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The Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus was announced at IFA 2022 and is the more affordable follow-up to the AMBEO Soundbar, which launched in 2019.

It is a smaller and more affordable soundbar that claims to be the world’s first 7.1.4 standalone soundbar.

However, unlike when the Sennheiser AMBEO launched, nowadays, there are multiple premium-priced soundbars. Sennheiser is correct in its claims that this is the world’s first 7.1.4 standalone soundbar. But you have excellent alternative options, including an 11.1.4 channel Samsung soundbar system or a  7.1.2 Sony HT-A7000 standalone soundbar.

Specification

SpecificationAMBEO Soundbar PlusAMBEO Soundbar Max
Amplifier9x class D amplifiers13x class D Amplifiers
Total audio power400W (RMS)500 W (peak)
Total number of speakers913
Audio processingQuad Core 1.8GhZ SOCDualCore 1,2 GhZ ARM Cortex A7, 2x Dual Core 500 MHz SHARC DSP
Woofers2x 4" Cellulose Cone Driver6x 4" Cellulose Sandwich Cones
Full range7x 2" Aluminum Cone Fullrange Driver2x 3,5" Top Facing Full Range
TweetersN/A6x 4" Cellulose Sandwich Cones
Ports1x HDMI eARC (HDMI 2.1)
2x HDMI 2.0a
1x S/PDIF, sampling rates: up to 192 kH
1x Stereo RCA sockets
1x USB socket (type A), for power supply for accessories (external devices): 5 V, 1 A;
eARC (HDMI 2.1)
1x S/PDIF, sampling rates: up to 192kHz
1x Stereo RCA sockets
Subwoofer1x Mono RCA, max. 2 V1x Mono RCA, max. 2 V
Microphone4x built-in far field high-precision microphones1 x 2.5 mm jack socket, mono
WiFi / EthernetIEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax 2 x 2 MIMO
1x RJ-45 Ethernet socket
IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2 x 2 MIMO
1x RJ-45 socket, 100/10 MBit
Bluetooth5.0 Classic/BLE4.2, class 1, BR/EDR, BLE
DimensionsApprox. 105.1 x 7.7 x 12.1 cm - with feet
Approx. 105.1 x 7.5 x 12.1 cm - without feet
approx. 126.5 x 13.5 x 17.1 cm incl. feet
approx. 126.5 x 12.5 x 17.1 cm without feet
WeightApprox. 6.3 kgapprox. 18.5 kg
Price£1,299.00RRP: £2,199.00
£1,799.00

Design

My initial testing was done in my front living room, where I have an old Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar. That was already a decent-sized soundbar, but this dwarfed it and introduced some difficulties with placement.

I have an LG C1 OLED, and the stand doesn’t add any height, so the screen sits almost flush on my cabinet, and the cabinet only has a small cavity in the centre for AV equipment. The Bose was just short enough that it worked in front of the TV, but the Sennheiser is too big and blocks a portion of the display.

It is considerably shorter than the original AMBEO, so as long as you have some clearance below your TV, you should be OK, but it is something you need to factor in when buying it. For testing, I had to use a bench in front of the cabinet.

This has a good selection of inputs, but they could have done better. You have the essential HDMI eARC port, which allows the soundbar to receive the best quality audio formats back from the TV. You then get an additional two HDMI 2.0a ports. This, unfortunately, means you would want to plug a console like the PS5 into the TV and use eARC because the HDMI will not support 4K gaming at 120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR), or 8K.

You also have a USB plug that’s dedicated to power and can be used to power something like the Amazon Fire TV 4K Max.

You then have line-in and optical for any other equipment you may have.

There is an Ethernet port, but they don’t say how fast it is. The original AMBEO uses 100/10 Mbit. Interestingly, the WiFi is faster with WiFi 6. With this only handling audio, I doubt network connectivity speeds are going to be a major issue.

Finally, the soundbar can connect wirelessly to the Ambeo Sub. Bizarrely, you can connect up to four subwoofers. You can also connect this via RCA to a normally powered subwoofer which would work out much more cost-efficient. Just for fun, I did some testing with the 50kg 500W 12″ Monolith V2.

I find it a bit weird that you can add four wireless subwoofers, but there are no rear speaker options. I can’t help but think this might be something that will change in the future, and you will be able to add a mixture of four wireless speakers. This is complete speculation on my part, though.

Set-Up

Like most smart devices nowadays, all the set-up was done via an app. This uses Sennheiser’s Smart Control which is also the same app they use for Sennheiser earphones. I like having everything under one app, so this was a pleasant surprise for me.

Set up was simple; it immediately recognised the soundbar and then followed the step by step set up procedure.

To get the 3D audio to work properly, you will need to calibrate the speaker for the room. Unlike other speakers and soundbars, there is no additional accessory for this; it has four built-in far field high-precision microphones.

