Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar
“The Ambeo is a paradigm-shifting sound machine.”
Extremely detailed sound for all codecs
Breathtaking Atmos virtualization
Polished, intuitive interface
Loaded with options
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H decoding
Beefy measurement (and no IR repeater) requires mounting
In 2015, I received an early have a look at the primary Dolby Atmos soundbar ever created, Yamaha’s YSP-5600. Devised as a singular answer to all of your Atmos and DTS:X wants, the 5600 forgoes discrete encompass audio system for gobs of “beam drivers” that bounce audio off your partitions to immerse you in 3D sound. With comparable aspirations — and a ton of homegrown improvements — Sennheiser’s first soundbar, the Ambeo, takes that concept to a complete new degree.
Packing wonderful element, wealthy and lyrical efficiency for each music and movie, and shockingly real looking Dolby Atmos virtualization, Sennheiser’s $2,500 Ambeo soundbar isn’t some self-importance system for the rich. It’s a holistic sound answer designed to please audiophiles, cinephiles, and everybody in between. And on virtually all accounts, it does simply that.
As with a number of new tech, there have been some nagging points inherent in Sennheiser’s first shot out of the gate after I initially acquired it — particularly some latency issues for sound sourced straight from a TV — that saved me shy of clicking my heels collectively and stamping the Ambeo because the Atmos soundbar of the yr. Following a latest firmware replace, nevertheless, Sennheiser has addressed all the bar’s main caveats (besides the excessive value, after all), making it probably the most luxurious and spectacular approach to supply digital encompass sound from a single bar.
(Editor’s be aware: Following a firmware replace from Sennheiser that addressed the Ambeo’s latency/sync points, I’ve up to date this evaluate and rating to make it congruent with the bar’s unimaginable efficiency. You could find out extra within the part labeled “Sync points no extra” under.)
An Atmos beast
The Ambeo soundbar’s $2,500 value is, let’s consider, exterior the vary most individuals count on to pay — an upsell add-on for that new TV you’ve been eyeing, this ain’t. However Sennheiser has loaded this large block with highly effective and spectacular future-proofing options in an effort to make sure that you realize precisely the place your cash goes.
When you’ve hoisted the 40-pound monster out of its field, the very first thing you’ll discover is that you simply’ll seemingly have to wall mount both your TV or your TV and the bar ($60 mounting equipment not included) as a result of, just like the YAS-5600, the Ambeo is unapologetically beefy. At 50 x 5 x 7 inches, it merely leaves no room on the console for many TVs, and it would simply weigh extra, too.
After gingerly — and awkwardly — placing the bar on its entrance face (Sennheiser recommends you employ foam from the field), you’ll discover a beneficiant array of ports on the again, together with three HDMI 2.0a inputs, HDMI eARC for future-proof connection to your TV, digital Optical out, subwoofer out, and an RCA analog enter for legacy gadgets (this factor sounds so good, vinyl followers will really need to use that final one). You may as well stream music over Chromecast Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
TV sound arrived simply behind video for a number of TV fashions.
Set inside the Ambeo’s mighty body are 13 particular person proprietary drivers, together with two three.5-inch top-firing drivers, 5 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters, and 6 Four-inch long-throw woofers. Full-sized audio system reproduce actual, genuine sound for each music and movie, together with highly effective bass, although some customers could need to connect a sub for full-scale cinematic rumble.
Ambeo additionally packs a loaded clip of audio codecs, from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X to Dolby TrueHD, a swell of DTS codecs (together with DTS 96/24), and MPEG-H, a 3D-audio answer developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute (co-developer of the MP3). Together with eARC connection, the system helps 4K pass-through with Dolby Imaginative and prescient, HDR10, and HDR10+.
Sync points no extra
Connecting on to your TV by way of HDMI ARC is the one approach to supply Dolby Atmos content material from onboard apps. In our first outing, with both ARC or Optical connection, TV sound arrived simply behind video on a number of TV manufacturers. Fortunately, Sennheiser’s new firmware replace has addressed the issue straight.
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Listed here are all the problems corrected within the replace based on Sennheiser:
Solved lip-synchronization issues in HDMI ARC enter for some TV fashions
Improved (lowered) processing time for PCM audio indicators for all inputs
Solved bug with multichannel PCM content material by way of Apple TV 4K
Google Chromecast built-in security replace (model 1.40)
Google Chromecast built-in bug fixes
HDMI eARC and HDMI CEC bug fixes
Improved connection to the Sensible Management app
Minor extra bug fixes
Following the replace, the bar had no extra points with the TCL 6-series TV I used for testing. Such a aid. Sennheiser says it could’t assure all affected TVs shall be fastened by the replace, and Dolby’s personal web site has a disclaimer concerning the rising processing time for each TVs and audio gadgets as extra virtualization is developed. However this replace, together with eARC, has me fairly assured the overwhelming majority of customers have little or no to fret about there.
Sennheiser claims present house owners and new patrons shall be notified about firmware updates by way of the app, so if you have already got the bar and are experiencing sync points, it is best to see some form of indication there. Alternatively, you may test the Sennheiser web site.
The Ambeo’s modern and intuitive interface positively promotes a luxurious vibe, permitting even A/V newcomers to simply navigate the well-appointed system. That begins with intuitive calibration.
After you’ve plugged the Ambeo into your TV by way of HDMI ARC and linked your main gadgets, powering on the system emits a musical chime alongside easy directions from the LED show to plug the calibration mic into the entrance face. (Be aware: HDMI ARC sources Dolby Atmos sound out of your TV and lets you use its distant for quantity and energy.)
You’ll seemingly need to hook up with Wi-Fi for Google Chromecast streaming.
