52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
I'm satisfied that this unit delivers what it promised - improved sound on a Viera link equipped television. Unlike the previous reviewer, my Direct TV remote controls both the tv and the home theater system and both turn on together. I don't need the tiny home theater remote. The sound is a noticeable improvement over the built-in speakers, which frankly, are poor on my 65" Panasonic TC-P65ST30 plasma. Even my wife immediately noticed the difference, saying it sounds like a movie theater. I wouldn't go that far, but it is much better and for the price, a good deal. Won't blow you away, but makes watching tv or a DVD more enjoyable. btw, I thought I needed an optical audio cable, so I also ordered one from Amazon, but it wasn't necessary. Cheap HDMI cable worked just fine. Would recommend at least a 6' foot HDMI so you can place the subwoofer at either side of your tv, not just the side that is closest to the HDMI output.
The only reason I didn't give it five stars is I wish there had been an on-screen display of the bass and treble settings. You have to decipher the flashing light code on the subwoofer to get a rough approximation of the settings, but I guess it does force you to pay more attention with your ears than your eyes.
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
I just want to say right off the bat that I have not had a tremendous amount of time to review this product thoroughly, I am just giving my initial impressions.
Things I like-
-The unit is Viera Link compatible, my volume adjusts with the panasonic and fios remote, and is labeled 'home theater volume' with the volume bar shown on the screen
-The compact size of the sound system
-Assembly is straightforward, and the manual is detailed
-The voice booster, it helps with the dialogue audio during TV Shows and Movies
-The sub sounds crisp and deep, especially for a one floor apartment setup
-The unit powers off when you turn off your TV (I am using a Panasonic 2012 42' LED model)
-The audio level is adjustable with any remote that is compatible with the TV after the system linked via viera
-The power light LED on the subwoofer is nice and small, and although noticeable it is not an eyesore.
Things I Don't Like-
-When I power on my TV, the receiver does not automatically turn on (Perhaps I need to configure viera link differently), but I always have to hit the power button on the remote or the subwoofer, and then my tv will let me adjust the audio level with any remote. Note that I am using the most recent Verizon FIOS cable box and utilizing an HDMI cable for the audio. Perhaps using the conventional wires solves this. *Update- The menu settings have been updated to resolve this issue*
-No Audio Streaming because there is no bluetooth on this model (I knew that going into it, and wish they would have added this feature, which would have not added much cost to the unit, but you could look into purchasing a bluetooth adapter either on here or the manufacturer's site)
-The remote is really small and probably could break over time with constant usage or kids stepping on it
-I wish the remote or the TV interface would allow me to adjust the treble, but I guess that the voice boost essentially does that, so this is not much of a con per say.
-When you adjust the treble/voice enhancement or the bass flashing LED lights on the subwoofer are the only way to know that your command has been accepted from the remote. I would like to see these displayed on the screen to know what level they are at.
All in all I enjoy the unit, once it is powered on it significantly improved over the standard Panasonic TV speaker sound experience. The setup is nice and compact, and sounds great. The sub sounds really good for its size. If you live in a small apartment like me, you will find a setup like this to be practical. Don't compare this 2.1 setup to a 5.1 or 7.1, it is perfect for enchancing stereo sound, it is not designed for true surround sound. I recommend the Pansonic home theatre offerings for anyone who owns the newer model tv's for the simple fact that these are designed to link up to them.
Thanks to another reviewer that had some time to tweak his Viera Link settings to resolve the FIOS box issue of the audio system not turning on when the TV is powered on. I forgot his suggestions, but was able to find the settings. Hit Menu > Setup > Viera Link Settings > Make sure 'Power On Link' is set to 'yes' and that default speakers are set to 'Theatre'. Now when I power the TV on everything is synced up perfectly. It was nice to see Panasonic issue software menu updates so make sure that you have your TV plugged into the Ethernet or using the optional wireless adapter to have the new interface!
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
I wanted a simple sound bar that had Audio Return Channel (ARC) and Viera Link for my 2012 Panasonic TV. The HTB20 met all my needs. It is a excellent value for the price. With Viera Link, I only need one remote, the TV speakers automatically mute, the home theater volume displays on-screen and units turn on and off together, so easy!
