Cinema by ear with Dolby Atmos: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus fills the room

Cinema audio with Dolby Atmos
The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus fills the room

Written by Klaus Wedekind

In the size category, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is one of the best soundbars to fit under your TV. It delivers excellent sound in every discipline, evokes respectable virtual surround sound with Dolby Atmos and is extremely versatile.

Three years ago, Sennheiser introduced the Ambeo Soundbar Max, which was a home cinema enthusiast’s dream but also very expensive at €2,500. With the Ambeo Soundbar Plus, the premium soundbar has now received a more compact and €1,000 cheaper successor. In practical testing, the newcomer convinces with very good sound for movies, series, games and music. In addition, the speakers with Dolby Atmos produce amazingly good virtual surround sound that is very versatile with a wide range of equipment.

The exciting inner workings of the subwoofer.

(Photo: Sennheiser)

With dimensions of 105.1 x 7.7 x 12.1cm, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus perfectly fits a 50-inch TV. There are a total of seven speakers housed in the slim housing, five 2-inch full-range drivers and two 4-inch tweeters. According to the manufacturer, the soundbar should represent a full 7.4.1 home cinema system.

This is made possible by Sennheiser’s Ambeo technology, which creates virtual surround sound. If movies or series offer Dolby Atmos, this goes so far that ideally you can experience 3D sound as if real satellite speakers were distributed in the room.

Many contact options

The speaker’s connectivity options leave nothing to be desired. In addition to the TV HDMI (eARC) connection, there are other HDMI sockets, an optical input, a USB connection, AUX sockets and the option to connect an external subwoofer via cable. There is also a LAN connection if WLAN is not available. External devices can also be connected via Bluetooth. The Ambeo Soundbar Plus is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, TIDAL Connect and Google Chromecast.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus Test-3.jpg

Almost all devices can be connected to the amplifier.

(photo: kwe)

Sennheiser provides a full remote for control, but the speakers can also be controlled via the touch surfaces on top or an associated app. And if you like, you can also activate Google or Amazon digital assistants for voice control.

Virtual surround sound

In order to ensure optimal surround sound, sound amplifiers place the speakers almost in the room, whose acoustics you need to know. That’s why it’s best to do the calibration first after plugging it in. The speaker measures its surroundings by making different sounds and evaluating the reflections received via the built-in microphones.

Xbox Series X and the latest Apple TV 4K, both of which support Dolby Atmos, were used for testing. Since a connected TV could not do this, audio from the devices was routed directly to the soundbar using an HDMI switch (Feintech VAX04101). The two HDMI ports are not alternative because their 2.0 standard is not compatible with Dolby Atmos.

Great sound

The sound of the Ambeo Soundbar Plus is indeed cinema to the ears. It’s very clear and very defined, as is the case with Sennheiser’s over-ear headphones. There is nothing muddy, even at high volumes there does not seem to be any interference. The sounds are clear and crisp, every detail is heard and spread across a large area, especially when the Ambeo is turned on. The bass is also quite powerful for a soundbar, but an extra external subwoofer is still recommended for depth.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus Test-2.jpg

There are touch surfaces and a remote control to control.

(photo: kwe)

In the test, the new Ambeo Sub from Sennheiser was responsible for the bass. It’s the perfect complement, as it doesn’t make a strong buzz, but works in a restrained and controlled way. This means that when action is called, it lets it go off without rattling. In quieter scenes, you’ll hardly notice it in front of a TV, though its very low frequencies are present. Unfortunately, there are about 700 extra euros due for the sub.

The versatility of the speakers is amazing, which not only sound excellent with games, movies, and series, but can also easily replace your living room stereo system. The amplifier usually selects the best settings independently pretty well. But you can also select a movie, news, sports, music or neutral playback in the app or via the remote control. It is also possible to emphasize speech or reduce bass in night mode.

Everything has to fit Dolby Atmos

When playing games, movies or series using Dolby Atmos, the speaker produces surround sound. For this, however, the TV must be placed appropriately and there must be as few obstructions as possible in the way of the sound. The default 7.4.1 system can only be guessed in a corner under a sloping roof, as in a test room.

It was only when, after a temporary diversion—fortunately the TV had a platform with wheels—a waterfall rushed across the room, did you hear the car behind you or the debris from the explosions fly over your head. Even under ideal conditions, a soundbar can’t replace a true surround system, but it does come pretty close.

All in all, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is currently one of the best soundbars you can buy—especially if you’re looking for a compact surround sound solution. However, it is quite expensive and before you buy it, you should think carefully about whether your TV, player and space have the requirements to use all the capabilities of this versatile soundbar.

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