App Settings

There is not a great deal to do in the app, but it has some useful settings.

You can configure the central channel as well as add a subwoofer. You also have various settings for the input, including things like lip sync and CEC control.

On the main page, you have voice enhancement and different sound mounds to select from. The AMBEO toggle is the main thing that you may want to toggle on or off. This attempts to create 3D audio from non-surround sound content.

Streaming connectivity is OK, and it does everything I personally want. However, it falls short of the extensive options you get from Sonos. This works with Alexa and Google Assistant. You then have Chromecast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and Tiday Connect.

Teething Issues

I had a couple of frustrating issues with this soundbar. I suspect these will be easily fixed in the future.

Using the LG C1 OLED and eArc, with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max plugged into the TV, the app displays the PCM as 2-channel only. This problem has been and seems to affect quite a few users. It is possible this is just a glitch in the app itself. I fixed the solution by plugging the Amazon Fire TV into the soundbar directly, and everything worked perfectly.

I also couldn’t program the Fire TV to control the soundbar. I suspect this is partly because it is a new soundbar, and I hope that it is a problem that will be fixed in the near future.

Sound Quality

One of the reasons why I am not overly keen on soundbars for my personal use is the lack of bass. The flat profile of soundbars means there is not enough room for a decent-sized woofer that can produce enough low-end oomph.

This isn’t going to compete with a system with a dedicated subwoofer, but it is certainly more than competent for the vast majority of the things I watch. During my time with it, I would say I only felt like I wanted a subwoofer when I was watching a big action movie such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The bass was good, but I just wanted more so I could feel more immersed in the action.  

I did pair it up with my Monolith V2 subwoofer, and this obviously improved things considerably, but I don’t think anyone wanting a soundbar is going to buy a subwoofer that large. 

As far as surround sound goes, this does a surprisingly good job. I have always been a bit sceptical of these devices that claim to do surround sound without physically having surround sound speakers. It is not as good as my dedicated 5.1.2 system, but it is vastly better than a normal soundbar or 2.1/2.0 system. It is hard to put in words, but for me, it is not so much that you can tell the sound is coming from behind or from top to bottom, but just a feeling that the sound is around you rather than coming directly from one position. 

The sound quality, in general, is excellent. This can go loud without sounding like it is starting to struggle. I don’t always listen to my TV at loud levels, but I appreciate it for some movies. There was no obvious distortion, even with the soundbar placed on a wooden bench. 

I don’t have a PS5 or Xbox Series X, but I did plug my gaming PC into my TV and used eArc for the audio back to the soundbar. As you’d expect, the audio performance for games is equally as good as it is for movies. The AMBEO feature also helps some games sound more immersive.

For music, it sounds superb, but I am in the middle of reviewing the Audio Pro A48 active floor-standing speakers. These are being marketed as a soundbar killer, and the 2.0 audio they produce is better than a soundbar. In particular, the bass that the speaker can produce is vastly superior. However, If you are looking at the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar, you likely want the fancy surround sound features for movies and games, and the Audio Pro A48 just can’t compete here at all.

Price and Alternative Options

The Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus is priced at £1299, while the Sennheiser AMBEO Max is £17999.

The Sennheiser AMBEO Sub is an additional £595

The Samsung HW-Q990B is the same price. This has the advantage of a dedicated subwoofer and rear channels.

Alternatively, there is the Sony HT-A7000 at £1,299, which is also a 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos/ DTS:X Soundbar.

The Audio Pro A48 floor-standing speakers are worth mentioning as an alternative. They don’t have fancy surround sound features, but the quality of the audio for the 2.0 system is superior to soundbars in general. It is a little cheaper at £1200 and

Overall

The Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus is by far the best soundbar I have used, but it is also by far the most expensive.

I have always found soundbars a good upgrade to the audio from your TV, but they have rarely competed with proper surround systems. This feels quite different, I am not going to say it is better than a dedicated surround system, but the level of performance is good enough that it is a viable alternative without all the hassle of multiple speakers and all the cabling required.

I did experience a few teething issues with this soundbar, which is not ideal for such an expensive soundbar. However, I am confident that this will be fixed sooner or later. I have been a little lenient on my overall score because I believe these issues are minor and fixable.

Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus Soundbar Review Rating

Summary

The Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar Plus is an outstanding soundbar. It is the first time I have used a soundbar where I felt like I didn’t need a proper surround sound system. You can improve performance via a subwoofer, and Sennheiser deserve extra credit for allowing you to use any powered sub via RCA.

Overall
90%
90%
  • Overall - 90%
    90%

Pros

  • Outstanding surround sound performance for a soundbar
  • Enough power that you can use it without the need for a subwoofer (or other additional speakers)
  • Optional wireless Sennheiser subwoofer, or use any powered sub via RCA

Cons

  • Minor teething issues with the app and remote control

Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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