Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus – convincing Dolby Atmos (AV soundbar review)

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is an all-in-one soundbar providing 400W of virtual 7.1.4 sound. It is an excellent addition to any TV that can play Dolby Vision/Atmos content.

Upfront, no matter how good the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is, you must remember that it is an all-in-one soundbar relying on psychoacoustics to bounce 3D height and surround sound objects off and create a virtual Dolby Atmos (DA) ‘listening envelope’ – all from one soundbar.

To clarify 3D height comes from up-firing speakers (Left/Right) that bounce off the ceiling. The effect is diminished if this is more than 3 meters high or a raked ceiling. Surround sound comes from side-firing speakers (Left/Right), and the effect diminishes unless a nearby wall is on either side.

The problem is that most Aussie open-space loungerooms don’t have the correct wall or ceiling specs, so we always recommend discrete rear speakers for a genuine DA experience.

You can read more about this Five tips for better TV sound – Dolby Atmos for beginners and How to buy a soundbar that meets your needs?.

Australian review: Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus SB02

All prices are RRP as of 24/11/2023, exclusive of any promotional discounts.

WebsiteProduct Page and Manual
Price$2,499.95 but seen for $1999 – free delivery and 30-day return $1195.95 for the Sub (black)
FromSennheiser online, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, Qantas Marketplace, Addicted to Audio, Amazon AU
Warranty2-year warranty (exceed)
Made inSwitzerland and Vietnam
CompanySennheiser (Est 1945) is a privately held German audio company specialising in designing and producing a wide range of high-fidelity products, including microphones, headphones, telephone accessories, and aviation headsets for personal, professional, and business applications.
Sonova Holding, a global medical hearing solutions provider based in Switzerland, now owns its consumer audio business.
MoreCybershack Sennheiser news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Passable (meets low expectations), Pass (meets expectations), Pass+ (near Exceed but not class-leading) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression – Pass+

Sennheiser has that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about its looks and style. It is elegant, yet it is black. It looks classy and is all business. It is primarily a moulded plastic chassis covered by black acoustic fabric.

At 1051 x 77 x 121 mm 6.3kg, it fits under most TVs. Check that before you buy, especially if your TV uses an infrared remote. You can wall mount it with the SB02-WM for about $80 from Amazon AU.  

It is the middle child – the $1299.95 4.2.0 Mini and $3999.95 5.1.4 Max flank it. There is no doubt the Max is an impressive beast, and the Ambeo OS does excellent DA virtualisation, but I think the Plus (this review) is the sweet spot, especially with the optional sub. Read Sennheiser AMBEO Mini SB02S and Optional Sub SW02.

Marketing hype versus reality – Fail

There was a time when Sennheiser stuck to the facts. Its website (since Sonova took it over) is full of marketing hype that we have no option but to call out. We are not denigrating the product – this review reveals the facts but:

  • The world’s most immersive sound (who says)
  • A breathtaking cinematic experience designed to give you goosebumps: Movie nights will never be the same again (We have heard better discrete speaker 5.1.2 to 11.1.4 DA soundbars at a fraction of the price).
  • Experience a 7.1.4 home theatre system featuring outstanding immersive sound thanks to state-of-the-art -AMBEO- virtualisation (only in the right psychoacoustic-designed room).
  • Automated self-calibration senses the acoustics of your room and adapts flawlessly to every environment (It tries but cannot compensate for typical Aussie open space loungerooms).
  • An unmatched immersive sound experience without any additional components (it could benefit from a sub-woofer and discrete rear speakers just as Sonos Arc and Bose can).
  • Always the best sound, no matter where you are or what you’re watching (The DA effect is an envelope about 2-3 metres in front of the soundbar)

You can’t blame Sennheiser/Sonova for trying, but you need to tune out of the marketing hype and into how it sounds, preferably in your home and not the showroom.

In the box – Pass

  • Soundbar
  • Premium High-Speed 18Gbps 1m cable (too short)
  • IR Remote and batteries

Remote and sound presets – Pass

The remote is well made, not backlit, and uses Infrared, so it needs to be within 6 metres and have a line of sight. It has preset buttons and one to activate Ambeo processing.

  • Adaptive: Automatically adapts to the content being played.
  • Music: Optimised for music.
  • Movie: Optimised movies.
  • News: Optimised for news/voice.
  • Neutral: Reproduces the sound source unchanged.
  • Sports: Optimised for the playback of sports broadcasts.

There is also Night Mode (no bass), Voice mode (1-4kHz and very good for hearing impaired) and Centre channel (forward-firing) volume.

