October 3, 2022


When you’re on the lookout for a straightforward, comparatively cheap approach so as to add punchy 3D audio to your gaming rig, look no additional than the Panasonic SoundSlayer. Geared up with a built-in subwoofer and sufficiently small to sit down in entrance of your PC monitor, the two.1-channel SoundSlayer helps Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and DTS Digital:X sound, and it packs in surprisingly strong audio high quality given its measurement.

Granted, the 17-inch, $300 SoundSlayer can’t ship the expansive soundstage or exact top cues of a full-size soundbar with upfiring drivers, nor will its built-in woofer shake the room like a separate subwoofer can. The SoundSlayer additionally lacks Wi-Fi, which suggests no AirPlay 2, Chromecast, or voice assistant help. That stated, the pint-sized SoundSlayer constantly punched above its weight when it comes to audio high quality, and since it’s so transportable, it might even do double-duty in a (small) lounge.

Design and configuration

Measuring simply 17 x 2.06 x 5.25 inches, the Panasonic SoundSlayer is among the smallest soundbars we’ve ever examined, though at 4 kilos it doesn’t really feel chintzy. It’s additionally simple to see why Panasonic would go for such a small housing, on condition that the SoundSlayer is supposed to be plunked in entrance of a PC gaming monitor. Whenever you’re completed gaming, you may simply transfer the SoundSlayer over to the TV in your lounge.

This overview is a part of TechHive’s protection of the most effective soundbars, the place you’ll discover evaluations of competing merchandise, plus a purchaser’s information to the options you must contemplate when buying.

At only a hair over two inches in top, the SoundSlayer match properly in entrance of my low-slung, 55-inch LG C9 OLED with out blocking the underside fringe of the display screen. In contrast to different soundbars, nevertheless, the SoundSlayer doesn’t include mounting {hardware} or holes, so that you received’t be capable to mount it on a wall until you devise a DIY answer.

The SoundSlayer is a 2.1-channel soundbar, with a 4 cm full-range cone and a 1.4 cm tweeter for every of the left and proper channels. For low-frequency results (the “.1” within the “2.1” configuration), the soundbar has a built-in, downfiring 8 cm woofer together with twin passive radiators. There isn’t a devoted middle driver for dialog (which might be shocking to search out in a soundbar this small, and on this worth vary), however the SoundSlayer combines audio from the left and proper channels to create a “phantom” middle channel. In contrast to some pricier soundbars, the SoundSlayer can’t be upgraded with wired or wi-fi encompass audio system or a devoted subwoofer.

The SoundSlayer joins a rising listing of soundbars that use virtualization fairly than upfiring drivers (which bounce pontificate your ceiling) to ship 3D audio results, together with top cues. For starters, the SoundSlayer helps DTS Digital:X, a well-liked virtualization know-how from DTS that may create surprisingly lifelike 3D audio results from as few as two drivers (the SoundSlayer has 4 front-firing drivers, however we’re nonetheless solely speaking two channels right here). The soundbar additionally helps native Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio, which (much like the DTS Digital:X mode) ship their encompass and top results through virtualization.

Granted, virtualized 3D sound isn’t as exact as 3D audio from upfiring drivers or—higher but—in-ceiling audio system. That stated, not everybody has the time, inclination, or money to put in bodily audio system of their ceilings. And in terms of upfiring drivers that bounce pontificate your ceiling, the impact can be significantly diminished in case your ceiling is simply too excessive, too brief, or (worst of all) vaulted, and sound-absorbing ceilings tiles are no-nos, too. In different phrases, digital 3D audio may be the only option for these on tight budgets, or when you’ve got ceilings that weren’t designed with upfiring audio system in thoughts.

Inputs and outputs

The Panasonic SoundSlayer has solely a restricted variety of ports. On the HDMI aspect, there’s a single HDMI enter and an HDMI output that doubles as an HDMI-ARC (or “Audio Return Channel”) port. You additionally get an optical (Toslink) enter, plus a USB Sort-A port that’s just for firmware updates.

panasonic soundslayer ports Ben Patterson/IDG

The Panasonic SoundSlayer comes with an HDMI-ARC port, a single HDMI enter, and an optical (Toslink) enter.

