Panasonic SC-HTB520 review

Produces a big, wide soundstage but lacks the features and sound quality of its peers Tested at £300

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The HTB520 sadly lacks the features and sound quality of its peers


  • +

    3D and ARC compatibility

  • +

    wireless sub

  • +

    sounds better than a flatscreen


  • -

    No display

  • -

    few inputs

  • -

    sounds hard at the top and woolly in the bass

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This unit is an affordable, disc-less affair, yet it still boasts a wireless subwoofer and a compact, slick-looking main unit with so-called ‘invisible’ speakers.

Corners have been cut to meet that price, though, so the Panasonic HTB520 has just two inputs – one HDMI and one optical.

The HDMI output is ARC-enabled, so you could run your sources into your TV and then back to the soundbar, but it isn’t too elegant a solution.

There’s no display, either, which can make operation a bit of fiddle, especially with the overly simple remote.

There’s no support for HD audio here, but the HTB520 is still a vast improvement over any flatscreen’s sound, especially where scale and volume are concerned.

Wide, punchy soundstage
Play Sucker Punch and while the soundbar doesn’t deliver any real sense of surround sound, it does produce a big, wide soundstage, plenty of punch to action scenes, and clear dialogue.

However, it also brings a fair amount of hardness to proceedings, while the less said about the subwoofer the better; it just seems to rumble along, doing its own thing, regardless of on-screen action.

The fact that the Samsung HW-D570 offers greater sound, more inputs, better usability and a wireless iPod dock really leaves the Panasonic with little to recommend it.

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What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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