B&W Panorama 2

Tested at £1650
80100
4

Much improved on the original and delivering a quality that justifies the price

Comments

I bought one of these in a closing down sale except it was the old model Panorama.

I guess I have always been a BIG fan of B&W and have Matrix 805 and HTM in my home theatre and will replace them with Diamond 805's eventually.

I got the old model for $999 Australian Doallars which at that time was probably around 500-600 GBP - definitely a bargain.

It had been taken out of its box and put on a shelf but was promptly re-packaged in my presence and all the bits and pieces like the remote and the user manual were all still wrapped in their original plastic.

Now, it was in storage for 12-18 months but not long after installing it in my new wall niche (where it looks fantastic as it is the same width as my Panasonic 46 inch plasma and both have that silvery line around the edge, I noticed that the cabinet behind the grill was 'sticking out slightly on the left hand side, like it had deformed.

I was shocked as I've always found B&W to have exceptional build quality. I sent an email to the Australian distributor and they have not done the courtesy of a reply.

I intend to contact B&W in the UK as I am disgusted that their local agent (who in the past has always been exceptionally good) have decided to just ignore me.

I am sure all it needs is to be removed and re-fitted/re-glued but it takes the shine off although it probably won't stop me from buying the Diamond 805s.

Otherwise, it works very well and I have a Home Theatre so don't care so much about the sound but will say I cannot detect ANY surround effect, although mine is sitting inside a niche, albeit with the grill protruding out, the sidemost speakers at each end are probably compromised by this arrangement.

I just wanted something that was more decent sound than the TV speakers and this definitely fitted the bill. I have mine connected by one cable from the Toslink out from the Panasonic and everything else connected to the Pana by HDMI.

Streaming would be handy alough I have an Apple TV so use Air Play often.

Has anybody used their Computer speakers??

I'm not sure that I understand your comment about the lack of Dolby TrueHD: "It’s not the end of the world, though: you just have to set your Blu-ray player to decode them both and output them as LPCM." So does that mean that it loses 5.1 capability?

Later you said, "The Panorama 2 uses Dolby Pro-Logic II processing and B&W’s own tech to achieve a virtual surround effect [...]. We recommend keeping it turned off."

So if the Blu-ray uses TrueHD does that mean that Panorama 2 has to create a virtual surround effect which you recommend is kept off, in other words, if TrueHD is used one should stick to standard stereo? (When I've seen the P2 in operation, when the source os TrueHD, the Dolby PLII light is on).

Hi the_ether. The B&W can't decode high-def audio formats found on Blu-ray discs i.e. Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Instead it strips the core Dolby Digital or DTS elements of the soundtrack and decodes these instead. Decoding onboard a Blu-ray player doesn't mean you lose any 5.1 capability, but remember soundbars can't do traditional 'surround' anyway...

To create virtual surround, the B&W uses Dolby Pro Logic II processing no matter what signal you're feeding it - we feel that the sound benefits from turnignt his off. I hope this clears things up a bit.

Thank you Andy for your reply. Based on your comments and the review I wonder whether the product has been reviewed with a wrong set up and also perhaps whether there is a misunderstanding of how surround processing works.

I've exchanged e-mails with B&W support and also done some experimenting myself. My Blu-rays have their audio encoded in DTS-HD Master or Dolby TrueHD. When I played these my Panorama 2 would only give me a choice of simple stereo or Dolby PLII. B&W today advised me to set my Blu-ray player to Bitstream mode, so that, "the Panorama 2 will accept the HD codecs (DTS-HD Master Audio & Dolby TrueHD) and have an auto-negotiation which will result in the Panorama 2 defaulting to core DTS or Dolby Digital from the available bitstream.

In fact this didn't help as that only affected the digital output socket and not the HDMI of my player. In the end I discovered a "BD Audio Mix" setting on my player. When turned off, it causes the player to only output the primary audio only instead of all the audio streams. As a result, my Panorama 2 changed to Dolby Digital; PLII and plain stereo modes were no longer available. There was a noticeable improvement in audio quality.

So I suspect that your review was with your Blu-ray player outputting simple stereo, losing the audio positioning information that was in the film and leaving you only with PLII to try and create a synthetic version.

As for whether or not the audio sounds better with PLII on / off, I think that is simply an issue for music playback. For films encoded with any surround capability and a properly set up system you wouldn't have the choice of PLII anyway which is why I think that this review was not conducted properly. I believe that the fault lies with the B&W documentation. If you guys can't set it up properly, then I imagine many many others can't either and thus not enjoy the full capabilities of the Panorama 2. B&W have told me that they shall now add proper set-up guidance on their web site.

[Edit: I should also add that I turned off "DTS Neo:6" on my player.]

Hi,

i've  re-worded it to expand a little and make things clearer - I think the subbing process may have condensed/confused things down a little too much. Thanks again for your comments - we're always looking for feedabck.

Andy

wow, what a price , 1650 ?? Way too expensive.

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