In a surprise to practically no-one, Sennheiser has finally officially announced its new Ambeo soundbar – the Ambeo Soundbar Plus.
The 'Plus' in the name could be a bit misleading, because the new soundbar is actually significantly smaller and cheaper than the original Ambeo soundbar. To address the potential confusion, the original Ambeo soundbar has been renamed Ambeo Soundbar Max.
Despite the Ambeo Soundbar Plus's comparatively compact dimensions, it manages to pack in a 7.1.4 sound system. In fact, Sennheiser claims it is the world's first 7.1.4 standalone soundbar – i.e. one that doesn't rely on a separate subwoofer or satellite speakers in order complete its channel count (though there is now a subwoofer in the range, more on which below).
As you can see in the exploded diagram above, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus has three forward-facing drivers, a side-firing driver at each of its ends, two up-firing drivers and two up-firing woofers. If you're wondering how that equates to 7.1.4, you're not alone, but Sennheiser's Max Voigt explained to us that 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.
Sennheiser has said that the Ambeo Soundbar Plus uses the same 3D sound processing as the original Ambeo, and Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and 360 Reality Audio are all supported. There's also a new Self-Calibration feature that uses four microphones built into the soundbar's chassis to optimise the sound to your room.
As expected, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect and Chromecast are all built in, as is support for Alexa and Siri. In terms of physical connections, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus has an HDMI eARC sockets, plus two further HDMI inputs with passthrough. Slightly disappointingly, these inputs are not HDMI 2.1 so won't support features such as 4K 120Hz.
As for the price, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus will cost £1299 / $1500 / AU$2400 when it launches on 22nd September. That makes it vastly more affordable than the Ambeo Soundbar Max, which is currently £2199 / $2500 / AU$4000, but it's still much more expensive than the Sonos Arc (£769 / $899 / AU$1499). We'll obviously be comparing the new Ambeo Soundbar Plus to its larger sibling and its Sonos and Sony rivals just as soon as we have access to a review sample.
Sennheiser has also announced a new Ambeo Sub, pictured above. Combining a 350W class D amplifier with an 8-inch driver, Sennheiser says that the wireless Ambeo Sub delivers "thundering bass" that reaches down to 27Hz.
Like the Ambeo Soundbar Plus, the Ambeo Sub is capable of Self-Calibration, this time via a single integrated microphone. Interestingly, up to four Ambeo Subs can be used in a single system. The cost will probably put most people off going that far, though: each Ambeo Sub will cost £599 / $700 / AU$1200.
The one to beat: here's our Sonos Arc review