Easier to live with than its predecessor, the second generation Sennheiser Ambeo Plus soundbar is a terrific option for movie fans and music lovers. But gamers might want to look elsewhere…
- Ambeo virtualisation
- Excellent dynamics
- Two HDMI inputs
- No 4K/120Hz pass-through
- CalibrationAutomated self-calibration to adapt sound to room environment
- Dialogue modeVoice Enhancement for better speech clarity
- AudioDolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio
The original Sennheiser Ambeo redefined what a soundbar could deliver when it came to the home cinema experience. Delivering astonishingly potent immersive audio, with best-in-class clarity and dynamics, it had few peers. Unfortunately, it was also huge, expensive and (let’s be honest), rather ugly.
The Ambeo Soundbar Plus is none of those things. It takes Sennheiser’s advanced Ambeo post processing, which uses virtualisation technology developed with Fraunhofer, and repackages it in a far more elegant enclosure, at a slightly more affordable (although still toppy) price.
But can this latest iteration deliver the same sonic goods?
- Nine speakers
- Black fabric grille
- 3 x HDMI inputs
Although smaller than its predecessor, now named the Ambeo Max, this is still a substantial soundbar that requires some consideration when it comes to placement. At 1051 mm wide, it’s a good match with 65-inch and larger screens.
Build quality and finish is excellent, with a black fabric wraparound grille and perforated top plate, which also accommodates touch sensitive controls for volume, Bluetooth pairing and input selection.
The system is described as 7.1.4. So you know what you’re listening to, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X logos light up. There’s also an illuminated Ambeo logo, which thankfully, isn’t too distracting.
At work are seven 50mm aluminium cone full range drivers, arranged front, side and top, plus two four-inch cone woofers for bass. In total, there’s 400W total amplification driving this ensemble.
Connectivity comprises three HDMI ports, one of which is designated eARC. There’s also an optical digital audio input, USB port, a pair of analogue stereo phono inputs and Ethernet to support Wi-Fi, as well as a subwoofer pre-out, for system expansion, if required.
However, there’s no 4K/120Hz pass-through on either of the bar’s HDMI inputs. So while it’s fine for a Blu-ray player or TV streaming box, owners of a PS5 or Xbox series X/S will need to connect directly to their TV if they want high frame rate gaming.
- 360 Reality Audio Support
- Works with Alexa and Chromecast
- Integrated calibration microphones
Immersive audio format compatibility is universal. In addition to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus is 360 Reality Audio and MPEG-H compatible.
There’s no separate microphone supplied to calibrate the bar. Instead, four built-in far-field mics optimise the system for your listening pleasure, achieved with a short, energetic burst of chirps and whistles. One final, dramatic whoosh, and you’re good to go.
- Plenty of bass
- Tall and wide performance
- Good with stereo music
Dynamic, musical, and detail rich, the Ambeo Plus boasts many of the attributes of the Ambeo Max.
The enclosure may be relatively compact, but there’s no shortage of deep bass. If you have the space and inclination, the Ambeo subwoofer, which is a cosmetic fabric match, is an optional extra.
What sets Sennheiser’s Ambeo processing apart from its rivals has been the accuracy of its virtual soundstage, and that remains true with the Ambeo Soundbar Plus.
It does a fantastic job when it comes to projecting width and height. There’s a tangible sense of left, centre, right panning, and upward travel.
When the Spinosaurus attacks Sam Neil in the river in Jurassic Park 3 (Blu-ray, DTS:X), I felt that my entire room was taking a sympathetic dunking. A Dolby test sequence of an Atmos rain shower proves similarly convincing, with the deluge seemingly coming from overhead.
But the soundstage isn’t 360 degrees. There’s no audio coming from the rear, be it reflected or virtual. This is an almost inevitable trait with soundbars unless they’re paired with (wireless) physical surround speakers.
But it doesn’t stop the system sounding cinematic.
The Ambeo Plus relishes action sequences involving copious gunfights and explosions, like those in the Jennifer Lopez thriller The Mother (Netflix, Dolby Atmos). When the FBI safe house is attacked early on, the Ambeo Plus delineates every gun retort and ricochet of the ensuing firefight. Its popcorn presentation is fast and dynamic.
While there’s an inevitable focus on object-based sound mixes, the Ambeo Plus does a solid job with flat 5.1. Upsampled by the Ambeo algorithm, Dolby Digital can offer a comparable listening experience, albeit without the extra depth you get from Atmos and DTS:X.
There’s also a variety of sound modes to experiment with: Adaptive, Music, Movie, News, Neutral and Sports modes. A Voice Enhancement mode adds a subtle level of emphasis to dialogue, without making it too shrill. Adaptive was my common go-to.
It’s a great party speaker too. The soundbar has the width to deliver convincing stereo music and has the nuance and snap for a fun listen. The presentation is comparable to a pair of bookshelf speakers, with plenty of treble detail and a melodious mid-range.
Ultimately, the best of both worlds is to listen to Dolby Atmos music. The Ambeo Plus takes the immersive ball and runs with it, elevating audio from stereo to stadium.
Should you buy it?
This big bar delivers a big sound: As befits its premium status, the Ambeo Plus is a substantial enclosure, suited to larger TVs, and it delivers a commensurate soundstage, one that’s exciting and dynamic.
It comes with a lofty price tag: Performance may be top notch but value for money is more questionable. You can find comparable rivals for less. The Sony HT-A7000 is listed at a grand and can be partnered with a pair of SA-RS3S wireless rears, for just £449 / $349 more.
The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is a stonking Dolby Atmos soundbar capable of rare precision and power. It does a fine job creating a cinematic soundstage.
The provision of two HDMI inputs is welcome, but the lack of 4K/120Hz passthrough is disappointing.
That said, if you’re after a one box sound system for movies and music playback, it packs a glorious punch. It’s worth saving your pennies for.
How we test
We test every soundbar system we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested for more than a week
Tested with real world use
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The Ambeo Soundbar Plus has 4-inch dual subwoofers built inside it, and we didn’t have an issue with the bass it produced. But if you want extra oomph then Sennheiser does sell the Ambeo Sub, and you can connect four to this soundbar.