To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: Less is “Plus”

Our Rating :
£1,299.00 from
Price when reviewed : £1299
inc VAT

Offering power and scale in a relatively compact package, the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus only seems expensive until you hear it


  • Big, immersive spatial audio
  • Good ergonomics
  • Ample control and connection options


  • Ambeo setting is too much of a good thing
  • Not exactly cheap

Ordinarily, shrinking a successful technology or product involves quite a lot of effort, but that’s not really the case with the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus. All Sennheiser has had to do to miniaturise its acclaimed and successful Ambeo Soundbar, is to take a product that’s the size of some furniture and turn it into something that’s obviously and recognisably the size of a soundbar.

Sennheiser being Sennheiser, this process has gone swimmingly. The Ambeo Soundbar Plus is of manageable size, is relatively affordable and performs beautifully. Where spatial audio is concerned, it’s about as convincing as reasonably sized single-speaker solutions get. It has scale and power, it has deftness and precision, it has sky-high detail levels and it creates an entirely convincing impression of spatial audio. Add in some great control options and predictably impressive build quality, and there’s really no downside to Ambeo Soundbar Plus ownership – as long as you don’t stare at your receipt for too long.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: What you need to know

The Sennheiser Ambeo Plus is, rather counterintuitively, the smaller of the company’s two-strong range of Ambeo Dolby Atmos soundbars. The original Ambeo – now rechristened Ambeo Max – has been acknowledged as the best single-speaker spatial audio solution ever since it launched in 2019. It’s also been acknowledged as both massive and massively expensive. So Sennheiser, very sensibly, has come up with a smaller, more affordable alternative. And here it is.

Smaller, though, is emphatically not the same as small, as the numbers attached to Ambeo Plus make all too apparent. How does 400 watts of power, delivered by nine discrete blocks of amplification, sound? How about nine individual speaker drivers? Doesn’t sound all that small, does it? And neither do dimensions of 1,051 x 121 x 75mm (WDH) and a weight of 6.3kg.

Still, that leaves plenty of room for both physical and wireless connections. The HDMI eARC socket is the most important of the lot, of course, but there are further options where HDMI, digital optical and stereo RCA inputs, among others, are concerned. And between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 and built-in Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast, wireless operation is as wide-ranging as it is painless.

Control options are extensive, too, with everything from voice assistants to a thoroughly well-specified control app available. There are touch controls and a remote handset, too, for those who like to get their bidding done the old-fashioned way.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: Price and competition

The Sennheiser Ambeo Plus costs £1,299 – and for once, here’s a product that seems immune to the entire concept of discounting. If you decide to buy it with its matching Ambeo Sub (£599) you might get a hint of a suggestion of a deal, but we’ll be discussing why you may well not need that extra bass wallop soon enough. So budget for spending £1,299 and you won’t be disappointed.

It almost goes without saying that this is proper money for a soundbar, even one with strong Dolby Atmos pretensions and offered by a brand with nothing to prove. Commit to spending this sort of cash and quite a few very credible alternatives from equally credible brands come onto your radar.

Samsung’s HW-Q990B, for example, costs pretty much exactly the same as the Sennheiser, and your money not only buys you a Dolby Atmos soundbar but a wireless subwoofer and a pair of wireless rear speakers, too. Yes, you’ll have more stuff to accommodate – but you should, in theory at least, get a fuller and more immersive sound.

If you want to keep the box count to a minimum, though, then Sony’s HT-A7000 bears serious consideration. It’s a fair bit bigger than the Sennheiser, true, but where the important stuff – audio performance – is concerned, it’s got an awful lot going for it. It’s a bit of a weird looker, in all honesty – which is not ideal when there’s so much of it – but if it’s Atmos sound with next-to-no effort required that you’re after, you need to hear this Sony.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: Design and features

The Ambeo Plus is not a particularly small soundbar, but everything’s relative, of course, and compared to the Ambeo Max it’s a tiddler. Unless your TV is smaller than 48in, the Ambeo Plus should look fine sitting beneath it. It’s only about a third of the weight of the Ambeo Max, too, so shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge to your shelves.

