Finding a soundbar that provides excellent sound without being an eyesore in an otherwise tastefully decorated area can be difficult. The majority of us want our TVs to have the highest audio quality available, but adding yet another black rectangle to the house isn’t always desirable. Therefore, we should be grateful to companies like Bowers & Wilkins for discovering that outstanding sound does not always require an unsightly container. We now have the Panorama 3 soundbar, which is a follow-up to their Formation line and features Dolby Atmos, smart home compatibility, and a more understated, elegant appearance.
The Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 is the company’s first Dolby Atmos sound bar, and it will be released in 2022. It is a freestanding bar with thirteen different drivers set up in a 3.1.2 configuration. Since it’s primarily intended to be simple, there aren’t many other settings or calibration options accessible. Although there are two subwoofers built within the bar itself, it doesn’t offer additional subwoofers or satellites in comparison to other high-end standalone bars on the market.
For its most recent iteration of the Panorama sound bar, Bowers & Wilkins has a certain type of consumer in mind: one who just wants to improve the poor audio on their TV. B&W has accomplished this with the all-in-one Panorama 3, its first Dolby Atmos-capable sound bar, by producing a premium speaker that is essentially plug-and-play and will appeal to the no-nonsense streaming crowd. also you can check our article on Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review.
Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Design
The term “sound bar” is crucial in terms of the industrial design of Panorama 3. It has a fairly low (2.6in) profile despite being a fairly large cabinet (at 47.6in wide it requires a TV of at least 55in to sit beneath if it’s not going to look a little awkward in your home theatre setup). The combination of perforated plastic and tactile acoustic cloth also helps minimise the visual bulk. But at its core, Panorama 3 has a soundbar’s dimensions and design.
The Bowers & Wilkins can comfortably fit beneath most TVs without touching the screen’s bottom thanks to its modest height. And it comes with a (simple but reliable) bracket if you wish to mount your sound bar to the wall. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that placing the Panorama 3 behind a surface will reduce its performance, as is the case with all Dolby Atmos sound bars with upward-firing drivers. Therefore, it is improper to place it on a middle shelf of a TV stand, for example.
Connections were brought up before, and the Panorama 3 shows itself to be inferior than preceding models in this regard. There is a single HDMI (eARC) port as well as USB-C service connectivity, optical digital, Ethernet, and wired internet. The Panorama 2 on the other hand has optical/aux, three HDMI inputs, one output, and a sub out. There is Dolby Atmos, and the Panorama 3 can playback 4K Blu-rays and video streaming services in their lossless TrueHD or lossy Digital+ variations. It can receive LPCM, but it cannot handle DTS.
13 different driver units are grouped in a 3.1.2 arrangement inside the container. To prevent high-frequency distortion, those three 19mm Titanium dome tweeters are completely separated from the cabinet. The left, centre, and right locations of the six forward-facing 50mm woven glass-fiber cone bass/mid-range units are twinned. Two 50mm woven glass-fiber drivers are used for the atmos elevation units, and two 100mm low-profile bass units are used for the low frequencies. The B&W Music app supports Alexa natively, and an Amazon account can be connected. also you will learn our article on Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review.
The microphones in the bar can pick up our voice even when music is playing loudly, and Alexa will quickly handle requests or play Spotify music – however playback from Tidal with Alexa is not supported. The app is a stylish companion with a well-organized layout and straightforward EQ customization enabled by adjusting bass and treble. It is annoying that altering the bass/treble extends to all sources, so adjusting it for movies will also affect how music plays, and the same is true for volume. The app doesn’t offer any different sound modes for selection.
The only other physical connections are a USB-C connector for service only, an Ethernet port for those who want a wired internet connection, and an optical digital input for anyone whose TV doesn’t support ARC. Unfortunately, there is no subwoofer output, so adding a different sub won’t improve the bass quality. With built-in Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC, the options for wireless connectivity are pretty varied.
Strangely, the Panorama 3 does not operate with B&W’s Formation multi-room system, making it impossible to add wireless back speakers or a subwoofer or link it to a network of devices throughout your home. It’s crucial to be aware that the sound bar doesn’t come with a remote control for operation. This isn’t really a problem, though, since you can use your TV’s zapper if it supports HDMI-ARC. You may also use the B&W Music app to learn your TV’s commands if you’re connected via the optical input.
Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Controls
A remote control is not included with the Panorama 3. Do not, however, assume that this means you have only a few controllable alternatives. You may manage volume on the sound bar by connecting it to your television using one of the ARC or eARC HDMI ports on the screen. Using the Bowers & Wilkins “Music” app, you may also adjust the volume.
This software also lets you combine your preferred internet radio stations and music streaming services. Because Bowers & Wilkins is confident in the Panorama 3’s ability to be a powerful music speaker, it features Apple AirPlay 2, aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, and Spotify Connect as part of its wireless connectivity. You can also connect the sound bar to a larger B&W-based multiroom system via the control app; this feature is slated to become available ‘soon.
Additionally, the sound bar’s top surface has proximity-sensing capacitive touch controls that are concealed until activated. What else do you actually need, even though it’s just the bare minimum? If any of these other choices are unsatisfactory in some manner, Amazon Alexa voice control is always an alternative.
Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Audio quality
We’ll start with the less encouraging news, if only because there isn’t much of it. When dealing with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, Panorama 3 does provide an unmistakable hint of height to the sound, but it’s not near as powerful as that provided by Sennheiser’s Ambeo sound bar or even close to the effect of having actual overhead speakers. However, the Ambeo is far more expensive, and investing in overhead speakers requires a bigger commitment than doing so for a sound bar.
Furthermore, the Sonos Arc isn’t exactly miles ahead in this regard. Let’s get started on the list of everything Panorama 3 accomplishes admirably now that we have that out of the way. It is difficult to overestimate the scale, energy, and encompassing aspect of the Bowers & Wilkins performance when playing the 6 Underground soundtrack with Atmos support. It has a genuine tone that is believable.
The Panorama 3 is assured, coherent, and exquisitely balanced, from the quick, punchy, and highly detailed low frequencies to the roomy, elegant, and comparably detailed midrange, and all the way to the bright, substantial top end. If you don’t have ostentatiously high ceilings, the soundstage it creates has a respectable amount of height as well as width to the presentation. At the risk of repeating myself, the height impact in this situation isn’t obvious, but it’s undeniable. Movement from wide left to wide right is evident and pronounced, and the soundstage is clearly defined and expertly steered.
Regarding TV shows, the B&W is still excellent due to the addition of the dedicated centre speaker, which makes dialogue crystal clear, sharp, and well-articulated. The woofers give some low-end depth to the overall soundstage while the left and right speakers accurately and precisely project music and effects over the front of the room.
Naturally, when you switch to Dolby Atmos soundtracks, things get better. The soundtrack for the film Moonfall is extremely immersive and object-based, despite the fact that it is complete nonsense. When a space shuttle launches through a tidal wave, the Panorama 3 fluidly transfers sound around the front of the room, and the woofers add bass punch (yes, really).
The protagonists of Moonfall glide inside the moon, and the various auditory items are moved about with accuracy, creating some great overhead effects that help the viewer feel as though they are in zero gravity. The woofers turn out to be rather strong, enabling this single unit to offer a respectable low-frequency response that drops as low as 43Hz, according to claims.
We discovered that the amplifying device can be driven hard without losing power or sounding harsh and distorted. In an aggressively mixed soundtrack like Moonfall, where all the channels are frequently used to generate a sense of three-dimensional space and better immersion, there is enough power to drive all the speakers concurrently. you can read our article on Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review.
Price and availability
Priced at $999 (£899 in the UK, €999 in Europe, and AU$1599 in Australia), the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 is currently available for purchase. It’s tough to overlook the high-performance sound bar-shaped Sonos Arc when it costs this much money. The Panorama 3 is designed by Bowers & Wilkins to essentially go head-to-head with the Arc and is significantly more expensive than the Sonos.
The B&W Panorama 3 is a capable, lively, and detailed Dolby Atmos sound bar that is inexpensive. It also does several things quite well. Its integrated bass end, which is unique at this price point, gives vivacious action movies and soundtracks some much-needed weight.
Bass is only one aspect of a cinematic performance; musically, it’s average, as with most sound bars. Unfortunately, compared to some of its rivals, such as the Sonos Arc with its remarkable height projection, soundstage, organization, and dazzling conversation, the Panorama 3 falls short in all areas.