Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled its latest soundbar, the Panorama 3, which is the renowned audio company’s first stand-alone Dolby Atmos speaker.
With a 6.5cm ultra low profile form, the Panorama 3 is designed to sneak beneath TVs without blocking the screen, though it also includes rigging in the box should you prefer to wall-mount. At 121cm wide it should pair well with screens upwards of 55-inches. The convex front face is covered in a wrap-around cloth, while the top surface features a perforated metal grille and capacitive ‘hidden until lit’ buttons in the centre.
Inside are 13 individual driver units driven by ten 40 Watt amplifiers. Across the front, in a typical LCR configuration, each channel group includes twin 5cm midrange drivers partnered by fully decoupled 19mm titanium-dome tweeters.
Meanwhile, two angled 5cm drivers are on the top to deliver height effects. Unusually, the upper surface also houses twin 10cm subwoofers mounted in an acoustic enclosure. Bowers & Wilkins says that by placing the woofers in this way, the Panorama 3 can achieve a "deep, extended bass with no need for an external subwoofer".
A single HDMI on the back provides ARC/eARC connectivity, and an optical digital input is also provided for older TVs. As the Panorama 3 doesn't have a dedicated remote, Bowers & Wilkins has included technology for the soundbar to learn key TV remote control commands when the optical input is used so that all users can enjoy a unified experience.
For streaming, the Panorama 3 includes AirPlay 2, aptX Adaptive Bluetooth and Spotify Connect. For high-resolution listening, the Panorama 3 also supports the Bowers & Wilkins Music App, which also gives listeners access to streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Last.fm, Qobuz, Soundcloud and TuneIn, with the number of supported platforms set to expand later this year. Amazon Alexa is also built-in for voice control.
Keeping things simple, the app includes treble and bass control but doesn't offer additional modes to change depending on the content you listen to. Bowers & Wilkins say that The Panorama 3 will always automatically decode content appropriately, with confirmation of the audio codec given in the app.
Despite audio format support including Dolby Atmos in both its Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus versions, at launch, this doesn't extend to rival immersive codec DTS:X. However, Bowers & Wilkins seems keen to stress that the Panorama 3 has been designed to be upgraded over time, with multi-room capability planned for introduction shortly after launch to make it compatible with both other Panorama soundbars, Zeppelins or Formation products in a multiroom system. Perhaps DTS:X support will one day be added.
The Panorama 3 is available from today, 3rd March, priced at £899 / $999 (around AU$1666). Yes, that's the same price as the class-leading Sonos Arc. And yes, we'll be comparing the two Dolby Atmos soundbars just as soon as we're able.
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