A efficiency that provides up

In case you’re trying to spend upwards of $1000/£1000 on a soundbar, likelihood is you care a good bit about how your AV system appears to be like and sounds (and have the finances to splash out).


Whereas that type of cash was beforehand reserved for correct encompass sound methods, a rising variety of soundbars are aiming themselves at these premium worth brackets – providing the form of uplift in efficiency {that a} devoted film lover craves, with out the area, wires and know-how {that a} encompass sound setup would possibly require.

The Sennheiser Ambeo Plus is a kind of such soundbars, and is definitely the center baby in Sennheiser’s achieved soundbar line up. It sits beneath 2019’s frankly mammoth Sennheiser Ambeo, now renamed Sennheiser Ambeo Max, and above the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini. It provides Dolby Atmos playback (and DTS:X and Sony 360 Actuality Audio for that matter) however, not like quite a lot of the competitors at this worth, it does so from a single and fairly compact field. However what’s it prefer to reside with? I put it by its paces to seek out out.

Sennheiser/Pocket-lint

Sennheiser Ambeo Plus

Editor’s Selection

In case you’re trying to spend massive in your subsequent soundbar buy, the Ambeo Plus provides an extremely cinematic spatial audio efficiency from an all-in-one design that is a lot simpler to accommodate than a few of its chunkier competitors.

Professionals

  • Large, cinematic sound
  • Very good element and dynamics
  • Nice dimension and design
  • Sturdy function set and management choices
Cons

  • No 4K/120Hz passthrough on usable HDMIs
  • Undeniably expensive

Pricing, specs and availability

The Sennheiser Ambeo Plus is on the market for $1200/£1149, inserting it above the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini at $800/£699, however considerably beneath the mammoth Ambeo Max at $2000/£2100.

Sennheiser Ambeo Plus

Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Spotify Join, Tidal Join

Ports
3 x HDMI (1 x eARC), 1 x optical, 1 x USB, 1 x RCA

Energy
400W

Subwoofer Output
Sure

Speaker Association
7.1.4ch

Dimensions
1051 x 75 x 121mm

Drivers
7 x 50mm full-range drivers, 2 x 10cm subwoofers

Design

The factor that is maybe loveliest concerning the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus’ design is its dimension. Contemplating what is going on on behind its grilles, it is surprisingly compact, at simply 105cm lengthy, and conveniently shallow too. Measuring 8cm tall, it will slide beneath most TVs with out challenge, which makes it a heck of quite a bit simpler to accommodate than a few of its competitors.

The truth is, it sits simply shy of operating edge to edge with my 55-inch TV – so in case your telly is that dimension or above, it will complement it completely.

Sennheiser has opted for a material grille that wraps across the soundbar’s mid-section, with a high-quality plastic grille overlaying the upwards firing Atmos audio system on the highest, and plastic management panel. There is a plastic base too, however all of it appears to be like nice. It is properly designed, however smart, with gently curved edges that assist to melt its general look.

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Up on the highest of the bar, that management panel provides you touch-sensitive controls for quantity, Bluetooth and enter choice, in addition to a mic mute button for once you wish to make sure the built-in voice assistants (with a selection of Alexa or Google Assistant) aren’t listening in.

There may be an LED strip on the highest that can mild up otherwise relying on the supply you’re taking part in from, together with utilizing completely different colored lights for Bluetooth, Spotify Join and USB. It is not vastly useful from a seated place as this mild is just about out of sight for me, but it surely’s additionally not distracting, which is one thing.

Sennheiser Ambeo Plus remote

You may also management the soundbar by way of the Sennheiser’s Sensible Management app, which is simple to make use of and actually handy, or there may be an included distant as a substitute for those who want. It is fairly easy – slim and plastic with rubbery buttons that assist you to management issues like supply and quantity, in addition to flick between audio modes like Film, Music, Information, Sports activities and Adaptive, plus particular modes like Evening (which takes a little bit of the oomph out of the bass) and Voice (for selecting out dialogue higher).

I discovered sticking with Adaptive labored properly for many content material, however you’ll be able to mess around with the modes to see which you favor.

Sennheiser Ambeo Plus screens

There’s additionally a button for Ambeo, wherever you select to manage the soundbar, which is Sennheiser’s customized processing for spatial audio. I am going to contact extra on this later, but it surely goals to ship a 3D audio efficiency to all soundtracks, be they Atmos (and its equivalents) or not.

Options and connectivity

The Ambeo Plus is a 7.1.4ch soundbar with a complete of 9 drivers at work behind these grilles, ship 400w of sound. Seven of these are 50mm full-range aluminium drivers, with twin 10cm subwoofers in command of the bass.

To assist obtain one of the best Atmos sound, two drivers and each subs are upwards firing, with a driver at every nook to assist ship further width as properly. The remaining three drivers are organized alongside the entrance, to assist in giving a forwards focus to issues like dialogue.

There may be the choice of including a subwoofer, both wirelessly utilizing the Ambeo Sub ($600/£549), or utilizing the wired subwoofer pre-out.

Different connections embody three HDMI ports (one among which is HDMI 2.1 with eARC for connecting to your TV), in addition to 1 x optical, 1 x RCA, 1 x USB and an ethernet port, for hardwiring to a router.

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It is not a nasty displaying of connections, with the principle HDMI enter permitting for the assist of full-fat, lossless Atmos. However with the opposite two HDMI ports utilizing the older HDMI 2.0 customary, it means there isn’t any 4K/120Hz passthrough assist for suitable video games consoles, just like the PS5 or Xbox Series X/S.

