SC-HC3

A few weeks ago I bought a Panasonic SC-HC3 (it just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) sound system.

It’s a pretty neat “micro system” that has radio, CD and iPod docking. It has a motorized sliding door which opens to the right if you want to access the iPod dock and to the left for the CD. The door is transparent (smoked) in front of the iPod, so you can see the iPod’s display through it.

The SC-HC3 won the EISA Best Product 2009-2010 award in the micro system category.

The good

  • It’s down to personal taste, but I think this system looks good. It’s pretty small, probably smaller than it looks in the picture.
  • It plays both CD and iPod (and radio).
  • The sound quality is good for a system this size (there are some preset equalizer settings, or you can set treble and bass manually).
  • It has a sleep timer and wake-up function.
  • It works with my 4th gen. iPod Nano.
  • The remote control is “normal sized” and you can navigate the iPod’s menus with it.
  • It has a headphone jack.

Nitpicking

  • Some controls on the iPod don’t seem to work with the remote control, like “sliding on” the shuffle function while in the “now playing” screen.
  • The wake-up function tops at the last volume used on the system, which means that if you were listening to music at a low volume the night before using a sleep timer, you’ll get the same low volume the next morning.
  • It doesn’t come with any dock adapters, so you’ll have to use the one that came with your iPod (which is white).

The bad

The SC-HC3 is not properly shielded for use with an iPhone that’s not in flight mode (from what I’ve read, I haven’t tested this myself). This could be a deal breaker for some, but I don’t have an iPhone, so it’s no biggie for me.

Warning: if you already own this system and don’t find anything annoying about it, stop reading now.

It turns out that whenever you have an iPod connected to this system and the door is closed, there’s a buzzing sound. If the iPod is charging the sound is there even if you’re in stand-by mode until the iPod’s fully charged.

At first I thought that the sound was coming from the speakers, but after some correspondence that ended up going all the way to the product development department in Japan I got the answer that it was a fan that started spinning whenever the iPod was enclosed to prevent overheating.

While this is a thoughtful “feature”, it’s too bad that they chose a fan that resonates through the entire system and is fairly loud. It makes me question the design choice to put the iPod behind a door.

Conclusion

This was pretty much everything I wanted in a micro system, but the noise from the fan is louder than I can accept from an audio product. I intended to place the SC-HC3 in my bedroom, so the noise level broke the deal.

I ended up returning it to the store where I bought it (I’m glad I haggled in the store instead of buying it online).