Before we begin our analysis of the Panasonic's SC-BTT583's performance, here's some notes about setting up the Panasonic home theater system. Connecting the speakers to the Blu-ray player/receiver was as straightforward as possible as the wires and connecting ports are all color-coded.
Fire up the Panasonic SC-BTT583 for the first time and you'll be greeted by a setup screen which helps configure and tests the speakers to make sure they are all properly connected. You'll also be given the option to configure the playback for sources such as CDs, iPods and USB flash drives, either in regular stereo mode or in surround mode. For the purpose of this test, we will be evaluating the system mainly in stereo mode, but we'll also add notes at the end with regards to surround mode performance. Of course for movies, we used the surround mode since they are best enjoyed with enveloping audio.
For anyone who has a Panasonic Smart TV, the SC-BTT583’s user interface should be familiar. It looks slightly dated - we suspect mainly due to the use of the Serif fonts - and is not as responsive as we would have liked. Fortunately, the layout is pretty straightforward so trying to find what you are looking for shouldn’t be an issue. That said, there are some quirks to the SC-BTT583. For example, if you are playing music from your USB flash drive for example, returning to the main menu will stop music playback.
The Panasonic SC-BTT583 also features the company's Smart Viera platform, which gives access to Smart TV functions and apps. This is useful for users who have older TVs that do not have Smart TV capabilities. Admittedly, Panasonic's Smart Viera platform isn't the most refined, but it does have useful applications for communication and newsgathering, such as Facebook and Associated Press. For music lovers, there's SHOUTcast radio, which gives access to to a bewildering array of Internet radio stations playing all sorts of music.
MP3 Audio Testing
The Eagle’s Hotel California remains one of the all-time great reference tracks and first impressions of the SC-BTT583 is decidedly average. The opening drum sequence failed to blow our socks off and there’s a general sense of hesitancy and also muddiness when it comes to low notes. Henley's famously raspy vocals are a good test of a speaker's ability to produce textured sounds and while the SC-BTT583 did sound pretty clear, it was lacking in details.
On Adele’s mellow Melt My Heart to Stone, vocals were clearly reproduced but lacked body, this resulted in Adele’s powerful voice sounding more tinny than it should. We also noticed a lack of punchiness in the overall sound, the drum beats in particular, sounded hesitant.
On Tiesto’s Elements of Life, the track sounds and feels lively enough. There’s enough urgency from the beats, but sadly, it’s just not hard hitting enough. You get the sense that while the front channel speakers are working hard, the subwoofer is once again lackadaisical in its performance. The subwoofer seems to be all over the place, blanketing the entire track with a mush of bass.
Buckethead’s Sail on Soothsayer is a much less hectic track and with its heavy focus on guitars, the Panasonic SC-BTT583 manages to claw back some points. On this instrumental track, the guitars sounded relatively clear and the speakers coped well with the track’s faster sections. However, the distorted components of guitar sounded too blunt.
Next, we tried playing the tracks in surround mode. As we had expected, there’s a wider sound stage and a slightly more spacious feel to the sound. Also, vocals sound a tad bit clearer. However, we found that separation wasn’t as clear and distinct. This was apparent on Hotel California during the guitar play between Felder and Walsh.
|Hotel California - The Eagles||7.0|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||7.5|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||7.0|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||7.0|