"MEGA-Mini" Compact Stereo System
pumps out the volume
Ever miss the
days of the old jukebox, those coin-swallowing toys that have serenaded
teens at their local hangout since time immemorial? Do you have about
60 compact discs hanging out in your home, just looking for a single place
to hold them? Do you have a small home or office that needs a decent stereo
system, but want one that'll hold all your favorite CD's at the same time?
Well, if you
answered "YES" to any of the above questions, you may want to
take a look at Panasonic's line of 'mini-component' systems, which give
you a 60 (plus 1) disc CD changer, along with the usual AM/FM and cassette.
They're good performers that can serve either as your second stereo or
even as your primary one if that's the sort of thing that meets your needs.
with the SC-CH94M (about $600US) and, though it won't go down in history
as our all-time favorite stereo, its presence will certainly be missed
in our office.
"Mega-Mini" does a remarkable job of stuffing space for those
sixty-one CD's into a package about the same size as competing mini systems
that may only offer 3 or 5 disc capability.
theme is very prevalent in the design of this unit. In fact, when you
first switch it on, you're greeted with a cheery "Hello" on
the fluorescent display, and the whole unit has a flashy lighting display
that reminds one of jukeboxes of days gone by. We didn't really care if
this feature was there or not, but it certainly didn't distract from our
enjoyment of the unit.
compact discs can be a real chore. Panasonic has thoughtfully made the
unit front-loading, which facilitates the process, but the slots are small
and you have to put each disc in turn into a little holder and slide it
inward, which loads the disc into the caddy. The unit separates each ten
discs with a little larger plastic divider, allowing you to play discs
Oh, you'd better
ensure you have the discs inserted with the label facing the right way,
or you'll have to put 'em in again.This is no different from any other
CD player, of course, but it's harder to see the labels when you're sliding
the discs in on their sides.
It's easy to
lose track of which disc is which once you've consigned them to the bowels
of the stereo, but Panasonic quite thoughtfully has included with the
unit a "liner notes organizer" into which you can put either
the documentation that comes with the CD's jewel box or whatever other
cryptic note you want to use for keeping track of the discs. Once you've
done that, you can put away your jewel boxes so they don't take up space
in your home.
And you don't
have to know exactly where inside the unit a particular disc is hiding,
as long as you know which disc number it is: you can access discs via
the stereo's wireless remote control.
of the CD changer is fine. Disc changing is quiet and quick, with the
transport mechanism moving horizontally behind the CD's, picking the one
you want to play, and leaving the others intact. This also means you can
swap discs at any time (removing some and replacing them with others)
while a disc is playing - giving extra flexibility. It's probably not
something you'll do a lot of, but it's there if you want it.
Play Mode" lets you customize your listening sessions. By manually
assigning your discs into Groups A through F, you can program your music
by theme, artist, or whatever other pigeonhole takes your fancy. There
are also fourteen preset group names, like "Country," "Dance,"
etc. Once you've selected your group, you can partake of typical CD player
features as Random Play or Continuous Play.
It's a lot of
Play" slot is at the left hand end of the sixty disc bays (it's slot
0). Slide your brand new disc in there, press "Single Play",
and you're off to the races. You can also program tracks from the single
disc into a listening session that includes some of the other sixty platters.
fluorescent display kind of walks you through the various operations,
though a good walk through the owner's manual will be more helpful.
are pretty straightforward. Panasonic's "Sound Field Control"
is one of those circuits that electronically processes reverberations
and reflected sounds to give you a more spacious sound effect. There are
other settings for Disco, Hall, and Live. Even better, the equalizer gives
you presets for Heavy, Clear, and Soft, which are pretty self explanatory.
There are no conventional tone controls, though, which is unfortunate.
The tuner comes
with 12 presets, so you can program in your favorite radio stations. Programming
is quite easy and, of course, you can also tune the stereo by hand. Radio
performance was fine, though we were a little disappointed at the lack
of a cable antenna input on the back so we could listen to the radio stations
we get over the cable, instead of just off the air. This antenna connection
can be fudged easily enough, but we think it should be included on all
Of course, that's
just us talking. There are many locations in which this point would be
moot - places that actually have good radio service.
The dual cassette
deck also works well, and is of the auto-reverse persuasion. In this instance,
only Deck 2 can record, but that's okay. The deck automatically selects
the recording level, and any messing you might do with the soundfield
controls won't affect the recording, either. The latter is standard procedure,
and though we would have liked to see manual volume controls as well,
we realize this isn't meant to be a high end recording studio; we just
want it all!
One nice thing
about an all-in-one unit like this is that it makes recording from CD's
easy: the cassette deck and CD player coordinate with each other to make
it basically one touch easy (once you've set it up). Our initial recording
session cut off the beginning of the first song on each side because the
deck doesn't take into account the leader at the beginning of a tape,
but once you've figured that out you can take steps to correct it (winding
the tape ahead by hand).
internal clock also works as a timer, so you can set the unit to wake
you up with music, or the radio, at a preset volume and time. Likewise,
the sleep timer lets you nod off to music, and you can also set the unit
to record something from the radio when you're not going to be around.
You can even use two timers together; for instance you can go to sleep
to the radio, and be awakened by a compact disc.
And an Auxiliary
input lets you record or play from an outside source, like a reel to reel
deck (remember them?) or a laserdisc player. Oh, there's also the ubiquitous
We were quite
impressed with the audio quality of this unit. While it won't touch our
reference home theatre audio system (the speakers alone of which cost
about three times the price of this entire unit), it isn't designed to
compete with such. For a mini system, however, we thought it sounded fine.
It was clear and clean, with surprisingly good bass, and it gave us very
pleasant listening experiences in our office. And that's all it's meant
to be for: smaller environments - it isn't meant to power your home theatre
and in fact doesn't offer such home theatre amenities as Dolby Surround.
On the whole,
this is a nice unit that performs very well. The 60 disc changer is something
we could live without, but we can see how many people would like that
70 Watts per channel into 6 ohms
Speakers: 3-way. 17 cm cone type woofer/6cm cone type midrange/piezo type
Output sound pressure level: 87dB/W (1 m)
Frequency Response: 43 Hz - 22 kHz (16 dB)
Dimensions: 10 5/8 x 13 21/32 x 17 3/32
Weight: 26.5 lb
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