Sennheiser ambeo dolby atmos soundbar

SENNHEISER
AMBEO Soundbar with Dolby Atmos

Powerful 3D Dolby Atmos sound plus deep 30Hz bass — all-in-one.

PRICE


$2,499.98

THE HIGH NOTES


  • Powered By 13 High-end Speakers
  • Deep 30Hz Bass
  • Convenient All-in-one Design

When you buy from Audio Advice, we’re also including an exclusive “Tips & Tricks - How to set up Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar" video, available only to Audio Advice customers. This video will give you some additional key tricks, including how to get the best sound for your room, and a few other tips.

Today’s review is on the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar, a complete end-to-end system that delivers an amazing 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos surround sound experience all directly from its state-of-the-art design. It's super easy to use and convenient to set up.

Company & Product Overview

At Audio Advice, we have been helping people achieve immersive sounding movies and music for more than 40 years. So, when Dolby Atmos entered the residential home theater market in 2014, we were blown away. 

If you are looking at all the new Dolby Atmos soundbars on the market, but you like keeping your home entertainment area clean and simple, then Sennheiser has something special that doesn’t compromise on the high-end audio experience. 

As an independent family-owned business, Sennheiser pursues the future of audio by focusing on superb engineering, manufacturing, and innovation. It operates its production facilities in Germany, Ireland, and the USA, but the company remains headquartered in Wennebostel, Germany where it was founded in 1945. 

Today, the company produces some of the best industry-standard microphones, headphones, and speakers for world-class recording engineers, touring musicians, and audiophiles. For over 70 years, the company has accumulated numerous patents and awards, including an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This time, the Sennheiser engineers have done something that we think is quite ambitious for the soundbar category that’s like no other. 

Our latest review is on the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar. This high-performance soundbar is not your average Dolby Atmos bar. This state-of-the-art product is the recipient of several major awards, including EISA’s 2019-2020 “Best Premium Soundbar.”

With 13 large speaker drivers, this Dolby Atmos system will fill a room of almost any size with studio-grade surround sound quality while also helping you keep your living room neat, clean, and tidy. While this bar doesn’t seem priced for those on a budget, it will get you extremely close to the 3D experience of a complete surround sound installation without having to wire your entire room with additional speakers. For less than $2,500, we think the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar is one of the coolest soundbars on the market. 

close up shot of the Sennheiser ambeo ambient light display on the front of the dolby atmos soundbar

Design & Build Quality

The build quality on the Ambeo is first-rate. The first thing you’ll notice is the weight and size of this premium piece of equipment. The bar weighs about 40 pounds. Inside, there are 13 large high-performance speaker drivers, but we’ll get into those premium speakers more, later. 

The AMBEO is designed to sit under your TV or it can be wall-mounted with an optional bracket. Dimensionally, the AMBEO stands a little over 5-inches tall with its removable rubber feet. You could purchase the optional wall-bracket for a nice clean professional look, but we think most people will probably just position this under their TV on a piece of furniture. For the best performance, we recommend separating the bar from the TV to give the upward-firing drivers enough clearance. Similar soundbars like the Sonos Playbar and the new Sonos Arc provide a template that helps you position the bar far enough away from the TV. 

It comes in a dark gray brushed aluminum finish with a large black grill that will look great under most TVs. The bar spans about 50-inches long, 5.3-inches tall, and 6.7-inches deep, so visually the AMBEO is a real statement piece for TVs that are 55-inches or wider.  

Front panel of the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos in a dark room

On the front panel, there’s a microphone input that will accept an input from the special calibration system that comes bundled with the bar for tuning the AMBEO’s output to the unique properties of your room. Also, on the front panel, an easy to read graphic OLED display with a brightness sensor displays the status of the unit and lets you see all the connectivity modes clearly as you cycle through them. We like how the OLED display also provided helpful instructions during the initial set up process. This made the advanced calibration process extremely quick and easy to set up in a matter of minutes.

Next to the OLED display, a status LED flashes a white light when the unit first initializes, and blinks momentarily to show you that signals from the included remote control are being registered remotely. The LED status light will illuminate red to indicate the bar is powered off or in standby mode. Finally, a separate LED light located on the far right side of the bar illuminates the “AMBEO” logo to show you when Sennheiser’s special 3D sound mode is active.

close up shot of the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar LED light display

The underside of the unit is where all the inputs and outputs are tucked away. From left to right the inputs and outputs are — a power connection, a USB port for firmware updates or servicing the unit, an ethernet port, (1x) HDMI eARC output labeled “HDMI TV,” (3x) HDMI inputs, an optical Toslink input, a single RCA pre-out for connecting a powered subwoofer, and a pair of analog RCA jacks that will accept an input from either a CD player or a legacy stereo system. There’s even an adjustable cable management band that will tuck your wires away behind the bar, and keep them stowed in place.

close up shot of the back panel of Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos
close up shot of Sennheiser ambeo soundbar top panel showing the push button on top of the unit

On top of the unit, 7 push-control buttons will let you raise, lower or mute the volume. There is also a special 3D sound AMBEO button, a multi-function button, a source select button, and a power button. Overall, the buttons have a nice feel to them. They feel stable and are not likely to break easily, which is always appreciated for a premium product like this one in case you misplace or lose the remote.