I do have one problem with the HTB20 and one piece of advice. The advice is that on 2012 Panasonic TVs, not all HDMI inputs are created equally. Only one HDMI input is marked HDMI (ARC). So just ensure the HDMI from the sub-woofer is plugged into the right input on the TV, otherwise you may think the system isn't working correctly.
The problem with the HTB20 is the speaker wire from the soundbar plugs into the subwoofer with flat plugs, which might be proprietary to Panasonic. If you need longer wires, you cannot run down to Radio Shack. I looked at the plugs and they do not unscrew apart, so you can't McGyver the plugs onto longer wires. I called Panasonic and they only sell replacement wires, not longer wires. The price? Hold your breath, it's $27.20 for thin generic speaker wire and some really expensive plugs. After connecting the wires to the speaker bar, you will have 9'4" of wire left to run to the subwoofer. It should be enough for most users, but I had to route the wires in back of a wall unit and then out to the subwoofer. Because of the wire length, I couldn't place the sub-woofer exactly where I wanted it.
I've attached a photo of the plugs to the Amazon product page. Perhaps someone will recognize them and can suggest where to buy them. Two Radio Shacks and a Frye's electronic supply store had never seen them before.
Except for the speaker wire plugs, I like this soundbar very much.
Update Feb 10, 2013. The price for the HTB20 fluctuates wildly depending on whether Amazon has it in stock or not. If sold by a third party vendor, it can be almost 40% more at $220+ with shipping. At that price, it's no longer a bargain and I'd pay a bit more for a system with a wireless sub-woofer, like the Panasonic HTB550
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
Product assembles in two different ways... either as a sound bar under your screen, or as a standard stereo sound system with the tweeters on either side of the woofer (they call it a sub woofer, but the low end frequency response leaves much to the imagination). I tried it both ways, starting with the sound bar (I have a Panasonic Plasma Flat Screen TV) and found that my tv remote no longer would work if the sound bar was installed as the instructions were written. So took all that apart and went with the | o | configuration. Works ok, and the sound is much improved over the internal tv speakers, Only problem I have noticed is that after 8 or more hours of operation, the unit quits producing sound. Cycling the power off then on fixes that every time, but am consulting with Panasonic about the problem... their customer service is quite difficult to deal with sometimes.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
I will probably amend this as I live with the HTB20 more, but let's start somewhere.
The product installed quickly and easily. I have a Panasonic Viera TV, so connecting an HDMI cable among the ARC-enabled HDMI ports was easy. Integrating this soundbar with my TV is transparent because the speakers and sub are controlled from the existing TV remote. The sound can get very loud and hearing all the low-frequency content is a revelation. Despite note watching many action movies, the soundbar raises the quality and crispness of speech to make a huge difference.
I then played high quality MP3s through the audio system and was let down. The HB20's quality is far from a budget-class audiophile system. But let me qualify that - if you picked up a pair of stand-alone $150/pair speakers from any retailer, the musical fidelity would be better than the HTB-20; iPod headphones are better. The mid range, somewhere in the 200-800 Hz area is not warm nor full. This should have been obvious, but I bought the HTB20 ears-unheard and didn't listen to any other competing products. You probably need to spend upwards of $500 for a soundbar to reproduce music faithfully.
When shopping, I considered a 2.1 satellite system (these are really rare for non-computer applications). In the end, I settled on the Panasonic for its ease of integration with my TV. It's also really small and unobtrusive, which is key for the room where it's installed. Had I read my review before I purchased, I would still have pulled the trigger, but with a more realistic expectation about the musical sound quality.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2012
I went with this unit specifically for the Viera link support on my Panasonic TC-P50S30 plasma. The TV speakers were very distorted on the TV at volumes above 30%. They're possibly blown. What a great reason, ahem... (excuse) to upgrade!
Viera link (Panasonic term), allows you to control this home theater system with a compatible Viera Panasonic TV remote. This includes automatic on/off and volume adjustments. This all happens via the HDMI cable. No additional wiring needed. Only setup required was on the TV menu to enable Viera link.
