Panasonic SC-HTB900 Soundbar Review & Comments

cooperda

Active Member
Thanks for the review Steve.
However, I see two prices mentioned - under the image £599 - but in the second para - £699

Again, thanks for these sound-bar reviews - my brother-in-law (who I am likely to help with his next TV purchase) is keen to get a soundbar at the same time as a new TV.

Cheers, Dave C.
 

JustinL

Well-known Member
Thanks for the review, was looking at this but as no upward facing drivers for Atmos/DTS decided against it, thinking about the Q70R as the Q80and 90R are to big. Also seems Richer sounds have just dropped the price to £549.
 

Mallardo

Well-known Member
I must confess I am a tad confused. I thought Atmos was an object based multichannel audio technology, yet I am seeing it stamped on everything from 3 channel soundbars and smart speakers to tablets and mobile phones. How can there be any benefit to having a device that can reproduce and Atmos mix if you don't have the descrete channels required to hear the placement of the effects? Does a downmixed atmos mix sound superior to a downmixed DTS-HD MA or TrueHD mix?

I mean, you wouldn't see a soundbar described as 5.1 if it didn't have any rear speakers, it would be called virtual surround or something. Is this not virtual Atmos?
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Thanks for the review Steve.
However, I see two prices mentioned - under the image £599 - but in the second para - £699

Again, thanks for these sound-bar reviews - my brother-in-law (who I am likely to help with his next TV purchase) is keen to get a soundbar at the same time as a new TV.

Cheers, Dave C.
Sorry about that, when I first got the sample it was £699, then it dropped to £599 and now it's £549. I've updated the review to reflect the current price.
 

NYCFCFan

Active Member
I must confess I am a tad confused. I thought Atmos was an object based multichannel audio technology, yet I am seeing it stamped on everything from 3 channel soundbars and smart speakers to tablets and mobile phones.
This is the same nonsense the FM radio stations call their broadcast as HD or Utra HD .
 

NYCFCFan

Active Member
There's no way that a Sound bar will ever be able to replace some high quality bookshelves and a sub. Just ain't gonna happen. I don't use my LG SB no longer bought a cheap Onkyo623 receiver and Sony sc3 speakers total cost under $500 sounds awesome .
MY LG SL10YG for sale $900
 

Barrovian

Well-known Member
I've been looking forward to this review, so thank you. I want something to go with my FZ802 and this looks like the one. I'm not to worried about DV (the FZ doesn't support it) or HDR10+ (my player doesn't support it) so what I've never had, I'll never miss. Plus it will give me an extra full fat HDMI, so I'm in :)
 

boabis

Active Member
Just chiming in to say that I am one of those people who has just sold the beefy AV receiver, taken down the speakers, coiled up the speaker cable and opted for a soundbar.

Due to a small person arriving recently, we just don’t listen to anything at decent volumes where full-on surround makes a difference. The improvement in dialogue handling has also reduced our reliance on subtitles!

Bought a Sony 2.1 job off Scumtree last week for £40 and it sounds great. So obviously I’ve already found an even better Panasonic one on eBay, which arrives tomorrow.

The game never ends...
 

scrowe

Well-known Member
@Steve Withers I own this soundbar, and I think the review is overall fair/accurate. Whilst it’s not an issue for me, I do wonder if the lack of DV/HDR10+ is that much of an issue for most people who would buy this. If their TV supports HDR10+ and/or Dolby Vision, surely the source devices would go into the TV HDMI, and the HD and Atmos multi-channel audio would go to the soundbar via ARC without any compromise. I know we had issues with only having 2 full-fat HDMI and issues with ARC passing HD multi-channel audio a couple years back, but I assume most TVs people would be pairing with this high-end model, now have 4 proper HDMI inputs and fully implemented ARC.

