Everyone knows Sennheiser for their excellent headphones, but here at IFA GPC 2019 we got a chance to check out their very first sound bar - the Ambeo Soundbar. As you can see, it’s a large sound bar that measures 126.56 x 17.1 x 13.44 cm and weighs 18.5kg. It comes with three HDMI In ports, one HDMI Out (eARC, V2.0a) port, an Optical port, Aux-in, Bluetooth, Google Chromecast, and support for UPnP – plenty of options for connection with your usual devices.
Drivers-wise, the sound bar has a total of 13 drivers including six 4” long throw woofers for deep bass, five 1” alloy fabric dome tweeters and two 3.5” top-firing speakers. It has frequency response of 30Hz (-3dB) – 20,000 Hz and 26Hz (-6dB) – 20,000 Hz, so is certainly capable of sparkling highs and rumbling lows.
The sound bar is able to handle Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H content, and features Sennheiser’s Upmix Technology to recreate regular stereo and 5.1 content in immersive 3D. Five different presets are available – movie, music, sports, news, and neutral – and these let you easily optimize the sound for whatever you’re watching.
Of course, the sound bar comes with a companion app too. The Smart Control App will be available for iOS and Android, and allows for easy adjustment of acoustic settings and presets, as well as how much AMBEO effect you wish to get. The three options for AMBEO are light, standard and boost.
Sennheiser says that best results are achieved in a room with walls at most 5m away (from top or the side). A specialized microphone is included that you can use to measure your room, so you can switch where the sweet spot is by moving the microphone to a new location and running the room optimization process again.
The demonstration started with a clip from a soccer match and the quality of the drivers was immediately evident as the vocals were rendered with good clarity and separation. We could distinctly make out the cheers of the crowd, and the commentary came through clearly too. Switch AMBEO on and the experience intensified, with sounds seeming to come from both sides of you, just as it would if you were down in the stands.
Next up, was a clip from Blade Runner (2049) - the Chinatown scene where Ryan Gosling is getting flashbacks while looking through photographs he found. This scene has “air taxis” flying by and the constant patter of raindrops falling, and the sound bar is able to render each effect crisply. With AMBEO enabled it certainly does seem as though the audio is coming from all around you, even from behind, and that’s not easy for a single sound bar to do.
We ended testing with Dolby’s Amaze trailer for the ATMOS effect, and the sound bar again wowed with that. This is the one that showcases a thunder storm in the jungle, and the AMBEO produce deep rumbling thunders sounds and crisp rain drop effects, making you feel like you were really in the middle of storm.
All in, the AMBEO Soundbar is a very impressive addition to Sennheiser’s family of products; more so because it’s the first speaker unit they’re putting out for sale! The sound is strong and robust, and even though it reflects sound off the ceiling and side walls for the surround effect just like any other sound bar out there, it seems to do so with much greater effect. Certainly the best ATMOS experience we’ve had from a single sound bar.
According to Sennheiser’s representative, there are no plans to support additional rear speakers like with the Samsung sound bars, but upcoming new features will be added to the sound bar via Wi-Fi and app updates.
The AMBEO Soundbar will be available in Europe from May 2019 for 2,499 EUR.