Playing our copy of Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray reveals the SC-BTT775 to be a surprisingly capable performer. The sound it squeezes out of these lightweight speakers is generally clean and enjoyable, injecting the Monaco Grand Prix scene with enough verve and muscle to raise it well above the quality of flatpanel TV speakers. It’s a fuller, meatier sound than the BTT370 too, but despite that we still think the subwoofer lacks oomph when conveying the sound of F1 cars crashing to the ground, or the roaring engines on the grid. Dedicated speaker systems like the Teufel Columa really make these sounds rip through you but you don’t get that sense from the Panasonic. There are ways to boost the bass level – the Subwoofer Level settings and H.Bass – but none really hit the spot.
It is, however, a very detailed sound with a crisp, airy feel to it all around the soundstage. High frequencies are clear and well controlled, and only start to sound harsh when you pump up the volume beyond a comfortable listening level. During quiet scenes, it teases out delicate background effects to provide an absorbing backdrop.
There are other positives too. The satellites, centre and subwoofer integrate nicely without any one channel overpowering the others and the Cinema Surround Plus mode places effects slightly above ear level to create the illusion of height. It’s subtle but effective. What’s more, the soundstage is expansive, with smoothly steered effects.
There are no problems on the picture quality front. Inside the system is the same image tech powering Panasonic’s brilliant standalone players, including Adaptive Chroma Processing and P4HD, and as a result you get stunning pictures from Blu-ray and DVD. Hi-def detail looks phenomenally sharp, backed up by natural colours and clear shadow detail. Switch to 3D and you get more of the same but with added depth – the layers and objects are perfectly composed and free from flaws like blur and crosstalk, resulting in a spellbinding viewing experience. The only disappointment is that 2D-to-3D conversion falls a bit flat.
The SC-BTT775 is far from a perfect home cinema system – the build quality of the towers is disappointing and the audio performance could do with a bit more oomph to compete with ‘proper’ speaker systems from the likes of Teufel or Tannoy. But it’s churlish to complain about sound quality when there’s so much more crammed into this system – 3D, DLNA, Wi-Fi, Skype, HDMI inputs, iPod dock, Viera Cast, the list goes on and on. And for £400, that’s pretty good value in our book, making this well worth a place on your shortlist.