In the box, Sennheiser includes an impressive microphone for calibrating the soundbar with your room, a power cable, an HDMI cable, and a remote that feels solid and comfortable in our hands. Overall, the design and build quality of the AMBEO with all the included accessories are outstanding and well-thought-out.

angled view of the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with internal dolby atmos speakers exposed

Features & Technology

Sennheiser held nothing back when it engineered the technology for the AMBEO. To create the 3D Dolby Atmos surround sound experience from a single soundbar, Sennheiser employs the latest virtualization Fraunhofer technology that captures the unique characteristics of your environment for a more spacious experience. The AMBEO then uses that acoustic information to reconstruct a virtual surround sound installation in your room, which places you at the center of the action. 

Next, the engineers pulled out all the stops with some very impressive speaker drivers. Behind the grill, there are a total of 13 independent high-end drivers that work with Sennheiser’s advanced AMBEO technology to create the experience of virtual speakers positioned all around your room. 

9 front-facing speakers provide the left, center, and right channels for room-filling sound, while 2 speakers on the sides provide the rear-channels that will fire sound all around you, and 2 height-channel speakers on top of the bar fire sound upward for that top-to-bottom sense of vertical elevation in the sound field. 

While there is an output to connect a sub, you don’t need to buy one for this soundbar. This sleek all-in-one design is capable of reproducing extreme bass all on its own.

Powered by 13 high-end drivers, the AMBEO can present audio across the frequency range from 30Hz to 20kHz. There are (6x) 4-inch long-throw woofers that will reproduce deep 30Hz bass that only an external subwoofer would be able to produce, and (5x) 1-inch aluminum dome tweeters, plus (2x) 3.5-inch full-range drivers on the top corners cover your room in high-fidelity sound. This gives you 5.1.4 channels of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D surround sound plus a single channel for the sub-bass frequencies — all coming out of just the AMBEO. 

close up shot of right dolby atmos enabled speaker on the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar

But, it gets even better. While the bass coming out is impressive, bass junkies can add a subwoofer if you need more than 30Hz. If you already have a sub, just connect it to the AMBEO’s pre-out. We think adding a sub is the best way to get the immersive low-end rumble experience below 30Hz that’s just as exhilarating as going to the movies. 

However, if you live in an apartment, a condo, or a townhome where you share a wall with neighbors, we think it’s really cool that this sound bar is capable of reproducing such great low-end without connecting a sub. Don’t get us wrong though, 30Hz is still pretty powerful low-end that you will definitely feel. You could bother the neighbors if you share a wall, or if the building isn’t sound-proofed properly. For this, we used “night mode” to help tame the low-end energy.

image of the sennheiser smart control app next to the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos

“Night mode” neutralizes the dynamics of the sound coming out of the bar for late-night television viewing, so you can watch peacefully while everyone else stays asleep. For us, this feature came in handy not only at night but also in the townhome environment where we demoed this soundbar. Super cool!

You’ll also be able to control the AMBEO with your TV’s remote, which means no more fumbling around with multiple remotes just to perform simple operations like raising and lowering the volume. If you have a newer TV, most support HDMI-ARC, so all you’ll have to do is make the connection. 

There’s support for WI FI, Bluetooth version 4.0, UPnP, Google Chromecast, and NFC too, which opens up plenty of options to stream music directly to the soundbar. A cool thing about NFC is that you can stream audio to the AMBEO just by holding your phone up to the soundbar. While we wish this soundbar included more smart control features with popular voice assistants, the ARC connection helped us get around this. We enjoyed using this feature with the Siri remote that comes with the Apple TV.

Another great feature is support for the newer enhanced version of HDMI ARC known as eARC. eARC is a new technology with higher bandwidth that allows true Dolby Atmos to be transmitted out to compatible devices and with just a simple software update using the Sennheiser Smart Control App, the AMBEO is ready for the future. 

The Sennheiser Smart Control App also lets you dial in specific EQ settings and presets so you can tailor the sound for a personalized studio-grade experience. Both the Smart Control App and the remote control that comes with the AMBEO have special sound modes that let you conveniently optimize the sound coming out of the AMBEO to better suit the content you’re watching. This feature made our experience with movies, sports, and music more immersive.

