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Panasonic mini hi-fi systems – should you buy one?

They’re often on offer at John Lewis, but first find out how they fare in our tests

Panasonic is leading the way in the mini hi-fi market, offering high-spec models and an ever-expanding range. Before parting with your cash, though, it pays to do some research as we’ve found big differences between the best and worst ones.

There’s a bewildering range of different features on offer with mini hi-fi systems. Although many still offer the standard CD player and FM/DAB radio, a large number now include more modern features, such as wireless connectivity, multi-room listening and wi-fi compatibility.

Mini hi-fi systems can be expensive and new technology doesn’t come cheap so, if you fancy dipping a toe into this world, it can be tempting to go for one in the sale. In fact, John Lewis is frequently offering attractive discounts and deals on a number of Panasonic mini hi-fi systems.

But we’ve just tested the newly launched Panasonic SC-HC1020 and found out some surprising things about it. We’ve also previously tested and reviewed nine other Panasonic mini hi-fi systems. Read on to find out how they fare in our lab tests and whether we would recommend buying any of them, regardless of the discounts on offer.

Best Buy mini hi-fi systems – invest in a great sound system for your home

Panasonic mini hi-fi systems

Panasonic SC-HC1020 – £229

The super slim SC-HC1020EBK is part of Panasonic’s ALL Connected range of speakers and hi-fi systems, which allow you to control and play music throughout your home using the Panasonic Music Streaming app.

It’s available in silver, black, red and blue and it can access internet radio and online music-streaming services such as Spotify and AllPlay Radio. The SC-HC1020EBK also has a CD player and FM/DAB radio, and you can play music from a USB stick, stream wirelessly over Bluetooth or connect a device using a 3.5mm aux-in cable.

As well as lots of different ways to play music and the radio, this mini hi-fi has a 40-watt speaker, which is the upper limit we’ve seen in our lab in terms of the amp power in an all-in-one system. But does this translate into high-quality, room-filling sound? Read our full Panasonic SC-HC1020EBK review to find out.

Panasonic SC-ALL7CDEBK – £319

Similar to the SC-HC1020, the Panasonic SC-ALL7CDEBK is designed to play audio from a wide range of different sources across various rooms in your home. In addition to playing CDs, this mini hi-fi can receive FM/DAB and internet radio. It can also stream audio files from a USB stick, or from devices connected by Bluetooth or 3.5mm aux-in cable.

But where it stands out, both in terms of other Panasonic hi-fis and mini hi-fi systems in general, is its ability to record and digitise music. Although it’s small in size, it actually contains 4GB of internal memory. This allows you to save up to 25 albums (approximately 600-800 songs depending on the quality of the recording) to the mini hi-fi, which are then accessible at the touch of a button.

John Lewis is currently offering a £50 saving when you purchase the SC-ALL7CDEBK along with the SC-ALL2 wireless speaker. Although this is an attractive offer for anyone who wants to invest in multi-room audio, first find out what our expert listening panel thought of the sound quality by reading our full Panasonic SC-ALL7CDEBK review and Panasonic SC-ALL2 review.

Panasonic SC-HC297EB-K – £119

The SC-HC297EB-K is much more affordable, but it doesn’t have multi-room listening capabilities and it can’t be connected to your wi-fi for streaming purposes and to access internet radio. But it does have a CD player, FM and DAB radio and a USB port, as well as Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC) for wireless streaming.

It also has a ‘re-master’ function that promises to recover high-frequency elements of songs, which can sometimes be lost when MP3s are compressed, to give tracks original studio-quality production. Find out how well this works, and our verdict on this mini hi-fi’s sound quality and ease of use, by reading our Panasonic SC-HC297EB-K review.

Other Panasonic mini hi-fi systems on test

Follow the links below to go straight to our other Panasonic mini hi-fi reviews and see which ones are Best Buys, Don’t Buys or worth considering:


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