Test: Panasonic GA10, This First Intelligent Speaker Really Offers A Hi-fi Quality?

With this model, the Japanese manufacturer wants to catch his competitors on the biggest defect of smart speakers: the sound quality. Has Panasonic given itself the means to its ambitions?

“The meeting of the smart speaker and the hi-fi”: this is how Panasonic presents in all humility its first speaker compatible with the Google Assistant. Preview for the first time in August 2017 at the IFA Berlin, it is finally available not 300 euros as anticipated during the show, but 200, to align with the competition. This positioning puts the GA10 stack in front of the Sony LF-S50G and especially the Sonos One, the reference market sold only 30 euros more expensive.

On the construction of the enclosure, nothing to say. The product has a sober design (some may find it austere) and parallelepiped when almost all other speakers rely on a rounded shape. The GA10 is also distinguished by its rather high height of almost 30 centimeters. This gives it character, but it is not very practical to access touch buttons located on the upper part.

It is enough that the GA10 is placed on a table and that one sits next to a chair so that it is difficult to distinguish these buttons. For example, we liked that the top is slightly inclined – as on the Google Home – to facilitate handling in this case. Still, concerning the design, it would have been practical that the power supply is not so bulky. It’s certainly the most imposing of all the smart speakers we’ve tested so far.

Simple setup via the Google Home app

The configuration is classic for a Google Assistant speaker and operates from the Google Home app. She hears our questions perfectly and responds as much as possible to the limits of artificial intelligence. The app called Music Connect and designed by Panasonic is however little accomplished, especially because of an outdated interface. Too bad because it allows streaming Wi-Fi to the speaker audio files contained in the smartphone, but also to change the EQ.

These few flaws could only be details if the sound quality of the speaker was as good as that proclaimed by Panasonic. To achieve this, the manufacturer has equipped with an 8-centimeter speaker supported by a bass reflex system and two 2-centimeter tweeters arranged obliquely to ensure a minimum of stereo effect.

This, the GA10 achieves only partially, provided that one is well placed in front of her. Difficult, however, to hold him to the rigor with as little spacing between the speakers. However, we were less pleasantly surprised by the overall sound of the speaker, far, far from the promise “hi-fi” made by the manufacturer.

The promise “hi-fi” is not really at the rendezvous

At first, we have the impression that the speaker rings hollow, that it lacks a chest. Indeed, our analysis of its bandwidth shows weaknesses in the low-mid and treble. By pushing the sound a bit louder – Panasonic promises a total power output of 40 watts – it is quickly realized that the distortion is already felt at half the volume. Worse, the music very rich in the bass (thank you Under The Influence Chemical Brothers) a vibration is heard at the level of the vent.

After a few days of use, our report is without appeal. The GA10 is a disappointment compared to what Panasonic claims. For 200 euros, the Sony LG-S50G offers a sound substantially equivalent, while 229 euros, the Sonos One simply puts a slap to the Japanese manufacturer. True, the American model does not yet integrate the Google Assistant and Alexa, but they will be available later this year.

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