One of the things we most often complain about with today's super slim-line TVs is the quality of their audio, or rather the lack of it. With manufacturers pushing to outdo themselves with TVs that are thinner than an After Eight mint, the quality of the speakers in today's sets has suffered simply because there's so little room in the chassis to accommodate them. Of course, the obvious solution is to invest in a surround sound set up, but not everyone has the room or an accepting partner that's willing to put up with the reams of cables and all the additional speakers that a full surround sound setup entails. This is partly why there's an increasing number of soundbars appearing on the market. These units are designed to sit beneath your TV and pump out better sonics. The HTB520 is Panasonic's premium soundbar offering, yet it's still quite modestly priced, as you can pick it up for around £300 online.
Like an increasing number of soundbars we see, the HTB520 is a two box solution: there's the speaker bar that sits under your TV and a subwoofer that can be placed elsewhere in the room. As the soundbar communicates with the subwoofer over a wireless connection, the two don’t have to be sitting next to each other. This means you can hide the woofer away pretty much anywhere you like in your room. However, as the subwoofer is an active model, it does need to be plugged into the mains.
The main speaker bar is actually quite a stylish looking piece of kit. It's got a much lower profile design than many other models that we've come across, and as a result looks a lot less intrusive when you've got it in place. It houses six speakers in total, with three mounted on each side. These are shielded behind a thin mesh that blends in seamlessly with the mirrored finish on the front of the soundbar.
There are two options when it comes to installing the HTC520. If your TV is perched on a pedestal stand on a table or AV unit, you can simply have the speaker bar sitting in front of it on its small rubber legs. Alternatively, if your set is wall mounted, you can use the mounting brackets that Panasonic provides to mount it on your wall under your telly.
The subwoofer houses a downward firing driver and measuring 180 x 408 x 306 mm it's relatively small for an active unit. The small size combined with its piano black finish means that it looks about as stylish as a subwoofer could be. The black finish also helps it to blend in pretty well with other AV kit. The wireless connection between the soundbar and subwoofer is configured automatically. So as long as the soundbar is already turned before you kick the subwoofer into gear the two will automatically pair with each other.