Panasonic Soundbar Functionality Question - updated with SC-HTB770 Impressions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 04-26-2013, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a Panasonic 55ST30, a panasonic blu-ray player, and a directtv DVR. The AV components are mounted in a closet, i.e. no line of site. Currently I use Viera Link to control the blu-ray and I have an RF remoe for the DVR. This brings me to my question:

If I use a HTB770 can I mount the receiver in the closet, and control it via the Viera Link? My concern is the auto-on feature. I have heard issues with other soundbars such as the Samsungs having issues with auto-on via HDMI. I contact Panasonics and they said if I switched the TV speakers from TV to external it would kick the HTB770 on. Would I have to do that every time or once it is set up properly would turning the TV on turn on the soundbar? This TV is for the kids and wife, so key here is simple.
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post #2 of 30 Old 04-26-2013, 05:51 PM
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I have a 55ST30 and use Viera Link to turn my AVR on and off with the TV, as well as controlling volume and mute. It works very well. In the Viera Link settings there is a separate setting for "auto-on". By default it is set to off. Just enable it and you should be good to go.
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post #3 of 30 Old 04-26-2013, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Possumgirl, thank you for the response. That was the last tidbit I wanted to verify before I ordered!
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post #4 of 30 Old 04-26-2013, 08:10 PM
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I just got my HTB770 yesterday and so far it's sounding great. I still have to dial in the settings, but the HDMI connectivity is choice!
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post #5 of 30 Old 04-26-2013, 11:42 PM - Thread Starter
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That's good to hear (no pun intended) ... Now I just hope the wireless woofer will work with the base station a fair bit away. I am really excited to try it all out.

How long are the speaker cables? I'm pretty sure I will need to extend them for my application.
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post #6 of 30 Old 04-27-2013, 07:27 AM
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I don't have the sub to far away from the main unit, but that may change as my setup evolves.

I'm not certain of the length of the cables; I'd guess at 6 ft. That was enough for my application, but I'll warn you, I chatted with tech support at Monoprice and directed them to the online manual. They informed me that the adapters that plug into the main unit are proprietary. They didn't have a replacement with thicker gauge wire, but assured me it wouldn't make an appreciable difference at this length. I was hoping they would be open wire connections on both ends.

Still though, I'm glad to have the HDMI switching. It seemed that no one selling these in big box stores, or even some articles online, know that using the TV as an av switcher limits your audio. My TV is an older model Panasonic plasma from 2008, so it doesn't have an HDMI ARC option to avoid the optical all together, I have my PS3 in the BD/DVD slot and cable dvr box in Aux 2.

If you get it, let me know if you can figure out the Bluetooth mode, There is one for connectivity and one for audio quality, but the method in the manual will not change from mode 1/connectivity. Perhaps a typo?

EDIT: Live chatted with Panasonic tech support. The 2 modes for Bluetooth are only available if the BT audio source is bitstream/dual audio. Also, if you change the dialog/subwoofer levels in each mode, they will NOT reset when you switch modes and should persist when you return to that sound setting. Conceivably you could have 5 custom presets. I'm not sure how to confirm this other than by ear. THe volume level is the only thing that persists through all sound modes.
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post #7 of 30 Old 04-27-2013, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. I will need about 16 feet for speaker cables ... Looking at the manual it looks like the end by the speaker is open. I will splice a length of speaker cable on and hope it doesn't impact the sound quality. I ordered it last night, so it will be a week or so before I get it. I will let you know my thoughts.
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post #8 of 30 Old 04-27-2013, 09:29 AM
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Yeah, the ends that insert at the speaker are open so you could splice and wrap there. Let me know any tips/tricks you find!
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post #9 of 30 Old 05-01-2013, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enigmachrysalis View Post

I just got my HTB770 yesterday and so far it's sounding great. I still have to dial in the settings, but the HDMI connectivity is choice!

Enigma,
Thanks for the info you are providing on the HTB770. I have read the specs and like what I am reading. But as you said I can not find any reviews on this soundbar since it is so new. Now that you have had it over a week can you give us your review on audio quality and clarity. I have a smaller room 12x 17(8ft ceilings) and do not need a big system. Looking for a good quality soundbar to add to the movie and music experience using my 60GT50. Thanks in advance.

