$4,000 Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar is an All-in-One Home Cinema
It’s not every day we get THIS excited about trying out a new audio product. The Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar calls for a special occasion, it’s the brands first home audio solution and predicts the future of home cinema audio. With 13 drivers, 5.1.4 sound, extremely deep 30Hz bass and 3D home audio, we promise it’s an experience like you’ve never heard before from such a sleek package.
Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Specifications
Speaker type: 6x 4″ long-throw, 5x 1″ tweeter, 2x 3.5″ fullrange driver (top-firing).
Weight: approx. 18.5 kg
Dimensions: approx. 126.5 x 13.5 x 17.1 cm incl. feet
Power: 250W (Sinus), 500W (Peak)
Inputs: 3x HDMI In, HDMI Out, Optical In, AUX In (Stereo RCA), Ethernet, Subwoofer Pre-Out.
The first thing that takes you by surprise is the size of the unit. Make no mistake, this is a big boy, and you’ll want some serious bench space and a large television before you even consider picking one up. The soundbar just fits underneath a 55-inch television, but in reality it better suits wall mounted TV’s bigger than 65-inch. As is the case with a device at this price point, Sennheiser likely assumes you’re not one to compromise and already have an equally as awesome flatscreen to suit. Now would also be a good time to note the weight. With thirteen individual drivers, it’s something you’ll also have to consider before placing or wall mounting the unit.
Let’s talk about those drivers. Sennheiser claims this is the future of home cinema, so we’ll start with the biggest and move our way around (Fibonacci style). There are six 100mm bass/midrange drivers, two 89mm full-range units and five smaller 25mm aluminium dome tweeters. You’ll find the two full-range ones are on top facing outwards to give you the full Dolby Atmos-enabled experience. Unless you have the highest ceilings in the world, they’ll do a good job of replicating ceiling-mounted speakers.
Moving our way down and out, you’ll pass two of the tweeters attached to the ends of the soundbar which capture the outer extremities of the audio range. The remaining three face forwards as expected and fire directly out into the room beside the three bass midrange drivers which are squeezed in between. The finishing touch is the intuitive monochrome OLED display centred near the bottom of the soundbar that tells you all your information, including channel, volume and input.
Sennheiser has positioned the AMBEO to take on serious home cinema offerings, so how does the AMBEO compare? Soundbars are fundamentally designed to be a convenient replacement for the traditional home theatre system, and some achieve this to a degree. But then some, like the AMBEO, begin to rival home theatre systems at the higher end of the spectrum.
Even with its closed enclosure, lack of bass ports, and an in-built subwoofer, the AMBEO offers a frequency response range of 30Hz to 20kHz measured at -3dB. A remarkable achievement that really shows where this model is pointed. And you can hear it in the sound, Sennheiser isn’t aiming for soundbars, they’re aiming to tackle proper Hi-FI sound systems with a full-bodied mature sound programmed to match whatever your eyes may take you.
The fact is made clear when setting up the AMBEO soundbar. This isn’t your typical plug-n-play unit, so don’t expect to jump straight into your favourite movie. It takes a couple of minutes to familiarise yourself, plug it in, set it up and then start enjoying the sound. The first step involves plugging in one of the many options you have at your disposal, three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output all version 2.0a, which means support for UltraHD video, and pass-through Dolby Vision. After plugging the soundbar in, you’re ready to calibrate with that funny looking antenna you find in the box.
Position the node where you sit at head level and the calibration system will automatically send the data required for the soundbar’s DSPs to do the required signal processing. This is the heart of the 3D Audio experience which, Sennheiser says “recreates a surround sound installation and placing you in the centre of the action,” and we believe them.
Obviously, the first movie we had to jump to was TENET. A movie that is sure to put the soundbar to the test with its wild soundscape and variety of minimalist and maximalist moments. The opening scene was a joy to our ears, the gunfire was loud as ever (almost shattering) but the transition moments stood out the most with spacious echoes and reverb that a lesser speaker would simply miss out on. To put it best, the sound reminded us of watching the movie for the first time at the cinema, and that’s a very very good thing for a soundbar that claims to replace the home cinema.
It’s an exciting unit, but at the same time, it’s so smart you don’t even realise exactly what it’s doing. You’re best off leaving it in Ambeo mode, which makes sure the audio sounds natural, even with standard 5.1 and stereo content. Switch over to movie mode for Top Gun or Tenet and you’ll be blown away with how good the weight and soundscape achieved by what is physically still a soundbar.
We were blown away by the size, weight and then price of the Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar. Sceptical would describe our initial thoughts, but when a brand with the reputation of Sennheiser makes a claim that the AMBEO would replace a home cinema we should probably believe them. After using the soundbar for a few weeks, it’s simple to say that this is the best soundbar money can buy. It’s an expensive device, but you’re paying for a soundbar with bigger, higher-quality drivers than anything else on the market. The result is audio with spacious tones that blend with heavy bass, add the latest update with futuristic 3D audio, it’s a no brainer.
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