The standard of build and finish here is typically Sennheiser, which is another way of saying it’s impressive. The cabinet is primarily plastic, but it’s of the sturdy and tactile type that looks and feels of high quality. The acoustic cloth that wraps around the front, sides and back of the soundbar is tactile, too, and flawlessly applied. The overall level of construction is entirely appropriate for a product costing this sort of money (and unlike a few alternative designs we could mention, there are no glass elements that might reflect the light from the screen the soundbar is positioned beneath).

As far as the headline business of getting some Dolby Atmos spatial audio out, the Ambeo Plus uses its 400 watts of Class D amplification to power nine individual drivers. There are four facing upwards (two 102mm cellulose and two 51mm aluminium full-range items), two more of the 51mm drivers facing outwards, one at each end of the bar to provide some sonic width, and three more facing dead ahead. This is the arrangement from which Sennheiser intends to deliver a sensation of 7.1.4-channel spatial audio.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: Controls and connections

As far as both connections and control are concerned, your options are numerous. If it can’t be physically or wirelessly connected to the Ambeo Plus, and then really easily controlled… well, it’s almost certainly not worth listening to.

Control is available using the dedicated remote control handset, an appropriately chunky, full-function device, far preferable to the thin little credit card-sized alternatives many a rival design ships with. Yes, it could do with some backlighting, and then it would be perfect. There are a few capacitive touch controls on the top surface of the soundbar itself, too, if you prefer getting hands-on.

Or there’s the Sennheiser Smart Control app, which is available for both iOS and Android and proves stable and easy to use. All the key control options are covered, including input selection, volume level and EQ presets, plus some wider functionality. Here’s where you can check for firmware updates, and here’s where you can set up Amazon Alexa voice assistance (the Ambeo Plus features four nicely responsive far-field mics). The app also enables you to calibrate the soundbar to the specific environment in which you’ve positioned it. Setting up the bar this way using the app is both accurate and rapid.

Connectivity runs to Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi on the wireless front, with Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast and the “Connect” versions of both Spotify and Tidal all built in. There’s an HDMI eARC input, a couple more HDMI 2.0 sockets, digital optical that can handle anything up to 192kHz resolution, a pair of analogue stereo RCA inputs and an Ethernet socket for physical connections, as well as a USB-A slot and a pre-out for a subwoofer.

The HDMI eARC 2.1 input can accommodate Dolby Atmos in its more complex True HD format, and will also support DTS:X and Sony 360 Reality Audio object-based audio decoding. But to get the full 4K at 120Hz games console experience, the machine will have to be wired to your TV – and then you need to keep your fingers crossed that your television has more than one HDMI 2.1 socket in order to make an eARC connection to the Sennheiser.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: Sound quality

So yes, when you put it alongside the Ambeo Max or even some of its most obvious price-comparable rivals, the Ambeo Plus is noticeably small. But don’t imagine that means it’s not capable of filling even quite large rooms with sound, because it can, without seeming to make much of an effort. Balanced, absorbing and convincingly cinematic sound, what’s more.

It will come as no great surprise to learn it does its best work where scale, fidelity and immersive sonic soundstaging are concerned when given some native Dolby Atmos content to work with. Both Disney+ and Netflix seem to have gone all-in on the audio format, and if you have a UHD 4K Blu-ray player that can handle the format, well, that’s even better. But ultimately it doesn’t make all that much difference where you source your Dolby Atmos soundtracks from: the Sennheiser Ambeo Plus will put an authoritative, well-controlled rocket up them.

The power-packed, high-octane and beautifully realised soundtrack to James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari (or Le Mans ’66, depending on the territory in which you live) on 4K UHD Blu-ray makes the point in unequivocal terms. As far as presence and sheer scale are concerned, the Ambeo Plus punches well above its weight – and, what’s more, punches hard.