If anyone else has the HTB770 or has experience with it your opinion would be appreciated.
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post #10 of 30 Old 05-01-2013, 09:01 AM
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I'll tell you my quick first impressions after having it this past week.

In terms of sound quality, it's excellent. I had heard it side by side with the Samsung soundbar that I originally bought and the difference was negligible. I have since learned that since those 2 systems were connected by way of optical, and that I would have to run the Samsung out of my TV. I'm sure the audio I WOULD have been hearing would be much worse than provided by the full HDMI connectivity (see my previous posts). The Bluetooth connectivity is great, no problems there. The active sub is down-firing, and is powerful enough that my neighbor downstairs has knocked on my door once the day I was testing it, and once at night b/c of the bass. You can adjust the sub with 4 level settings, the same for the dialog level. You can also turn the 3D surround and clear voice effects off completely, which I haven't done yet.
There are 6 sounds modes, and the dialog and sub level remain persistent among all the sounds modes (contrary to what tech support told me.) I'll add my findings as they come.

My only minor gripe is that the main unit has LEDs, but there isn't any display that you can read from a distance. For the input selection it's not a big deal since the picture and sound essentially indicate the source. But the sound modes aren't displayed in text, just a bright green LED (after you turn off the auto dimmer). You can tell it's switched, just not to which mode, unless you've memorized the order, which isn't unreasonable with only 6 available. You will probably use your ears anyway. The modes are:

Standard - Comedy and Dramas
Stadium - Live Sporting Events
Music - Musical Instruments (Concerts)
Cinema - Movies
"News" - I can't remember if this is the name, but this is the intent as it emphasizes dialog.
Stereo - Any source can be heard as 2 channel

Also, you can identify the audio source (Dolby, PCM etc.) but not bitstream, although you can change the default Main mode to Secondary if there is dual audio, so I guess you can indirectly confirm bitstream this way. I would refer you to the product page at Panasonic to read latter pages of the manual, b/c I'm sure I've confused my audios source codes here.

It will definitely be loud enough for your room by the way. I may even find some way to isolate the sub from the floor to annoy my neighbor less!
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post #11 of 30 Old 05-01-2013, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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My setup should be in sometime this weekend. I will let you know my thoughts. I will be interested to see how it functions with Viera Link. My box will be out of sight, so the LEDs, even if less than ideal, will not help me at all. Does it have a setup menu GUI if connected via HDMI?

edit: Reading through the manual, it looks like there is no GUI menu via HDMI.
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post #12 of 30 Old 05-01-2013, 01:48 PM
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My Panasonic plasma is from 2008, so the most I can make out of the Viera link is to switch the TV to Home Theater and use my TV remote or programmed cable remote to control the volume. There may be other functionality, but you will have more functionality with a newer monitor, especially if it has ARC and the "HDAVI Control".

There is no visual output on the unit or the monitor, so make sure it's at least in sight enough for the sensor to read the remote commands. Still I think it's better than the Samsung, b/c the sensors/readout were in the actual soundbar, so you have to display it prominently regardless of your setup.

I neglected to mention that I have the speakers set on my media stand in the typical configuration. You can mount them this way, mount all 3 speakers separately, or put the 3 speakers on separate stands. That's a lot of options, especially if your set up/furniture layout changes.

The bottom line is that you'll love the sound. I'm waiting to know that my neighbor is out of the apt. so I can test the sound modes at substantial volume. It still has 2 optical input as well, one labeled TV and another Aux. One other minor grip is that there is no analog audio input, but i can make due with the 2 opticals.
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post #13 of 30 Old 05-02-2013, 09:45 AM
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Enigma, great feedback and details of your experience of the HTB770. I will be making a decision in the next week on a soundbar and your input is greatly appreciated

Ozzie Isaac, I look forward to your thoughts after you install the HTB770 this weekend. Thanks in advance.
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post #14 of 30 Old 05-03-2013, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Fit & Finish:
First off, this unit looks pretty nice. The black mirror finish matches my TV and the speaker grills look good. It is also pretty sturdy. They have some nice metal connecting brackets and brass inserts for the screws. The cables for the r/l speakers are 9' long and the center channel speak cable is 6.5'. The cables are very thin, but they did solder the ends. I would have preferred open ends on both the receiver side and the soundbar side. Having proprietary ends is annoying, especially if you want to change the cables used. I will have to extend them, so it is an immediate issue for me. I realize they want to make it idiot proof, but the ends are not keyed, just color coded so you could still mess it up at the receiver. The ends at the speakers are open so you could really mess it up there. The cables are white and blue, which match the speaker terminals. In general I like flexibility and proprietary ends definitely are not it.

