Artison Nano Backpack P5 amplifier review Page 2

The unit comes with an unpleasantly basic credit card-style remote control, probably because in most situations it will be used in conjunction with rather more sophisticated IP control systems from Control4, AMX, Elan G, Savant, RTI, etc. Both dual-band Wi-Fi and Ethernet are present, plus Bluetooth 4.0 for simple music streaming.

Old-School Audio
The amplifier is Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 compatible only; don't expect Dolby Atmos or DTS:X because it's just not that kind of deal. And it doesn't come with a calibration EQ microphone or automated setup, so you'll need to manually adjust speaker size and crossover for each of your connected speakers.

A typical Dolby Digital 5.1 system would have speaker sizes set to small and a crossover for the subwoofer at 80Hz. All the usual Dolby Digital setup options are here although speaker distance is set in feet rather than metres. Playback modes include Pro-Logic 2 and DTS Neo variants. All very old-school.

When it comes to amplification, Artison rates the Nano Backpack P5 at 3 x 75W (into 4 ohms) across the front soundstage, with 2 x 30W (into 4 ohms) going to the rears, all via Class D. Not a room-shaker by any stretch, but, as it transpires, more than enough for the kind of entertainment this model provides.

The amp may be slim but its output is surprisingly large, thanks to accomplished dynamics and pronounced spatial imaging. The soundstage is larger and more potent than the paper specification would imply.

Watching Premier League football on Sky Sports, the ambience of the live game, with all its atmospheric stadium noise, effortlessly fills the room, while commentary is clean and crisp.

Over in Winterfell (Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 1, Sky Atlantic), the general hubbub within the castle walls, as the inhabitants prepare for the Night King's arrival, is subtle and believable – the odd goat complains stage right, while the army clamours for battle in the background.

When Peter Parker engages his suit's Enhanced Combat Mode, in Spider-Man: Homecoming (Blu-ray), the crackle from his taser webs positively electrifies the front soundstage. The subsequent conflict is full of satisfying crash, bang and wallop.

The more I listened to the Nano Backpack P5, the more I liked its demeanour – it's a tight, fast and dynamic performer that has no problem at all with hard, sudden transients.

Unique Concept
Purely in terms of concept, this hits the spot. The idea of taking a fully-fledged surround processor and amplifier, and hiding it out of the way behind a TV, is a good one. Actually managing to make this downsized offering sound decent borders on genius.

If your entertainment needs are largely served by streaming apps and TV connected sources, then it's a cracking compact buy. The elephant in the room is that hefty price point. If you want a batter bang for your buck, then there are more conventional AV receivers, or soundbars, which offer far better value.

But when it comes to form and function, the Nano Backpack P5 is unique. And that makes it rather special n

HCC Verdict

Artison Nano Backpack P5

Price: £1,200

We say: Artison has brilliantly reshaped the traditional home cinema amplifier. The audio may not be cutting-edge, but the form factor sure is.

Performance: 4/5
Features: 3.5/5
Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5


Dolby Atmos: No
Multichannel input: No
Multichannel pre-out: No
Multichannel output (claimed): 3 x 75W + 2 x 30W Multiroom: No
AV Inputs: 1 x digital optical audio; 1 x stereo analogue 3.5mm
HDMI: Yes. 3 x inputs; 1 x output (v2.0)
Video upscaling: No
Component video: No
Dimensions: 30(h) x 250(w) x 245(d)mm
Weight: 2kg

Also featuring: Powered USB port; Ethernet; dual-band Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0; IR remote control; external IR sensor; Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoding; subwoofer pre-out; onscreen display; IP control via smart systems including Control4, Crestron, AMX, Elan G, RTI and Savant; optional TV mount bracket