REVIEW: Panasonic SC-GA10 Smart Speaker with Google Assistant
After its unveiling at IFA last year, the Panasonic SC-GA10 Smart Speaker with Google Assistant has finally made its way to Irish shores. For me, it’s great to see Panasonic entering this smart speaker category in the market as they’ve always been known for their quality audio products so I was was interested to see what their take on a product such as this would be.
The design of the GA-10 is what I expected. A very nice blend between what Google is doing with its own smart speakers and Panasonic’s own clean and premium looking aesthetic. We reviewed the white version of the speaker and, over the black model, we find it to be the more stylish of the pair.
Size-wise, this definitely isn’t a small speaker at over twice the height of Google’s own Home speaker. I set it up in my living room on a small side table and it’s quite imposed beside my own Google Home speaker.
On the top panel of the speaker, there are several light up touch-control buttons along with a ‘Kit from Knight Rider-esque’ 8 LED line up on the front side of the top panel. It’s these 8 lights that visually display that the speaker has heard and acknowledged your voice request and also displays the audio volume level as well.
The touch sensitivity of the buttons on the top could also be slightly better and quite tricky to control if you’re hands are slightly wet for example. I know what you’re saying though, why would you need to control a voice controlled device with your hands but there were times when it was actually quicker for me to pause the music with my finger only to realise it didn’t register was my hands were wet.
The buttons available to you are volume control, play, pause, Bluetooth, Music Control and ‘Network’ for Google Cast.
Surprisingly, and quite a nice touch, at the rear of the device, there’s also a 3.5mm aux input so you can directly connect up external music devices if you so wish.
When the device was originally announce, Panasonic claimed it would offer Hi-Fi sound. Inside the casing of the speaker, there are two soft-dome tweeters that automatically adjust to delivery ‘wide spread sound’.
As you already know, with Google Assistant also being built into all of this, users can use the device to search the web, set reminders and alarms, stream music from Spotify and Google Play Music and generally do anything else a Google Assistant enabled speaker can do.
Living with my brother, who also used the device in the time we had to review, he had issues sometimes with getting the device to register his ‘Hey Google’ requests where, for me, this was never really an issue. It may be to do with use sounding similar but not identical and his lower pitched tone but after a 2nd attempt at a louder volume, the device usually picked him up.
Set up of the speaker was pretty straight forward via the Google Home app and there’s also the Panasonic Music Control app that will let you play locally store audio on your phone on the device also. Who would actually use this feature, I’m not sure but I guess it’s nice that the option is there.
The app also allows you to adjust the EQ settings of the device and, if you’ve splash out and pick two of these speakers up, pair them together to great a stereo set-up.
Playing music on the device with Spotify was as easy as you’d imagine. Simple say, ‘Hey Google, Play tracks from Drake’ and away it went, streaming the music almost instantly.
It must be said though, as this may be a result of the size and sheer volume capable of such a large device but, trying to trigger a Google request when music is playing at an above average level is slightly trickier and a little shouting may need to be done.
When it comes to sound quality, the GA-10 is definitely an impressive speaker but not mind-blowing. There’s a good sense of space when playing large scale music tracks and it also offers quite a bit of depth to the more bass-heavy tracks. The max volume level capable on this device is also very impressive but I don’t think your neighbours would be too happy if you kept the speaker up there too long.
The treble production is something that could be a little crisper and, at very high levels, there seems to be a bit of distortion and crackling from one of the rear facing tweeters. Again, I’m not sure how often you’d want to have a speaker such as this at those levels but it’s just something we spotted in our testing.
Testing out tracks such as Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’ really showed off the room filling abilities of this device with impressively deep and responsive bass levels. The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ also sounded very engaging with the mid sections coming across as clear and controlled.
The Panasonic SC-GA10 speaker is quite an interesting offering. It’s definitely a well designed, if slightly bulky device. It definitely stays true to Panasonic’s sophisticated design aesthetics and delivers some impressive sounding audio.
Its integration of Google Assistant is seamless for the most part but the microphones on the device could have been slightly more receptive to the launch phrases when the device is playing high volume music or audio.
Panasonic’s GA10 is a compelling offering, and a well crafted product – one synonymous with the company’s reputation for products which perform reliably as expected.
Retailing for €179, the GA10 comes in at the pricier end of the market, however, it’s a product which appears to stick with Panasonic’s trusted reputation of premium quality.