Take a quick glance at B&W’s new Panorama 2 soundbar, and you’d be inclined to think it’s virtually identical to the company’s original Panorama. The dimensions are largely the same. The singular aesthetic is unmistakable. Dig behind the grill (and around on the back panel), though, and this is one heck of an upgrade.
Firstly, Bowers & Wilkins has completely redesigned the low-frequency drivers for increased dynamic range and improved linearity. Upgrades to the midrange drivers have been made to widen their dispersion and create a more verisimilitudinous surround sound experience. And the tweeters have been tweaked to integrate better with the mids. All told, of the Panorama 2′s impressive nine drivers, five of them–two woofers, two mid cones, and one Nautilus tube-loaded dome tweeter–are dedicated to center channel reproduction, and each of the other four drivers is contained within its own enclosure to ensure clarity and precision. All told, the Panorama 2 boasts 175 watts of power, and that’s without a subwoofer–which you can easily add, if you so desire.
Speaking of adding things, the Panorama 2 features an impressive array of innies and outies, with three HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, as well as an optical/aux in and the aforementioned subwoofer output. No more struggling with routing all of your gear through the TV and settling for letting it do all of the routing. Having a video out also enables a handy onscreen setup guide for the Panorama 2, making configuration all the more simple.
Granted, Panorama 2 isn’t a dainty creature. But it’s quite a bit more compact than a roomful of speakers, and its size allows it to have a positively huge sweet spot, facilitating a surround-sound effect for just about anybody anywhere in the room.
Other neat touches include a front panel control that’s completely black until you wave your hand in front of its proximity sensor to wake it up; an included wall bracket; and two sets of tooties–both large and small–for shelf placement.
You get what you pay for, though; at $2,200, Panorama 2 isn’t what you’d call a budget soundbar. But the discriminating listener looking for a lot of sound out of a relatively small package can start looking for it at authorized B&W retailers toward the end of this month.
Bowers & Wilkins