Review: Panasonic SC-ALL05GN Wireless Speaker System
4.3Overall Score

Price (RRP): $449
Manufacturer: Panasonic

Seemingly every consumer electronics company has a wireless multiroom audio system of some sort, and Panasonic isn’t the kind of company to be left behind. Rather than its own proprietary system, though, it uses the Qualcomm AllPlay system, which means that you can mix and match with other devices from Hitachi, Monster, Musaic, Median and Laser (see our review here). Of course, to properly review any multiroom system requires at least two devices, so Panasonic sent down two of its SC-ALL05GN Wireless Speaker Systems.

Features

The Panasonic SC-ALL05GN Wireless Speaker System is a network-enabled, Bluetooth-enabled speaker which is portable, thanks to the built in battery, and is reasonably waterproof. On that subject, the speakers are rated IPX5/IPX7, which means they can take a spray of water from a nozzle for three minutes, and can survive up to a meter of water immersion for half an hour.

The battery is rated at 8.5 or 9 hours of operation for WiFi (both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands supported, 802.11n supported) or Bluetooth use. There are no analogue or other inputs (apart from an Ethernet connection which you can use instead of WiFi), so these are wireless only speakers.

They come with power packs so they can run from a wall socket, but it’s simple to unplug them and clip into the place the small panel for each that covers the power and Ethernet sockets.

They’re compact, standing 179mm tall, 170mm wide and only 76mm deep. They are surrounded on all sides by what feels like a metal grille, and have a shiny, tilted top panel on which all the controls – all touch controls – reside. Those controls are for simple things like play and pause and skipping tracks and for selecting radio presents.

Radio, did I say radio? Well, Internet radio. There’s no conventional tuner but two “Music Services” are supported through the control app – Spotify and AllPlay Radio. It’s the latter which can keyed with half a dozen presets. Anyone can use the radio, but you’ll need a premium subscription to use Spotify on these speakers.

Those controls are fine for basic use, but you’ll be using the Panasonic Music Streaming app on an Android or iOS device for things associated with setting up and controlling multiroom functionality.

As for your local music, you can play stuff from any DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) servers on your system, plus any music (kind of, as we’ll see) which is residing on the device you’ve got the control app on.

As for audio quality, each unit has, well, something or other built in according to the self-contradicting website specifications. The manual’s more helpful. Each unit has two 65mm “full range” speakers built in, along with two 65mm passive radiators. Passive radiators are a way of tuning the bass performance of a system to extend its effective output.

The amplifiers are rated at ten watts per channel (at 10% distortion) when the system is connected to power. That reduces to four watts when running from the battery.

Performance

I used an iPad Mini 4 as the control device for the system. Setting up the speakers was, well not super simple, but more akin to following carefully a reasonably straightforward recipe, step by step. That was in large part because I chose to connect both speakers via WiFi rather than Ethernet, since I figure that’s a major key to their portability and convenience. The recipe is laid out in the Panasonic Music Streaming app, available in the App Store. There’s little difference if you are using Android, except that you’ll be getting the app from the Play Store instead.

When the app is installed you identify the speaker model in the app, and then switch on the speaker. It sets itself as a temporary WiFi access point which you connect to with your device. Then you can key in the network password and the iPad/Android device is reconnected to the normal WiFi network. A brief tutorial in the app shows you how to use it.

You’re probably going to have to upgrade the product firmware, of course