While these features are impressive, the proof is in the pudding. In the next section, we’ll put this high-performance soundbar and its advanced technology to the test. We’ll also show you how to get the most out of some of these useful features.  

close up shot of the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos on top of a piece of furniture in a well decorated room

Performance

If you’re just getting started with Dolby Atmos, you can experience all the movies and TV shows with your favorite streaming service. A quick google search is all it takes to get a list of all the great Dolby Atmos content available. 

However, fans of Netflix and Amazon Prime will have it the easiest when it comes to finding Dolby Atmos content. Pro tip: all you have to do is type “Dolby Atmos” into the search field on either platform, and you’ll see every movie and TV show encoded with the new surround sound format. Fans of Disney+ or iTunes will have to search google for a comprehensive list of Dolby Atmos content, but we were really impressed with the amount of Dolby Atmos content that’s already available on Disney+.

Setting up the AMBEO is about as simple as it gets. After we plugged in the power supply, we began the calibration process that tunes the AMBEO to the specific acoustics of your room. We connected the included microphone to the mic input on the front panel and positioned the mic across the room into our seating position. We appreciated seeing the long length of the cable that Sennheiser provided with the microphone system. This should be long enough for almost any sized home theater room to position the microphone precisely with plenty of room.

The room we tested the AMBEO in was a typical open floor plan living room with a listening space of about 12 feet wide by 16 feet deep and a 9-foot tall ceiling. The AMBEO’s OLED screen on the front-panel greeted us with clear instructions and walked us through the entire process in just 5 minutes.

close up shot of the Sennheiser ambeo soundbar's OLED display displaying the the "hello."

Getting the Sennheiser Smart Control App connected with the AMBEO was also a breeze. All we had to do to initialize the connection between the app and the AMBEO was to follow a few simple steps. The Smart Control App completely walked us through the handshake process. Holding down two buttons together on top of the AMBEO for 2 seconds when prompted by the app completed the entire process in a matter of seconds. After that, we were up and running using our phone with Bluetooth, Chromecast, NFC, and access to customizable EQ presets within the app. 

First, we demoed the AMBEO with an optical output from the TV to the soundbar, which does not present Dolby Atmos. Even without Atmos, this soundbar presents great room-filling sound and big bass. Then, we made the necessary connections to experience the full Dolby Atmos effect without a subwoofer. Finally, we added a sub for comparison.

Without Dolby Atmos, one of the first things we tried was a scene from Ibiza, which is a romantic comedy on Netflix that features a lot of big bass pumping EDM music. We used the Smart Control App to toggle between the audio optimization modes to further enhance the presentation. Even without Dolby Atmos or a sub, we were impressed with the room-filling sound that came out of the AMBEO. 

About 30 minutes into the movie, there’s a scene where a famous DJ performs a set in front of a large crowd while the main characters dance and enjoy the music. While there wasn’t any 3D sound presented during this scene, we used the Smart Control App to A/B-test the “AMBEO” button on and off so we could hear what Sennheiser’s special technology would do during this scene, and we have to say — we were very impressed with the spacious soundstage and the level of immersion we experienced. 

The sound coming out of the bar with the AMBEO mode deactivated was clear and dynamic. However, when we activated the AMBEO mode on, there was a noticeable improvement in the overall presentation. The soundstage opened up a lot wider with a sense of presentation that sounded more natural and multidimensional. The bass frequencies in this scene made the music and the surrounding environment feel more immersive as though we were there in the crowd dancing with the characters. 

screenshot of the Sennheiser Smart Control app displaying the EQ adjustments screen for adjusting the AMBEO 3D sound
screenshot of the Sennheiser Smart Control app displaying the EQ adjustments screen for adjusting the AMBEO 3D sound

When you buy from Audio Advice, we’re also including an exclusive “Tips & Tricks - How to set up Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar" video, available only to Audio Advice customers. This video will give you some additional key tricks, including how to get the best sound for your room, and a few other tips.

During the scenes where energetic music was playing, we toggled the “Music” mode right from the Smart Control App on our phone which changed the sound, noticeably. We enjoyed dialing in our EQ adjustments for a studio-grade experience that we could tailor to our preferences. We also toggled Sennheiser’s “Movie” mode from the Smart Control App during scenes without music. We noticed this audio optimization mode automatically enhanced the clarity of the dialogue coming out of the soundbar without adjusting anything. It improved the soundstage for a more cinematic experience that’s similar to a real movie theater. 

Overall, we were impressed with the level of immersion we experienced coming out of just the AMBEO, even without Dolby Atmos or a subwoofer connected. After experiencing the improvements, we continued watching the rest of the movie with the AMBEO mode always turned on, because it was difficult going back without it.

Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos on top of a piece of furniture in a well decorated room

To get the true 3D Dolby Atmos experience, we connected an Apple TV 4K to one of the AMBEO’s HDMI inputs and ran a second HDMI cable from the AMBEO’s eARC supported “HDMI TV” output and into our TV. Even though our TV was older and did not have eArc, we liked the way the connections let us plug in an Apple TV directly to get Atmos.

One of the first clips we tried out with true Dolby Atmos encoding was a scene from the Pixar movie classic, Monsters, Inc. About 18 minutes in, there’s a scene where the monsters are performing their job duties frightening kids around the world inside their energy-producing factory. Pretty soon, one of the monsters gets contaminated by a child’s sock that gets stuck in the hairs on the monster’s back, and a special task-force quickly swoops in by helicopter to the contaminated monster's rescue. 

At about the 18:12 mark, before the helicopter even entered the scene, we could hear the rotor blades coming into the scene from behind us. As soon as the helicopter entered the scene, we heard the sound of the rotor blades above us repositioning into the center of our sound field as we watched the helicopter fly over and then into the center of the screen. The AMBEO did a great job recreating the elevation in our soundstage that fully immersed us in a three-dimensional field of sound. Wow!

Even though we were already impressed with the deep 30Hz bass coming out of the ABMEO soundbar by itself, we connected a sub to it for comparison and streamed Dolby Atmos content with Disney+. 

Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos on top of a piece of furniture in a well decorated room

We chose a scene from Season 1, Chapter 1 of The Mandalorian. If you fast-forward to about 30 minutes in, there’s a great battle scene with ray guns firing shots from all directions. At about 29:00 minutes in, the Mandalorian main-character and a Droid team up against a band of enemy mercenaries. As soon as the Droid fired his ray gun at the enemy, we heard the laser beam fly right over us, which ended in an explosion that comes across really well even without a sub. However, when we added a subwoofer, the impact of laser beams and explosions enhanced our experience with a deeper chest-punching impact. 

During our testing, we found the AMBEO was so good at presenting a three-dimensional Atmos soundstage with deep 30Hz bass that adding a sub is not needed. The onslaught of lasers firing from all directions in the AMBEO’s sound field fully immersed us in this battle scene without a sub. Both the AMBEO’s (6x) 4-inch long-throw woofers, and it’s larger size means it will present significantly deeper bass than your average soundbar.

However, if you want chest-punching low-end or even bone-crushing bottom-end weight, we think adding a subwoofer to the AMBEO is a hair-raising combination that will deliver the truest 5.1.4 surround experience and the most goosebumps. Of course, the impact you get will depend on the subwoofer you connect it to. But when connected to a decent sub, we think it’s great having the option to add this level of immersion to the experience — even if it's not required.

angled view of Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos

Overall Recommendation

Soundbars are one of the largest categories in the home electronics industry today. With all the exciting new surround sound movies and TV shows coming out, this trend is here to stay.

We know from talking with our customers that people want better sound than their TV speakers can provide. However, not everyone has the space for an entire system of separate speakers and a home theater receiver. The Sennheiser AMBEO can deliver impressive performance without having to spend more money on additional speakers or a subwoofer. This all-in-one surround sound system makes immersive high-end sound simple and convenient. We think it does an amazing job re-creating the experience of a complete surround sound installation without having to wire your room. 

At this price-point, the AMBEO doesn’t appear to be priced for those on a budget. But, when you consider the costs of adding surrounds, rears, and a sub to present this level of 3D sound immersion with other Atmos soundbars, the Sennheiser AMBEO packs a lot of value and performance into a single device. 

If you want the best performance available for both cinema and music in an all-in-one sophisticated device, the technology and immersive Dolby Atmos sound coming out of the AMBEO is hard to beat. For less than $2,500, it’s one of the most impressive-sounding soundbars we’ve ever seen.

HIGH NOTES UNPACKED

Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos on top of a piece of furniture and the front panel removed

Powered By 13 High-end Speakers

AMBEO throws sound all over the room for studio-grade surround sound. 9 front-facing speakers provide left, center, and right channels for room-filling sound while 2 side-speakers provide the rear-channels. 2 height-channel speakers fire sound up for an exhilarating sense of elevation. 

close up shot of the internal dolby atmos speakers exposed inside Sennheiser ambeo soundbar

Deep 30Hz Bass

(6x) 4-inch long-throw woofers reproduce deep 30Hz bass that only an external subwoofer would be able to produce. Your movies, gaming, music, and more will take on a sound that brings you much closer to the feeling of being there — even without connecting a sub.

Sennheiser ambeo soundbar with dolby atmos on top of a piece of furniture in a well decorated room

Convenient All-in-one Design

If you like keeping your living room clean and simple without any compromises to your studio-grade experience, AMBEO is hard to beat. Sennheiser gives you 5.1.4 channels of Dolby Atmos surround sound plus a single channel for the sub-bass frequencies — all coming out of just the AMBEO. 

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