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HomeEntertainmentSennheiser’s more-affordable soundbar is still a premium-sounding beast

Sennheiser’s more-affordable soundbar is still a premium-sounding beast

Sennheiser’s debut soundbar, launched in 2019, was a distinct segment product for a few causes. The primary was the worth. At $2,499.95, it rivaled the price of many conventional encompass sound methods comprised of AV receivers and a number of audio system. However maybe extra essential was its dimension. I say this with love, however the original Ambeo Soundbar (which has now been renamed the Ambeo Soundbar Max) was a chunky boy, which hardly made it a simple promote for anybody trying to tuck it discreetly in entrance of their TV.

So though it’s $1,000 cheaper, I feel value may solely be the second most essential change with Sennheiser’s second soundbar, the $1,499.95 Ambeo Soundbar Plus, which the corporate launched today at an event in Berlin. As a substitute, I feel its diminished dimension may be extra essential. It’s now simply 7 centimeters tall fairly than 13 centimeters. Meaning you’re nonetheless going to have bother becoming it beneath a TV like LG’s C collection, which has a notoriously brief stand, but it surely has a good likelihood at becoming beneath taller fashions, in contrast to its predecessor.

The second soundbar within the Ambeo vary.
Picture by Jon Porter / The Verge

In fact, none of that issues if Sennheiser has needed to compromise on sound to trim {dollars} off the soundbar’s value and centimeters off its top. However from what I heard of the soundbar right now throughout a pair of listening classes, that doesn’t seem like the case in any respect.

First, some specs. The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus has a complete of 9 drivers: two 4-inch woofers, plus seven full-range aluminum drivers. Two of those drivers are upward-firing to permit sound to bounce off the ceiling and work with 3D encompass sound codecs like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, two hearth sideways from the ends of the soundbar, and three hearth forwards. In complete, Sennheiser claims the soundbar is able to creating the impression of a 7.1.4 encompass sound system.

Observe that I say it’s solely creating the “impression” of this 3D sound, as a result of, like its predecessor, the Ambeo Plus is virtualizing these channels. It doesn’t even help pairing further audio system to behave as devoted surrounds, as a result of Sennheiser argues its virtualization know-how is nice sufficient that it doesn’t want it.

After having the possibility to hearken to the Soundbar Plus in an illustration, I’m inclined to agree. Sennheiser’s reps rolled via a collection of demo movies, together with some blended in Dolby Atmos. The extent to which it felt like sound was coming from throughout me was spectacular. At a few factors, the reps turned off the Ambeo virtualization, and the distinction of listening to all of the sound coming instantly from the soundbar made the encompass sound impact that rather more spectacular.

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The Ambeo Soundbar Plus at its launch occasion.
Picture by Jon Porter / The Verge

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The Ambeo Soundbar Plus’s distant.
Picture by Jon Porter / The Verge

It’s a must to practice this virtualization by having the soundbar use its 4 built-in microphones to measure your room. It’s a course of that you must repeat in case you ever transfer the soundbar between rooms, however contemplating the spectacular outcomes, it appears nicely worthwhile. The Ambeo Soundbar Plus can be able to detecting what sort of content material is being performed via it, whether or not it’s sports activities, films, or music, for instance, and optimizing its sound accordingly. There are many handbook controls in case you want.

Bass efficiency of the soundbar was a little bit more durable to guage. Sennheiser’s demonstration initially had the soundbar paired with three of its new $699.95 Sennheiser Ambeo Sub subwoofers (it helps a most of 4). And as you may anticipate from being surrounded by three 8-inch woofers, the impact was spectacular, with music tracks particularly providing an actual intestine punch of sound with every bass observe.

Take away the non-compulsory subwoofers, and it’s laborious to not really feel a little bit disillusioned by what the Ambeo Plus can obtain by itself. That’s to not say it’s unhealthy at bass — it was beautiful and current, and it didn’t overstay its welcome by turning into booming or overwhelming. It simply can’t transfer air in the identical approach as a devoted sub.

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A bevy of ports.
Picture by Jon Porter / The Verge

The Ambeo Soundbar Plus is well-stocked with connectivity choices. There are a complete of three HDMI ports, one eARC for connecting to a TV and two common HDMI inputs, alongside optical and conventional RCA. There’s additionally a bodily port for connecting a wired sub, in case you so select. Wirelessly, you’ve got a alternative of quite a few requirements together with Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Spotify Join, Tidal Join, and Chromecast inbuilt. It additionally has Alexa Constructed-in and is HomeKit suitable.

With the unique Ambeo Soundbar Max, and now the Ambeo Soundbar Plus, it’s clear that Sennheiser desires to broaden the viewers for its soundbars from the audiophile excessive finish to a way more mass-market client. At $1,499.95, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus nonetheless gained’t be for everybody, but it surely may very well be one other convincing bar-shaped different to a standard encompass sound speaker setup. On the very least, it would truly match beneath your TV this time.

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