On another note, did you experiment with the placement setting on the soundbar. From memory it gives you the option of wall or stand. In my case the TV is wall-mounted and soundbar is a couple-inches below on furniture, flush to the wall. I couldn’t tell any difference across both settings, and given most soundbars would be inches below the TV either mounted on the wall under, or resting on a stand under, I don’t know what this option is supposed to do.
 

boabis

Active Member
@Steve Withers I own this soundbar, and I think the review is overall fair/accurate. Whilst it’s not an issue for me, I do wonder if the lack of DV/HDR10+ is that much of an issue for most people who would buy this. If their TV supports HDR10+ and/or Dolby Vision, surely the source devices would go into the TV HDMI, and the HD and Atmos multi-channel audio would go to the soundbar via ARC without any compromise. I know we had issues with only having 2 full-fat HDMI and issues with ARC passing HD multi-channel audio a couple years back, but I assume most TVs people would be pairing with this high-end model, now have 4 proper HDMI inputs and fully implemented ARC.
I think you need eARC to pass HD & Atmos signals from the TV.

The less neat solution is to have a disc player with two HDMIs, run video to the TV and then audio straight to the soundbar. TV sound would still be over ARC, so you lose Atmos from any streaming stuff.
 

Clem_Dye

Well-known Member
I'm not a fan of wireless subs., but that seems to be the trend nowadays. My old Yamaha YSP4100 has a wired option, which with the auto-switching power cable, works a treat.

It seems that at present, only a few of the new Sony soundbars handle Atmos correctly, as they have eARC support on their HDMI ports.

Clem
 

Ashy9

Standard Member
Hi Steve great review of the htb900 and a fair summary of what the bar can do. I've been using my htb900 for a few weeks now and I'm very happy with the sound . Watched a number of Atmos Dtsx films which really impressed with the scale and height in my living room space try A quiet place on 4k Blu-ray and see what you think thanks again for a great review look forward to reading more in the future.
 

zeppelino

Well-known Member
I'm not a fan of wireless subs., but that seems to be the trend nowadays. My old Yamaha YSP4100 has a wired option, which with the auto-switching power cable, works a treat.

It seems that at present, only a few of the new Sony soundbars handle Atmos correctly, as they have eARC support on their HDMI ports.

Clem
you don’t need eArc to handle Atmos. Atmos doesn’t need high bandwidth ports either.
 

zeppelino

Well-known Member
I think you need eARC to pass HD & Atmos signals from the TV.

The less neat solution is to have a disc player with two HDMIs, run video to the TV and then audio straight to the soundbar. TV sound would still be over ARC, so you lose Atmos from any streaming stuff.
Incorrect re Atmos and apps. They use Dolby Digital to send Atmos and you don’t need eArc to send that codec. Almost every tv can send that over Arc.

Apps don’t use full fat Atmos.
 

boabis

Active Member
Incorrect re Atmos and apps. They use Dolby Digital to send Atmos and you don’t need eArc to send that codec. Almost every tv can send that over Arc.

Apps don’t use full fat Atmos.
Cool, DD+ for streaming Atmos, you’re right.

So you’re fine for everything TV and Streaming via ARC, separate HDMI from your disc player for HD audio.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
@Steve Withers I own this soundbar, and I think the review is overall fair/accurate. Whilst it’s not an issue for me, I do wonder if the lack of DV/HDR10+ is that much of an issue for most people who would buy this. If their TV supports HDR10+ and/or Dolby Vision, surely the source devices would go into the TV HDMI, and the HD and Atmos multi-channel audio would go to the soundbar via ARC without any compromise. I know we had issues with only having 2 full-fat HDMI and issues with ARC passing HD multi-channel audio a couple years back, but I assume most TVs people would be pairing with this high-end model, now have 4 proper HDMI inputs and fully implemented ARC.

