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Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review: Compact and composed but spatially unconvincing

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £699
inc VAT

There’s a lot to admire about the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini, but at this price its spatial audio needs to be more convincing


  • Authoritative, insightful sound
  • Remarkable bass presence and control
  • Numerous control options


  • Could conceivably sound taller
  • Could easily be more affordable
  • Less successful when virtualising music

Smaller and more affordable is never a bad idea, right? And given that Sennheiser’s previous Ambeo soundbars – the Ambeo Max and the Ambeo Plus – are quite big and expensive, the company has a lot of scope to do the smaller and more affordable thing. Step forward the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini.

Smaller, most definitely – almost exactly the same dimensions and proportions as the Sonos Beam Gen 2, a soundbar that combines compactness with excellent performance. But more affordable is not the same as affordable – and the Ambeo Mini looks pricey alongside all of its similarly sized competition.

It’s got it where it counts, though, in almost every respect. Specification is good, control options are even better, the standard of build and finish is unarguable – and where sound quality is concerned, the Ambeo Mini has plenty going on. It can summon unlikely bass presence and power, has dynamic headroom to spare, keeps detail levels high, and can describe a wide and organised soundstage… lots of what you want from a soundbar is here and in quantity.

Ultimately, though, it’s either overpriced or the spatial aspect of spatial audio needs to be more pronounced. If it were less expensive, the fact that it doesn’t convince with height effects in the same way it does with width would be less of an issue. As it stands, though, this is just a very, very capable soundbar.

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Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review: What you need to know

The Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini is the latest, smallest and most affordable of what is now a three-strong range of Sennheiser Ambeo soundbars. Affordable is a relative term, though – and so, for that matter, is small where Ambeo soundbars are concerned.

The story started in 2019 with the Ambeo (lately rechristened Ambeo Max), a huge Dolby Atmos soundbar with a huge price tag attached – and it’s proved so successful that it still costs the same £2,199 as it cost when it launched. It was followed in 2022 by the not-quite-so-huge Ambeo Plus which, while not as ruinously expensive as the Ambeo Max, will still set you back £1,149. Now there’s the Ambeo Mini, Sennheiser’s attempt to work some of its Ambeo magic with a product costing less than four figures.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - Ambeo logo

Unlike its bigger siblings, the Ambeo Mini doesn’t have dedicated top channels to create the height that’s intrinsic to a spatial audio soundtrack. Instead, it uses some prodigiously complicated virtualisation technology (developed alongside Fraunhofer) to conjure a sensation of sonic height from its array of six drivers. They’re powered by a total of 250W of Class D amplification, and Sennheiser is claiming a frequency response of 43Hz–20kHz.

Getting audio information on board in the first place can be done in a number of ways. There’s an HDMI eARC, of course, and a USB-A slot – but that’s it for physical connections. Wireless connectivity is available via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC and AAC codec compatibility, and there’s Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, UPnP, Spotify Connect and TIDAL Connect available, too. AirPlay 2 and Chromecast mean the Ambeo Mini can easily form part of a multi-room system.

Its lack of physical top channels, the use of digital sound processing to construct the impression of spatial audio and its compact dimensions all suggest the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini is lined up in competition to the wildly successful and acclaimed Sonos Beam Gen 2. But, as you’ll discover below, the two are some way apart in terms of price.

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Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review: Price and competition

The Mini may comfortably be the most affordable Ambeo soundbar so far, but at £699 it’s a lot more expensive than the Sonos Beam Gen 2.

In fact, it’s closer in price to the Sonos Arc, which is a bigger soundbar, with dedicated up-firing height channels. On paper, the Arc is an altogether more convincing candidate for getting you some spatial audio entertainment – unless, of course, it’s too big for your space. The fact that it’s part of the planet’s leading multi-room ecosystem doesn’t count against the Arc, either.

Other similarly priced single-unit solutions include the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3, which launched at £899 but was available for under £500 at the time of writing, and the Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 1100, which is quite a bit larger than the Ambeo Mini and will set you back £100 more at £800.

Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Design and features

There’s obviously a limit to the amount of actual designing that can happen when producing a soundbar – the clue’s in the name, after all. So if we accept that the battleship that is the Sennheiser Ambeo Max is an outlier, the Ambeo Mini follows the template the company laid down with the Ambeo Plus, but on a smaller scale.

At 700 x 100 x 65mm (WDH) it should fit quite happily between the feet of most screens of 48in and upwards, and unless the screen in question sits very low on those feet it shouldn’t foul the bottom of the picture. At a little over 3.5kg, it’s hardly a burden to the surface on which you put it, either.

Almost the entire chassis is made of plastic but it’s robust and even reasonably tactile, and the quality of construction is basically impeccable. Black acoustic cloth wraps around the front, the rounded ends and the rear of the Mini, and there’s a little of it covering the lip on the top panel. The top panel itself slopes forward, which is a design cue from the Ambeo Plus. There’s only one finish available: black. Only a little LED strip along the top to indicate volume level spoils the “none more black” Spinal Tap vibe.

Sound is churned out by six drivers. There’s a 38mm full-range driver at either end of the bar, which is where a sensation of sonic width derives. Two more of these drivers face forward from behind the acoustic cloth, while there’s a pair of 102mm bass drivers facing upwards from behind the top panel – these two make sure the Ambeo Mini reaches all the way down to 43Hz.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - left end of the soundbar

All six drivers are made of cellulose, and all six have an input into the virtualised height effects that Dolby Atmos soundtracks thrive on. Sennheiser is confident the Ambeo Mini is capable of manufacturing a sensation of 7.1.4-channel audio using just these six drivers.

As well as Dolby Atmos, the Ambeo Mini is compatible with DTS:X, MPEG-H and 360 Reality Audio standards, and its Ambeo algorithm is standing by to bring the idea of spatial audio to 5.1-channel or even stereo content if you so desire.

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Sennheiser Ambeo Mini review: Controls and connections

Not for the first time in Ambeo history, Sennheiser has you covered here. Getting content on board the Ambeo Mini, and then exercising complete control over it, couldn’t really be any easier.

For instance, you can choose from any one of four separate control methods. For starters, there’s a full-size, full-function remote control. If I’m being picky then it could benefit from some backlighting and/or bigger labels for its buttons, but it’s a mile away from the little clicky credit card-style abominations that are prevalent with products such as this. Or you may choose to use the touch controls on the soundbar’s top surface – all major functions are covered here, and there’s also a button to turn off the four integrated near-field mics.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - connections

Those mics take care of both room calibration and voice control. If you like to get your bidding done simply by asking for it, the Ambeo Mini has Amazon Alexa built in and can be used with Google Assistant provided there’s an appropriate smart speaker on a common network.

The Sennheiser Smart Control app, meanwhile, is free for iOS and Android – and it’s about as useful, logical and stable as any control app that doesn’t say Sonos on it somewhere. Here’s where you can run the Ambeo Mini’s automated room calibration: a series of tones and audio bursts that help the soundbar calibrate itself to its specific position and is available at any subsequent time should it be necessary. The app also has six EQ settings – Adaptive, Music, Movie and so on – as well as the ability to switch the Ambeo virtualisation technology on or off. It also lets you check for software updates, switch on Night mode (to flatten dynamic response) or Voice enhancement (to emphasise the centre channel information) and select inputs.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - touch controls

The physical inputs are found in a little recess on the rear of the chassis. There’s just a single HDMI eARC – no passthrough here – and a USB-A slot, alongside inputs for mains power, a reset button and a setup button. The wireless stuff is available in the Smart Control app or in the native app of the compatible streaming service you’re using.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review: Sound quality

No matter the sort of content you feed it, the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini must bring its Ambeo virtualisation technology to bear if it’s going to serve up a sensation of spatial audio – but nevertheless, it does its best work when it gets the best stuff to deal with. A native Dolby Atmos soundtrack derived from a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc is the way forward, then.

