Review: B&W Panorama 2: Now With HDMI

Our score: 5/5
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February 13, 2013 2:05 PM
Published: February 13, 2013 2:00 PM
By Tristan François
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Bowers & Wilkins proved it knew how to do multimedia audio with the original and excellent Panorama sound bar. The Panorama 2 builds on that success by adding a few extras that were missing from the first model.

Design & Hardware: easy set-up

Like the first Panorama sound bar, the Panorama 2 is an imposing yet stylish piece of kit. This new version gets a chrome-effect hood. It has the same basic look as the plastic hood in the first Panorama sound bar, only better. There's been a slight change in design around the back too to make room for some extra connections.

One thing that was definitely missing from the first Panorama was an HDMI port, but that's been put right in this updated model. In fact, you get no less than four HDMI ports, plus an S/P DIF optical port and a mini-jack for analogue connection. With that little lot, there's sure to be something for everyone. The interface is pretty basic, but it works. It's just a shame that the display isn't a bit better quality (see inset).

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 2 review

The remote is the same as the one that comes with the Zeppelin, as well as most other B&W multimedia products. It's small, neatly designed and easy to use.

Note that a wall-mounting bracket is supplied, but you'll obviously need to pick up your own screws and screwdriver.


Audio Quality: no adaptive room acoustics correction


There's no separate subwoofer with this sound bar, but that's really no big deal given the speakers' performances. In fact, this is one of very few sound bars that does a great job on its own—especially with music—with no need to add any extra bits.

Audio quality is good here. The output is still nice and soft-felling, making it pleasant to listen to without being aggressive. Voices are rendered in a very flattering way, which is especially good for watching films as everyone sounds nice and clear. Note that you will need to be careful not to block the vents around the back of the device in order to keep the sound nicely balanced.
B&W panorama 2 review

For spatial sound, the Panorama 2 has a couple options. You can either listen to your source in stereo or use one of the several surround sound modes on offer. Some use the original input signal directly whereas others apply their magic techniques to a standard basic stereo signal. Note that you will need to make sure you use these functions in relatively standard-shaped rooms. The surround sound speakers on the sides of the Panorama 2 work best in rooms with no funny nooks and crannies, otherwise the sound waves don't get reflected properly.

Al in all, the Panorama 2 is a good update of the previous model and confirms Bowers and Wilkins' status as a high-end audio manufacturer that knows how to deliver. There are a few minor blips, which is still a shame, but most users will find just what they're looking for with the Panorama 2!
5/5 Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 2 DigitalVersus 2013-02-13 15:00:00

Pros

  • Audio quality
  • Good choice of connections
  • Easy to use and set up
  • Good surround sound effect

Cons

  • Built-in display isn't quite on par with the rest

Conclusion

With the arrival of HDMI connections, B&W has made a top-quality update of its Panorama sound bar. Yes, it's expensive ... but it's also very good!

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