Panasonic Dolby Atmos gaming soundbar lets you blast Fortnite, Final Fantasy – CNET

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Panasonic

If you’re a Fortnite fan you’re probably using a set of headphones or multimedia speakers, especially if you’re playing on a PC. Soundbars are usually something you associate with TVs, not gaming, but Panasonic‘s latest bar is aimed squarely at the space below your big gaming monitor.

At $300 the SoundSlayer SC-HTB01 — yes, that’s its real name — totes the kind of serious specifications PC gamers crave. This 2.1 all-in-one soundbar offers genre-specific presets as well as compatibility with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and DTS Virtual:X. It has a pair of stereo woofers in addition to a 3-inch subwoofer and 80 total watts of power.

The three presets are First-Person Shooter mode, Voice mode and Role-Playing Game mode, the latter developed in conjunction with Square Enix, the maker of Final Fantasy.

Design-wise the SoundSlayer sits halfway between a soundbar and a soundbase with a 17-inch width, a fairly chunky 5 1/4-inch depth and a squat 2-1/16 inches height. Unlike most gaming products it’s jet black rather than festooned with neon.

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Panasonic

Inputs include two HDMI (one with ARC) plus Bluetooth, optical digital and a USB port. The latter USB is for product updates and can’t be used to connect to a PC, which seems like a missed opportunity for a gaming soundbar.

Panasonic’s demonstration of the device leaned heavily on its use with a PC, though reps did note that it’s able to be used with televisions as well. The company claims that the sound can “help the user place footsteps, gunfire and other critical sound effects accurately within the soundscape.” With no physical rear speakers, however, I don’t expect the Slayer’s simulated surround to rival a standard surround system for accuracy. On the other hand, the bar will probably offer better surround effects than most gaming headphones, at least those that lack head tracking.

At $300 the SoundSlayer seems a little expensive, and at that price there are plenty of competitors, including the Sound BlasterX Katana. The Katana is a similarly gaming-focused $300 soundbar, but it has the advantage of a separate subwoofer for better bass and RGB lighting effects. Meanwhile the Yamaha YAS-209 and the Polk Signa S3 are two TV-centric soundbars I like in this price range. And you want to spend under $100, the great Creative Stage has HDMI and a subwoofer. 

The SoundSlayer SC-HTB01 is available for preorder now and will be in stores from Oct. 1.

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