In this generation of mp3 players, streaming radio stations and headphones that make you look like a Martian, I’m glad that there’s still a company that believes in manufacturing some good quality stereo systems. Panasonic have recently revealed a range of high quality and compact stereo systems for those who still believe in enjoying CDs as a way of winding down. I’ve been given the task of checking out the Panasonic SC-HC37 stereo system to see just how it measures up. In short, my office was a 90’s disco for about 2 hours last evening.
Panasonic have always had a sharp eye on producing devices that not only look good but also function well in the home environment. The SC-HC37 is no exception, exuding a sleek and stylish appearance and almost blending into my desk where I had set it up. The entire unit is very stylish in appearance, with a shiny piano-black finish and a light grey automatically sliding glass panel in the front that hides the CD tray. What’s delightful about this unit is that it also has a hidden iPod / iPhone dock in the front, as well as support to play music through a hidden USB port at the top. You get a tiny remote control with some basic options on it, which I’ll come to later on. At the top are a series of buttons that replicate most of the commands on the remote control such as switching between the CD, iPod, and FM modes, as well as volume control and skipping tracks.
One of the neat features is how the front panel slides away to allow you to load in a CD or an iPod – if you’re loading a CD it slides to the left, if you’re attaching an iPod it slides to the right. Furthermore, when accessing the iPod dock, the panel slides back and the iPod dock slides out, just begging for your iPod or iPhone to be plugged in. I found the dock base to be a bit wobbly at times, but I think this was done intentionally in case you inserted the iPod in too roughly.
Choosing a mix CD of songs from Guitar Hero, the music quality from the SC-HC37 is absolutely breathtaking. Both bass and treble are reproduced faithfully thanks to the nano-sized bamboo speakers concealed behind the glass fittings. From rock ballads to soft piano music, ever note flowed effortlessly out without distortion. My only quip is there didn’t appear to be any shuffle or repeat mode on the remote control or the player, so you’ll need to press play again if you want to replay a CD when it finishes.
Switching to the iPod mode instantly turns your iPhone or iPod display on, but if your device is locked then good luck – you won’t be able to browse your library until you eject the dock, unlock the iPod, and then put it back in. This is of course down to Apple programming and is nothing against the SC-HC37. You can use the up and down arrows on the remote to choose either songs, albums, or artists to scroll through, and then play the song you wanted. It’s enough when you just want to skip through tracks or pause the music, but anything like queuing songs or searching for tracks will require you to eject the iPod dock and get hands-on with your iPod. Lastly, there’s an FM mode that is activated if you hook up an FM antenna to the back of the device. There was very faint static in some of the radio stations I tuned in, but I’m putting this down to the crappy reception in my office.
As mentioned before, the unit sounds absolutely brilliant thanks to the Direct-Vocal Surround technology, and is more than capable of producing enough volume for an average-sized living room. If you so desire, the unit can also be wall mounted for an ultra-sleek look, but just be a little extra careful with ambitious people who want to rush over and plug in their own iPods. In short, the Panasonic SC-HC37 is a sleek stereo system with a big set of lungs, and will blend in stylishly with almost any room it’s placed in.