What is Panasonic SC-HTB258?
The Panasonic SC-HTB258 is a sound bar that saves space and benefits from the backup of a thin and flexible wireless subwoofer. Its small size means that you should happily sit under most televisions without blocking the screen, while the subwoofer can be placed vertically or horizontally to fit your room.
With the option of HDMI and optical input, the SC-HTB258 offers a bit more flexibility with connectivity than we would normally expect at its price of £ 200. It means that the bar can decode more advanced sound formats and No losses like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
There is also Bluetooth to enable music streaming from your phone or tablet. Unfortunately, there is no support for the higher quality aptX codec: it is more aimed at improving the sound of your TV.
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Panasonic SC-HTB258 – Design
The SC-HTB258 is not really what I would describe it as a bar. It's softer than that, with curved edges that give it an almost capsule design with a flattened top.
Measuring only 45 cm in length and 13.5 cm in depth, it is smaller than most sound bars and sits almost imperceptibly under the 55-inch Samsung I TV. it with.
The subwoofer is also thin. With a height of 45 cm, its height is almost equivalent to that of my TV, but as it measures just 10 cm wide, it is easy to accommodate horizontally or vertically. I choose to place it vertically, to the right of my TV, giving it a bit of space from the back wall.
The submarine requires its own power source, but otherwise is completely wireless and automatically connects to the sound bar when both are turned on.
At the top of the sound bar there is a series of LEDs that light up to indicate the selected settings or inputs, providing visual feedback if something has changed. They will even scroll in ascending or descending order as you change the volume, or they will flash in unison when silence is selected.
The SC-HTB258 comes with a credit card style remote control to adjust the functions of the sound bar, although matching controls on the side of the sound bar in case you misplace it. It will not win any prize for its design, it is quite small and plasticky. However, it does the job, with power, volume, input and sound profile controls (which can be set in Music, Cinema or Off).
Panasonic SC-HTB258 – Features and connectivity
The SC-HTB258 is a fairly simple sound bar, with some note characteristics. In many ways, that's in your credit. At this level, performance is key; There is little to gain from having numerous options that many people will not even use.
Still, we are pleasantly surprised to see a selection of entries here – unusual at this price – with the option of optical or HDMI connection to connect the bar of your TV.
Optics is the way to go if you do not have a spare HDMI input on your TV with ARC support. However, if it does, an HDMI connection can transfer sound formats of better quality, such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio.
In spite of the fact, it is a 2.1 channel sound bar, which means that the multichannel sound will be mixed with a stereo signal anyway, the Using HDMI will ensure that this is achieved with a quality superior to that of the Dolby Digital Plus standard through optics.
It will also ensure that the bar is controlled at the same time as the TV, so it will turn on or off at the same time, and you can change its volume using the TV's remote control.
If you use the optical system, you will need to use the included remote control to turn it on and adjust the volume independently. However, you can choose to disable auto power off (which turns off the bar after 20 minutes without audio signal) and keep it turned on all the time.
Apart from this, the SC-HTB258 offers a pair of sound modes for Music and Cinema modes, and also has the ability to adjust the level of the subwoofer. After playing with this, I decided to keep it in the middle (LEDs will help give you a guide on where it is on the scale)
Panasonic SC-HTB258 – Performance
The SC-HTB258 does a good job of not letting its dimensions get in the way of its capabilities. At normal listening levels, the sound exceeds its physical size to appear open and unrestricted.
The dialogue is direct and expressive; it does not appear compressed in the way that it can sometimes in a smaller kit. It's natural, too; There is also no sense of hard-hand processing in play.
In general, the sound signature is quite well balanced. The middle range is, without a doubt, the strong point, it is clear, direct and detailed, but it is not the only part that the SC-HTB258 is right for. The submarine is also very well integrated, and does a good job of picking up the most rimbral end of the spectrum, without obvious crossing.
Considering its slender size, the submarine descends admirably and is agile to boot. He is unlikely to rattle his boards with his power, but he will give a decent kick and sense of authority to the low range.
In any case, Panasonic has been a bit hesitant with its treble handling. There are some rolling in game towards the top of the record to prevent it from sounding hard. It works for the most part.
However, there are times when it may sound a little sharp, as with applause on standard definition channels. Playing it safe at the top end means that you can fall a bit short in terms of emotion, when a big action scene could use a quicker touch. Turn up the volume and get more bites, but at large volumes the size limitations of the SC-HTB258 begin to show, with a slightly congested sound and a smaller scale.
However, there is still a lot of thrust in this sound bar before reaching that point, and in fact the SC-HTB258 impresses especially for its ability to improve the sound of your television, instead of simply amplifying it. Adding this sound bar will reveal more details and dynamics of the soundtrack of a movie than you may have noticed before, something you can not always say about sound bars at this price.
It's not as insightful as a more expensive sound bar, but I'm I'm still impressed by his abilities. It shows a lot of clarity, a good amount of momentum and agility when necessary. These qualities are also transferred to the music, so it works as a pretty useful party speaker in case you need it.
I switched from Sonos Playbar to SC-HTB258, and considering that Panasonic is less than a third of the price, it can keep its head high. Clearly, there are limitations, but finally it offers a very nice performance.
Why buy the Panasonic SC-HTB258?
With a budget of £ 200, I'm not sure I heard much better than the Panasonic SC-HTB258. There are limitations, which would be expected at this price, but can easily be maintained next to the Canton DM5, for £ 100 less.
You should find space for the separate subwoofer, but its flexibility when the location means that most rooms should be able to accommodate it without problems.
A larger budget will allow you to get a more roomy volume sound, secure treble and more power in the lower range, and will undoubtedly take detail and dynamics to the next level. However, for those with little budget and space, this is an excellent option.
An excellent sound bar that saves space and offers a lot without the huge price tag.