HomeBlogREVIEWBowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: A standout standalone Atmos soundbar

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: A standout standalone Atmos soundbar

Very like the B&W Zeppelin (2021), the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 breathes new life right into a product that was first launched over a decade in the past.

Consistent with its 2009 and 2013 progenitors, the Panorama 3 is a standalone soundbar, designed to operate as an all-in-one audio resolution in your TV. It’s the primary Bowers & Wilkins bar to assist Dolby Atmos and sound high quality – an space during which B&W merchandise hardly ever disappoint – is spectacular.

The Panorama 3 additionally scores effectively on the good and streaming fronts and, regardless of lacking some options at launch, provides our favorite standalone soundbar, the Sonos Arc, a run for its cash.

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Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: What it’s worthwhile to know

The Panorama 3 is a 3.1.2-channel soundbar housing 13 speaker drivers powered by a complete of 400W Class D amplification. There’s no manner so as to add a discrete subwoofer or rear audio system – in the event you’re after a modular setup, B&W’s Formation vary features a soundbar and all of the elements wanted to create a encompass sound house leisure system.

Assist for Dolby Atmos means you’ll be able to take pleasure in immersive audio full with top results, whereas AirPlay 2 compatibility makes streaming from Apple gadgets a doddle. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, too, and supported codecs prolong to the high-resolution aptX Adaptive, along with SBC and AAC.

Constructed-in Alexa allows voice controls, when you’ve linked your Amazon account by way of the B&W Music app, and the app additionally supplies built-in entry to streaming providers, which embody Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz and TuneIn. Spotify isn’t obtainable by way of the app however doesn’t have to be because the bar helps Spotify Join.

Quite than overwhelm you with quite a few modes and audio choices, the Panorama 3 retains issues quite simple. There’s no room optimization know-how like Sonos’ TruePlay or Bose’s ADAPTiQ, nor will you discover any EQ presets tucked away within the app. As an alternative you get easy sliders for adjusting bass and treble ranges. Issues are very simple on the connection entrance, too: you’ll both hook up the Panorama 3 to your TV by way of the solitary HDMI (eARC) or optical digital enter on the again of the bar.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: Worth and competitors

The Panorama 3 will set you again £899, placing it in direct competitors with the Sonos Arc and Bose Sensible Soundbar 900, each of which price the identical worth. The Arc has the benefit of assist for Google Assistant along with Amazon Alexa and sounds improbable, too. It’s at the moment our favorite standalone soundbar however, just like the Panorama 3, solely incorporates a single HDMI port. The Bose possibility advantages from room calibration know-how and sports activities a classy design, although reflections off its glass high show significantly distraction at night time.

Samsung sometimes pairs its dearer soundbars with subwoofers however does have a non-Atmos standalone possibility within the Samsung Terrace. The Terrace prices £999 and has an IP55 score that certifies it water-resistant, that means you should utilize it indoors and outdoors. It’s particularly designed with wall-mounting in thoughts and works with Amazon Alexa, though this isn’t built-in so that you’ll want a appropriate good speaker to entry voice controls.

Sony’s high-end standalone Atmos soundbar – the HT-A7000 – is reasonably dearer at £1,299. It combines a 7.1.2-channel association with proprietary Sony digital sign processing applied sciences and delivers an especially immersive Atmos expertise. You may also add a wi-fi subwoofer and rear audio system to the bundle, though doing so will push the entire worth above £2,000.

One other dear possibility is the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage, which has an inventory worth of £1,499. It’s superbly designed and sounds nice, although low frequencies aren’t as effectively managed as they is perhaps, resulting in explosive motion scenes and bass-heavy songs sounding a contact flabby.

Dearer nonetheless is the Sennheiser Ambeo, an infinite all-in-one soundbar that has 13 drivers, an enormous vary of connections and a 3D sound expertise boosted by Sennheiser’s Ambeo digital speaker know-how. At £2,199, it’s the priciest standalone bar we’ve examined however sounds phenomenal and helps DTS:X along with Dolby Atmos.

