- Full-bodied sound with punchy bass
- Flexible streaming features
- Solid, space-saving design
- No remote
- Limited streaming services
- Treble could be more subtle and refined
- Soundstage lacks width
- Two-way, two-speaker system
- 40W LincsD-Amp
- Dual-band Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
- Qualcomm AllPlay multiroom platform with Bluetooth/AUX re-streaming
- Panasonic Music Streaming app
- Spotify, Napster, Aupeo Personal Radio, AllPlay Radio
- Hi-res audio support
- Manufacturer: Panasonic
In an ideal world, the ALL6 would offer a little more subtlety and finesse; it hardens up a touch at high volumes. Inevitably its compact cabinet limits soundstage width – you can forget about immersive stereo imaging – but given its size and price, there can be very little cause for complaint.
During playback you can switch between the Browse and Queue menus, the latter allowing you to change the playback order by dragging and dropping tracks. Tap the album art at the top and it expands to full-screen, with playback controls, volume and track sliders at the bottom.
WHAT IS THE PANASONIC SC-ALL6?
Part of Panasonic’s ALL multiroom family, the SC-ALL6 is a compact wireless speaker that plays music via Spotify, DLNA and Bluetooth. It’s one of four new models launched this year, sitting between the £370/$555 SC-ALL7CD all-in-one system and £200/$300 SC-ALL05 splash-proof speaker.
If you’re looking for a space-saving system for the bedroom or kitchen, this one ticks most of the boxes.
DESIGN AND CONNECTIONS
Measuring 248mm wide by 155mm deep, the SC-ALL6 is the epitome of compact. It’s easy to imagine it nestling on a bedside table or kitchen worktop without taking up too much space. To reduce its footprint further, you can stand it up vertically – a pair of rubber strips at one end keep it nice and stable.
It’s also very well made. The chunky, robust cabinet sports a textured faux-leather surface, while the rounded front-end is covered in a sparkly cloth grille. Plastic silver trim and brush-effect end panels top it off nicely.
A row of lights shines through the grille and corresponds to the touch-sensitive buttons on top. These include individual input keys (AUX, BT, NET), volume and two presets for quick access to your favourite internet radio stations. Another button, Rear Mode, preps the ALL6 for use as a surround speaker with Panasonic’s SC-ALL70T soundbar.
Not surprisingly, there’s barely any socketry on the back, except for a 3.5mm mini-jack and an Ethernet port for those who need a wired alternative to the dual-band Wi-Fi.
The ALL6 boasts a decent driver spec for a compact speaker. It’s a two-way, two-speaker system, equipped with dual 8cm bamboo cone woofers and two 2.5cm tweeters. They’re driven by Panasonic’s third-generation LincsD-Amp, which kicks out 40W of power.
Multiroom and streaming functionality comes courtesy of Qualcomm’s AllPlay system. You can stream the same music to the entire system (Party Mode), or play different sources on each speaker (Multi-Zone). Panasonic doesn’t specify the maximum number of supported zones, but AllPlay normally supports up to ten.
Fire up Panasonic’s Music Streaming smartphone app and you can stream music from Spotify (with a Premium subscription), Napster, Aupeo Personal Radio and AllPlay Radio. It’s a reasonable selection – Spotify alone will suffice for most people – but Tidal and Deezer subscribers will need to look elsewhere for now.
One of the clever things about Panasonic’s system is that you can re-stream sources from one ALL speaker to another. For example, owners of the SC-ALL7CD system can stream CDs to the SC-ALL6, or you can connect a Bluetooth or analogue device to the ALL6 and send it to other compatible speakers.
Another funky feature is the ability to use two ALL6s as a stereo pair, or as surround speakers in a 5.1 system, with the SC-ALL70T or ALL30T soundbars providing the front channels.
Elsewhere, the ALL6 plays hi-res FLAC and WAV files up to 192kHz/24-bit.
SETUP AND OPERATION
Setup is carried out through the Music Streaming app and it’s a hassle-free process – just follow the on-screen instructions. After it detects the ALL6, key in your Wi-Fi password and it’s job done. To add a new speaker, go to the Setup menu and start the process again.
Unlike the SC-ALL7CD, the ALL6 doesn’t come with a dedicated remote, so you’re at the mercy of your smartphone or tablet. That’s a pain if you want to quickly change the volume and your phone has gone to sleep.
That aside, the Music Streaming app is an excellent interface. Its simple layout and quick operation make it easy to find your music and play it across the ALL system. It scrolls through huge libraries without any hesitation and a handy search tool finds the songs you’re looking for.
The various menus are all within easy reach – just tap the icons dotted around the screen. Your first port of call is the Browse menu, which lists servers, streaming services and radio apps. You can add or remove services you don’t use. A list of sources that can be re-streamed is found at the bottom.
Managing a multiroom system is easy. Connected speakers are listed in a sidebar menu, each one with a differently coloured icon. You can rename speakers to make them easier to recognise. To group them simply drag and drop the icons onto each other – they link together and the current playback source is displayed in the middle.
With the SC-ALL6, SC-ALL7CD and SC-ALL05 connected to my network, I streamed various sources to different combinations of speakers. Everything worked seamlessly, including the Bluetooth re-streaming feature – all of the units were perfectly synchronised.
The SC-ALL6 is a solid performer, offering a full-bodied sound with plenty of detail and well-rounded vocals. It goes nice and loud when required, and easily fills a small-to-medium sized room.
Surprisingly, the ALL6 delivers a warmer and more satisfying sound than the more expensive SC-ALL7CD system. The ALL6’s bass output is deep, punchy and tightly integrated with the mid-range; the ALL7CD sounds lightweight by comparison.
There are bass and treble adjustments in the app’s Equaliser menu, but the beauty is that you don’t need to fiddle about with sound modes and tone controls as you do with the ALL7CD – it delivers this full-bodied presentation out of the box.
So when I play thumping dance tracks such as “Together” by Kaytranada, the electro synth bassline bounces along with heft and body, punched home by a pounding 4/4 kick drum. The sound is chunky but never gets bogged down in bass – there’s enough agility and definition here to drive the song forward. Head-nodding is compulsory.
Elsewhere, the SC-ALL6 digs out enough top-end detail to make music sound crisp and open. It isn’t too pushy with treble; hi-hats and percussion stand out but don’t dominate, plus I can detect sibilance and nuances in vocals.
Saxophone and guitar solos are solid and well defined, while snappy snare drums reveal a decent amount of mid-range bite. It’s a hugely enjoyable listen.
SHOULD I BUY THE PANASONIC SC-ALL6?
If you’ve already invested in other Panasonic ALL speakers and want to expand your multiroom system further, you really can’t go wrong with the SC-ALL6. It’s a stylish, solidly built speaker that boasts an excellent range of features, all of which make the £230/$345 price tag seem reasonable.
The Qualcomm-powered multiroom streaming is stable and flexible, helped along by one of the best smartphone apps around. It’s easy to setup and operate – but, most importantly, it sounds terrific, offering a full-bodied sound with punchier bass than the larger SC-ALL7CD.
It isn’t the most finessed performer, and some listeners might find it a little too warm. A few more streaming services and a dedicated remote wouldn’t go amiss either, but overall Panasonic has done a fine job here.
There’s room for improvement – but the ALL6 is an impressive wireless speaker with effortless multiroom streaming, nifty features and punchy sound.