* Prices may differ from that shown
If you have read my review online featuring the Sony CFD 50S cassette CD radio player from October 2012, you'll know how disappointed I was with the sound quality from this major brand and it was purchased to replace a very old premium Panasonic double tape cassette CD "ghetto blaster," that came with its own cordless remote control with tons of great features. These days as portable stereos with cassette, CD and radio are now beginning to get scarcer, the move to consider a new iPod dock was clearly on my mind, not just to replace the awful Sony stereo that now sits at work to be used when teaching with but also to replace a fantastic Bush iPod dock I bought a few years ago where its sound quality was surprisingly powerful and rich. Sadly though, the Bush eventually had to be binned because of non-functioning control buttons. But! All of these sound machines whether they are docks or portable CD stereos have one aspect in common - the addition of a built in auxiliary-in jack. I find the auxiliary addition absolutely essential, especially if I want a stereo sound system that can give me much more warmth and power of sound than relying on laptop speakers alone.
Thus, in early January just at the beginning of the sales, I began to look for a decent iPod dock player. I didn't want a high spec machine, but rather just a dock like the Bush player that could charge up my Classic iPod as well as act as a charger whenever it was not required to play music and just like the Bush player, whatever I chose HAD to have an Auxiliary cable for versatile functions should I want to put another device through.
As a brand, Panasonic and I have quite a history, not just from audio equipment to headphones but also small appliances and I was expecting good things from this product in general.
Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec
* Make & Model: Panasonic SC-HC05 IPod Dock.
* 40 watts total power, 2-way, 2 channel speakers & tweeters.
* Black colour or white colour available.
* Bluetooth re-master function & digital connection for iPod & iPhone.
* Bluetooth streaming wireless function & Internet radio functions *
* Cordless remote control & power cord with UK plug supplied.
* Power consumption 16 watts total, total weight 1.6kg.
* LED colour band display, on/off button & volume buttons on the machine.
* Size: 37cm by 17.5cm by 8.5cm.
* Auxiliary In 3.5mm "small" jack.
* My price £99-99 from Scottish Hydro, £109 to £134 Amazon UK.
One of the first aspects that I love about the Panasonic SC-HC05 is that is beautifully streamlined to the eye and quite light to lift or carry around. Slightly large because of its vertical rectangular size, it is actually quite compact, taking up less space than my previous Sony stereo cassette player, both by length and width. My model is coloured in black because I prefer darker audio equipment that doesn't show up the dust, though plainly Panasonic are playing to Apple's product range, able to offer this sound system dock in white as well as black. However, with both coloured choices of docks, you'll only find separate on/off buttons at the top of the Panasonic along with separate buttons to increase or decrease volume, both in silver with accompanying tiny red LED lights alongside a silver strip that acts as a beautiful colour combination to the black colour of the body. The visuals are kept to a minimum where this design is concerned, but it is simple and stylish to the eye. Everything else in terms of controls falls down to the cordless battery powered RCU unit that is rather small and can't be stored on the machine if it gets lost over time.
With straight, sharp to the eye corners but smooth to the fingers, the SC-HC05 is well made for the price and the front door that holds an iPod or iPhone sits proudly in the centre via a soft release dock station that pops out slowly as well as being easy to push back in, locking flush into the body when not in use. The SC-HC05 can accept mostly all iPods from the Nano, Classic, iPod Touch and iPhone, making it quite versatile and modern for anyone to use, or any visitor who requires charging their player. My Classic iPod just starts up when it is connected instantly too, making it easy to function the Panasonic just by switching it on beforehand.
Another welcomed aspect that I like about the SC-HC05 is that it has a central auxiliary-in jack located at the rear of the system. As it comes with a permanent stand which elevates the body slightly off the flat surface it rests on, excess cables can be tucked around the corners without excess getting in the way, and though it is a small point, it is a far better design than the short power cable that Panasonic provide here. The aux-in jack isn't just handy for connecting my laptop up to the Panasonic but promotes added versatility to add a number of other devices from electronic musical instruments to even a portable personal CD player if you one lying around. In short, it isn't restrictive lending that versatile jack although it is a pity that Panasonic don't equip the model with a likewise sound AUX cable to make the ownership that little bit more adaptable; especially if you don't have an iPod or iPhone and just have a standard mp3 player instead.
