CES 2009: B&W Panorama

Well, it's official. The soundbar is a genuine contender in the loudspeaker market. It acquires this status as long-time, old-school loudspeaker maker Bowers & Wilkins introduce their first soundbar.

The Panorama is a powered soundbar, sized to fit TVs of 37 inches or more. It houses nine drivers within a sleek aluminum chassis. Interestingly, and acknowledging the importance of the center channel (that's where the dialogue is), the Pandora dedicates five of the nine drivers to center-channel playback: one aluminum dome tweeter, two midrange drivers, and two bass woofers. The tweeter uses B&W’s proprietary Nautilus Tube Loaded technology.

The remaining four drivers handle the left, right, and surround channels, and each is mounted in its own enclosure. The drivers are powered by six Class D amplifiers. Combined power output is 175 watts. Audio connections comprise two optical and one coaxial digital audio input, as well as two stereo analog inputs. There is also a subwoofer passthrough. The cabinet can be placed underneath or on top of a screen, resting on a shelf, or wall mounted. B&W says that bass output is sufficient for most rooms; however, in large rooms, a separate subwoofer may be needed.

The Panorama will be available in the spring. Retail price is $2200.--Ken C. Pohlmann