Overall I am satisfied with the fit and finish and appreciate why they did the special ends at the receiver, even if I do not like it ..... Now on to the interesting stuff.

Setup:
My Panasonic 55ST30 is on my main floor. I have a Panasonic blu-ray player and a DirectTV box for the TV in a closet in the basement. My requirement was everything could be controlled from the TV remote.

Initially I plugged in the DirectTV box and the blu-ray player to the Soundbar Receiver. This caused issues because I could not change inputs without going downstairs. It would auto-change to blu-ray but would not change back to the DirecTV box. This was unacceptable. Next I hooked up the DirectTV to my TV and the receiver to my TV (on the ARC HDMI) and the blu-ray player to the receiver. Now I was able to use ARC to feed the DirectTV back to the receiver and then switch inputs on the TV to my second HDMI to get the blu-ray. This enabled me to control all of my inputs from the TV remote. I can also still control the blu-ray player with my TV remote. Everything powers up and down as expected without having to go downstairs or use the remote which came with the unit. This met my requirement.

The sub woofer also syncs very well, even with the receiver on a different floor and offset about 8 feet.

Concerns:
1. I do not know what signal is passed back via HDM to the receiver. Is it the 5.1 signal from the direct TV or a stereo signal? I know it is not 5.1 setup (it is 3.1), but I would still like the full signal going to the receiver then let it mix it for 3.1.

2. I had one instance where the blu-ray failed to display to the screen. I was switching inputs a lot and powering things on and off. I resolved it by powering of the blu-ray and powering it back on. I was not able to repeat it, but I will keep an eye on that.

Dislikes:
1. The TV Speaker vs. Theater setting. I can change it in the menu on the TV, but you need to power off the TV then turn it back on to get it to work. This is a nuisance and I have not figured out how to resolve it. This is probably more of a TV issue than a soundbar issue, but it is all Panasonic so I feel it is worth mentioning.

2. This may not be fair, but there is unique hardware for all of the various mounting positions. Now I have to keep track of all the parts in case I decide to change the setup.

added day 2: I wish the feet had an adjustable height. There are two height settings, I have it on the lowest setting but would like it a 1/4 - 1/2 inch lower. Being able to adjust each side in finer adjustments would be better. My TV to mantel (TV sits above fireplace) is about am 1/8" off side to side. The sound bar has no gap on one side and a slight gap on the other side. Most people wouldn't notice, but it bugs me.

Sound:
I will give impressions on sound when I get the speaker bar upstairs. Before I ran my cables I wanted to make sure everything worked. I hate going through the work of pulling cable only to find out an anticipated setup didn't work. I learned that the hard way.
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post #15 of 30 Old 05-04-2013, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Initial Sound Impressions

If you set your expectations I think you will be satisfied. This is not a surround sound system, and it is using relatively small speakers. Compared to the TV speakers (55ST30) it is a tremendous improvement, mostly due to the wireless sub-woofer.

I compared the sound bar to the TV speakers (with the sub turned off). There was not a significant difference. It was definitely cleaner and more precise, but the range was probably a little less than the TV speakers. I would guess the TV is trying to get more full range and they have higher cross-overs for the sound bar.

Add the sub-woofer and the system blends really well. It will not knock your socks off, but it gets the job done. There is a lack of adjustments on it. It is really intended as plug and play. If you like to tweak look elsewhere.

The center channel is really nice. For a broadcast TV setup it is nice. You can hear the speech much better. If I did not have a 5.1 system downstairs I would be thrilled. As it is I am happy with my purchase, but not as excited as I was when I first setup the 5.1.

