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Panasonic Unveil New Audio Range, Still No Technics Brand

Japanese electronics maker Panasonic has shown off its new home audio range, relying heavily on home cinema soundbars but still keeping its valuable audio brand out of the Australian market.

The new soundbars include the flagship HTB900 (A$1349), which has been “Tuned by Technics”, referring to the venerated name owned by Panasonic but not sold in Australia.

The 505 watts system features eight speakers, six 6.5cm mid-range speakers along the face of the bar and two tweeters at either end, along with a stand-alone wireless subwoofer.

Panasonic’s HTB700 (A$899) is capable of 376 watts, but only uses three mid-range speakers, and has a fabric grille rather than the metal grille found on the 900.

The two soundbars feature Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, Panasonic’s first soundbars to do so.

Designed to match with Panasonic’s new range of OLED televisions, the two soundbars feature cut-out designs in the base to sit seamlessly over the television stand (conveniently making it harder to sit anything other than a Panasonic soundbar in front of the panel).

The 700 and 900 also support 4K pass-through, allowing for connection of Ultra HD Blu-Ray (such as Panasonic’s new A$279 UB150 player with HDR10+) and other media players.

Panasonic said the soundbars’ redesigned enclosures and speaker cones improve audio clarity and suppress vibration.

The HTB900 and the smaller, 240 watts HTB510 (A$549) also feature built-in Chromecast audio support.

Google Assistant is supported but not built-in and appears to require an external networked speaker such as a Google Home.

The HTB510 has the option of optical input or HDMI ARC connectivity, using two independent speakers and a wireless subwoofer.

It’s available in stores now while the HTB700 and HTB900 are due to arrive next month.

Panasonic has also updated its mini and micro hi-fi offerings.

The 120 watts PMX92 (A$549) is a mild update to the PMX82 micro hi-fi system, adding an optical input and AUX-in autoplay.

The optical input allows users to easily get high-quality digital audio out of their television or other device, while the AUX-in autoplay improves convenience for users with Chromecast or Alexa devices, allowing the system to wake up and start playing when music is streamed.

The PMX92 also has built-in Bluetooth, FM/DAB+ radio, and CD playback.

Panasonic bundles the system with two three-way speakers.

While mini and micro hi-fi may seem like somewhat of a relic occupying a middle-ground between audiophile grade hi-fi and wireless speakers, Panasonic maintain the systems still sell, targeted at customers in apartments and smaller homes that don’t need the extra power of the company’s soundbars.

The company has also added the AKX320 (A$359) mini-system, an aggressively styled system targeting teens with “DJ effects” and 450 watts of power designed to deliver big and bassy sound.

For more personal listening, Panasonic has added two new noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones, the HD610N (A$499.95) with support for High-Res audio and Google Assistant, and the studio inspired HTX90N (A$299.95), which the company claim offers up to 24 hours of continuous playback.

The HTX20B (A$119.95) wireless in-ear headphones are billed as a fashion accessory as well as an audio device, and are claimed to last for 8.5 hours.

Panasonic’s updated audio range is available now.

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