-Improved sound over flat TV panel speakers
-Viera Link support!
-Panasonic TV screen volume label changed from TV Volume to Home Theater Volume (cool!)
-Excellent IR sensitivity. The IR is on the subwoofer which can make it difficult to pick up remote key presses. Well, I can point the remote straight up from about 20 feet away and can control the volume without any issues. Line of site not required!
-Not 5.1 surround. If you're looking to be blown away by sound, look elsewhere. This won't cut it. I have this setup in a large bedroom which is fine. My living room on the other hand has full surround and the difference is night and day. That's not to say it'll improve it over your typical TV speakers. I would quantify the improvement as follows:
--HTB20 70% improvement over TV speakers
--5.1+ surround = 300% improvement over TV speakers
-System has 1 HDMI input and 2 optical inputs. Since I have 2 HDMI sources (Uverse + Apple TV), I purchased a 3-1 HDMI splitter for additional ports.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2013
I was looking for a cost effective way to add some bass and improved sound versus the speakers in my Westinghouse TV. I was a little hesitant to go with this unit, as the reviews seemed to be heavily populated by people who had a Panasonic TV and could take advantage of the built-in communication between the two. I gave it a shot anyway, and I have not been disappointed. I can't speak to the usefulness of this product with a multitude of things to plug in, as I use the TV in question exclusively for my PS3, but connectivity of that single component couldn't have been easier. TV to subwoofer via HDMI slot 1 (of 2), PS3 to subwoofer via HDMI (2 of 2), and TV to subwoofer via digital optical (1 of 3 ports), and the sound is great. Incidentally, you can turn the TV itself off and still get sound from the PS3, which can be nice for listening to music without need to watch anything.
You won't confuse the sound for a true surround sound experience, and the bass isn't going to knock anything off your walls, but it's great in a small room, and even in a large room should be an exponential leap in sound quality over TV speakers alone. With a non-panasonic TV, you will need the (tiny) remote that comes with the unit to power it on and off and control the volume (there are redundant buttons on the unit itself, as well, should you break/misplace the remote). I set mine where I liked it on day one and, aside from turning everything off, haven't had to touch it.
As mentioned elsewhere, there are no readouts to tell you volume/bass level. You turn up the volume and the unit blinks to acknowledge the input, but gives no indication what the volume is. Eventually, if you turn it all the way up it gives a different blink to let you know you've reached maximum. I'm not terribly concerned with what number the volume is at (I just turn it up or down until it sounds suitably loud/quiet), but this may bother some. My 6 year old, for instance, knows that he's not allowed to turn the upstairs TV louder than 12...
Assembling the unit is simple. You are given several choices regarding the speakers. I chose to assemble it as a sound bar resting on my stand with the small rubber "feet." You can assemble it as a bar on two legs that will raise it up a few inches off the TV stand, or mount it as vertical speakers with stands. Each of these options take about 2 minutes to assemble...slide tab A into slot B, turn a couple screws here and there and you're done. You can also wall mount either vertically as separate pieces or horizontally.
You WILL need to purchase your own cables. The unit comes with the sub, speakers, power cords, and wires to connect the speakers to the sub, but not the HDMI/digital optical cables to connect your TV/PS3/etc. My only complaint there is that I ordered everything with free shipping split into as many packages as necessary, and of course this shipped first, and my second shipment, with the cables, came almost a week later. Talk about a tease...had everything I could plugged in, but had no way to connect it to the TV to try it out!
Bottom line, I'm very pleased with this unit, especially in this price range.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
I will start off that I own a Panasonic P65GT30 (65" plasma) and a Panasonic BD65 (early Blu-ray model). While I loved the picture that the TV generated (especially after having a professional color calibration), I was not satisfied with the sound. Though I do believe that the sound is as good as, if not better than, any other TV that is in this same category. So I began the search for a system that would provide more depth to the viewing experience with subtle bass and increase the clarity of the dialog.
