I was looking for something to improve the sound quality for my mother's Panasonic GT-20 Plasma. She's had it for a few years and lived with the built-in speakers, but on moving to a new house wanted something that would make it "easier to hear without having to turn it up so loud and sound bette
My #1 priority in making a selection was ease of operation. I didn't want a second remote for my mom to deal with, so the Panasonic sound bars that support the audio return channel (ARC) on HDMI seemed like the way to go.
Setup was simple, the Tivo is plugged into the TV's HDMI2 port and the Blu-Ray into HDMI3. The HDMI 1 cable goes to the SC-HTB20's sub / processor. Then by selecting either the HDMI2 or HDMI3 input (or any other input that's added) the audio is sent down the ARC path of the HDMI 1 to the speakers. (they provide two inputs on the sub, but using this method would require switching inputs on the sub, something I didn't want to teach my mother how to do) This arrangement also allows the TV power to power the speakers on and off when the TV is turned on and allows the TV remote volume to control the speaker volume. (This is a VieraLink control option, your mileage may vary with other brand TV's) If the speakers should fail to turn on, or stop working, the TV switches over to internal speakers automatically. Everything can be controlled with the same remote - no extra steps required! Pick the desired input and like magic your sound comes out of the new speakers. Nice and easy.
The only issue we ran into was that in the horizontal configuration when placed in front of the TV, the speakers block the TV IR port, so the TV's remote control doesn't work unless you hold it up and point it over the speakers. Luckily splitting the speakers into two vertical pieces and using the supplied stands to place them to the left and right of the TV solved that problem with no impact on sound quality. Also, the IR receiver for the speakers is on the sub, which we have tucked behind the TV in the corner. So if we ever need to use the remote to adjust the speakers (should be rare) we have to point it into the corner behind the TV. Just something to keep in mind if you plan to use the speakers provided remote control to adjust volume or switch inputs.
Overall the sound is a nice rich room filling sound. There is a subwoofer level control and we set it to 2 out of 4. With the sub behind the TV in the corner there is MORE than enough bass. Dialog was easy to understand and the dialog enhancement does actually seem to do a good job of pulling out the dialog and making it easy to hear.
For the price, I think it's a great solution for someone that wants a nice clean, ,full bodied sound and easy to control options. It's no surround sound system by any means, but for day to day TV watching and even the occasional movie, it's a nice fit. Especially when combined with a Panasonic TV.
Overall I give it 4 stars out of 5