The speakers of the Panasonic SC-PMX5 are three-way bass reflex affairs, and share most of the technology found inside the SC-BTT590’s speakers, such as the film capacitor inside the 19mm soft dome tweeter that cuts low frequencies; a 14cm Bamboo Charcoal PP cone with an uneven thickness to disperse resonance; and a Double Motion Damper in the driver unit that aims to improve long-stroke performance. The three-way design is completed by a 15mm super-tweeter to add extra high-frequency resolution.
The system also uses the Anti-Jitter Digital Amplifier found inside the BTT590, which applies noise-shaping technology to correct clock errors and to deliver a cleaner and more accurate sound. Its high-grade audio circuit design includes a high-frequency crystal oscillator with its own power supply to shut out external noise.
That’s the science bit done, now the fun stuff. There’s a range of EQ settings (Flat, Heavy, Soft, Clear, Vocal) as well as a Surround mode that widens out stereo sound and D.Bass. Total output power is quoted as 120W.
There are FM and DAB tuners, with 30 and 20 presets respectively, plus the system will play MP3 files from USB drives but not FLAC, WMA, WAV or AAC, which is a major disappointment. Some sort of network streaming would have taken the SC-PMX5 to the next level.
Still, we can’t knock the SC-PMX5’s performance. It reproduces music with a smooth, silky tone that pulls you right into the recording, laced with lashings of sweet, sparkling detail and tight bass notes.
The Living Room by Frank McComb is a collection of live recordings by the singer/keyboardist alongside a bassist and drummer, and the SC-PMX5 does a terrific job of capturing the essence of the live performance. It gives the music a life-like, ‘in the room’ character, with all clarity and texture you’d expect if you were listening in person.
Basslines are taut and uncoloured, Frank’s Fender Rhodes chords are sumptuously warm and drums are punchy. It’s very impressive, allowing you to get up-close and personal with the instruments and vocals. It brings the same sort of quality to any source, be it MP3s via USB or songs from your iPod.
Any criticisms? Not many, except we feel D.Bass comes on a little too strong in the low-frequency department and Surround does little to improve music playback. Other than that, this is a performance worthy of the system’s high-end billing.
Panasonic’s SC-PMX5 is a classy micro system that boasts spellbinding sound quality and some nifty features, including a built-in iPod dock and a DAB tuner. We’re impressed by the build quality of the main unit and the amount of new tech that has gone into the three-way speakers. It all adds up to a first-rate musical performance, bursting with fine detail and warmth, although it’s a shame that Panasonic couldn’t have expanded the range of supported formats via USB and thrown in a couple more connections.