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Sennheiser’s first soundbar has 13 speakers and sounds amazing

Sennheiser is one of the best known companies in the audio world, and yet it’s never made a consumer speaker. This year, that’s supposed to change. At CES today, Sennheiser began showing a prototype soundbar that it intends to launch by the end of 2018.

The prototype’s body is unfinished, but the speakers are working. I got to hear them inside a small, square room, as a Sennheiser representative switched between nature sounds, musical performances, and movie action sequences, including the snowstorm and the beginning of Fury Road. But I didn’t need to hear half of that to realize Sennheiser’s first soundbar sounded way better than any soundbar ought to.

Sennheiser intends to market the soundbar under its Ambeo brand, because it’s designed to produce 360-degree audio. The soundbar has 13 drivers — six four-inch woofers, five tweeters, and two top-firing speakers — and Sennheiser describes the system as producing virtual 5.1.4 sound, with that final “4” representing speakers virtually mounted in each corner of the room. Unfortunately, the system also has to be pretty chunky in order to fit all that inside.

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