The SC-BTT775 is Panasonic’s flagship 5.1 Blu-ray home cinema system, boasting all the killer features found on the SC-BTT370 (such as 3D playback and built-in Wi-Fi) but replacing its compact speakers with a set of towers. These tall black speakers are likely to dominate the landscape of your living room but that’s fine if you like your home cinema gear to be seen and heard – plus the larger enclosures could also bring a jump-up in sound quality from the BTT370’s compact speakers.
The main unit’s design is similar to that of the SC-BTT370. It’s a robustly-built, funky-looking black unit, measuring just 40mm high, which is almost as slim as Panasonic’s latest standalone players – testament to the space-saving qualities of Panasonic’s Clear Sound digital amplifier. The entire top panel is coated in a strange dappled texture that looks a bit like Braille, which seems to serve no purpose other than to make you touch it and attract even more fingerprints than usual.
Buttons on the front panel are scarce – play, stop, open/close, volume and power – and some of these are hidden under a flap, behind which also lurks an SD card slot and USB port (more on those later). That makes the overall look minimal and unassuming, which we really like. The right hand corner of the fascia is given over to an iPod/iPhone dock, hidden away in a discreet pull out drawer. It’s a terrific feature, doing away with the hassle of plugging in a peripheral dock a la Samsung, and you can control your music and videos using the system’s onscreen menus.
If you’ve got a couple of HDMI-equipped components that you’d like to run through the BTT775, such as a Sky HD box and PS3 for example, then the two HDMI inputs will be welcome. The beauty is that not only can you enjoy sound through the Panasonic’s speakers when the system is turned on, but the system still passes through signals from connected components when in standby. You’ll also find ARC-compatible HDMI v1.4 output, composite video output, analogue stereo and optical digital audio inputs, a second USB port, an Ethernet port and an FM antenna input. If you don’t want cables running across the living room floor then you can invest in Panasonic’s £100 SH-FX71 transmitter card and receiver, which sends surround channel signals to the rear speakers digitally – there’s a slot for the card on the back.
The system’s two-way tower speakers are remarkably slender and stand just over a metre tall, with a gloss-black finish giving them a hint of contemporary glamour. They’re split into two sections, the top part of which houses the meat of the speaker (two mid/bass bamboo cone drivers and a tweeter). It slots onto a hollow lower section that serves as a conduit for a speaker cable discreetly running up inside, while the whole thing screws onto a circular base. The speaker section is substantially built, but the light, plasticky middle bit and the need to screw it all together makes them a little wobbly – high-end speaker construction this is not.
Also in the box is a compact downward-firing subwoofer (systems lower down the range use side-firing subs) with a fetching black finish and a long, slender centre speaker that should be easy to fit on a TV stand shelf. All of the speakers connect to the main unit using the supplied cables, with colour-coded plugs at one end and exposed wires at the other that plug into springclip terminals.