Gaming benefits from a good soundbar just as much as movies and TV, so if you’re looking for a soundbar to upgrade your PS5 or Xbox Series X setup, Panasonic might have just the thing at CES 2021: a new, Final Fantasy XIV-themed version of its SoundSlayer soundbar.
Created alongside Square Enix, including the game’s sound team, the SoundSlayer doesn’t just come with some Final Fantasy XIV decals: it supports Dolby Atmos and includes three playback modes designed specifically for gaming.
The first, Role-Playing Game mode, optimizes the sound output for RPGs and Final Fantasy XIV specifically. Then there’s First-Person Shooter mode, which highlights telltale sound cues like enemy footsteps. Last but not least, Voice mode brings dialogue to the forefront. Panasonic recommends this for adventure games but it could be ideal for speech-heavy RPGs as well.
The soundbar itself is an all-in-one, 2.1 system with a built-in subwoofer. There are no upwards-firing speakers typical of Dolby Atmos soundbars, but with DTS: Virtual X support as well, the SoundSlayer is capable of approximating a surround sound effect digitally.
That should hopefully be enough to get more out of the growing range of games that support Atmos, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Call of Duty: Warzone.
Measuring just 17 x 2 x 5.3 inches, the SoundSlayer is also incredibly small — not as compact as the LG QP5 Éclair, but close — so it could be at home underneath a desktop monitor or even sat behind a gaming laptop. HDMI, HDMI-ARC and optical connection ports also give a little flexibility in how you connect, whether you’re using a gaming PC or a console like the PS5.
Just don’t expect the same levels of volume and impact that a bigger, wider soundbar might have. Besides the downwards-firing subwoofer, the SoundSlayer only has one full-range driver and one tweeter, with no dedicated center channel, so it’s probably best used in smaller rooms.
That said, the SoundSlayer’s compact design might be preferable to some, and it’s nice to see a soundbar with such a tight focus on gaming performance. Panasonic hasn’t announced pricing or available for the Final Fantasy XIV version, but you can buy a plain black version of for $294 from Amazon. This apparently has the same three gaming modes as the special edition, just without the decals.