Which sound bar brand?
Panasonic sound bars rated
By Daniel Nissenbaum
Article 4 of 8
Which? guide to Panasonic sound bars. Find out whether the brand is right for you.
Panasonic was once one of the biggest sound bar brands in the UK, although it releases fewer models now. Part of Panasonic's heritage lies in audio – it launched the first three-tube radio in 1931 and has continued to innovate, designing sound bars with an emphasis on voice clarity and different layout configurations.
Some models are available in either black or silver, styled to complement the Japanese company’s TVs, but also work and look good with TVs from other brands. All Panasonic sound bars provide a way to play music from a smartphone, tablet or laptop, made possible by connecting a cable to either USB or 3.5mm mini-jack inputs, while some also include Bluetooth or NFC to wirelessly stream music to the sound bar. Like other brands, Panasonic offers several different sound modes designed to enhance audio, alongside its own ‘3D’ surround feature.
In the table below, we've rounded up some of the key facts about the brand to help you decide whether a Panasonic sound bar would be right for you. Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive ratings and verdicts in the table.
|Panasonic sound bars overview table|
|Number tested in the past three years||10|
|Number of Best Buys|
|Average test score|
|Brand reliability rating|
|Customer score (%)|
|Should I buy one?|
|Table notes||Average test score based on results of models tested that are still available in shops. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2016 of 205 Panasonic sound bar owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 5 June 2017.|
Interested in a Panasonic sound bar? Read our expert Panasonic sound bar reviews.
How much do Panasonic sound bars cost?
Less than average. The average Panasonic sound bar costs £240, compared with £300 for all the brands combined. Entry-level models are styled to suit 40 to 42-inch TVs and cost £70-150, while top-end models include extras, such as a wireless subwoofer and Bluetooth music streaming; these can cost more than £400 and are styled to suit big-screen TVs sized 46 to 55-inches or larger.
Panasonic sound bar features
Panasonic’s entry-level sound bars don't come with an external subwoofer, but mid-range and top-end sound bars come with an external wired or wireless subwoofer which adds extra bass. Stylish and slim, they’re generally designed for big-screen TVs and to sit snugly alongside on a surface or wall.
Panasonic also makes a few soundbases; small and large TVs can stand on top of these and their bigger size means they don't need an external subwoofer.
Panasonic surround-sound processing
Like many brands, Panasonic offers a choice of sound modes including a surround sound effect. Dolby Virtual Speaker is designed to create an effect like a 5.1 channel surround sound system. Panasonic claims its additional ‘3D surround effect’ adds depth to sound as if it’s surrounding you, and that its 3D modes help you watch films quietly, reducing the volume of loud sounds and amplifying quiet sounds. Most models can process Dolby Digital and DTS audio found on many DVD/Blu-ray soundtracks.
You can select various 'Sound Effect' modes to suit what you’re watching, including Stereo (default), Standard, Stadium, Music, Cinema and News. Whether you do is down to personal preference – in our tests we find such effects sometimes sound unnatural, but you can choose ‘Stereo’ to listen without extra processing.
Panasonic’s 'Clear-mode Dialog' is designed to improve voice clarity, even at low volumes – speech enhancement features can be effective but Panasonic’s 3.1 model has a dedicated centre speaker to achieve this, whereas most sound bars have two channels (2.0 or 2.1) and rely on processing.
Some sound bars do a great job with stereo and moving horizontal sound, such as a car speeding from left to right, but it’s hard to beat a surround-sound system for hearing a pin drop behind you. To learn more, read Sound bar vs home cinema vs surround sound system: which is best?.