Review: Bowers & Wilkins Panorama Sound Bar

Let’s be honest: Nothing can replace an eight-speaker 7.1 system blasting sound at you from all sides. But for a wall-mounted bar not much thicker than your HDTV, the B&W Panorama comes surprisingly close.

Like all sound bars, the B&W fires audio from its sides, reflecting the waves off walls so they reach you via a longer path than the sound waves aimed directly at you. The small delay between when you hear the direct sound and when you hear the reflected sound makes the B&W’s sound stage seem wider, as if the speakers are farther apart than they really are. B&W claims that in a perfectly shaped room you can even hear some sound coming from behind you, though we weren’t able to duplicate the experience in our less-than-optimal test room.

Still, we were blown away by how much larger movies sounded through the Panorama. It produces noticeable lows and separates sound effects from center-channel speech, delivering a theaterlike experience. And we loved its polished-nickel case.

Like all products from Bowers & Wilkins, the Panorama is not cheap, nor does it sound cheap. If you’re a serious audio connoisseur who’s wallet heavy and space poor, the Panorama’s playing your tune.

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