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CES 2009: Bowers & Wilkins Lanches Soundbar


CES 2009: Bowers & Wilkins Lanches Soundbar

Just over a month ago Bowers & Wilkins walked away with the TrustedReviews Product of the Year award for its superb Zeppelin iPod dock, but the company clearly hasn't been sitting back on its laurels. At CES B&W was showing off its new home cinema soundbar, the Panorama.

No one can doubt B&W's expertise in the home cinema environment, producing some of the best surround sound speaker solutions money can buy. Now all that experience has been rolled into a slim and stylish soundbar that's designed to complement the latest generation of flat screen TVs.

Despite its slim design, the Panorama has nine drivers inside it, with particular emphasis on the centre speaker - arguably the most important channel in a surround sound system. As well as the multiple speakers the Panorama also has some advanced DSP (Digital Signal Processing) built in, to create an immersive surround effect without needing an array of speakers.

All the speakers are driven by six amplifiers producing a total of 175w. At the rear you'll find an impressive array of inputs - there are two optical digital, one coaxial digital, two analogue and a subwoofer output for anyone who needs even more boom to those explosions.

Pricing in the US will be $2,200, which put the Panorama at the very top of the soundbar price scale. Whether the Panorama's sound quality lives up to its stylish good looks remains to be seen, but considering B&W's track record, I wouldn't bet against it. Rest assured that I'll be chasing up a review sample as soon as I'm back in the office.


January 12, 2009, 4:03 am

Are these surround soundbars really an effective alternative to a full 5.1 (ie 5 separate speakers) surround setup? I only ask because I have never owned one nor know anyone that has ever owned one.


January 12, 2009, 7:39 pm

@smc8788 - No single speaker solution will ever be as good as a full surround sound system, simple as that. There has been some serious steps forward in virtual surround recently though, with Marrantz in particular bringing some impressive technology to market. That said, most of the virtual surround systems work off reflection, which means that if you don&#8217t have a fairly standard, square room, you&#8217ll never get the best out of them.

I can&#8217t comment on how good the Panorama is, but I&#8217ve yet to find a product from B&W that could be described as bad. Even so, it will be no substitute for a proper amp and a set of B&W MT30s.

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