It is simple to use and works well with control over HDMI. It met my requirements. So far all I have watched is clips of saving private ryan off the DVR, Appleseed Ex Machina on Blu-ray and a few shows. I will update this after a few days of listening and playing.
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post #16 of 30 Old 05-06-2013, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I am really enjoying the sound bar, I am having one issue though. The cross-over for the sub is high enough to pick up certain actors voices and makes their dialogue boomy. So far the only way I have managed to stop it is to turn down the subwoofer level to 2. This then takes away a lot from the rest of the sound track.

Anybody have this issue with the htb550? I'm pretty sure it uses the same sub and similiar amp/hub. I am open to recommendations.

Btw, hdmi switching and blue tooth is pretty sweet! It all works great.
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post #17 of 30 Old 05-09-2013, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Panasonic so far has been no help, which is unfortunate since they have been good in the past. I was able to resolve the voice track/subwoofer issue by switching the mode to NEWS. It takes away from the overall sound and is not ideal but at least the daligue is not boomy. I do not know what all the modes actually do, because you can still control dialogue and sub levels, but it seems to impact what levels are boosted. I asked Panasonic, but they just told me to read the manual, which I had already done.

I prefer standard or cinema for movies and news for TV shows.

The Bluetooth has been great. Streaming from my various devices has been a cinch.

Overall, better than a TV, great connection and streaming options, but defintely no comparison to my 5.1 setup downstairs, and that is just a hodge podge of equipment.
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post #18 of 30 Old 05-17-2013, 12:46 PM
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In researching sound bars for my new"ish" 55ST50 it seems as though my requirements are only met by Panasonic (HDMI CEC, ARC, 3D pass-thru, Bluetooth). Currently I am using the old"ish" Sony HT-CT100 but it has no ARC, Bluetooth, or 3D pass-thru. I was going to order the HTB550 but decided to wait on this one and some reviews. My current set up works well and it allows me to control the Sony soundbar via the Panny remote which is a HUGE PLUS and one of my requirements. However, the Sony sound bar is super boomy/bass heavy on dialogue and for the life of me I can't seem to push dialogue to clear level...it is a common complaint of the unit.

It is my hope that this individual center channel will do just that on the HTB770. It seems to be the biggest difference between last year's model and this one. I plan on splitting the three and placing the L/R on my TV stand next to the panel and the center channel "in front of/under" the TV. Will this block the remote sensor?

Another question: How long is the bar itself before separating it into 3 speakers?

Finally I don't understand the sub's power cycle. Is it always on? Does it turn on/off with the TV remote? Do I have to manually go up to the sub and power it off? If I manually have to power it off, do I have to manually turn it on as well?

any info would be greatly appreciated.

Panasonic TC-P55ST50
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post #19 of 30 Old 05-18-2013, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
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48.5" wide long before separating

Center speaker is 6.5" by itself. I do not know where the IR eye is for the ST50. My ST30 is wall mounted and the bar is below it.

I have issues with the subwoofer crossover picking up the voice track. I have managed to get it sounding ok, but had to turn the sub down for some content. I think this will plague most soundbars at this price point.

Overall I am satisfied, but not wow'd. It is defintely recommended if you are replacing TV speakers, but not so sure if you already have a sound bar.
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post #20 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 04:53 AM
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Hello all.

My fist post on AVS! I joined after finding this helpful thread and I wanted your sage advice. I've been looking at getting the HTB770 and having never had a wireless speaker set up I had some questions about Wi-Fi interference.

Have any of you experienced the 2.4ghz Wi-Fi signal interfering with the subwoofer or vice versa? I do have a dual band router and 2 laptops do receive the 5ghz Wi-Fi signal but another laptop and phones only receive the 2.4ghz signal. I've seen in the HTB770 manual that I should keep the sub 2m away from a router etc but just wanted some reassurance (or not...) that this will be enough to prevent ant interference.

Thanks
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post #21 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 06:16 AM
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I have not experienced any interference with the wireless subwoofer, and my router is not even 6 feet from the unit. I have not experienced the problem with the actor dialogue, but i do have to keep my system turned down b/c of the neighbors; I often have the sub at level 2 instead of 3 as well.

With regard to the power cycle the sub is always on. The light is lit red when the unit is off, but when it turns on the light flashes green and then remains green once it is connected. ita has a separate power cord.

I have had no problems. One quirk i noticed is that it will power on/off with my "old" Panasonic plasma, but if it is powered on/off separately, it will forget the link until they are powered on/off together again.

