Panasonic announced a new line-up of wireless multi-room speakers at CES 2014 and confirmed that they will be available in Europe at the Panasonic Convention 2014 in Amsterdam this week.
The multi-room speaker system - called ALL - comprises of a number of component parts, the SC-ALL8, SC-ALL3 and SH-ALL1C, looking to challenge the likes of Sonos and Pure's Jongo system.
App-controlled wireless speakers offer the convenience of being able to build an expandable system, integrate streaming services, not have to worry about changes in physical connection standards, with convenient control from your phone or tablet.
There are currently a couple of speaker models in the Panasonic range. The larger model is the SC-ALL8, offering five speakers including a subwoofer and two tweeters, with 80W output, occupying the same sort of position as the Sonos Play:5.
It can be freestanding or mounted on the wall and we like the design. It's fairly sizeable, but produces nice rich sound from what we heard in a quick demo. It'll make a good centerpiece for your new sound system.
The smaller SC-ALL3 has a 40W output from four speakers with a two driver and two tweeter setup. You can stand it up or lie it down depending on where you want to position it.
The SH-ALL1C from Panasonic is a bridge, including a DAC, that will let you include existing speakers in your new multi-room system.
The components connect via Wi-Fi and will be controlled using the Panasonic Music Streaming App although at the time of our demo, we didn't get to see the app in action. Instead it was being controlled with the Qualcomm AllPlay app, as these are AllPlay speakers.
This platform, announced in September 2013, is designed to give you multi-room features, such as independent control or all-speaker party playback, but also give you compatibility across brands, rather than being tied to one manufacturer. That means that you have more freedom for expanding your system in the future. This has been confirmed by Panasonic, so in future you can add any AllPlay device into the mix.
Panasonic isn't unique in this space: we've recently seen the Caskeid system pushing wider, as used by Pure and future products from Onkyo, so we could see plenty of competition in multi-room speaker systems in the future.
However, Panasonic mentioned that there as no support for stereo designation, to split left and right channels, which is something that Pure and Sonos both currently offer.
We got the chance to experience the new Panasonic ALL speakers playing individually, as well as in party mode, which lets you play the same track on all the speakers at the same time. From what we've heard, these Panasonic will sound great, with plenty of volume to fill a typical room, combined with a nice clean and simple design.
Qualcomm has previously confirmed that Spotify, Rhapsody, Napster, TuneIn and SomaFM are supported by AllPlay, but integration into Panasonic's system presumably requires an additional agreement. Panasonic told us that negotiations are still ongoing, so at this time we don't know exactly what services you'll be getting.
With no confirmed services, price or date, there's still a lot to learn about this wireless multi-room system, but from a hardware point of view, we like what we've seen and heard so far.