Certainly, you should have a long, critical listen to this soundbar before you decide to spend further on the optional subwoofer. The Sennheiser digs deep into the frequency range, hits with straight-edged precision and loads low-frequency information with detail and variation. It has absolutely no problem punching its way through this soundtrack’s gleeful low-end activity, but there’s as much velvet glove to its bass presence as there is iron fist: control is absolute, which means momentum is never compromised, and the amount of fine detail it lays out for your inspection is prodigious. The Ambeo Plus can kick right off when a soundtrack demands it, all right – but it’s no blunt instrument.

There’s similar poise, insight and straight-ahead positivity on display in the mid-range. Dialogue projects well ahead of the mechanical uproar of this movie’s soundtrack (especially important where Christian Bale’s Brummie accent is concerned), and voices are distinct, characterful and just as detail-packed as the bass that underpins them. There’s enough space in the Sennheiser’s presentation to allow conversational or even whispered dialogue to remain intelligible, and enough insight to make a speaker’s motivation and/or emotional state absolutely plain.

Up at the top of the frequency range, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus continues all the good work. When you bear in mind there are no dedicated tweeters in the driver array, treble sounds are remarkably crisp and vibrant: there’s proper crunch and bite to high-frequency sounds, and authentic substance. They’re controlled with just as much determination as the rest of the frequency range, though, so even when the going gets particularly full-on (or even if you just decide to see how loud this soundbar is capable of getting) there’s no hint of edginess or hardness to the treble here.

As far as frequency response and overall tonality are concerned, the Sennheiser just doesn’t put a foot wrong. There’s a sort of unity to its presentation that’s by no means a given when you’re talking about a speaker with so many individual drivers, a commonality of purpose through the frequency range. Nothing is overplayed, nothing is understated, and nothing is overlooked or undercooked. Coherent is probably too mild a word for the presentation here.

As far as the Sennheiser’s party piece is concerned, it’s safe to say the Ambeo Soundbar Plus is as convincing when it comes to the Dolby Atmos spatial audio effect as any soundbar around that doesn’t cost considerably more than this. The native Dolby Atmos soundtrack we’re dealing with is presented on a deep, wide soundstage with an appreciable height element to it – those upward-firing drivers seem well capable of doing the business in any room that doesn’t have a vaulted ceiling. Focus is good despite the need to create a wide-ranging and enveloping sound, and the movement of effects is described with real confidence. There’s no doubt the Ambeo Soundbar Max remains the gold standard for products of this type, but the Ambeo Soundbar Plus is capable enough to make its bigger sibling seem quite expensive.

To hear it at its best, it’s important to keep the Sennheiser’s Ambeo feature turned off. Listen to an Atmos soundtrack with it switched on and there’s no arguing with the effect it has on the soundstage – the presentation becomes even more spacious. But the soundbar’s focus becomes a little less rigorous, leading edges of sounds become a little vague, and the Sennheiser starts to sound a little less capable than it actually is. Ambeo is strictly for deployment when you fancy spatial audio action from non-Atmos content; its sound is large and immersive this way, even if it is a bit fuzzy around the edges. Best to give it a miss entirely when watching more understated content, though – it’s fighting a losing battle. It wants to make everything sound big, but ultimately it ends up sounding just a little confused.

Unlike quite a few nominal rivals, the Ambeo Soundbar Plus is a perfectly decent speaker when it comes to playing music. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie soundtrack or some stereo content streamed via Bluetooth, it successfully handles rhythmic expression (thanks to that low-end control) and keeps detail levels really high. Add in ample dynamic headroom and solid soundstaging and the Sennheiser’s a genuine all-rounder.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus review: Verdict

If there’s a similarly sized soundbar out there that’s capable of the scale, drive and precision of the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus, well, we haven’t heard it yet. If you want a proper taste of spatial audio without needing lots of speakers, this is a great option – it’s got competition, of course, but there isn’t a price-comparable alternative that makes a stronger case for itself.

Read more