Panasonic offers a vast array of home theater audio solutions and that could be confusing for some folks looking for a certain home audio solution. Even if you narrow the selection down to the compact sound bar category, there are still several products available. But you have to give the Japanese giant some credit for trying different things to make their sound bar products more unique than the competition. Choice is a good thing and the Panasonic SC-HTB70 offers some cool tricks that could sway potential buyers away from the generic sound bar products.
The SC-HTB70 is pretty generic looking as it assumes the standard rectangular shape and doesn’t use any fancy speaker grills or finishes. The front panel does have some elements found in the main unit of the more flexible Panasonic SC-HTB70 like the lights which serve as source and mode indicators. There is also a remote control signal sensor located near the center of the sound bar. The right side of the unit features the power button, volume buttons and input selector button although these buttons are also available on the included remote control.
Unlike the some Panasonic sound bars like the SC-HTB70, you cannot break the sound bar into separate speakers. Instead, the Panasonic SC-HTB70 comes with a few sets of different stands to choose from. You can use the 30-degree and 80-degree stands to face the sound bar at an angle or use the standard stands to face the speakers upward. You can experiment with these angles and see which position best projects the sound in your room. There is even a light indicator that shows what angle the sound bar is currently in so the speaker can automatically adjust the directional characteristics. The SC-HTB70 package also includes the necessary wall mounting parts so you can mount the sound bar on the wall 90 degrees as well.
Aside from the multi-positional possibilities, the Panasonic SC-HTB70 has a pretty basic feature set which is just fine for a $199.99 price tag. The sound bar’s ability to wirelessly stream music via Bluetooth takes the spotlight when it comes to features. Unlike many home theater receivers, the Bluetooth component is built-in so you can conveniently stream music from other devices with built-in Bluetooth. Wi-Fi does have better range and the SC-HTB70 doesn’t have built-in wireless LAN but incorporating Bluetooth is still good because more devices from basic cellphones to dedicated media players and laptops can wirelessly stream.
Unlike the cheaper SC-HTB65, the Panasonic SC-HTB70 also comes with an IR blaster which you can connect directly to the back of the sound bar. This sensor is useful if you positioned the sound bar in an ideal spot but blocks the TV sensor. With the IR blaster, you can still use the TV remote to control the TV since the IR blaster can send the signals to the TV sensor behind the sound bar.
The SC-HTB70 sounds pretty good for the price and it should provide very good range especially if you get the right angle. The bass is the weakest part which is understandable since the SC-HTB70 does not come with a separate subwoofer. However, this 120-watt sound bar does have an integrated subwoofer so it does pack a better punch than standard integrated speakers. Plus the sound bar won’t vibrate even if you play bass-heavy tracks although they sound softer as a result. Dedicated subwoofer buttons can also be found on the remote so you can adjust the subwoofer level.
Like other Panasonic sound bars, the Panasonic SC-HTB70 also offers some changeable options which may provide a better audio experience for certain situations. The Dialog Level Control, for instance, can be switched on to significantly enhance any voices present in TV shows, movies and music tracks. There are 4 levels available so you can find the right balance. You can also use the Clear-mode Dialog feature to make the vocals sound as if they are coming from the center of your display.
Various sound modes can also be tried out if the Standard mode isn’t enough. You can also try the Stereo or the Stadium mode which each provide its own enhancements. Other modes benefit certain types of programs like the News sound mode for news channels and the Cinema mode for movies. There is also a Music mode for any music channels or connected components that can play back music tracks.
The Panasonic SC-HTB70 is a rather nice sound bar that doesn’t have a high price tag but allows you to do something that many other sound bars don’t let you do. Plus, the added Bluetooth means that plenty of other devices can take advantage of the multi-positional speakers. Even if there are better sounding sound bars, having that flexibility means that you can make seemingly low-spec sound bars sound a bit better and you still pay under $250.
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