make for the neatest solution. The main reason for this additional box is to allow the soundbar to be split into two separate speakers.
Once you’ve unscrewed the joining bracket you can mount them on individual (supplied) stands, so instead of having a bar running along the length of your screen you can have a speaker either side. It’s good for flexibility but not necessarily for tidiness, as speaker cable is left trailing to the control unit.
Besides the left and right speaker connections, the control hub also includes an ARC-compatible HDMI output and one input. Bluetooth connectivity takes care of music streaming and a couple of optical digital inputs could come in handy for a set-top box, say.
Small green lights on the front panel indicate which inputs you’re viewing and also show which sound mode you’ve chosen (if any).Panasonic SC-HTB570 review: performance
The tiny writing above them is impossible to read from any distance, so you have to remember which light correspond to which mode. The modes include stadium, music, cinema, and news modes, but none sounds as convincing as the standard setting.
Even listening in the standard mode, though, the Panasonic struggles against its rivals. The soundbar manages to dig up some detail from the Skyfall soundtrack and the subwoofer injects a decent amount of weight as Bond’s boyhood home comes under fire. In isolation, then, we’d say the SC-HTB570 sounds passable enough.
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But, there’s a lack of refinement to the overall sound. Dialogue and vocals display a coarseness and there’s a general rawness and an unsavoury edge to the sound, which hinders enjoyment.
Crank up the volume and this problem is only exacerbated. The Panasonic provides little in the way of dynamic ability too: shifts from low to high aren’t communicated strongly enough, and everything is left sounding flat.Panasonic SC-HTB570 review: verdict
Considering the quality on offer from other, recent soundbar systems, we’re a little underwhelmed by what the Panasonic delivers. There’s a decent feature count and some flexibility, but sound quality isn’t up to scratch.