Now, there are just a few alternative ways to go when it comes to connecting the SoundSlayer to your gaming rig. If, for instance, you wish to use the SoundSlayer with a sport console linked to your TV, you may join the console and your different video sources to your TV’s HDMI inputs, after which join the SoundSlayer’s HDMI-ARC port to your TV’s matching HDMI-ARC port. Doing so makes it simple to modify between a number of video inputs with out having to swap cables, on condition that the SoundSlayer has just one HDMI enter.

The draw back of such a setup is that the SoundSlayer’s HDMI-ARC port doesn’t help eARC, an “enhanced” model of ARC that may deal with lossless audio codecs akin to Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Grasp Audio. The dearth of eARC help solely issues if you happen to care in regards to the lossless audio tracks on Blu-ray discs, which you’ll be able to play on current- and next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles outfitted with optical drives. It’s additionally value noting that we’ve by no means seen a soundbar within the SoundSlayer’s worth vary that does help eARC, or not less than not but. (Your TV would additionally must help eARC, by the best way.)

One other setup choice can be to attach the SoundSlayer’s sole HDMI enter to your video supply (akin to your PC’s video card), after which connecting the soundbar’s HDMI output to your TV or PC monitor. The SoundSlayer helps 4K/60Hz HDR passthrough (albeit solely vanilla HDR10, not HDR10+ or Dolby Imaginative and prescient), and if you happen to did wish to play Blu-rays on a video supply linked to the SoundSlayer’s HDMI enter, lossless audio wouldn’t be an issue. That stated, if you happen to wished to modify video sources on the SoundSlayer whereas utilizing it in passthrough mode, you’d must swap cables within the soundbar’s single HDMI enter or use a third-party HDMI switcher.

Buttons, indicator lights, and distant

The SoundSlayer has only some buttons on its shell, together with energy, quantity up/down, and enter choose buttons. All 4 of these buttons sit on the precise aspect of the soundbar.

The SoundSlayer’s distant is a small, easy affair, together with a big quantity rocker and distinguished buttons for energy, mute, enter choose, Bluetooth pairing, and the soundbar’s varied audio modes (which we’ll cowl momentarily). There’s additionally a “3D Encompass” button that permits DTS Digital:X processing for non-3D audio content material, in addition to a “CLR Dialog” button that prompts the soundbar’s dialog-enhancing mode. Unsurprisingly, the distant isn’t backlit, however the logical structure of the buttons together with the truth that there’s only some of them makes the distant simple to make use of at nighttime.

panasonic soundslayer remote Ben Patterson/IDG

The SoundSlayer’s small, easy distant is simple to determine at nighttime.

Simply above the fabric-covered entrance of the SoundSlayer and beneath the lip of its rectangular housing is a sequence of 4 multicolor LEDs that inform you the present standing of the soundbar in addition to its quantity degree. As an example, the “3D SRND” and “GN-Sport/AV or-TV” indicators will glow in several mixtures of orange or inexperienced relying on which of the three sport audio modes (which, once more, we’ll describe momentarily) can be found.

Options and audio modes

The SoundSlayer comes outfitted with three audio modes that can sound acquainted to most house theater customers, together with Commonplace, Music, and Cinema. Fairly normal stuff.

The centerpiece of the SoundSlayer’s audio modes is its Sport mode, which truly is available in three variants: one for first-person shooters designed to emphasise “correct location audio” that can assist you pinpoint footsteps and different “delicate” sounds; a second mode for “journey” video games that enhances voices; and a 3rd mode for role-playing video games that (with assist from Remaining Fantasy developer Sq. Enix) was particularly designed for Remaining Fantasy XIV On-line. How do these gaming modes sound? We’ll sort out that within the Efficiency part, so keep tuned.

The SoundSlayer doesn’t help Wi-Fi, which suggests no AirPlay 2 or Chromecast help, nor does it help Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri voice instructions. That stated, you may stream music to the soundbar through Bluetooth.

panasonic soundslayer side Ben Patterson/IDG

Buttons for energy, quantity up/down, and enter choose are on the precise aspect of the soundbar.

The SoundSlayer is designed to robotically change itself to standby mode if it doesn’t detect an audio sign for 20 minutes, a function that may make your PC monitor flicker momentarily if you happen to’re utilizing the soundbar in 4K passthrough mode and also you haven’t been enjoying video games or music for awhile. Fortunately, you may flip the auto-standby function off by urgent and holding the volume-up and subwoofer volume-down buttons on the distant for 4 seconds.

