Essentially it is a 40W, stereo 2.0, Qualcomm Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth speaker with “fries and all the trimmings”
- A CD player/ripper and 4GB storage.
- USB (2.0 plus 1.5A charge), Ethernet, dual-band Wi-Fi N inputs.
- Native Spotify Premium (subscription required) and firmware updatable Qualcomm AllPlay clients.
- FM and DAB+ and Internet radio.
- Clock and slarm.
- Content sources: Network, USB, Aux In and its 4GB internal storage.
- Housed in a pleasing, retro sci-fi, gloss black style and aluminium grill.
Link it up with other Wi-Fi speakers like the Panasonic SC-ALL05; well, any Qualcomm Wireless enabled speaker – and you can send music around the house with Panasonic’s Music Streaming app. But wait, there is more - you can also re-stream most input sources to these other speakers.
Out of the box: Panasonic SC-ALL7CD Wi-Fi/Bluetooth speaker system
The unit, a remote control, 75 OHM cable/indoor antenna (for FM/DAB) and instructions.
The remote is one of those with “too many buttons” that reflect the hidden sophistication of the unit. Do read the 30 or so useful manual pages, but it is easier to download the Panasonic Music Streaming App for iOS or Android and just use it.
Remember this is a Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi speaker. For the former, you just pair to the smartphone and for the latter use the app to pair to a Wi-Fi or wired network.
Once this is done the app will find any music sources on the smartphone or the network – specifically any DLNA device like a WD MyCloud. It will then access music by album, genre, artist etc. All in all, a very easy set-up.
How does it sound?
It depends on the content. It tries to faithfully reproduce whatever you throw at it. I found vocals and easy listening like the Beach Boys excellent, but hard rock lacked punch.
Let’s look at the specs first.
- 2 x 20W RMS – that is plenty to fill a large room.
- 10% Total Harmonic Distortion – that means you will notice some distortion at high sound levels so it is best to utilise up to 75% of the volume – don’t put it in a very large room.
- 2 x 6.5cm bamboo cone full range speakers (one left and one right) – this favours the mid to upper-range over bass.
- 2 x 4cm dome tweeters – this favours the upper range.
- Twisted acoustic port for added bass.
Its sound signature is best described as Analytical, and that means out of the box it won’t be to everyone’s taste but you can tweak it towards bright vocal.
- Bass is recessed – can be muddy but can be boosted.
- Mid-range is also recessed – cannot be boosted.
- Treble is clear and can be boosted.
- Good stereo separation.
There are numerous sound adjustments including:
- Three personal preferences – set bass and treble as you like.
- Pre-set Equaliser – Heavy, Soft, Clear, Vocal or Flat.
- Bass adjustment -4 to +4.
- Treble adjustment -4 to +4.
- Dynamic Bass (uses the tweeters so you lose some top end response).
- Surround sound – on or off (on favours treble).
- Clear or dialogue modes.
To be fair it is what it is – an all-purpose, background music, room speaker, favouring mid to upper registers, that you will, with some effort, find a sound setting you like.
Download from Apple or Google, plug it in, tell the app to find your speaker or Qualcomm AllPlay speakers, and type in the Wi-Fi password.
It is one of the easiest to use multi-room speaker apps I have used.
Wi-Fi is N, dual band (2.4Ghz and 5GHz) and it has WPA2 pushbutton setup as well as PIN.
If you are using it more than 30 metres from the router you will find Wi-Fi levels drop to two (maximum five) and there can be some sound blips. A wireless repeater or wired Ethernet for longer distances makes sense.
Bluetooth is the older 2.1 version (no issue as it is main, not battery powered) and supports A2DP and ACRCP profiles. This should work up to 10 metres line of sight – I found about half that distance was very effective.
If you have up to five favourite CDs then record them in high-quality WAV format to the 4GB memory - simply insert the CD, select record and store in positions 1 to 5. The CD plays normally – real time, it is not a quick rip. You can delete a recorded CD and replace it. Note that it is possible to record up to 25 CSs in lower quality MP3 – not tested
You cannot record to USB for piracy reasons. You can play MP3, AAC, and AIFF formats. It also plays hi-res FLAC and WAV to 192kHz/24 bit.
FM and DAB+
FM has 30 pre-sets which will auto-tune in ascending order – you can manually allocate slots and there are five favourite pre-sets.
DAB+ has 20 pre-sets and five favourites. It will display metadata transmitted – artist, title, etc.
- The retro look – it is like a large, "Vin Diesel" black car bonnet with a chrome grill.
- Good display behind the aluminium mesh.
- It works as intended although reading the manual will help.
- Sound equaliser and pre-set signatures should provide something for everyone although the weaker bass won’t be appreciated by headbangers.
- Plenty of volume but THD% evident at high levels.
- Great range of playback sources and automatically sees DLNA and Media PC etc.
- Build quality – It is a Panasonic.
Not deal breakers but:
- Spotify Premium required for music streaming – could be more clients.
- Muddy bass depending on the content.
- Gloss black is a fingerprint magnet.
A top drawer all-in-one wireless/Bluetooth speaker, CD player, with a great design, good app and Panasonic quality. It scores very highly on appeal, design and usability – lagging only in the depth of bass, say in comparison to the Samsung R series wireless speakers.
At $659 it is not cheap but for the right user, add an SC-ALL05 speaker ($449) for another room and you have a nice wireless set-up. Note if you are a savvy shopper you might find this for about 10% less.