I have had both the TV and Blu-Ray player for almost a year and discovered the benefits associated with Panasonic's Viera Link. Each one of these devices comes with it's own remote which can be a hassle to keep up with. With Viera Link, as long as you have the devices hooked up correctly via HDMI, you can control all of the devices with one remote (either the TV or Blu-Ray). This is incredibly useful and a welcome change to having multiple remotes necessary to watch movies.
I love my current setup and I find that the SC-HTB20 Home Theater system is the perfect compliment to my TV as it provides the additional depth to the sound that I was looking for in a convenient package. I also appreciate the "Multi-Positional" aspect of being able to join the speaker together to create a sound bar or you can separate them into separate towers (which is the route I went with). There is plenty of speaker wire so that you can find a suitable spot for the sub-woofer. With the Viera Link capabilities, I can turn on the Blu-Ray player which will automatically switch the input over, I can navigate the movie menus, and I can increase/decrease the volume, all with a single remote.
The only con that I can think of is that the sub-woofer lacks a traditional display to show you the current levels of volume, treble (referred to as "Dialog" on the included remote), and bass (referred to as "Subwoofer"). There are a series of lights on the top-front corner that flash in certain sequences to guide you. For instance, if you press the"+ Dialog" button, the lights respond by flashing in sequence from left to right from 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest) indicating which level you are on. The bass works in the exact same way and increasing or decreasing the volume sets the lights into motion (letting you know that the signal has been received) but there is no indication of how much higher or lower you can go. Fortunately, the remote is very simple and the instructions do a good job of explaining all of this.
Once you take some time to learn the sequences, you realize that it is really simple but I can definitely see those of you who don't consider yourselves "technologically inclined" (like my parents) being very confused at first. Again, if you have a Panasonic TV, the volume button on the TV or Blu-Ray remote will control the volume and the only thing you will have to use the Home Theater remote for is adjusting the treble and bass levels.
So, in conclusion, if you have a Panasonic TV with Viera Link I believe that you will be as exceptionally happy as I am. I know that this is not a high-end, audiophile grade system but like many of you, I was just looking for that extra bit of oomph when watching movies. Even my wife (who will admit that her eyes begin to gloss over when I start in on the advantages of this technology vs. that) mentioned that the addition of the HTB20 made the viewing experience more realistic. I believe that even if you do not have a Panasonic TV, that you can be happy with this system as long as you are aware of the issues up front.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
Got this brand new for a steal off of CL. I was a little apprehensive due to the lack of reviews of this product but decided to roll the dice...and I am glad I did. Like other reviews, the sound that this bar produces is clear and crisp. Super easy to set up. I have this baby hooked up to my Sony Bravia 46" in my large living room and it does not disappoint. Besides audio from shows and movies, I cranked out music from my PS3 and it sounded great. The subwoofer hits hard even though the unit does not weigh much. A couple of cons I have is the IR sensor for the Panasonic remote is very picky (you need to have a level line of sight for it to work 100% of the time). However, I have the unit connected via Optical Audio Cable and HDMI and have synced my Comcast remote....works where ever you are. So not a problem unless you cannot sync your remote. Like others have stated, there is no digital display of the audio level or bass/treb level. However, not a big deal. The unit does not reset when you turn it off so once you find the right bass and treb, its just a matter of controlling the audio level by ear (which anyone can do if you are listening to this in the first place) I would recommend this if you can find it for 150 or less. $200 is a little high considering similar models offer more input/outputs and digital display. All in all, very pleased.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
My new TV speakers were very poor and I needed to use a wireless headset to hear clearly at a reasonable volume setting. After installing the soundbar I cound not believe the sound quality; better than my Sennheiser headset and much better than the local movie theater. I can't imagine needing better sound quality than what the Panasonic SC-HTB20 provides.
I can use my TiVo remote to turn on the TV; the soundbar automatically comes on and the volume is controlled by my TiVo remote. Cool! I paid a little more for this unit so I could use this feature and am delighted. Most users will
need two HDMI cables and one Optical Digital/TosLink cable. I do not need to use the soundbar remote at all except when using my DVD player.
Running the DVD player sound through the sound bar was a little tricky on my TV; too long to post on this review but I will answer questions in replies/comments to this post.