Panasonic's new Dolby Atmos soundbar could help you decipher mumbling actors

panasonic sc-htb600
(Image credit: Panasonic)

There are few things more annoying than a badly-mixed film, where mumbling dialogue is obscured by over-the-top soundtracks – however, Panasonic may have the solution with its latest soundbars, which come with the company's Clear Mode Dialogue technology to enhance the speech in your favorite movies. 

The Panasonic SC-HTB600 and SC-HTB400 soundbars are the latest to join the brand's lineup of TV speakers, which Panasonic says will offer more choice for consumers. 

Michael Friedrich, General Manager Home AV Group, at Panasonic Marketing Europe explains: "We believe in offering consumers a choice. HTB600 is ideal for movie fans who want to experience Dolby Atmos 3D sound at home. While HTB400 is perfect for those seeking a simple solution to enjoy film soundtracks and hear clearer dialogue."

Virtual surround sound

Both soundbars offer the Clear Mode Dialogue setting, but only the SC-HTB600 comes with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X technology built-in. This means that you can experience the sound from your films, TV shows, and games within a 360-degree sphere, making the cinematic experience feel more immersive, with sound appearing to come at you from all angles. 

However, the HTB600 doesn't offer true Dolby Atmos, as it doesn't have the upfiring tweeters that are required to bounce sound off of your ceiling and down to your ears – instead, Panasonic says that the soundbar achieves "virtual surround-sound with forward-facing speakers". 

Virtual Dolby Atmos essentially tricks your brain into thinking sound is hitting your ears from all angles; it's still effective, but won't be quite as immersive as a true Dolby Atmos setup. 

Alongside two full range driver units, the SC-HTB600 comes with a wireless subwoofer that should boost the bass frequencies of your TV's audio.

panasonic sc-htb400

(Image credit: Panasonic)

The SC-HTB400 on the other hand, comes with subwoofers built-in, making it a better option if you're short on space – you'll probably find that the bass isn't as powerful as using an external subwoofer, though. 

Interestingly, both soundbars are angled upwards by seven degrees, which Panasonic says directs the audio straight to your ears, and come with adjustable feet if you want to place them over the base of your TV. This works if you choose to wall-mount the soundbars too, as the rear of the soundbars is also angled. 

In terms of connectivity, both soundbars support Bluetooth (which version is still to be confirmed), so you can play music from your smartphone or tablet wirelessly. 

The SC-HTB600 also comes with 4K HDR passthrough, so you can watch 4K and Dolby Vision content without losing any image quality, while a HDMI eARC port means you can send Hi-Res Audio formats from your TV to your soundbar.

There's no word on pricing yet, but we imagine that the SC-HTB600 will be the more expensive of the two new soundbars – last year's flagship model, the SC-HTB900 cost £700, for reference.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.