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Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: Design and options

The design of the Panorama 3 is sleeker than its predecessors nevertheless it’s nonetheless very a lot a soundbar designed to be used with a big display TV. Measuring 1,200 x 140 x 65mm (WDH), the Panorama 3 spanned the complete width of my 55in Philips OLED 806/12; something smaller than that and your setup will look somewhat ridiculous.

Regardless of weighing 6.5kg, it’s surprisingly slender, and that top of simply 65mm means it may be slipped beneath most TVs with minimal fuss. The Philips 806/12 I examined the Panorama 3 with lacks the mandatory clearance beneath its panel however the bar nonetheless proved slim sufficient to keep away from obstructing the display.

Whatever the TV it’s in entrance of or beneath, the Panorama 3 seems good. You’d anticipate as a lot from a soundbar costing £899 however I feel it has the aesthetic edge over its Sonos, Bose, Sony and Samsung rivals. Whereas a soundbar of its measurement is tough to consider as discreet, the Panorama 3 seems adequate to get away with how a lot area it takes up.

In the event you’d reasonably wall mount the Panorama 3, B&W features a wall bracket to try this, which is praiseworthy given you don’t get one with both the Bose Sensible Soundbar 900 or Sonos Arc. Additionally included are an HDMI cable and an influence cable for connecting the bar to the mains.

One factor you received’t discover within the field is a distant management. You do, nevertheless, get capacitive contact buttons situated on a hidden management panel on high of the soundbar. These solely turn into seen while you transfer your hand near them and canopy fundamental actions akin to rising and lowering the amount, muting the Alexa microphone and enjoying or pausing audio.

The buttons work completely however you’re extra possible to make use of the voice controls or your current TV distant which might function the soundbar by way of HDMI eARC. Alternatively, in the event you’re utilizing the optical enter, you’ll be able to have the soundbar study your TV distant’s instructions within the B&W Music app.

I praised the app in my evaluate of the Zeppelin, and the Panorama 3 makes use of it in a lot the identical manner. Streaming providers you subscribe to could be linked to the app and accessed immediately by it, with assist at the moment extending to Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer, TuneIn, Final.fm, NTS and SoundCloud.

The built-in Alexa function works successfully, too, with the soundbar set to a average quantity, the microphone picked up my instructions persistently with out me having to ever elevate my voice. You’ll have to talk reasonably louder to compete with the bar at full quantity however, except you’re internet hosting film night time in a devoted home-theatre room, you shouldn’t have to push the Panorama 3 to its quantity limits.

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Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: Connectivity and audio codecs

Bowers has taken a minimalist method with the Panorama 3’s bodily connections. Whereas the second-generation Panorama housed three HDMI inputs, an HDMI output, AUX-in and subwoofer out, the Panorama 3 makes do with a single HDMI eARC socket together with Ethernet and optical ports.

I’d personally prefer to have seen a few HDMI inputs enabling 4K passthrough however the Panorama 3 doesn’t lose floor on equally priced rivals on this regard. Each the Sonos Arc and Bose Sensible Soundbar 900 are additionally restricted to a single HDMI eARC socket.

Streaming over your Wi-Fi community is the Panorama 3’s bread and butter however, in the meanwhile, it may possibly’t be included in a multi-room system with audio system in Bowers’ Formation vary. The corporate says this function might be added within the coming months, although.

There’s Bluetooth 5 connectivity along with wi-fi streaming and assist for the aptX Adaptive codec means you’ll be able to stream high-resolution codecs as effectively.

Dolby Atmos is the headline-grabbing audio format when watching TV, however Dolby Digital TrueHD and Dolby Digital+ are supported, too. There’s no assist for Atmos’ large rivals, DTS:X or IMAX Enhanced, nevertheless.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: Sound high quality

Though the Panorama 3 doesn’t use any elements taken immediately from B&W’s prestigious loudspeaker vary, it does include a complicated association of 13 drivers in a 3.1.2 configuration.