General Use/Performance & Downsides
When listening to music on the Panasonic SC-HC05, it is like going back in time - namely back to my old RXED50 double cassette CD player. The sound quality that this dock station provides is rich, warm, bassy and has plenty of volume and depth power that puts the Sony to shame. However, it all depends on the sound setting you've set your iPod to as the Panasonic lacks an overriding sound control, which I find quite restrictive. I can still access my iPod manually when docked, either playing or not at all - unlike some other players and the RCU unit does allow me to rewind/fast forward as well as stop, play and mute.
This more modern Panasonic certainly takes some beating after choosing the sound setting on your device though, with Apple's high quality pre-selected sound equaliser settings managing to give their default "Acoustic" a decent lift to higher tone and lesser bass with "treble booster," to the shelf thumping characteristic of its "Dance," setting giving the Panasonic's tweeter added stereo speakers a good work out. It is with that latter setting for example that I find the speakers on the Panasonic rarely vibrate with no distortion unless you max the volume to the highest setting available! Thus, it seems that even if Apple don't officially recognise Panasonic as being a producer for their Apple products, this player can certainly handle almost all of the sound settings that your chosen Apple device can provide. Other reviews have slated the lack of treble that the Panasonic can't give but I've certainly realised it with several of Apple's default equaliser settings - you just have to test each one to find one that suits you with 40 watts of power behind it!
Even if it is just a stereo amplifier dock offering twice as much power as my last Panasonic, the SC-HC05 is able to offer fewer watts per use as well as a lower standby rating. Thus, the Panasonic uses 16 watts of power in use, but it only uses 0.2 watts when left in standby. I still switch off at the plug to conserve the energy rather than take advantage of the paltry standby power. But then the problems begin if you switch off at the plug!
This is because that quite simply, the major problem that I find this player suffers from is a lack of in-built memory. As such, when it is required to play any iPod or iPhone when it is docked in, the iPod/iPhone has to be initially paired via the remote control unit to get the most functions that the SC-HC05 features - and you won't find the features on the body of the stereo either as it has all been included on the small RCU unit that doesn't comprise of very much other than a selector button, volume control, play functions with fast forward or rewind and Bluetooth functions. Thus you have to leave the Panasonic SC-HC05 on standby for the system to recognise your player device at all times, even if your device has been manually switched off.
At least pairing is easy and only takes a couple of seconds by pushing the button on the RCU whilst the player is docked and the system is switched on. However, there is no LCD panel on the Panasonic that shows you what is going on either, leaving it up to the power and display of whichever Apple product you've chosen to dock. All that the SC-HC05 can do is flash a series of different "traffic light" like lights at the bottom of the dock station to let me know what is going on.
Thus at times, the limited display functions of lights flashing can be annoying and not user intuitive, comprising of an orange LED light to a green LED light that stays on when the SC-HC05 is working or when the iPod is playing to a cool blue light that blinks per minute when it is trying to pair your device to the dock station.
As for other features, well the Bluetooth function is of no use to me given that I don't own an iPhone or an iPod that offers that function. However, if your Apple product does, then you can send music over to the Panasonic wirelessly, which is a pretty good and neat feature. There is no built in radio either that could have given this player station a bit more versatility. Instead, yet again for those who have Apple products that have Bluetooth, you'll have to download an app called "V-Tuner," by Panasonic through an app available, for the "exclusive" feature to of accessing Internet radio through the Panasonic, which you can't do with a Classic iPod!
If you require a portable, stylish iPod dock in your home that offers a rich sound with stereo quality and an Auxiliary jack in mount for other devices, the Panasonic SC-HC05 is a great compact and stylish iPod docking sound station to consider. However I'm disappointed that Panasonic haven't added features that would make more sense, cutting the budget easily on the lack of controls on the body of the machine and supplying the system with a remote control unit that doesn't actually offer very much.
For a company like Panasonic whose products used to be better designed, the whole outlay of what this product features for £100 isn't easy to pass by when taking into consideration the rich and warm sound quality it can offer as well as the power behind it able to handle large outputs. Undoubtedly the Panasonic SC-HC05 is better suited to those who have the more modern iPods and iPhone handsets that feature Bluetooth and far more versatile functions. Yet, whilst it can still play my iPod Classic happily as well as charge it whenever the iPod isn't playing, I'm very pleased with the Panasonic's general sound quality and were it not for its additional Aux-in jack at the back, I'd have probably settled for a much better thought out system from another brand but probably having to pay a lot more for the privilege! Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2013.