The Ambeo Plus not alone on this – the Sonos Arc has no 4K/120Hz HDMIs in anyway, however Sony’s A7000 provides HDMI 2.1 on all its ports, suggesting that Sennheiser may positively have performed extra right here.

It is not the tip of the world although – avid gamers will simply want to attach their consoles on to a suitable HDMI port on the TV as a substitute, although that is assuming they’ve one spare.

Wi-fi connectivity is properly catered for, with Bluetooth 5.0 alongside AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Tidal Join, and all work as you’d anticipate. This implies the Ambeo Plus can double up as a fairly achieved music speaker too – however extra on that subsequent.

Efficiency

Whenever you first get began with the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus, you are inspired to carry out a room calibration, which is made doable due to its 4 far-field, high-precision mics.

It is fairly specific, thoughts you, cancelling the calibration and forcing you to restart if a canine barks or it hears somebody speaking – which is kind of irritating for those who get half manner by when this occurs. It solely takes a couple of minutes, fortunately, however it would be best to guarantee your surroundings is lethal quiet for it to finish efficiently.

You do not want any further package to get it accomplished although, simply sit in your listening place and go away the remaining to the bar. It will fireplace out a variety of unusual sounds into your front room to raised perceive it, tweaking its sound accordingly on the finish to make sure the soundbar sounds its finest.

And sound its finest, it does. What the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus is able to from an all-in-one design is nothing in need of very good, and from the second it’s plugged in, it transforms the audio coming from my TV.

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I’ve simply bought common daytime TV on after I first plug it in, and even with that, the distinction is obvious. Issues aren’t simply louder (and I imply, room-fillingly loud, once you want it), however dialogue is clearer, there’s better element at play, and there is instantly more room within the combine.

Change to one thing that’ll take advantage of its capabilities although, and the Ambeo Plus will take full benefit of the chance. Watch any Atmos content material on Netflix, and the Ambeo Plus jumps into motion, serving up constancy, scale and immersion by the bucketload.

There’s an actual sense of top right here, from these upwards-firing channels, and width too, which creates a really expansive soundstage. There are limitations, in fact, and also you’re by no means going to really feel like sound is coming from actually overhead or behind you – however for a single field, it is as cohesive a soundstage as I’ve heard.

There isn’t any lack of punch right here, and the Ambeo Plus makes the dealing with of beefy motion scenes look straightforward. You may discover low-end wallop to spare, however that is all the time dealt with with supreme management and authority. There’s by no means a touch of distortion, even when turned up loud.

The truth is, the efficiency is so good right here, that I would not say there’s a entire lot of want for a separate sub for most individuals – significantly contemplating the fee – although if pit-of-your-stomach rumble is your factor, then the choice is there so that you can purchase it.

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Away from the low finish, the Ambeo Plus exhibits itself to be simply as assured a performer too. For all its capability to provide the room a wobble when wanted, it will possibly deal with the softer moments with simply as a lot confidence. Effective element is pulled to the forefront, as is dialogue, which isn’t misplaced in even the busiest of soundtracks.

Treble is as properly dealt with because the low finish too, with crisp precision that by no means veers into harsh.

The truth is, it is supremely balanced, and works as a complete – by no means dropping sight of what is going on on elsewhere within the frequency vary, whereas additionally giving no space the limelight. All the pieces pulls collectively to supply a vastly likeable, cinematic presentation.

I begin with the Ambeo setting turned on, and there isn’t any doubt it does what it units out to do – broadening the soundstage and giving a way more spacious and open presentation. Nonetheless, I might use it with care if you need the easiest efficiency.

It is undoubtedly at its finest with non-Atmos content material, serving to to ship the added sense of top that it intends to – with out sounding unnatural or processed. The truth is, it is actually cleverly dealt with, and instantly you’re feeling the sound is lifted from being so targeted on the bar.

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There may be the odd misstep, and – for me – dialogue-heavy content material does lose a little bit of focus and might sound only a contact hole with Ambeo mode turned on. In case you’re watching Query Time, I might most likely select to depart it off, however with the newest BBC drama or when streaming a present from HBO Max, the Ambeo setting can produce a really welcome impact certainly.

With native Atmos content material, be that by way of 4K Blu-ray or from a streaming service like Netflix or Disney+, Ambeo does the anticipated and pushes the impact additional nonetheless – however it will possibly take a little bit of the precision and a few of the presence out of the sound. For that motive, I might most likely select to show Ambeo off and let the sound format do its factor with out interference, however that is probably down to non-public desire.

The excellent news is you’ll be able to see which you favor, or which setting fits that particular content material, by switching simply between the 2 settings. It is most likely not one thing I might wish to go away both on or off the entire time, which is barely annoying, but it surely’s an ideal to have the choice of it.

Verdict

The Sennheiser Ambeo Plus is a unbelievable soundbar, which delivers one of the vital cinematic performances that I’ve heard from a soundbar this dimension. Certain, it isn’t low cost, but it surely delivers the easiest of what you are listening to with an virtually dogged dedication, and in from a comparatively compact, all-in-one design.

It has scale to spare, however does not lose sight of the element, and serves up all of it with an even-handed strategy to the frequency vary, from low bassy rumbles to crisp highs.

It provides a very good displaying with Atmos content material, delivering the added top and immersion you’d anticipate, whereas the Ambeo setting – though not a silver bullet – brings a fairly strong spatial expertise to non-Atmos content material too. It is an virtually easy performer, and one you may wrestle to seek out from many different bars at this – undeniably lofty – worth.

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