Formed like a cross between a WWII radio antenna and a Scorpion harpoon from Recreation of Thrones, the mic goes in your room’s pole-position seat. As soon as there, merely press the Ambeo button on the slim distant and step apart. After some frequency spanning tones (and looong processing) comes your first trace at what Ambeo can do by way of a encompass demo that bounces audio eerily across the room. Sounding extra like a gaming console than a soundbar, the music appears to say, “This isn’t only a soundbar, it’s a encompass sound leisure system.”
From there, Ambeo’s polished interface is a breeze to navigate, with seamless quantity and energy management out of your TV distant (you might want to modify on HDMI CEC in your TV’s settings) and solely a few studying curves for Ambeo’s neatly designed distant. These embody the Ambeo key, which turns Ambeo encompass DSP on or off, and the target-shaped multifunction key that controls streaming music.
Riley Younger/Digital Developments
Every part else is self-explanatory, together with keys for supply switching (the bar normally switches routinely) and EQ modes resembling Film and Sports activities, all of which sound fairly good, including their very own tweaks to the soundstage. For the reason that processing is so effectively finished, channel ranges ought to be completely balanced — simply plug and play.
That mentioned, you might need to make a pair extra fast tweaks, and for these you’ll want the app.
Apps are laborious
First issues first, you’ll seemingly need to hook up with Wi-Fi for Google Chromecast streaming. Full disclosure: I’m not keen on Google’s considerably cussed House app, and it once more gave me hassle throughout setup, seeming to freeze when the bar up to date firmware. Fortunately, the soundbar show confirmed replace standing, so regardless that the app received confused, I didn’t. After restarting the app, Chromecast streaming labored high-quality.
The system is near-magical when swirling Atmos results.
Sennheiser’s Sensible Management app handles all of the system’s deeper features, and it too had some hiccups at first. The app dropped the Ambeo a number of occasions when making an attempt to attach, however appeared to catch on after I unplugged the bar for a number of seconds. Following the firmware replace, nevertheless, I had no additional hassle with the app when connecting to the bar.
The app affords customization for A/V execs, together with a multiband EQ. In case your content material with the bottom settings, you’ll nonetheless in all probability need to dig by way of and switch off Eco mode, which delays the bar’s begin time by 20 seconds, and perhaps dim the white-hot Ambeo mild on the bar’s entrance face.
From the beginning, the Ambeo is a marvel to behold. The system is near-magical when swirling Atmos results from demo’s like Amaze and Leaf, even in my lounge, the place the correct wall is twice so far as the left from the bar’s side-firing drivers, making it all of the harder to create a balanced encompass sound bounce.
Riley Younger/Digital Developments
Results like a fluttering hen circling my ears or a leaf floating round my head buzzed shockingly shut from the perimeters and even again, whereas overhead results like a tropical rainstorm had been virtually scary real looking. Even in common movies the place Atmos is extra restricted, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I discovered myself engulfed in sound and brought aback by the correct placement of results within the room — an alarm buzz right here, a frog’s croak there, or Yondu’s strafing magic arrow all over the place.
And that’s only for starters.
Ambeo’s DSP additionally blooms boldly for five.1 encompass fare, such because the splendidly combined Skyfall. As James Bond falls into the river in the course of the intro scene, the partitions appear to break down on the middle place in a splash of icy white water. Simply as importantly, particulars — from the softest expression of a raspy throat, to candy and resonant brass — are superbly and delicately rendered, so your ears are left with little question this can be a high-end machine. It’s not as immersive with 5.1 as with Atmos, nevertheless it’s nonetheless extremely enveloping.
Sennheiser’s new Ambeo soundbar is a wiz machine for music, movies, and Atmos content material.
Did I point out music sounds unbelievable? That will look like a given, what with all of the gushing, however I guarantee you, with most Atmos soundbars it’s something however. Samsung’s HW-N950 does effectively with Atmos results (although I favor the extra musical contact and broader expanse of the Ambeo), and in addition wins the battle for rattling bass with its separate sub. However in terms of music, the Ambeo’s assortment of bigger drivers crafted with trickle-down Sennheiser tech take the gold, creating among the many greatest musical experiences I’ve heard in a soundbar.
Maybe most shocking for music is the nice DSP, which is adequately subtle to maintain devices well-placed in an expansive combine with out making your favourite tracks sound foolish. In fact, you may swap off Ambeo DSP for stereo, however both approach, you’ll be getting precisely what you’d count on from Sennheiser: A clean and heat midrange, glittery excessive frequencies, and highly effective bass for sound on par with a few of my favourite conventional speaker units.
Sennheiser merchandise are warrantied for 2 years for producer defects. You could find out extra about its insurance policies on the Sennheiser web site.
Sennheiser’s new Ambeo soundbar is a wiz machine for music, movies, and particularly Dolby Atmos content material, simply standing as one of many best-sounding bars you should purchase and the singular digital Atmos system of alternative.
Is there a greater different?
There is no such thing as a higher bar I’ve heard in the marketplace proper now in terms of Atmos virtualization, musical copy, and sheer sound high quality. In the event you’re searching for one thing with extra muscular bass and true encompass satellites, nevertheless, Samsung’s highly effective HW-N950 is a extra reasonably priced different, with strong music playback and critical Atmos chops of its personal — although you’ll have to make room for these further audio system.
Yamaha’s aforementioned YSP-5600 is one other strong possibility, providing comparable Atmos virtualization in a singular system, however you’ll seemingly need to add a subwoofer for the complete cinematic expertise.
How lengthy will it final?
With state-of-the-art processing, eARC, and HDMI 2.0a inputs, the Ambeo is a well-equipped soundbar for the phase’s future.
Do you have to purchase it?
Sure, so long as you may afford it. The Ambeo is a paradigm-shifting sound machine in terms of high quality, comfort, and efficiency.