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Hands-on review: Sennheiser Ambeo Sound Bar

By Owen McCarthy
Tue 14 Jan 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar has made quite a presence in our household.  

Physically, it has the dimensions (and the weight) to stand out. Packed inside is a lot of very clever technology, which comes with a $4300 price tag. I notice that on their website, the items are mounted mid-wall.

I had to have our unit in the corner, which meant that one end was way too close to the wall. We are limited by the position of our fibre optic box, installed during the build.

In the short time since, much new technology means that we either run longer cables or build a new house.

For those of you who really like to do your homework, Sennheiser makes this fairly simple.

Their website includes instructions, technical information, features and a handy FAQ page. My attempts to grasp the science behind this technology had me bouncing off the walls, but it does work.

At times I felt the sound coming from next to me, which was quite a sensation.

Specifications

Dimensions: The dimensions are substantial; 26.56 cm(l) x 17.1cm(D) x 13.44 (H) with feet. Metallic Dark Grey (blends in nicely with our cabinet and television, (although it’s actually wider than our 40” TV).  At 18kg, it’s also a significant weight. Engage those core muscles when lifting.

Sound: Frequency Response (loudspeaker) 30Hz – 20KHz (-3dB) immersive 5.1.4 sound in one single device, comes with “advanced room calibration.”

Compatibility Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, MPEG-H

Technology Smart Control app, built-in equalizer, AMBEO modes

All-in-one, 3D Surround Sound Virtualisation

The Sennheiser Ambeo provides you with a rather sleek single bar, with no need for a separate sub-woofer.  Personally, I found the bass adequate, but suspect that others will want the sub-woofer anyway. Sennheiser helpfully includes instructions on how to install one.

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Setup: Connected to our router via an ethernet cable, I opted for an optical (fibre optic) connection from the television. You have several HDMI slots, an ethernet option which plugs into your router, optical cable (which I used) and RCA which I didn’t need to use.

 

You need the microphone for calibration. The 3D Surround Sound Virtualisation gives you 5.1 channel sound in one bar. Simply position the microphone at approximate ear height, and press “Ambeo” button. The soundbar will run the calibration program for a few minutes.

The manual shows clearly how an optimal arrangement will map out your surroundings. Sound virtualisation works by bouncing the sound off your environment. There should be a minimum 10cm gap between soundbar and television.

Connecting to the Smart Home  

The instruction book mentions that you can use Google Home to control firmware updates and you can download the Sennheiser Smart Control app onto your smartphone.  

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Performance

I got used to feeling the sound coming at me from different directions. Sometimes people’s voices would sound as if they were speaking next to me. The pre-sets on the remote came in handy as I switched from the news to music.  

I could have had an even better experience if our telly wasn’t stuck in a corner. If you’re going to spend the $4299.95 the Ambeo Soundbar will cost you, I’d recommend mounting the television, and positioning the soundbar to ensure the best ambient sound quality.  This means having clear surroundings to the front and sides, and that minimum 10 cm gap between soundbar and television.

Equipped with thirteen drivers, you really need to make sure you position the Ambeo Soundbar to get the best possible Surround sound experience. With the inclusion of Dolby Atmos, you’ll be enjoying that sensation of the sound moving with the action.

The sound pre-sets work very well, and I noted an immediate change when switching between “News” and “Music”.

The Ambeo Sound Bar is a beautifully tidy arrangement which will appeal to the minimalist who wants clean lines and symmetry. I generally am satisfied with our 40” television, but the Ambeo Soundbar left me feeling somewhat inadequate, overhanging our television on each end.

The Sennheiser Ambeo Sound Bar will appeal to the sound purist who wants to be surrounded by sound. Whether listening to Rachmananov’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor (Op.3 No.2) or having the experience of superbikes racing past you in Superbike World Championship, you’ll appreciate being in the centre of the sound.

When gaming the hairs will be standing up on the back of your neck when the zombies have you surrounded.

If you’re planning on a comprehensive sound system for your home entertainment, Sennheiser’s Ambeo Sound Bar will ensure connectivity to your components. Make sure you plan the positioning carefully to achieve the best Sound Virtualisation experience. The thirteen drivers will have your sound bouncing off your walls while placing you in the centre of all the action.

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