Sennheiser's Ambeo Soundbar Mini: Big Sound from a Small Package?

Sennheiser's Ambeo Soundbar Mini: Big Sound from a Small Package?

Sennheiser, a renowned name in the world of audio, has unveiled its latest offering – the Ambeo Soundbar Mini. As the third and most affordable member of the Ambeo soundbar family, it comes with a price tag of $799 (€799 / £699). While that may still seem steep for an audio accessory, especially when compared to its larger siblings – the original Ambeo Soundbar Max at $2,499.95 and the Ambeo Soundbar Plus at $1,499.95 – the Mini's cost appears almost entry-level (almost).

Let's start by acknowledging that the Ambeo Soundbar Mini retains many of the core features found in Sennheiser's previous soundbars. It supports a plethora of 3D surround sound formats, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, 360 Reality Audio, and MPEG-H. It can also be paired with up to four Sennheiser Ambeo Subs, and it offers a comprehensive array of streaming options, including Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Chromecast built-in, and AirPlay 2.

However, as the price suggests, the Ambeo Soundbar Mini does come with some compromises compared to its pricier counterparts. Firstly, it's significantly smaller, measuring 70 x 10 x 6.5cm, which means less room for drivers. The Mini houses just six drivers (four full-range and two woofers) compared to the nine in the Plus. Notably, it lacks full-range drivers facing upwards to bounce audio off the ceiling for that immersive overhead effect. Instead, it relies solely on virtualization technology for its height channels, similar to the second-gen Sonos Beam. While Sennheiser claims the Ambeo Soundbar Mini can virtualize 7.1.4 channels of audio, the real-world performance will need to be tested since even the pricier Ambeo Soundbar Plus had its limits when it came to delivering surround sound from a single location.

Another compromise is in the realm of physical connectivity. The Mini offers only a single HDMI eARC port for your TV, with no optical or aux inputs and no HDMI passthrough. This means the soundbar will occupy an HDMI port on your TV without offering additional ports in return. Additionally, it restricts you to the formats your TV can pass through or output. However, the Ambeo Soundbar Mini shines in the wireless audio streaming department, supporting various services, including Tidal Connect. It also features built-in Alexa for voice commands, room calibration capabilities, night mode, and voice enhancement options.

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini seems like an intriguing proposition, especially for those seeking a more budget-friendly option from a reputable brand. Nevertheless, there are understandable concerns regarding its ability to replicate the immersive sound experience of its larger siblings. As with any audio equipment, the proof will ultimately be in the listening, and we eagerly await real-world reviews to determine whether the Mini can indeed deliver big sound from its compact frame.