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Bowers & Wilkins unveils suped-up Panorama 2 soundbar

When we last heard from UK audio specialist Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), it was busy entering the wireless music streaming arena with two new speaker systems, the A5 and A7.

Now, the Worthing, Sussex-based company has unveiled its latest soundbar product, the Panorama 2, claiming the October offering provides "widescreen for your ears" whilst minimising speaker clutter in the living room.

The successor to 2009's original Panorama, the Panorama 2 features nine driver units intended to distribute sound across as wide an area as possible within the boundaries of a single unit sound solution.

In particular, B&W say they have improved on the earlier model by tweaking the design of the driver units, including separate tweeters, mid-range and low-frequency-units in the refreshed system.

The result, according to the firm, is better overall acoustic performance and significantly improved bass, plus a larger audio reproduction "sweet spot" – crucial for cutting across larger viewing spaces and pleasing multiple couch potatoes.

"As televisions get thinner, so does the sound they produce. Great images have come at the cost of good sound. Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 2 redresses the balance in favour of sound," the company said in a statement.

Of the driver units, five are utilised within the active centre speaker for improved sound integration, with all units powered by six class D amplifiers producing a cumulative power output of 175 watts.

The Panorama 2 is engineered to be a simple 'plug-and-play' audio solution, featuring three newly introduced HDMI ports and one HDMI output, making it compatible with a range of external devices including Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, games consoles, and most TVs, including those with an ARC feature.

In other words, the Panorama 2 has the potential not just to provide high-quality audio, but also to serve as one of the hubs of your home entertainment system: the one-box home cinema surround sound solution also features an on-screen display, CEC support for volume adjustment via remote, and auxiliary optical and sub-woofer outputs if you want to further accentuate the deeper tones of your latest dub-folk mix.

One final feature that strikes us as especially neat about B&W's new soundbar is its built-in proximity-sensor, with the Panorama 2's front-facing display fading to black after a period of inactivity so as not to distract from viewing or waste energy, but re-igniting with a simple hand-wave motion for full control access.

Aesthetically, the Panorama 2 sports a curved outer casing and is similar in both design and dimension to its older relative.

The only apparent catch of this impressive sounding new product? As you might expect from Bowers & Wilkins, it doesn't exactly come cheaply: the Panorama 2's release later this month will be accompanied by a £1,650 price tag.

Still, audiophiles certainly have something to mull over in the run-up to the holiday shopping season - for more from the high-end audio maestros, check out Riyad Emeran's review of Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones.