We’re delighted with the critical reception given to our Panorama 2 soundbar.
On top of the recently received prestigious EISA Award, the soundbar received Best Buy review in Home Cinema Choice, a Group Test win in What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision and a Top Pick rating from Home Theater.
With comments such as “it outguns its rivals for pure sonic ability” and “it’s the soundbar all other soundbars wish they could be”, it’s clear the critics rate the Panorama 2 as highly as we do.
All the same, we thought we could offer some useful extra tips to help you get the very most from it – so here goes…
Use your TV’s remote to operate your whole system
Although the Panorama 2 includes a remote handset, you don’t have to use it. Make the most of the control features offered by HDMI and you’ll be able to operate your soundbar using your TV’s handset or Smart TV control app instead.
It works like this. Panorama 2 includes four HDMI sockets: three for input only, and a fourth that supports the Audio Return Channel (ARC) feature included on most modern TVs. ARC HDMI functions as both input and an output, so with one cable from your Panorama 2 you can both send video signals up into your TV and receive sound signals from it. That also means the Panorama 2’s three remaining HDMI sockets are free for use with other source components.
Obviously this makes wiring your system up a little easier and neater: you’ll only need one longer HDMI cable (from the Panorama 2 up to your TV), while all your source components (satellite receiver, Blu-ray player and so on) can use shorter HDMIs to link directly into the Panorama 2. That’s handy for wall-mounted TV installations. If you prefer, you could opt for an alternative solution – routing your audio sources into your TV and then outwards via its ARC HDMI socket into the Panorama 2 – but we’d recommend avoiding that route if possible. Not all TVs are effective at passing on audio signals to other components: indeed, some must convert Dolby Digital 5.1 signals into stereo LPCM sound, meaning you’d be losing out on quality.
But those HDMI connectors do more than simplify your connections: they also support HDMI’s Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) feature, making your system much easier to use. Thanks to CEC – a feature found on HDMI-equipped TVs since 2008 – you can use your TV’s remote control to operate the Panorama 2’s volume, so you don’t need to use the remote handset that comes in the box with the product. So long as you turn off one source device before turning on the next component, your Panorama 2 will automatically switch between sources for you too. Finally, turn off your TV and your Panorama 2 will turn off – and naturally, it’ll spring into life when you turn the TV back on, too.
Stream to Panorama 2 from your Smart TV
If you’ve recently bought a TV it’s very likely to feature Smart TV services from a range of providers. This can include both film and catch-up TV platforms – such as Netflix and the BBC iPlayer – plus a range of music services. Depending on region you live in and the specific services offered by your brand of TV, you can choose from music streaming providers such as Amazon Cloud Player, Aupeo!, Deezer, Napster, Pandora, Rhapsody and Spotify. And of course, so long as you’ve connected your TV to your Panorama 2 (see above) you’ll be able to enjoy all that music in superior sound quality.
Upgrade to AirPlay streaming
AirPlay – Apple’s wireless audio/video streaming technology – allows you to stream over your wireless network from your iOS device or any computer running iTunes.
One way to use AirPlay with your Panorama 2 is to add an Apple TV: simply link it to one of the three available HDMI inputs, and you can stream both video and audio into your system. Where Dolby Digital 5.1 is present – as it is on some iTunes films and many Netflix releases – it will pass through to the Panorama 2’s on-board audio decoding, while picture signals will be handed on intact to your TV screen.
However, as good as it is, Apple TV is not the optimum choice for AirPlay music streaming. It has a fixed upsampling rate (16-bit/48kHz): by contrast, Apple’s Airport Extreme will pass through music files in their unadulterated 44.1kHz form, making it the better choice for some buyers. You’ll need to purchase a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm optical digital cable – about £10 – to link the Airport to your Panorama 2, although that also means its other HDMI inputs will remain available for use with other sources.
Stream from Android devices
Want to use Bluetooth instead of AirPlay? Bluetooth aptX will deliver the best sound quality. To access it, you’ll need an external Bluetooth receiver, similar in size and concept to an Airport Express (note: not a USB dongle). With one of these devices you can stream music from your smartphone wirelessly into the Panorama 2 – and some products also include an optical digital output socket, so you can link them digitally into the Panorama 2’s optical digital input for optimum sound quality. Again, that’s much like an Apple Airport Express (above).
Add a subwoofer
Panorama 2 won’t require additional bass reinforcement in many rooms: it’s already a powerful performer. However, it does include an output socket to power an active subwoofer, so if you listen in an especially large room – or if you fancy an even weightier sound in a smaller space – an active sub is worth considering as an upgrade.
It’s easy to add in. First, you’ll need a long subwoofer interconnect cable to link from the Panorama 2’s rear panel to your sub: these cost around £15. When you connect the two products together, the Panorama 2 will automatically apply the necessary low-pass filter to optimise its performance with a subwoofer connected: just remember to turn the low-pass filter in your subwoofer up to its maximum setting, or turn it off altogether if the opportunity exists to do so.
You can help any subwoofer to sound better by positioning it carefully. Once you’ve done that, go to the Panorama 2’s Sound Menu and adjust its Subwoofer Distance and Subwoofer Level settings to the correct values. Distance refers to the distance from the subwoofer to your seat, not from the subwoofer to the Panorama 2: Level refers to the volume of the bass itself. Here, you should aim for a bass level that contributes to the performance, not dominates it.