Panasonic Bluetooth speaker review

Cool features undermined by a fatal flaw

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Panasonic SC-NP10
  • Panasonic SC-NP10
  • Panasonic SC-NP10
  • Panasonic SC-NP10

Pros

  • Small footprint
  • 2 USB ports to charge devices
  • NFC

Cons

  • Poor audio
  • Mains powered

Bottom Line

There are a few reasons to buy the SC-NP10, but one BIG, irrefutable reason to walk right past it and towards a rival: the sound. Bluetooth speakers are aplenty, and there are a number of alternatives that will deliver better sound around the NP10’s $229 price point.

Would you buy this?

Compact design

The SC-NP10 is a 21-watt, 2.1 speaker dock best used with tablets, but it will easily accommodate smartphones, ‘phablets’ and computers. The black body has the kind of woodgrain you would find on a cheap car’s dashboard. Punctuating the finish are grey sides — including the grille — that wraps around the system.

A 2.1 sound system is meant to create the illusion of space and dimension

Panasonic has crammed a lot into its little enclosure at the expense of clean lines and uninterrupted faces. One example is the blue neon light than encircles the subwoofer. These grooves, although not all that easy on the eyes, do serve a purpose.

Tablets, smartphones and other devices can rest in the groove that halves the system. A second groove encircles the subwoofer and works as a speaker grille. The sub itself is 8cm and it works with stereo speakers for the entire system to deliver 21 watts of audio power.

A raising flap supports your device. It can be set to three different angles.
A raising flap supports your device. It can be set to three different angles.

There’s a range of buttons at the front right of the system. These include power, volume up and down, Dolby Surround and a button that toggles the light when pressed once, or if held down, causes the system to enter pairing mode.

Bordering the rear panel of the SC-NP10 are several ports, such as an auxiliary input and two USB ports that can be used to charge smartphones and tablets.

A reflex port aids bass at low frequencies.
A reflex port aids bass at low frequencies.

Bluetooth pairing, NFC

A rear auxiliary input is one way music can be played over the SC-NP10, but most people will pair with the 2.1 system over run-of-the-mill Bluetooth. Pairing your smartphone or tablet is eased by the inclusion of NFC as it only requires a simple ‘tap’.

Even tall smartphones like the HTC One (M8) comfortably sit on the SC-NP10
Even tall smartphones like the HTC One (M8) comfortably sit on the SC-NP10

Pairing through NFC for the first time will direct your smartphone or tablet to the Panasonic Music Streaming application in the Android Play store. The application doesn’t feel as refined as the stock music player found on smartphones. We uninstalled the app in little time and streamed music over the stock media player.

Sound

Music quality does leave a lot to be desired. The 2.1 speaker system has a very cramped soundstage, and we can’t help but feel the small form factor has impacted the audio produced by the SC-NP10.

A 2.1 sound system is meant to create the illusion of space and dimension, but there’s none of that here. The soundstage is crowded — with low, mid and high notes overlapping — and the ensuing distortion is beyond tolerance.

Samsung's 12.2in Galaxy NotePro is a little wider than the SC-NP10
Samsung's 12.2in Galaxy NotePro is a little wider than the SC-NP10

Admittedly the SC-NP10 performs better at low volumes, but there are rivalling systems that can deliver more punch without tainting your beloved tunes.

rivalling systems deliver more punch without tainting tunes

Unfortunately the SC-NP10 distorted at high volumes — around 85 percent to max — with tracks such as Heartbeats by ATB, Bruno Mars’ Talking to the Moon and even the instrumental Experience by Ludovico Einaudi being subject to unforgivable distortion. We hate to say it, but the consistent buzzing is reason enough to not buy this speaker system.

Watching a movie on the SC-NP10 is a little more tolerable. The Dolby Surround mode ascribes movies with a second dimension dedicated to low frequencies like bass. Action scenes place emphasis on the SC-NP10’s weak points and noticing them does eject you from the movie experience.

Then there’s the obvious question: why are you watching a movie on a tablet that is mounted? The whole point of enjoying content on a mobile device is that it can be positioned anywhere, and not shackled to mains power.

Final thought

There are a few reasons to buy the SC-NP10, but one BIG, irrefutable reason to walk right past it and towards a rival: the sound. Bluetooth speakers are aplenty, and there are a number of alternatives that will deliver better sound around the NP10’s $229 price point.

Related reviews

Bose SoundLink Mini
Sonos Play:1
Jawbone Mini Jambox
Logitech UE Boombox
Braven 855s rugged

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