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Panasonic SC-HTB680 User Review

  • TheRKM
    Sonic disappointment
    Review of Panasonic SC-HTB680 soundbar by TheRKM, Oct 15, 2016.
    I recently updated my aging Panny TX-32LXD500 to a new TX-58DX750. Since the old TV had front facing speakers and the new TV didn't I decided after reading this review to invest in this sound-bar to get better audio.

    What mistake to make!

    Whilst you give it quite good reviews, I must disagree - for me, apart from a booming bass which is quite unfocussed, the sound is much worse than my old TV and has no stage width whatsoever. In fact, it might as well just be a mono speaker! And this isn't just a "settings" issue - I have now checked every single combination of settings on the bar - which in itself takes a considerable time.

    With my old TX-32LXD500, using only its 2 INTERNAL speakers, I regularly used to hear background sounds coming from all sides of the room: the sound stage was much wider than the screen width, whilst dialogue was always focussed on the source. Birds tweeting in trees whilst actors walked down woodland paths sounded to be coming from the edges of the room - sometimes we wondered if they really were in the room! With this sound-bar EVERYTHING sounds as if it is just coming right from the middle of the bar - there is no stereo image at all, just a blurred audio image within the length of the bar, and certainly no background sounds off to the extreme edges. Yes, I even checked that all three internal speakers are working by listening to them individually.

    Even playing music, simple two channel stereo music, through this makes it sound like a mono source. Early Beatles tracks, famous for only having hard left, right and centre sound positions, just sound mono - this Panasonic sound-bar will have George Martin turning in his grave! More recent stereo recordings sound no better, but it is live TV, DVD and Blueray video media that is a real disappointment. Add to that, a booming, unfocussed (Bluetooth connection delay?) base from the subwoofer and you have an altogether poor, pathetic sound quality.

    Yes, the frequency range may extend further down than the in-built speakers of my old telly, and if that is all you consider makes better sound then this may be a product for you, but sound engineers spend a lot of time (and money) creating an audio stage, let alone a surround stage, and this system simply reduces it to a single blurry point source. It isn't rocket science to create an audio image wider than the speaker separation, engineers have been doing it for decades now, but Panasonic fail miserably with this product which takes the science of sound back to the early sixties.

    I notice that most of the comments were from people coveting this product: hoping to buy it or wishing they could buy it from their local bricks and mortar store - don't! To paraphrase Monty Python's review of Australian table wines: "This is one worth laying down - and avoiding!"

    Scores "1" because it looks pretty, but that isn't the reason for its existence.
    This item was purchased for £189 from Currys in 2016. The reviewer still owns this product.


    • Looks pretty


    • Lack of sound image
    • unfocussed sound
    • too many setup options making little difference apart from bass boominess

    Build Quality




    Ease of use


    Sound Quality



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