I also have to play with the listening modes. For example, even though there is a setting for "live" music, sometime the plain stereo mode sounds better b/c it's broadcast in bitstream. Typically if it's anything where the music soundtrack is as if not more important than the dialogue, I cycle through the modes. Otherwise it stays on the standard listening mode.
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post #22 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 07:02 AM
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That's good to hear and thanks for all the info enigmachrsallis. Think I'll and pick one up now.
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post #23 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 07:08 AM
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I meant to ass that if you're using it in a space where you nee to decouple the downfiring sub as I did, the Auralex SubDude does wonders!
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post #24 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 07:45 AM
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Sounds good. I'll look into it, thanks.
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post #25 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I have had no issues with my wifi. My sub is about 8 feet away from the base unit. It is actually on a different floor, so it goes through a wall and a ceiling with no issues. My router has not caused any interference but it is about 20ft away.. The Bluetooth even works from the TV room.

One weird thing is it remembers when it was connected via Bluetooth even through power cycles. If I use Bluetooth I have to go downstairs to change the input to TV or blu-ray. It will change between blu-ray and tv over hdmi-c, but not Bluetooth.
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post #26 of 30 Old 06-10-2013, 10:15 PM
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I am not much impressed with this product. Installation was pretty easy. I have 2012 Panasonic Plasma TV so ARC is working fine for volume control and powering off with same button. But can't power on with TV remote. Needs to be powered on separately using dedicated remote. Their process to change it to different code doesn't work. Sound also not impressing. Total waste of money, the price range should have been 199.00 instead of 399.00 . I wish I could check other products before.
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post #27 of 30 Old 06-11-2013, 01:37 AM
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Thanks Ozzie and Saitan. Mine should be here on Wednesday so I hope I'll be more satisfied than you are Saitan... I'll post my thoughts at the weekend.
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post #28 of 30 Old 06-11-2013, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saitan_devil View Post

But can't power on with TV remote. Needs to be powered on separately using dedicated remote.

Did you go to the Viera Link settings on the TV and enable "auto-on"? By default it is turned off.
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post #29 of 30 Old 06-25-2013, 10:38 AM
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Had this for a couple of weeks now so thought I'd share - might help some one else that googles this device like I did.

This is my first Home Theatre set up so I'm not comparing it to anything I've used previously. Firstly I'll say that the sound from my new L42ET60B TV is bad, so bad it's useless actually. I'm glad I got the HTB770 as soon as I did as I couldn't stand that TV sound any longer!

Good:
So far I love the 770. I only use the Standard sound setting for TV and movies and the Stereo setting for sports which seems to bring out the sound of the crowd really well. I use the separate Clear Dialogue and Subwoofer controls a lot, really helpful. The sub sounds great - I've got it on a hard floor - and the bass travels well. I usually only have it set on 2 out of 4 but will put it on 3 occasionally. 4 is too high for me but does sound good still. I've had no issues with Wi-Fi interference either.
The Bluetooth worked easily and the Viera Link worked with no problems at all. I turned off the Standby Power Save and Intelligent Auto Standby in the TV Viera Link settings because one or the other turned off the 770 when I was playing music for a while. I don't need them on anyway as I'll always just turn things off myself anyway.

Bad:
The settings only being displayed via the LEDs on the front isn't great though. The Mrs isn't as au fait with gadgets and she quite rightly said that it isn't very clear. An OSD would've been perfect and not too hard to implement I'm sure. I won't add to what enigmachrysalis said above in post#10 as he said it all. The remote is basic at best but I don't need to access the more advanced settings once they're set really, so it's OK.

Overall I'm well pleased. Enjoying watching Appaloosa as I type!
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post #30 of 30 Old 12-03-2013, 03:26 AM
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Hello everybody. I'm new to this thread and I'll be receiving my 770 in a few days from Panasonic. I have a 55inch VT30 plasma, DirecTV HD DVR box, Xbox, and getting a panny 3D blu Ray player. Is there anybody that connects all their components directly to the 770 receiver and doesn't have any problems with powering on/off or with sound or video playing? I also know I can use viera link but can I program the order in which components turn on? I just got a Harmony 650 remote because there was a sale at best buy. Will this be better than the panny TV remote?
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