With the ability of our mobile devices to stream music, television-shows and movies, more and more customers are turning to wireless speakers for their convenience and the aesthetic benefits that they ofter. It is also because of this increase in media-availability, that the wireless speaker market saw an incredible influx of products over the past few years. These range from the very inexpensive, to top-of-the-line models that could cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
This of course makes choosing the right product for your needs even more difficult, as you now have more options and features to sort in order to make sure you are getting exactly what you want, at the best price.
One of the first things you will notice with this new wireless sound-system is that it actually still supports CDs, something that almost every other sound-bar has completely abandoned at this point. It fits with the entire message that Panasonic is trying to promote with this unit, one of unifying all of your media in your home, and allowing you to take control wirelessly, effortlessly and instantly.
The sound system does fall on the higher-priced spectrum of wireless-systems but it does offer many features that you simply would not get with cheaper models. The wireless device come with two major components, a very modern-styled wireless speaker-unit and a satellite dock for mobile devices. As I mentioned before the satellite also works with CDs but it also has a lightning connection input that is perfect for iOS devices and many other inputs that I will get to in a moment. None of this is exactly a remarkable innovation, but getting it to work seamlessly, effortlessly and quickly right out-of-the-box, is something that a lot of companies have struggled with in the past.
With the two components you have two very separate functions. The larger wireless speaker has a very minimalistic, yet modern style. This would allow it to adapt to multiple living room or bedroom designs, but it also wouldn’t steal focus and should pair nicely with other electronic devices in your home.
Controlling all of the inputs, as well as the functions and settings that this system features, can be done on the satellite docking station. A few of them can be done on the actual speaker itself. This docking station is really your hub control-center for this speaker setup. You will find the on-off switch, the ability to navigate through your media-library, you can make changes to the current input, and adjust volume and other settings that you would find on a typical remote.
The docking station has a few extra benefits as it features a USB port for charging or connecting your 30 pin iOS device, an auxiliary input, the lightning dock and of course the backside that houses the actual CD player. Now I said that the satellite docking station works like a remote control, it doesn’t take the place of a remote control. That is also featured in the box and is used to handle the 5 EQ presets, adjust sound-settings like virtual surround-sound, or adjust specific sound components like bass. When researching the system I read other reviews, and I noticed that a few sites talked about how surprisingly light the speaker system was. Some went as far to begin implying that the weight was associated with the quality of the system. I bring this up because I wanted to point out, what I thought would be an obvious decision on the manufacturers part, that this speaker system was designed to be as light as possible, because it can also be wall-mounted. Since it can be wall-mounted, Panasonic seem to have chosen lighter materials that would assist in that setup. In any case I would not advise anyone to consider weight to be a legitimate factor in choosing a sound system.
These of course are all simple features, what really makes the Panasonic SC-NE5 standout, is its ability to play almost any type of media that you throw at it. The device features airplay, which is one of the simplest ways that you can stream your media from your iOS device, but there is also Bluetooth compatibility, there’s the CD player and the auxiliary input, plus the FM radio. Almost any device that you would want to play music or media from, can be ported to the wireless speaker-system, either wirelessly or through the satellite base-station.
So let’s get down to specifics with this device. If you’re interested in playing CDs the device will play standard CDs, CD-R, CD-RW and CD-DA formats. Obviously if you have read this far into the review, you know that this is specifically designed for iOS devices but it doesn’t include all iOS devices that have been made for every feature.
There are multiple ways that you can use any iOS device but some are limited by device or model. I’ll clarify this, the USB slot would work for iPods, iPhones or iPad connections, this same class of devices would also work with the digital music connection that is offered. As for networking directly with the model that would require an iPhone 5 or an iPod touch fifth-generation. Once again it’s this direct connection to the satellite networking station that allows almost any customer with an iOS device to easily connect to the rest of the system.
Diving into specifics again, the audio system has a two-channel output system, the power output RMS totals 40W, the power output FTC offers front 15W, with a total power of 30W. As for ease-of-use it’s a tricky situation. Since there are so many options available to the customer to connect the device wirelessly to the speaker system, it can be a little confusing to choose which one is best for you. The easiest way I’ve found was just directly connected to the docking station. Doing this you are using the natural-connection designed between the docking station and the wireless speaker. You can also be connected via airplay, Bluetooth or any of the other connections that I mentioned before, but most of them took a second try for me. I do want to point out though that once everything was connected wirelessly and everything was setup properly, I never had an issue with the device connecting wirelessly again.
Audiophiles already know that they have to find their specific settings when they set-up their speaker systems. If you are fairly new to wireless speakers, or new to virtual sound, I fully encourage you to take a few moments and really dive into the settings and find that perfect balance that you’re looking for, it’s possible and worth the effort.
Most of my time spent with the device was testing different genres of music or different iOS devices. I have to say that in every single case the music was rich, clear and exactly what I would have hoped for in a speaker system. Your own personal choice of music will have an effect on what you think of the device. I wouldn’t say this wireless system was built around bass. What it offers is incredibly full and engrossing sound and it doesn’t compromise sound in any debilitating form.
This device should receive high marks in genres like folk, rock, classical and country. Though delving into hip-hop, R&B or Rap, might suffer from the base restrictions if that is something you are an centered-on.
As a music playing device it easily stands amongst its top-tier competitors. The incredible amount of inputs that this device offers (including allowing you to play CDs) is what really makes it stand apart from other models. Not only does it let you wirelessly connect to the speaker, it gives you the choice of working off network or directly connected to the satellite unit. This is something that I think many people would find enjoyable as they then won’t have to work with as many settings and can easily be playing music wirelessly in minutes. In the end it comes down to options and the Panasonic SC–NE5 has more options than almost any other wireless speaker that is available on the market within the same price range.
You could easily find a wireless-speaker system that would be less-expensive, but it will most likely not have the same features, allow you to play music from as many media formats, or offer the available connections that this device offers. All of the specs and details of the device can be found on the official website below.
more info: panasonic