In action, the system’s sound quality is surprisingly good considering the size of the speakers. Throwing it straight in at the deep end with ”Hellboy II”, this fantasy blockbuster sounds lively and dynamic. As Hellboy battles the Forest God, the system orchestrates the frenzied mix of effects with relish – crunching concrete, crashing cars, explosions and booming footsteps are punchy and forceful, while the rear speakers channels provide well-timed, atmospheric surround support.
The clarity of dialogue is also impressive, allowing speech to be heard no matter how frenetic the surrounding action. John Hurt’s voiceover at the start of the movie is smooth and rich.
We gave Cinema Surround Plus a shot, and although it’s effects aren’t life-changing, you certainly get the sense that ‘high’ effects, such as helicopters flying overhead or rain, appear to originate a little higher up than they do when the mode is switched off. The sound also engulfs you slightly better, although you lose some of the distinct placement of standard surround sound.
On the downside, there isn’t as much detail in the sound as we’re used to from more proficient separates – in the wake of the Forest God’s death, for example, the delicate rustling and crunching as plant life grows on the sides of buildings is a little difficult to hear, leading to a lack of openness. You also don’t get the gut-wrenching power you’d expect from a 1,000W system, but enough to get the heart pounding.
The subwoofer isn’t quite as tight and responsive as we’d like either, but to be fair it’s still better than expected, rarely sounding boomy or disconnected from the satellites. It also lends a decent bed of bass to music playback.
And as per usual, there are no qualms whatsoever when it comes to picture quality. This year’s Panasonics are delivering some of the sharpest and most nuanced Blu-ray pictures around, guaranteed to lower the jaws of anyone you show them to.
That goes for 3D as well as 2D. When viewed on a decent 3D telly, such as the TX-P46VT20, the results are staggeringly good – deep and immersive with no ghosting to ruin the effect. 2D to 3D conversion is a mixed bag though, working well with some discs (”Avatar”) but of no use with others (”Inception”, ”Iron Man 2”).
The amount of features on offer, coupled with the spellbinding pictures and crisp, dynamic surround sound, makes the SC-BTT270 worth considering. Sure, it lacks built-in Wi-Fi, there are some sonic shortcomings and 2D conversion isn’t quite as good as it sounds. But even so, there are enough positives to earn this system a place on your shortlist.
Score in detail