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Panasonic SoundSlayer review: This compact, gaming-focused soundbar packs a punch


If you’re looking for an easy, relatively inexpensive way to add punchy 3D audio to your gaming rig, look no further than the Panasonic SoundSlayer. Equipped with a built-in subwoofer and small enough to sit in front of your PC monitor, the 2.1-channel SoundSlayer supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS Virtual:X sound, and it packs in surprisingly solid audio quality given its size.

Granted, the 17-inch, $300 SoundSlayer can’t deliver the expansive soundstage or precise height cues of a full-size soundbar with upfiring drivers, nor will its built-in woofer shake the room like a separate subwoofer can. The SoundSlayer also lacks Wi-Fi, which means no AirPlay 2, Chromecast, or voice assistant support. That said, the pint-sized SoundSlayer consistently punched above its weight in terms of audio quality, and because it’s so portable, it could even do double-duty in a (small) living room.

Design and configuration

Measuring just 17 x 2.06 x 5.25 inches, the Panasonic SoundSlayer is one of the smallest soundbars we’ve ever tested, although at four pounds it doesn’t feel chintzy. It’s also easy to see why Panasonic would opt for such a small housing, given that the SoundSlayer is meant to be plunked in front of a PC gaming monitor. When you’re done gaming, you could easily move the SoundSlayer over to the TV in your living room.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best soundbars, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.

At just a hair over two inches in height, the SoundSlayer fit nicely in front of my low-slung, 55-inch LG C9 OLED without blocking the bottom edge of the screen. Unlike other soundbars, however, the SoundSlayer doesn’t come with mounting hardware or holes, so you won’t be able to mount it on a wall unless you devise a DIY solution.

The SoundSlayer is a 2.1-channel soundbar, with a 4 cm full-range cone and a 1.4 cm tweeter for each of the left and right channels. For low-frequency effects (the “.1” in the “2.1” configuration), the soundbar has a built-in, downfiring 8 cm woofer along with dual passive radiators. There isn’t a dedicated center driver for dialog (which would be surprising to find in a soundbar this small, and in this price range), but the SoundSlayer combines audio from the left and right channels to create a “phantom” center channel. Unlike some pricier soundbars, the SoundSlayer can’t be upgraded with wired or wireless surround speakers or a dedicated subwoofer.

The SoundSlayer joins a growing list of soundbars that use virtualization rather than upfiring drivers (which bounce sound off your ceiling) to deliver 3D audio effects, including height cues. For starters, the SoundSlayer supports DTS Virtual:X, a popular virtualization technology from DTS that can create surprisingly realistic 3D audio effects from as few as two drivers (the SoundSlayer has four front-firing drivers, but we’re still only talking two channels here). The soundbar also supports native Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio, which (similar to the DTS Virtual:X mode) deliver their surround and height effects via virtualization.

Granted, virtualized 3D sound isn’t as precise as 3D audio from upfiring drivers or—better yet—in-ceiling speakers. That said, not everyone has the time, inclination, or cash to install physical speakers in their ceilings. And when it comes to upfiring drivers that bounce sound off your ceiling, the effect will be greatly diminished if your ceiling is too high, too short, or (worst of all) vaulted, and sound-absorbing ceilings tiles are no-nos, too. In other words, virtual 3D audio might be the best choice for those on tight budgets, or if you have ceilings that weren’t designed with upfiring speakers in mind.

Inputs and outputs

The Panasonic SoundSlayer has only a limited number of ports. On the HDMI side, there’s a single HDMI input and an HDMI output that doubles as an HDMI-ARC (or “Audio Return Channel”) port. You also get an optical (Toslink) input, plus a USB Type-A port that’s only for firmware updates.



Source: TechHive Reviews, Author: Ben Patterson

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