Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar design and build – An absolute monster of a soundbar
At more than a metre across, and weighing a substantial 18.5kg, this Ambeo is hardly an amoeba. It’s clearly designed to service screens of 65in and larger. It may not win any beauty pageants, but build quality is outstanding.
In total, there are 13 speakers on board, including six 4in long-throw woofers and five tweeters, driven by 250W of amplification.
Above the front-facing speaker array, two Dolby Atmos enabled drivers look skyward, while side-firing cones aim at a nearby walls to bounce their sound. The bar itself sits on two rather diminutive ledge feet, although there is the option to wall mount.
Inputs include three HDMI (v2.0a), one HDMI out (capable of eARC, with Dolby Vision HDR support), digital optical audio and aux-in. Both Google Chromecast and Bluetooth (4.2) are integrated. The soundbar is also compatible with Chromecast and the Google Home app.
A rather small remote control offers access to a variety of audio presets (movie, music, news, sports, neutral and night), as well as source selection and volume control. Sennheiser also suggests downloading the partnering Smart Control app, which adds an equaliser. In truth, this app isn’t particularly polished and it’s difficult to believe people will use it with any great relish.
If you need them, there’s also a selection of on-body controls.
Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar features and setup – Calibration is possible, but you’ll need to choose your listening position carefully…
This soundbar doesn’t just work with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, it’s also compatible with MPEG-H – a rival immersive audio codec apparently gaining traction in the Asian market. As such, all format bases are covered… so long as you don’t count Auro 3D.
The bar ships with a high-quality calibration microphone. This plugs into a 3.5 mm audio jack on the front fascia and takes no time at all to run through its routine. There’s no on-screen display; instead, the bar communicates via a small status window and a selection of chimes and beeps.
Interestingly, the calibration mic only measures a single listening point. So make sure you measure from your preferred recliner.
Related: What is Dolby Atmos?
Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar performance – Muscular and completely convincing in its immersiveness
With a Blu-ray player connected and a stack of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X discs at the ready, this Sennheiser doesn’t waste any time impressing.
Standard Atmos test clips confirm that the Ambeo Soundbar has no problem aping an immersive speaker layout. Insects circle the listening position, birds flutter around and tropical rain thunders down from above.
The influence of Ambeo processing is dramatic; switched off, the soundstage loses height and width. Ambeo processing comes in Light, Standard and Boost strengths. With Light there’s very little sense of post-processing at work, while Boost overtly broadens the soundstage but suffers from a subjective lack of focus. The effect is a bit Marmite. For the bulk of this audition, we stuck with the Standard implementation, which gives an enhanced sense of ambience.
There’s no shortage of muscle. The sound system positively sings when you crank up the volume; its output is prodigious. Mid-range delivery is faultless, and vocals and movie dialogue are handled with smooth skill.
What’s really striking is the sheer complexity of the soundfield. There’s depth and nuance, musicality and raw power. It may be a single physical box, but it doesn’t sound like one. The thumping futuristic audio of Blade Runner 2049 (UHD Blu-ray) is oppressive yet mesmerising.
Of course, Ambeo isn’t just for movies. With a standard multi-channel 5.1 mix, there’s a real sense of enhanced space. And the job Ambeo does with two-channel sources is little short of miraculous. It works equally well with both stereo TV shows and music.
When the bar sonically upscales, it isn’t adding gimmicky surround steering. More, it’s creating layers of detail and sonic height. It blurs the line between two-channel audio and dedicated 3D audio.
Incredibly immersive 3D sound
Powered by 13 high-end drivers, the AMBEO Soundbar delivers a 5.1.4 sound experience while also producing extremely deep 30Hz bass without the need for an extra subwoofer. And thanks to advanced room calibration, it immerses you in studio-grade sound adapted to the specifics of your living room for an unforgettable 3D experience.
A studio-grade audio experience
Engineered to produce more realistic highs and lows, more dimension, and more nuanced detail than you ever imagined possible. The AMBEO Soundbar lets you tailor your listening experience with a built-in equalizer and three bespoke AMBEO 3D technology modes where you can adjust the output to your own individual tastes.
You’ll feel it. You can’t help but feel it.
It features five dedicated high-fidelity tweeters delivering studio-quality sound, six long-throw woofers producing extreme 30Hz bass, and midrange vocals recreated with breath-taking precision. AMBEO Soundbar delivers a 3D home audio experience like you’ve never heard before.
3D sound, powered by virtualisation
By capturing the characteristics of your living room and reflective surfaces, and using the latest virtualization technology developed with Fraunhofer, the AMBEO Soundbar merges with the acoustics of your environment to create a 3D sound experience. The 13 independent drivers and the AMBEO technology work as virtual speakers, recreating a surround sound installation and placing you in the center of the action.
All in one
The AMBEO Soundbar delivers a fully immersive sound experience in style. The brushed aluminum exterior and minimalist detailing offer a viable alternative to those seeking design and performance in one beautiful bar. Never before has a single Soundbar been capable of reproducing deep bass that only an external subwoofer would be able to produce.
Alongside compatibility with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H, the AMBEO Soundbar’s Upmix Technology can turn stereo or 5.1 audio into a 3D sound experience. And to ensure that it’s easy to connect to your favorite, high quality entertainment there’s support for the latest HDMI standards – eARC and Dolby Vision -, 4K passthrough compatibility, Bluetooth and Chromecast built-in.
With the Smart Control App, you can adjust your acoustic settings and tailor your sound to your own personal taste. Compatible with iOS and Android smartphones, the AMBEO Soundbar makes the entire experience completely seamless.
Sennheiser AMBEO program: an end-to-end immersive sound experience
Everything you hear in the real world is immersive. With AMBEO, Sennheiser delivers end-to-end 3D audio technologies and solutions for you to achieve an as natural and immersive sound experience as possible in applications like Home Audio 3D, 3D Sound Recording and Mixing, VR/XR and Exhibitions. AMBEO’s promise is to empower listeners to experience and shape new perspectives and realities of sound.
With audio solutions that capture and amplify real life (AMBEO VR Mic and AMBEO Smart Headset), AMBEO equips content creators with unique tools to make an impact on their audiences. For listeners who are hungry for breath-taking emotions, the AMBEO exhibitions (Pink Floyd etc.) and the AMBEO Soundbar transform every moment into a supernatural audio experience.