You can edit each preset in the App. We won’t go into the App in detail. It is the same as the Sennheiser Amboe Mini.

Ambeo OS

In layperson’s terms, Sennheiser thinks this is the sound you want to hear. Audiophiles will always select Neutral or turn Ambeo processing off.

  • Light spatial sound.
  • Regular.
  • Boost.
  • Foundation – bass adjustment.
  • Low-mid adjustment.
  • Clarity and Brilliance – mid-high treble.
  • Preset reset in case you Frenkensound it.


It has nine speakers and amplifiers.

  • Left/Centre/Right 2”full-range forward-firing (3.0.0)
  • Left/Right 2” side-angle-firing (2.0.0)
  • Left/Right 2” up-firing (0.0.2)
  • Left/Right 4” up-firing woofer (0.2.0)

In Dolby Atmos parlance, this is 5.1.2. Sennheiser claims that the Ambeo OS can phase (move sound precisely between speakers) and virtualise 7.1.4 sound. Its self-calibration tries hard to faux position seven virtual speakers around your listening position. It may work under ideal psychoacoustic circumstances, but our tests found it to be more front-centric with some 3D height and limited surround.

Without a dedicated sub-woofer, there is no room-shaking bass (Jurassic Park fans beware).

Ports and inputs

  • HDMI eARC 2.1 48Gbps – need to use a Premium High Speed 48Gbps cable (1m supplied)
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0a 18Gbps
  • RCA stereo in Left/Right
  • Optical in (Toslink)
  • USB-A 5V/1A/5W (can use flash drives or USB sound output from a laptop).
  • Sub-woofer RCA out
  • Ethernet 10/100
  • Wi-Fi 6 AX 2.4/5GHz
  • Bluetooth 5.0 BLE, Receive only, SBC and AAC codecs – recognises the last six devices.
  • Spotify Connect client over the home network.
  • Works with Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2, and Tidal Connect.

While it has 2 x HDMI inputs, these are 2.0a 18Gbps and support compresses Dolby Vision and Atmos. You are better off plugging PS5/Xbox X into the TV and passing through sound to the soundbar. They have sufficient bandwidth for Fetch, Foxtel, Google Chromecast 4K and Amazon FireTV dongles.

Note that using an HDMI ARC port on your older TV will likely not get passthrough processing for Dolby Atmos/Dolby Digital Plus/DTS:X/DTS-HD/MPEG-H or Sony 360 Reality Audio.


You can use the soundbar without an App, but you will need the manual as it has a light bar instead of an English language readout. The bar is confusing. It can be white, light blue, blue, green, purple, and red with flash, sequence, ascending or descending swipe, and more. Our test panel was most critical of this trend – many companies now use it.

In addition, there is a Codec LED for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H.

Sennheiser recommends you sit at least 2m from the soundbar. We found that this 2-3m virtual DA envelope was reasonably critical to getting any virtual DA effect.


There are four far-field mics on the device. These are used for Alexa and room calibration. A mic mute button and LED turn these off.


240V/2.5A/600W but in our tests it never exceeded 400W in full DA mode. It has sleep mode at <1.9W (.5W Wi-Fi off).


It can upmix 2.0 to 7.1 surround to faux 7.1.4, which is handy for video but not so much for music content where 2.0 is best (music should not be messed with!).


Contrary to popular opinion, an EQ cannot increase the native sound signature of a speaker. It can appear to give more bass by recessing mid and treble.

It has a four-band graphic EQ for each preset capable of many more “Frankensound’ combinations.

Voice control

Because it has Wi-Fi/Ethernet, you can use it with Alexa (built-in) or OK Google (with a Google speaker). It can be part of the multi-room speaker setup.

How does it sound?

Our white noise generator eclipses any setting and tests the maximum frequency response – native sound signature.

Sennheiser claim 38Hz-20kHz. Our tests (replicated several times) found the bottom limit was around 45-50kHz. The optional sub has 28-80Hz and adds a room-shaking feeling.

Refer to the gold line below: It has no low-bass (20-50Hz). At 50Hz, it kicks in and builds steadily to 100Hz (mid-bass). From there, it is flat (good) from 100-200Hz (high-bass), then to 6kHz, where it dips to avoid harshness, and then flat to 20kHz. This is a neutral sound signature (nirvana), neither adding nor subtracting from the sound.

