After being slightly let down by the scrawny sound quality offered by the SC-BTT182, we were hoping for better things from its bigger brother and thankfully the Panasonic SC-BTT282 is much more pleasing. It’s not world-beating, but comes closer to the quality offered by the excellent SC-BTT590.
To begin, we loaded up Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and skipped to the trusty test scene depicting Hellboy’s battle with the Elemental at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. The scene’s powerful, chaotic action is a test of any system’s mettle, and on the whole the BTT282 handles it with gusto. It’s able to fill the room more easily than you might expect and presents a fairly spacious, detailed stereo soundstage, enhanced by the efforts of Cinema Surround Plus.
There’s an impressive balance across the frequency range, with tinkling glass, dialogue and thumping bottom-end effects all getting equal billing as the scene progresses. The sound is suitably attacking and dynamic, and it’s able to handle loud volumes without sounding too brash. A couple effects, such as the giant plant’s dying screech and the sound of a car being hurled at a helicopter, are a little coarse, but in general it’s easy to get lost in the action – and thankfully the sound has more presence and polish than the SC-BTT182. Dialogue forces its way through the melee too, without sounding thin or nasal.
It teases out a healthy amount of high-frequency detail too, most ably demonstrated as the defeated beast causes plants to grow on buildings – the gentle rustle is clearly reproduced, approaching the level of refinement and polish offered by the SC-BTT590.
If there’s a weakness it’s the subwoofer, which lacks the absolute control, agility and punch that separates a good sub from a great one, and you have to turn its level down to stop action scenes from becoming a boomy mess. But once you do, it integrates fairly well and sounds solid enough.
In terms of picture performance, the SC-BTT282 is an assured performer, feeding our 55in 3D set with beautifully sharp and cinematic images. It renders the finest details with ease and offers phenomenal colour reproduction, not only with vivid hues but also subtly shaded areas, which look smooth and fluid. Its 3D pictures are borderline hypnotic, drawing you in with their depth and clarity – and if they don’t hit the spot straight away the adjustments in the setup menu might garner more satisfying results.
The Panasonic SC-BTT282 is yet another solid 2.1-channel system from the Panasonic stable, offering enjoyable movie sound quality and a generous set of features. If you’re also eyeing up the cheaper SC-BTT182 and wondering if it’s worth paying the extra premium, then the answer is yes – the BT282’s sound quality is miles better, you get more connections and it throws in Wi-Fi and an iPod/iPhone dock. It’s not perfect, and LG’s BH5320F is a more appetising proposition with its eye-catching design and slightly more engaging sound, but in general the SC-BTT282 is a tidy purchase.