There are plenty of nice 2.1-channel sound systems that are capable of delivering a powerful audio experience regardless of the type of content you want enjoy. But 3.1-channel systems sound noticeably better especially if you are into movies. The center speaker can add to the voice clarity to movie dialogues or better emphasis on key sound effects. Some songs can sound vocally better too with the addition of a center channel speaker. The Panasonic SC-HTB770 not only has that 3.1-channel configuration but it also allows various ways you can set up these 3 channels.
The SC-HTB770 is not your average sound bar. Like Panasonic’s cheaper SC-HTB370, the sound bar speakers has a splittable design with a separate control hub where you actually hook up the components. But instead of having just 2 front speakers, you connect the left speaker, center speaker and right speaker to form a long sound bar. This type of configuration looks nice and the build quality is above average. The included leg stands, support legs and speaker feet allow you to stand the sound bar horizontally in different ways. There is even a white design if you want the speakers to stand out more.
The 3 speakers can be separated to open up even more installation possibilities. With the included speaker bases, you can stand the left and right components so they look like tall satellites. The center speaker is compact can be positioned horizontally in front of the TV display. Since the center speaker is small, this separate configuration is great to keep the TV’s IR sensor exposed.
The Panasonic SC-HTB770 also comes with a set of screws and other parts that are necessary in mounting the speakers to the wall. You may either mount the whole connected sound bar which should look great under a large TV or mount the center speaker below the TV and place the left and right speakers next to both sides of the TV for an improved sound field.
The included active subwoofer has a simpler design but you are not so limited when it comes to placement because it wirelessly connects to the main unit. The speakers, on the other hand, have to be individually connected to the main unit regardless of the layout but the package includes the necessary cables.
The main unit of the SC-HTB770 has more features than the main unit of the 2.1-channel SC-HTB370. In addition to the dual digital optical audio inputs, the main unit also has 3 HDMI inputs and a single HDMI output which is great if you are looking to expand the number of HDMI ports. A USB port can be found on the back as well but standard flash drives won’t work since the port is only used for servicing. The control unit isn’t as attractive as the sound bar itself but it is small so you can place it in a cramped rack. However, you should still keep the control unit exposed since the Panasonic SC-HTB770 has its own remote control which lets you use the features of this sound bar.
Like its less expensive sibling, the SC-HTB770 supports Bluetooth devices so any type of media device that has Bluetooth support can quickly pair with the main unit and utilize the 3.1-channel system. A dedicated Bluetooth button can be found on the remote control for pairing purposes. The remote is very small and the main thing you will use it for is for adjusting the volume. There are also some separate controls for adjusting the dialog level, subwoofer level and sound mode.
The Panasonic SC-HTB770 isn’t just the SC-HTB370 with a center speaker and additional inputs. The overall audio performance is significantly better because of the 300-watt specification. Don’t be fooled by the slim design because the various drivers housed within the speakers are capable of producing sound that can easily fill a standard living room. You can turn up the volume when watching Blu-ray movies or high-quality music without distortion thanks to the LincsD-Amp technology. Streamed music tracks via Bluetooth also sound very good and the wireless subwoofer really helps enhance the bass. The 3D mode can even create a fuller sound although it falls a bit short when compared to a true 5.1-channel surround sound system. Finally, there are plenty of modes to try out if you wish to augment the audio quality to your tastes.
The SC-HTB770 may seem like a complicated sound bar but it really isn’t and the installation isn’t so difficult. The real challenge involves figuring out which type of setup is best for your living room and the included manual can help you make the decision. Once you are done setting up the components, you should have a nice minimal setup that is capable of producing clear large-scale sound. The $329 price also makes this a great choice over traditional 2.1-channel sound bars.
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