Will 3D sound be a big thing in 2018? Sennheiser thinks so …
Sennheiser has been touting the merits of its Ambeo 3D audio for a few years now at CES, but in 2018, the company plans to make that spacial soundscape more accessible. The first speaker product to feature the tech will be the Ambeo 3D Soundbar and the company is showing it off here in Vegas. Sennheiser has been working on 3D audio since 2010, when it was recording classical performances in 9.1 surround sound. Until now, you needed a 9.1 speaker setup to really appreciate that level of detail, but later this year, all you’ll need is a soundbar.
The device Sennheiser is showing off at CES this year is a prototype, but the company says the audio is final. The Ambeo 3D Soundbar packs 13 speakers total with nine across the front, two angled out from the sides and two angled on the top. While there will be a subwoofer option, you really don’t need it because the soundbar has a low-end range of 30Hz — and it’s pretty damn impressive coming from a device like this. Usually you need a separate sub to complement a soundbar for a solid dose of bass. In terms of connectivity, the company says the device will have a trio of HDMI inputs, one HDMI output and inputs for both analog and optical. It’s also fully wireless with Bluetooth and WiFi, and there will be voice control onboard. The prototype was also quite large, especially when compared to other soundbars, thanks to its 4-inch speakers. Chances are the final version will be pretty large as well. Not a deal breaker, but it’s certainly something to consider.
Of course, not everyone has access to 3D audio recordings, but that won’t be a huge issue for a few reasons. One of those is that the soundbar is compatible with Dolby Atmos, so there’s a library of compatible content you can tap into there. Sennheiser says it will also upscale, or as the company calls it, “upmix,” non-3D audio to sound better on the speaker. As you might expect, it won’t sound as good as a recording captured in true 9.1, but it beats having to re-buy your music collection. The company says it is working with music labels on content and other audio companies are enlisting its help for 3D audio capture at live sporting events and more. You can also opt to use the Ambeo soundbar in normal stereo mode as well, in which case you won’t have to worry about any tweaks. I didn’t get a demo of that mode though, so I can’t speak to whether or not it’s equally as stunning.
More at Engadget