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Panasonic SC-All05 review: Multiroom audio for the pool

Katharine Byrne
8 Aug 2016
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
170
inc VAT

A portable, waterproof multiroom speaker you can use practically anywhere, but its sound may not be to everyone's tastes

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Specifications

Speakers: 2, RMS power output: 20W, Dock connector: None, Wireless: Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11a, Dimensions: 170x179x77mm, Weight: 1.5kg

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For the past couple of years, Ultimate Ears' Boom family of speakers have reigned supreme at the top of Expert Reviews’ best waterproof Bluetooth speaker list. Now, however, they face a new challenge from Panasonic's SC-All05, as this little IPX7-rated speaker does a lot more than simply survive a dunk in a metre of water.

The SC-All05 is one of the latest additions to Panasonic's multiroom audio system, so you can pair it with other compatible speakers to fill your home with music. It's also portable and has a special Voice mode for when you're in the shower. Yes, you read that correctly. This effectively cuts out the bass to help bolster the vocals, and it's surprising how much clearer it sounds when you've got shampoo between your ears. It's a small touch, but it gives the All05 a welcome degree of versatility that other speakers of its ilk struggle to match – and especially if you like to warble in the bathroom.

The other nice touch is that, unlike many other multiroom speakers, the All05 has an internal battery. If you just want to leave it plugged in most of the time, you can, but it’s also easy to just unplug it from the mains and carry it out to another room, or into the garden. With a battery life of around 9 hours, that should be more than enough for an evening's worth of music.

The instruction manual will, however, be a constant companion when you first set it up, as the All05's single blinking LED indicator light is almost impossible to decipher without it. I had to perform a factory reset when I first got it out of the box, as the light wasn't behaving as expected which made it impossible to connect it to my home network. Once it was reset, though, I was up and running in just a couple of minutes thanks to the simple instructions in Panasonic's excellent Music Streaming app.

^ You'll need to set up the Wi-Fi if you want to use the All05 round your house, but you can also use its rear Ethernet port to plug it straight into your router if you prefer - just make sure you lock the flap when you take it outside, otherwise it won't be fully waterproof

Controls

The app will be your main control centre for operating the All05, but there are also touch controls on the speaker itself. However, while the built-in backlight makes it easy to see which button you've pressed, the sloping panel's glossy finish does make it rather prone to picking up grubby fingerprints, which looks rather unsightly in the wrong light. This is a shame, as you'll probably need to use them quite frequently.

Aside from the shower-friendly Voice mode, you can also enable Bluetooth mode and program up to six internet radio station presets. The latter requires you to download another app – Qualcomm's AllPlay Radio – but this can easily be disposed of once you've assigned each station to its six numbered buttons. Simply select the station you want in the AllPlay Radio app and hold down the desired button on the All05 until it beeps. Once you’ve programmed your preferred stations, you can listen to them regardless of whether you have the app open on your phone or not.

App

To switch it to Multiroom mode, all you need to do is tap the Net button or fire up the Panasonic Music Streaming app. Here, you can play music from your phone or other online streaming services such as Spotify (Premium users only, sadly), Napster, AllPlay Radio or the Aupeo Personal Radio. You can also create your own playlists, view your upcoming queue of music, reorder tracks to your liking, and give each speaker a different name, such as 'Living Room', to give your music system a more personal touch.

The app is easy and intuitive to use, and pairing the All05 with other speakers on your network couldn't be simpler. Simply tap the speaker icon in the top left corner and you'll be presented with a list of all the compatible devices currently connected to your network. All you need to do is drag and drop one speaker onto another and you'll have created a group, allowing you to play the same track across multiple speakers. What's more, you can control each speaker's volume independently of the others – handy if you're switching rooms or simply want to go upstairs for a bit. To ungroup them, you simply drag it out of the group and it appears back on the list as a separate device.

^ The Panasonic Music Streaming app is very easy to use and has a sensible, intuitive layout

Sound quality

Of course, such flexibility means nothing if the speaker doesn't sound good, and the All05's pair of stereo speakers coped well with the vast majority of my test tracks. Panasonic told me they'd focused on clarity above all else with the All05, and it certainly showed during testing. Acoustic guitar tracks and piano music sounded superb, and pop and rock songs had a welcome sense of depth to them.

However, I feel Panasonic's possibly gone a bit too far in its ambition to deliver crystal clear sound, as voices could sometimes sound strained and overly clinical. Bass was also a tad boomy at times, which, when combined with occasionally thin-sounding mids and trebles, meant some genres could sound a little unbalanced.

This left the All05 struggling with film soundtracks in particular. In the How to Train Your Dragon 2 soundtrack, for instance, the highest frequencies were flattened, and the muddled midrange meant that certain instruments seemed to disappear in the mix. Batman Vs Superman exhibited the same issues, but gentler scores, such as Finding Nemo, sounded perfectly fine. There is an equalizer in the app to tailor the sound to your tastes, but I found that this did little to improve the overall balance.

^ Grouping your multiroom speakers is a cinch - just drag and drop using your phone's touchscreen

Verdict

The All05 is clearly a speaker that’s better suited to some musical genres than others. On the whole, though, I enjoyed listening to the All05 – it would make a great addition to the garden, bathroom, bedroom or home office. It's not the kind of speaker I'd give pride of place at the centre of a living room music system, but the handy features and multiroom flexibility go a long way towards making up for its flaws.

There’s no question that it gives you a lot more listening options than the excellent UE Boom 2 – I’m a big fan of its radio features and handy Voice mode – and the fact it's one of Panasonic's multiroom speakers means you can always add extra speakers further down the line. However, if you want something that’s far more portable, and would rather save some money in the process, the Ultimate Ears Boom 2 is still arguably a better choice thanks to its longer-lasting battery and more travel-friendly dimensions.

Hardware
Speakers2
RMS power output20W
Audio inputsNone
Audio outputsNone
Dock connectorNone
WirelessBluetooth 3.0, 802.11a
NFCNone
App supportiOS, Android
Battery capacity2,950mAh
Dimensions170x179x77mm
Weight1.5kg

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