Efficiency

Because the compact SoundSlayer was designed to be moved from one room to a different, I examined it in three settings: in my workplace, sitting in entrance of a 4K monitor and linked to my custom-built PC; in my eating room, hooked as much as an Acer Nitro 5 gaming laptop computer; and in my leisure room, linked to my 55-inch LG C9 TV through ARC. For video games, I change round between just a few of my favorites, together with Future 2, Star Wars: The Outdated Republic, and No Man’s Sky. And on condition that the SoundSlayer’s RPG mode was particularly designed for Remaining Fantasy XIV, I dabbled in that MMORPG (which I haven’t performed in years) as effectively.

Now, I’m used to enjoying PC video games both with a pair of powered Mackie CR3 bookshelf audio system, or with the Nitro 5’s DTS:X Extremely-enabled laptop computer audio system. For sure, the SoundSlayer blew away the Nitro’s tiny drivers, but it surely additionally did a pleasant job in comparison with my Mackie audio system, pumping out wealthy, detailed sound and impressively punchy base for a compact, all-in-one soundbar. With DTS Digital:X sound enabled, the SoundSlayer delivered a surprisingly broad soundstage for such a slim soundbar, and whereas top cues have been pretty delicate, I didn’t hear any of the harshness that too typically accompanies virtualized 3D audio.

I discovered that the SoundSlayer’s RPG audio mode provided probably the most encompassing soundstage, and as promised, Remaining Fantasy’s XIV’s superb soundtrack and layered acoustic results sounded ravishing. Rolling a contemporary character for the journey to the pirate port of Limsa Lominsa, the frigate creaked realistically round me (extra on the edges than the rear, which is typical for two.1-channel soundbars with digital 3D audio), as did the booming, crashing cannonballs fired by marauding pirates.

For the SoundSlayer’s first-person shooter mode, I turned to Future 2, a sport that I’ve sunk extra hours into than I care to confess. Working a sequence of Vanguard strikes on my Warlock, I discovered that the soundbar’s FPS audio mode had a significantly tighter soundstage, though (and as marketed) sound placement felt extra correct—so sure, that’s useful for these occasions when a stealthy Psion is attempting to flank you. I additionally appreciated the deep, strong pops of exploding fusion grenades, the satisfying cracks of my Night time Watch scout rifle, and the scorching thwonk of my electrified Trinity Ghoul bow.

To take the SoundSlayer’s dialog-focused “journey” sound mode for a take a look at drive, I logged into Star Wars: The Outdated Republic, an MMORPG recognized for its absolutely voiced interactions with NPCs. “Journey” mode boasts a soundstage that sits someplace between the SoundSlayer’s RPG and FPS modes, and dialog does certainly get a considerable enhance, though I usually most popular the extra balanced and expansive RPG sound mode whereas I performed SWTOR.

In fact, the SoundSlayer isn’t only for gaming. Hooking it as much as my LG C9 TV and tossing within the UHD Blu-ray for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Again (sure, I used to be in a Star Wars form of temper), I teed up the chase scene between the Millennium Falcon and a trio of Imperial Star Destroyers. Remastered for Dolby Atmos, Empire’s soundtrack now options loads of top cues, and I might hear hints of them because the Star Destroyers crashed into one another and when circuits have been fizzling within the Falcon’s cockpit. The SoundSlayer additionally punched above its weight with its wider than anticipated soundstage, and the built-in subwoofer dealt with the Falcon’s deep, roaring engines with spectacular finesse. However whereas the SoundSlayer was a giant step up from my LG C9’s built-in audio system, it (fairly naturally) can’t compete with the 5.1.2-channel speaker setup I usually use in my lounge.

Lastly, I queued up some Spotify tunes (I streamed them on the Nitro 5 with the soundbar linked through HDMI), and I discovered myself completely having fun with some Brahms violin sonatas, one thing I wouldn’t usually think about listening to on a gaming soundbar. Ditto for the title monitor of Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad, with Bruce’s spare vocals sounding surprisingly clear and alive, whereas Ciara’s “Stage Up” was punctuated by tight, crisp bass.

Backside line

No, there’s no Wi-Fi help, nor are you able to improve this all-in-one soundbar with further audio system. That stated, the gaming-centric Panasonic SoundSlayer manages to crank out surprisingly spectacular audio from its compact shell, making it a straightforward and reasonably priced solution to improve the sound in your PC, and it may possibly even maintain its personal in a small lounge.



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