Panasonic’s SC-CMAX5 is a demonic karaoke machine/travel case hybrid. It’s got wheels, it’s got an extendable handle, it’s got a super woofer. Your neighbours are going to hate you.
Portability is the main selling point of the SC-CMAX5. Splash-proof and weighing no more than a suitcase (it’s less than 20 kilos), it’s designed so that you can easily cart it from the living room to the bottom of the garden. The only thing that’ll constrain you is the length of the power cable.
It can accept audio files via Bluetooth or play tunes straight from as USB stick (there’s two 2.0 ports). Best of all is the karaoke mode; on the back, next to some RCA connections sits a pair of quarter-inch jacks. This lets you plug in up to two mics and belt out a note-perfect renditions of ‘Single Ladies’, or whatever.
There’s also the option to plug in a guitar and shred along with your favourites. In quieter moments, budding musicians working on nailing that solo could also find the SC-CMAX5 useful.
Sadly, you can’t plug in one mic, sing along to a song and play guitar at the same time. Future travel speakers of this ilk could let you do that, but right now you basically have to make a choice between Singstar and Guitar Hero.
We got to spend a bit of time time with the SC-CMAX5 at the 2015 Panasonic Convention, where Daiki Matusmoto of Panasonic’s consumer marketing team for North America and Europe took us through the features. The 1000-watt speaker itself features a single 6cm tweeter, two 10cm woofers and one 25cm super woofer.
In terms of file support, it’ll currently only play MP4s. While that’s admittedly lame, Matsumoto told us that in Latin American markets, where the SC-CMAX5 has gone down a treat, people want a device like this for street parties. You want to be able to cram as many songs as possible on one USB stick. If you’re throwing a fiesta, folks are probably less likely to be stroking their chins and pondering whether the new Shellac album in FLAC sounds as good as the vinyl.
A lack of support for lossless audio files perhaps isn’t a huge deal, but we’d like to see more common files like AACs, WAVs and so on supported on future versions. We’d also like to something like a SC-CMAX5 work with Spotify Connect so we can stream our perfect party playlists straight to it.
Currently, the SC-CMAX5 isn’t available in the UK, Europe or North America. While it’s currently not on sale over here, Panasonic is thinking about bringing the SC-CMAX5 and future devices to European markets. You could order one now from overseas for $549 (£280) plus shipping costs or if you’ve got a mate over in Australia, get them to pick one up for you.
If Panasonic decides to launch wheelables over here, hopefully we’ll be able to get an upgraded version that handles a range of file formats and allows for simultaneous singing and guitar action.