The Panasonic SC-ZT2 is a home theatre system with two floor-standing stereo speakers and a slimline A/V receiver.
It's an extremely compact and convenient system that suits space- and style-conscious buyers, but we're not sold on the Panasonic SC-ZT2's surround sound abilities or the high price tag.
A lot of thought has clearly gone into the design of the Panasonic SC-ZT2's floor-standing speakers, and the audio-visual receiver has a swathe of inputs. Three HDMI inputs and one video passthrough output makes the Panasonic SC-ZT2 suitable for connecting multiple digital A/V devices like Blu-ray players or media centre PCs simultaneously. It also supports Full HD 3D video passthrough, so you can connect your 3D Blu-ray player and 3D television without problems.
The design of the Panasonic SC-ZT2's speakers is interesting. The majority of each cylindrical floor-standing speaker is around an inch in diameter, with four of Panasonic's 'slim and flat' speaker drivers arranged inside. The base of each speaker is significantly larger and heavier because it houses a 5in woofer driver to provide some low-end reinforcement. The speakers are easy to move around, but the large base does prevent them sitting flush against a low entertainment unit or bench.
The Panasonic SC-ZT2's speakers connect to the receiver wirelessly, with uncompressed stereo audio over the 2.4GHz radio band. This makes placement of the speakers very simple: you don't need to run cables. However, the downside is that you'll require a power point for each speaker as well as the receiver.
Each speaker is rated at 80 Watts RMS, giving the stereo system a total of — yep, you guessed it — 160W. The Panasonic SC-ZT2 has enough power to perform capably at low and moderate volume levels with good sound quality. If you're not happy with the audio from the SC-ZT2, several different equaliser settings make it easy to dial in more bass or treble or mid-range without introducing distortion.
Once set up, sound quality from the Panasonic SC-ZT2 is impressive given the speakers' compact size. High notes are clear and dialogue is crisply represented at low to moderate volume levels, with good mid-range reinforcement from the woofers. At higher volumes the system does get slightly harsh in treble frequencies, while low-end tapers off at maximum volume. The lack of a dedicated subwoofer means you won't get room-shaking bass response, but for moderate volume listening levels (our preferred movie volume) the Panasonic SC-ZT2 does well for a compact system.
One area the system falters is its surround-sound reproduction. The stereo soundstage of the Panasonic SC-ZT2's speakers is good, with music having noticeable separation between channels, but we struggled with positional 5.1 audio from a Blu-ray disc. Try as it might, the SC-ZT2 can't simulate the rear channels of a true 5.1-channel surround sound audio system.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>