In layperson’s terms

  • No low-bass means no room-shaking bass.
  • Building mid-bass means it gets most of the musically important bass. This makes bass more satisfying to listen to, where weak whumps become thumps.
  • Flat upper-bass is what most BT speakers have.
  • Flat mid (200-400HkHz) is where all the action is. It covers the human voice (1-4khz), where our ears are most sensitive even as we age. This is the critical area for clear dialogue.
  • Flat low/mid-treble (4-10kHz) defines the sound character as crisp or clean. Without it, sounds are dull
  • Flat High-treble (10-20kHz) is vital to add a sense of sound direction and a feeling of “air”, a reality as though the music were really there.

Read How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key).


It reaches 85dB (loud) with little distortion.

Sound stage

The sound stage with 2.0 to 7.1 (not DA) is about 600mm on each side of the soundbar, so it should work with 65+” TVs). It has excellent Left/Right separation and phases sound coherently from Left to Right (and vice versa). There is no real height except that voices and sounds appear to come from the TV screen.

Dolby Atmos (Tested 1917 Blu-ray movie on Sony UBP-X700 DV/DA firmware): The sound stage is even more expansive (given it has left/right side-firing speakers) and higher (given it has Left/Right up-firing full range speakers.

1917 has lots of explosions and overhead sounds. These are well-placed with decent object tracking. The overhead ‘envelope’ is best at 2-3m from the soundbar, losing effect by about 3m.

Surround sounds like bullets whizzing past are lost without the proper room – it needs side walls to bounce sound. I could feel a limited sense of surround, but nothing was coming from the near sides or behind. If you want that, the Sonos Arc with dual ERA 300 rears is the best I have heard.

I enjoyed the virtual DA, but having listened to genuine DA, I can never go back.

Network streaming – Ethernet or Wi-Fi

It is a multi-room speaker and can play various music streams, from lossy MP3 to Dolby Atmos Music.

  • DSD (Direct Stream Digital)
  • MP3
  • LPCM
  • FLAC
  • AIFF
  • ALAC
  • Vorbis
  • Dolby Atmos Music
  • Sony 360 Reality Audio

CyberShack’s view – I am glad I tried the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus

I like Sennheiser gear – headphones, earphones, assisted hearing, and more. I have been using it since the 80s and can still get parts like earpads, headbands, bud tips, replacement buds, remote controls, and more. My daily drives are PXC550-II travel headphones (sadly discontinued) and Momentum 3 Buds. The Momentum 4 headphones are superb for audiophile standard music.

Adoration over. The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus is a 5.1.2 virtual Dolby Atmos soundbar. Forget that it advertises 7.1.4 as that is in the perfectly psychoacoustic-designed room. It offers a convincing 5.1.2 DA sound if you sit inside the 2-3m envelope. If you want a genuine DA experience, it is not for you.

As a soundbar for general TV use, you will love stereo and up to 7.1 TV sound upscaled. Perhaps not so much for music.


Because you are considering Sennheiser, price is not the issue and the logical competition is Sonos and Bose.

Sonos Arc and the sub/rears have a wider soundstage and genuine (not virtualised) DA. The new ERA 300 rears (each 5.1 DA speaker) add an extra dimension to DA. Arc does not have 2 x HDMI inputs.

The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 – Bose’s first Dolby Atmos 5.0.2 soundbar is a virtual all-in-one, and the Sennheiser offers better sound. But add the optional sub and rears for genuine DA sound.

If you don’t have the budget but are keen on genuine DA (after all, sound is 30% of the viewing experience) and want Jurassic Park realism, please consider the following:

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus rating

  • Features: 90 It has everything you could want from an all-in-one soundbar, including 2 x HDMI passthrough ports, a comprehensive App, and Wi-Fi smart speaker capabilities.
  • Value: 75 (unless you get it on sale). Other soundbars outclass it and have the ability to add dedicated rear speakers. You should not care what it costs but want the best sound at this price.
  • Performance: 85 for music and SDR HD/FHD free-to-air TV streaming. 80 for virtual DA without the right room.
  • Ease of Use: 85 as you can plug and play. You need to use the App to avoid the overly complex light bar.
  • Design: 90 – Sennheiser’s German practicality and design – Ya! It is like a Black Mercedes with tinted windows – uber cool😎.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus

$2499.95 but shop around







Ease of Use





  • Excellent style and quality finish
  • App makes setup easy
  • You don’t need the sub-woofer for TV and DD 5.1 streaming
  • Immeasurably improves SDR FTA TV and streaming 2.0 and 7.1 audio


  • Virtualised DA needs a room design we usually don’t have
  • Virtualised DA is within 2 to 3 meters – it is front-centric
  • If price is your measure, why are you considering Sennheiser?
  • No 4K@120Hz passthrough for gamers