The forward-firing left, centre and proper channels every have a pair of 50mm mid-range cones alongside 19mm titanium dome tweeters. These tweeters are decoupled from the remainder of the system to keep away from power interference from the opposite drive items and ship the cleanest treble doable. Two centrally mounted 100mm subwoofers ship the Panorama’s low-end response, whereas a pair of 50mm drive items, angled upwards, are devoted to delivering Atmos top results.

Every tweeter, pair of mid-range cones, Atmos driver and subwoofer is powered by a person 40W amplifier module, leading to a complete energy output of 400W. That’s lots for many residing rooms and sufficient to fill bigger areas as effectively.

A powerful speaker association and many energy are all effectively and good however with none technique of tweaking the EQ or optimising audio based mostly on the format of the room it is in, the Panorama 3 must sound nice out of the field. Fortuitously, whereas there’s room for enchancment in a few areas, it carried out admirably throughout the varied varieties of content material I uncovered it to throughout testing.

Unsurprisingly, it’s at its most immersive when delivering Atmos content material and did a great job dealing with the soundtrack of Marvel’s new superhero miniseries, Moon Knight. The primary three episodes function a good quantity of dialogue interspersed with motion sequences, together with a frantic automobile chase and the titular antihero being pursued by the Egyptian god of the Moon.

Dialogue was effectively articulated, with the comical nuances of lead actor Oscar Isaac’s English and American accents clearly evident. There have been just a few events when voices sounded somewhat recessed and never fairly as sharp as they might have been however by no means to the purpose the place I struggled to grasp what was being stated.

Disparate parts of demanding scenes with tons occurring sounded outlined but pleasingly cohesive and the bar dealt with speedy switches in tone very easily. One minute, the Panorama 3 would ship delicate whispers with acceptable airiness, and the subsequent it could be flexing its muscle groups as a bloodthirsty jackal crashed by a pair of picket doorways.

The subwoofers added first rate affect to the latter occasion however they don’t ship that hit to the chest you get from a beefy discrete sub. The identical could be stated for any standalone soundbar, nevertheless; that is in the end a sacrifice you make for the practicality of an all-in-one unit.

It’s an analogous story in terms of how effectively Atmos results are articulated. In a single scene, throughout episode two of Moon Knight, the protagonist is scaling and leaping between rooftops on a darkish London night. The swooshes and swoops from the upward-angled Atmos drivers helped intensify the vertical movement however I felt the results might be extra pronounced. That proved the case with Atmos content material extra broadly; it’s efficient with out being jaw-dropping.

The Panorama 3 is bodily fairly large and it generates a good sense of sonic width nevertheless it’s no match for the breadth of sound created by the side-firing beam tweeters on Sony’s HT-A7000. Stereo separation is spectacular, nevertheless, and it at all times felt like sound was coming from the right aspect of the bar based mostly on what was taking place on display.

TV soundbars typically fall down when enjoying music however the Panorama 3 impresses on that entrance, too, each whereas streaming over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Treble readability is first-rate and there’s loads of punch within the low-end with out the pair of subwoofers upsetting the audio stability. Bass is tight and managed, vocals crisp and the bar remained dynamically composed it doesn’t matter what style of music I threw at it.

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Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 evaluate: Verdict

The B&W Panorama 3 is a powerful all-in-one soundbar that may attraction to these in search of a premium Atmos possibility that sounds good throughout varied content material sorts with out requiring consumer adjustment. Motion pictures, music and TV reveals all get a giant enhance in audio high quality with the Panorama 3 related and the Atmos results, whereas not as impactful as these delivered by the Sonos Arc, assist elevate the sense of immersion.

The restricted audio customisation choices is perhaps off placing for some, and the inclusion of only one HDMI port means different exterior gadgets might want to take up the valuable ports in your TV, however the positives far outweigh these drawbacks. Alexa proves a trusty assistant, the B&W Music app is an intuitive hub for music streaming, and the soundbar itself delivers room-filling sound in a handsome bundle.

If you’d like voice assistant flexibility and class-leading Atmos top results, the Sonos Arc stays the standalone soundbar to beat in its worth bracket. However the Panorama 3 isn’t far behind on the Atmos entrance, and for seems and musicality, has its quantity.

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