After much speculation, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is now official. The "world's first" 7.1.4 standalone soundbar promises to be a smaller, more affordable version of the immense Ambeo soundbar (now renamed the Ambeo Soundbar Max).
Sennheiser has also unveiled the first Ambeo subwoofer – the 8-inch Ambeo Sub – which aims to add "thundering bass" to the Ambeo Soundbar Plus's "audiophile-quality" sound.
We loved the original Ambeo soundbar, awarding it five stars on the basis of its "rich, natural sound" and "convincing" Dolby Atmos effect. But its considerable size and price made it unattainable for many.
Is the Ambeo about to go mainstream and compete with the likes of the Sonos Arc? Read on for all the official details of the 2022 Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus...
The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus can be pre-ordered from the 1st September 2022 and will be available from 22nd September 2022. The same goes for the Ambeo Sub.
The new devices took centre stage at the company's IFA 2022 event on 1st September, where attendees were promised "an exciting new product announcement" that would reveal Sennheiser's vision for the future of audio.
Sennheiser had previously teased a couple of new products at its virtual Consumer Innovation briefing in March, so we knew some sort of Ambeo device was on the cards.
The original Ambeo launched at £2200 / $2500 / AU$4000, putting it out of reach for many.
The new Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus cuts that price almost in half. It's set to debut at £1299 (around $1550 / AU$2200). The Ambeo Sub will set you back £599 (around $100 / AU$1000).
The Ambeo Soundbar Plus will likely go head to head with the current Dolby Atmos class-leader Sonos, with its flagship Arc priced at £899 / $899 / AU$1499 and mid-range virtual Atmos soundbar the Sonos Beam Gen 2 at £449 / $450 / AU$699.
Measuring 127cm wide and 14cm tall, the original Ambeo soundbar is a massive slab of sound, and we salute those who have been brave enough to wall mount this 18.5kg beast.
There's no official confirmation of the size of the new Ambeo Soundbar Plus, but a leaked Amazon listing suggests that it measures 105cm wide and 8cm tall. Sennheiser simply says that the new model is "more compact", and therefore closer in size to the Sonos Arc (114cm wide, 9cm tall).
It's no surprise that Sennheiser has opted to downsize. Earlier this year, the company sent out a product concept survey to customers that included images of two smaller potential models lined up next to the Ambeo Soundbar Max for comparison.
Peel back the Soundbar Plus's premium fabric grille and you'll find three forward-facing drivers, a side-firing driver at each of its ends, two up-firing drivers and two up-firing woofers.
Sennheiser says the Ambeo Soundbar Plus uses beam-forming to create phantom speakers from its nine physical drivers. So, for example, one of the front-firing speakers might combine with one of the side speakers and one of the top-mounted ones to create a phantom height speaker.
The Soundbar Plus is presented as an all-in-one solution, but if you want more bass you can add up to four Ambeo Subs (more on that next).
The original Ambeo Soundbar Max (previously known as the Ambeo Soundbar) has endured because it appeals to those who would like a serious surround system, but simply don't have the space for it. Smaller soundbars don't usually deliver the same colossal level of power and immersion – but the plucky Ambeo Soundbar Plus seems to want to give it a go.
Billed as "the world's first 7.1.4 standalone soundbar", the newest member of the Ambeo family is said to be "driven by the same groundbreaking 3D sound" as its predecessor. Self-calibration tech uses four microphones built into the soundbar's chassis to position seven virtual speakers around the listener, plus four more overhead, in hopes of providing the "spaciousness of a movie theatre at home".
Just like the original Ambeo, the Soundbar Plus supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Sony 360 Reality Audio and MPEG-H Audio. Users can even upmix stereo content to virtual surround (there are three presets for this: Light, Standard, and Boost). The Soundbar Plus also promises "seamless" integration with Alexa Built-in and Apple Siri.
Sennheiser is now offering its own wireless sub, too. The 8-inch Ambeo Sub, powered by a 350W Class-D amplifier, features "advanced self-calibration". Up to four can be added to the Soundbar Plus (one in each corner of the room). That might sound excessive but it could deliver perfectly even bass.
The original Ambeo received a significant update to its operating system at the start of this year, adding Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect to its already exhaustive connectivity options. The Soundbar Plus uses the same Ambeo OS platform and smart app, so you're guaranteed AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect.
In terms of connections, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus has an HDMI eARC socket, plus two further HDMI inputs with passthrough. Although, slightly disappointingly, these inputs are not HDMI 2.1 so won't support features such as 4K 120Hz.
With an eight-decade legacy as a pivotal player in the world of pro-audio, Sennheiser is a brand with the confidence to do things a bit differently concerning its consumer goods. No product exemplifies this more than the company's immense Ambeo Soundbar, which caused quite an impact when it was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public.
Since then, we've been hoping for a smaller, more affordable version that would open up the almost-mythical Ambeo to a wider audience (16 audio and AV products we want to see in 2022). It seems that our prayers have been answered in the new Ambeo Soundbar Plus. If it can come close to delivering the immersion and power of its older sibling, it could be huge hit. As ever, we'll bring a full and frank review very soon.
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