On another note, did you experiment with the placement setting on the soundbar. From memory it gives you the option of wall or stand. In my case the TV is wall-mounted and soundbar is a couple-inches below on furniture, flush to the wall. I couldn’t tell any difference across both settings, and given most soundbars would be inches below the TV either mounted on the wall under, or resting on a stand under, I don’t know what this option is supposed to do.
The lack of support for DV and HDR10+ might not be an issue for many people, but I find it a strange position to take given that Panasonic TVs and players support both. You could use ARC but you'll lose lossless audio that way, including Atmos and DTS:X from disc, which are delivered using TrueHD and Master Audio. Alternatively you could connect the main HDMI output on your Panasonic player to the TV and the secondary HDMI output to the soundbar for audio (assuming it has two). Both approaches aren't ideal in my view, and it would seem more logical to release a soundbar that supports the same features as the rest of your products, especially as consumes often buy multiple products from the same manufacturer (you'd think Pansonic would want to encourage this behaviour).

I only tested the HTB900 in stand mode, so I didn't actually need to change the placement setting. I assume the wall mount option adjusts for the soundbar being flush against the wall.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Hi Steve can I just ask what level you found best for the sub I've read it sounds best above 50htz but how do I know thanks Dave
Sorry Dave, I can't remember what setting I used. The review was published yesterday, but I actually tested the soundbar and wrote up the copy over a month ago.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
you don’t need eArc to handle Atmos. Atmos doesn’t need high bandwidth ports either.
You do need eARC if you want to pass lossless audio back to the soundbar, so it depends on how the Atmos is delivered. As you point out, streaming uses DD+. Since DTS:X is currently only available on discs and delivered using DTS-HD Master Audio (with a couple of exceptions), you'd definitely need eARC to send a lossless DTS:X signal back to the soundbar.
 

scrowe

Well-known Member
Agree its a poor design choice, can only suppose it was a limitation of the chipset, or they couldn't justify the extra cost of developing the firmware of the HDMI board. But I still think from other posts the only source of HD audio format then is a disc player, Arc I assume is fine for settop boxes and streaming devices into the TV ports, no compromise. In terms of e-arc, does it not need to be in place on both ends?
 

thedoswells

Well-known Member
Agree its a poor design choice, can only suppose it was a limitation of the chipset, or they couldn't justify the extra cost of developing the firmware of the HDMI board. But I still think from other posts the only source of HD audio format then is a disc player, Arc I assume is fine for settop boxes and streaming devices into the TV ports, no compromise. In terms of e-arc, does it not need to be in place on both ends?
Yes eArc does need to be in place at both ends....
 

thedoswells

Well-known Member
I think this is a very good and fair review. Thanks.

Personally I love my 900, and think it sounds superb for loads of material. I was aware of its limitations before I bought it, so, given that, is does everything I would ask from it and more. It’s a great piece of kit in a well made, tidy package.
 

zeppelino

Well-known Member
You do need eARC if you want to pass lossless audio back to the soundbar, so it depends on how the Atmos is delivered. As you point out, streaming uses DD+. Since DTS:X is currently only available on discs and delivered using DTS-HD Master Audio (with a couple of exceptions), you'd definitely need eARC to send a lossless DTS:X signal back to the soundbar.
I should’ve qualified my point better - you can connect the uhd player direct to the bar - obviously you’d need a player with two hdmi ports due to hdr pass through issue (lack of DV support etc)
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Amazon has it for £549, but it looks like every other retailer has gone back to the original price of £699!
 

Eotyr

Standard Member
Hi. "So.." I'm considering one of these in the hope that it'll drop back down to £550-or-better come the day, and am looking here to sound-out a couple of concerns:
I'm currently using a 2013 Cambridge Audio Minx TV base thing which has been greatly enjoyed but does have limitations. It cost me £250, which is a long way from £550, let alone £700. I'm mindful of the law-of-deminishing-returns thing and am primarily wondering if this likely to prove an expensive disappointment in my case - ?
Also - is someone able to explain how this unit interacts with Spotify, please? Am I able to see and control Spotify through the TV with this (I don't know a thing about Chromecast)? If not, what benefit is Chromecast over a simple Bluetooth-phone connection?
 

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