Review: Panasonic SC-HTB250

Small and half-hearted

The small soundbar from Panasonic sounds bigger and more powerful than you might think. But it has a few issues.

Karakter
Panasonic SC-HTB250
We think
The sound is powerful, with more oomph than we had anticipated. Quite a huge soundscape on film.
Bluetooth sounds miserable, and with the absent analogue input, you can therefore not enjoy music from a mobile phone.
Specifications

Matches screen size: 20” and up
HDMI: 1 out (ARC)
Digital in: Optical, USB-A
Wireless: Bluetooth
Analogue in: No
Website: panasonic.com

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The Panasonic SC-HTB250 is a narrow soundbar, which fits with small TVs. The wireless slim subwoofer fits under the couch, and you can hear and feel the bass even at low volume. Good for neighbourly relationships among flat residents!

As for connections, there is an optical digital input and an HDMI output with audio return channel. No pure HDMI inputs, which means that all video sources must be connected to the TV, which then leads the audio to the soundbar up through the HDMI output. We also miss the display.

Sound quality

Film sound is quite impressive, as the soundbar in movie mode delivers a far greater and more open soundscape than its physical dimensions would dictate. The sound is still a bit rough around the edges, but with better oomph in dialogues and in the soundscape compared with Philips B1. But it’s not as good as Sony HT-MT500, which we’ve tested before.
Wireless Bluetooth works poorly. Music from a mobile phone sounds particularly flat and lifeless, and never reaches its full potential. It gets better if you turn down the sound on the mobile phone, but then it won’t be loud enough, even with the soundbar at max. There is no analogue audio input, and for all practical purposes you can’t really listen to music from the mobile phone.

However, the sound was a lot better with a CD in our Blu-ray player. Suddenly, the music feels lively, with well defined rhythms. It lacks a bit of finesse in the overtones. It can sound a little wooly and trapped compared to the best.

Conclusion

The Panasonic SC-HTB250 is a small soundbar with a sleek, cordless subwoofer that fits under the sofa. Despite its small size, it has a large enough soundscape in the film, and the audio is more powerful than you might think.
The Bluetooth transfer is far too poor for enjoying music from your mobile phone. Listening to music must take place from sources that can be connected with optical input or via the TV. Or you can play music files from a memory stick.

Also in this test

Klipsch RSB-6

Does not follow up

A masculine expression and rugged sound does not have the power to follow up, and Klipsch lands at the bottom.

If you like the PA sound you know from concert halls and nightlife venues, you'll nod approvingly.
The soundbar does not have the power to keep up with the “tough” soundscape. It all sounds fairly flat, and Bluetooth sounds discouragingly bad.

JBL Bar 3.1

Powerhouse

No one in the class provide this sense of home cinema. JBL crushes everyone on sheer force, and the sound quality is good enough for it to take the lead.

No one in this class come close to this level of power. The subwoofer at 10 inches is especially impressive. In addition, it sounds good, and the soundbar is user-friendly.
There are those with higher resolution and even better cohesion in the tones. Does not support DTS

LG SJ8

Let the sound flow

The soundbar from LG is one of the most affordable with built-in network features and streaming of music services. It also sounds good.

The sound is crisp, with a clear dialogue on movies. The soundscape is huge, and we give a thumbs up for the network and streaming services.
It lacks power, and it can sound a little slim.

Samsung HW-N660

Perfect balance

The soundbar from Samsung has a beautiful coherence in the tones, which makes both movies and music a pleasant experience.

The soundscape is great, and it works extraordinarily well on film and games. The soundbar has a very well adjusted timbre balance.
We would like more power, and the narrow display can hold way too little text, which is why it appears in a rolling manner.

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana

For gamers

Creative’s soundbar is for gamers and the only one in the test with USB inputs that replaces the sound card in PCs and Macs.

The soundscape gets an okay feel of surround on film and games, and the subwoofer hangs well together with the sound from the soundbar. A straightforward display simplifies its use.
The overtones are rather taciturn, the dialogues in film sound somewhat woolly, and the music lacks a little spark. The subwoofer is not wireless, HDMI is missing as is support for DTS.

Yamaha YAS-207

Surprisingly huge sound

Yamaha was first on the market with active soundbars. This is their first with DTS Virtual:X surround sound.

The soundscape is folded outward and upward. This soundbar does an excellent job in simulating true surround sound.
We miss a display, since LEDs provide limited visibility from a distance. The overtone area could be more airy.

Philips Fidelio B1/12

Better on TV than music

This is one of the smallest soundbars on the market. It sounds bigger than it looks, but has its shortcomings.

Very compact dimensions makes for a discreet soundbar, and it is also very easy to use. The sound is more powerful than you might think.
Does not sound as good on music as film, the bass is somewhat uncontrolled and the midrange could have had more energy. HDMI does not support HDCP 2.2 and thereby does not support 4K Blu-ray.

Sony HT-XF9000

Extra dimension in height

Sony’s soundbar simulates both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in height, thus giving an extra dimension to the soundscape. Yes, it works.

The soundscape is huge on film, and the dialogue is crystal clear. The subwoofer has also tolerable power.
It can sometimes sound a little crass in the overtones, and the subwoofer has a lot of energy in its upper range and less in the deep bass. Music in stereo is not great.

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