The Atmos soundtrack to 2021’s No Time To Die gives the Ambeo Mini every chance to show what it’s capable of – and it doesn’t take long to establish its credentials. This soundbar is a potent, full-scale and dynamic listen, one that’s as attentive to the finest details as it is to the big picture.

Low-frequency presence is considerable by any standards, and pretty remarkable by the standards of compact soundbars with no accompanying subwoofer. Its 43Hz extension seems perfectly reasonable, but the Ambeo Mini is no blunt instrument. Sure, it can wallop with the best of them, but its low-frequency performance includes detail, variation, straight-edged control and no shortage of finesse. Sennheiser is very pleased indeed with the fact that you can attach as many as four wireless Ambeo Subs to the Ambeo Mini, but it’s hard to imagine the circumstances where that might be remotely necessary.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - soundbar in front of TV

The opposite end of the frequency range is handled with similar confidence, which is equally remarkable in its own way. This is a soundbar with no dedicated tweeters at all and yet its treble sounds are bright, crisp and substantial enough to hold their own when the going gets hectic.

And in between, the Sennheiser is able to keep centre-channel information (which is almost entirely midrange in almost every circumstance) clear and detail-heavy, forward on the soundstage and well clear of interference from above or below – even though it’s nicely integrated into the rest of the frequency range at the same time.

Dynamic headroom is considerable, so when the latest Bond movie jumps from silence to all-out attack, which it does routinely, there’s plenty of distance between the two states. Control is good, the leading edges of sounds are described with properly straight edges, and so abrupt changes in volume are exactly that. Low-level dynamics are good, too, with small variations in repetitive sounds made properly apparent. The overall tonality is nicely neutral, despite the muscularity of the bottom end.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - acoustic cloth

Even though the Ambeo Mini is creating a lot of its scale and expansiveness of soundstage using digital audio processing, there’s no sense of artificiality to its presentation. Its sound is way, way bigger than the soundbar itself, it generates genuine width and depth, and places effects with real confidence.

What it can’t do with any kind of certainty, though, is offer a genuine sensation of height to the sound. That it sounds taller than a non-Atmos soundbar is obvious, but the Sennheiser struggles to place audio above the top of a modestly-sized television. So those eternal optimists who read Dolby Atmos and expect to hear effects coming from the area in their cinema room where the wall meets the ceiling are going to be disappointed.

It’s a similar story of the good news heavily outweighing the bad when you ask the Ambeo virtualisation technology to do its thing with some multichannel music. Use TIDAL Connect to stream a Dolby Atmos file of CooCool by Róisín Murphy and all of the Ambeo Mini’s merits – drive, rhythmic expression, detail retrieval and straightforward unity of presentation – are carried over intact.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review - Smart Control app settings

There’s real width to the sound, eloquent mid-range resolution and nice integration from the top of the frequency range to the bottom. There’s also that curtailment where top effects are concerned; the Sennheiser sounds a little like a soufflé that hasn’t quite risen as much as is ideal.

Two-channel music, though, is a bridge too far. A stereo file of David Bowie’s I’m Afraid of Americans is not short of width or low-end substance, but it’s vague in its focus and lacks a lot of positivity. Switch off the Ambeo processing and things snap back into focus, and the reduction of scale in its presentation is a small price to pay.

Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Mini review: Verdict

If your requirements begin and end with the biggest sound from the smallest soundbar then the Sennheiser Ambeo Mini has to be on your shortlist. It’s lacking the sort of height-channel elevation that would make for an undeniably spatial audio experience, it’s true – but it’s nevertheless capable of significant scale and has the sort of low-end presence that means you may well decide to forgo that subwoofer you were thinking about. And, as long as you recognise its limitations, it’s a very capable speaker where music is concerned, too.

If, however, you’re after the best-sounding small soundbar at a reasonable price, the Ambeo Mini is on shakier ground. Yes, it sounds very good, is very well made, finished and specified, and it’s of very useful dimensions – but reasonable is not the first word that springs to mind where pricing is concerned. If it performed flawlessly, I wouldn’t have an issue – but it doesn’t. And so I do.