Panasonic is introducing a budget soundbar with the SC-HTB510 to which the competition still has a hard time. The device has an HDMI-out connection and has Wi-Fi on board, so there are quite a few possibilities that we are enthusiastic about. The device has a suggested retail price of € 299.
Panasonic SC-HTB510 – design and specifications
The Panasonic SC-HTB510 is a slim and narrow soundbar with a maximum power of 240 watts. In comparison with, for example, the LG SL4Y, that is a lot less, but that soundbar has shown well why power is not everything. The 2.1-channel sound is spread over the two full-range speakers of 4.5 by twelve centimeters and a wireless subwoofer. The soundbar offers support for Dolby Digital and DTS, has an HDMI out and optical connection at the back and even has Wi-Fi.
And especially those last elements we hardly ever find on budget soundbars, so with this the HTB510 immediately a step ahead of the competition. Furthermore, there is of course Bluetooth available and you can immediately play music via Chromecast built-in. This Panasonic soundbar is also compatible with the Google Assistant, so you must also be able to use it in your smarthome. All in all, the first impressions can be called positive about the wide speaker, mainly because a lot is immediately possible from the box.
Panasonic SC-HTB510 – installation
You can use the Panasonic SC Use HTB510 in different ways. For example, you can connect an optical audio cable, after which you have to switch off the television's speakers. You can also grab an HDMI cable and put it between the TV and soundbar, giving you access to, for example, the arc functionality . The soundbar then turns on when the TV turns on and also turns off when you turn the TV off. Those are the small but nice things that are not always present on cheaper models.
It is also possible to use the soundbar wirelessly for listening to music. That is because you can have the HTB510 included in your WiFi network, which means there are a range of options. So you can immediately play music from your phone or tablet through a streaming service that supports Google Cast. You can also group the speaker with other smart speakers. Installing and setting these options is done through the Google Home application, which will guide you step by step through the installation options.
Panasonic SC-HTB510 – use
Putting the device into use is still easy than installing. When you use the HDMI cable, a lot of things will happen automatically. For example, you only need one remote control for volume control and for switching the device on and off and for operating your television, since this can both be done via the TV remote control. Playing music via WiFi is also possible with a simple push of a button via a mobile device, so there's nothing to complain about. Unfortunately, there is another thing in the way of experience.
Or rather: the lack of it. Because we miss an LED display (or an LCD display) on the soundbar, so we don't always know how the bar is set up exactly. On top there are a few LED lights that, for example, indicate the audio position or input, but you cannot read from a distance exactly what it says. In addition, this is also annoying for the volume control, since you never see exactly how hard it is. Therefore it may happen that you have the wrong settings or that the volume is set too high.
Now these may be small things that will get used to over time, but unfortunately that does not apply to both parts that interfere with the positive user experience. At a certain point you know when it is set to HDMI or optical (and otherwise you just press the buttons on the remote for certainty), but not being able to see how hard or soft it is is really a big disadvantage . For different things you need different volumes: Netflix sometimes has to be turned on much harder than for example your PlayStation.
Panasonic SC-HTB510 – audio quality
Fortunately we are very pleased with the audio quality of the Panasonic SC-HTB510. In our opinion, this soundbar sets a wonderful standard for sound bars of around 300 euros. Admittedly, there have been times when we have reached the limit of the soundbar, but that was mainly during gaming sessions when we were engaged in one of the many, busy battles in the game Kingdom Hearts 3 . At other times it has hardly happened anymore; we have not noticed it in any case.
The SC-HTB510 has a sound reproduction that is wider than average in this price range. As a result, many details come out well, whether it concerns the higher or lower tones, and the broad audio field attracts you more in the film or a piece of music. Nowhere does it sound like a cacophony and we have hardly had the idea that the soundbar can't handle something. Dialogues are also displayed almost perfectly and clearly, with sufficient emotion and dynamics. You should only have to manually adjust the subwoofer yourself. There are four sound levels available and with the remote control you determine how powerful it sounds. Sometimes it is possible that the bass reproduction is somewhat unbalanced.
And you immediately notice that imbalance. While listening to music maybe not even that way. Of course it also depends on what kind of music you listen to: but if it doesn't stand out during house and dance songs, then it hardly stands out. While watching movies and series, we sometimes had the tendency to let the subwoofer take power, until we arrived at the first level and found out that it couldn't be set lower. That is a small blemish on this otherwise beautiful soundbar.
Panasonic SC-HTB510 – conclusion
For a price of 299 euros you can buy a lot of soundbars today. As far as we are concerned, the Panasonic SC-HTB510 is at the top with its performance and ease of use. For this price you might find soundbars with more power, but a lot of those products don't offer as complete a package as Panasonic has done now. The audio performance is generally very nice and the sound field sounds very wide. The only disadvantage is the unbalance of the subwoofer, but luckily it can be adjusted in levels.
Furthermore, you have to take into account that you don't have an LED screen on the soundbar and that you have to do it with the LED lights on the top of the system. As a result, setting the correct volume is sometimes problematic because you cannot see how loud the device is. However, the WiFi connection and the HDMI output make up for a lot. Along with the optical connection, there are plenty of options for connecting devices to it. This makes the HTB510 a very complete soundbar for a great price.