As the lights dimmed inside our room at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dubai, it started to rain, a crash of thunder followed and then it poured – At least that’s what Sennheiser’s new AMBEO soundbar would have us believe. The rain from the Dolby Atmos demo actually sounded as though it was above us as well as all around us and the rumble of thunder was convincing. The clarity and quality of the spatial presentation was very impressive.
Famous to music lovers for their longstanding range of high quality headphones, Sennheiser has, after three years of development, unleashed the results of its audio engineering prowess on the home theatre soundbar market with the AMBEO. Our exclusive (for press only) listening session was hosted by Sennheiser to showcase AMBEO’s capabilities and to announce the impending availability. Sennheiser used a variety of demonstration material including scenes from Game of Thrones, Everest, extreme sports and a Star Wars video game which immersed us in high quality 5.1.4 sound.
The AMBEO soundbar features 13 high quality speakers in a custom configuration compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and MPEG-H which provide surprisingly deep bass as low as 30Hz (-3dB) and well balanced powerful sound through the midrange and high frequencies. It can also up-mix stereo and 5.1 content to 3D. AMBEO is supplied with its own setup microphone which, when placed at the listening position, at the touch of a button calibrates the sound to suit the dimensions and layout of the room. It offers an output for an external subwoofer (should you feel one is really necessary) and connectivity via HMDI eARC/CEC, Bluetooth or built-in Google Chromecast.
Sennheiser has developed the AMBEO with the ambition to create one of the best soundbars on the market. In their words “an elegant all-in-one solution for all those seeking an immersive 3D, audiophile-grade home entertainment experience”. I’ve heard my share of soundbars and I can’t think of any that could match the sonic performance of the AMBEO, especially without the need of a subwoofer. It’s extraordinary. If you’re in the market for a soundbar or even a similarly priced home theatre system, check it out.
Also on show were the new Momentum True Wireless in-ear models and top of the range HD-800 and HD-820 closed back headphones. The in-ear wireless models with their new 7mm driver (derived from the legendary IE800) provided the signature Sennheiser sound in a comfortable, compact and stylish package.
At the event, I had my first listen to the HD-820 which, for a closed-back design, sounded remarkably spacious while retaining the more energetic bass performance typical of closed-back headphones. I was told that considerable time and effort was spent perfecting the concave glass covers which reflect the rear sound waves generated by the ring-radiator drivers to an absorber which minimises resonance and distortion and provides the life-like bass for which open-back headphones are renowned.
As if being surrounded by such audiophile jewels as the HD-800 and HD-820 wasn’t enough, Sennheiser’s Channel Manager of Consumer/Retail Heston Saldanha took the time to introduce me to the HE 1 (the new Orpheus). The HE 1 is Sennheiser’s stunning statement product. The amplifier chassis is crafted from solid Carrara marble and is able to be personalised during the build process to each individual owner’s desire. Electrostatic drivers are used in the headphones which are driven by the patent-pending hybrid vacuum tube and transistor circuit providing breathtaking realism. I listened to “Butterflies Fly in Pairs” by Jazz Pianist A Bu from the Sennheiser demo CD and was amazed. I’ve never heard the piano sound as life-like through headphones!
Indeed this will be a memorable event. I felt much like a kid in a candy shop…
… Barry Jones
Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar: AU$3999
Momentum True Wireless Ear Buds: AU$499.95
HD 820 Headphones: AU$3499
HE 1 Audiophile Headphone System: AU$85,000
+61 2 9910 6700
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