Legendary high-end speaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkens (B&W) stretched its soundbar portfolio a little closer toward mainstream audiences today with the introduction of its new self-contained soundbar model Panorama 3, now supporting Dolby Atmos.

The one-piece 3.0.2 surround sound B&W Panorama 3 is being released today (March 3rd) at a $999 suggested retail price. For that, purchasers receive a single soundbar outfitted with 13 drivers, including a pair of self-contained subwoofer drivers and a pair of forward-tilted up-firing overhead speakers that are said to re-produce the immersive Atmos 360-degree surround sound experience.

The company said the one-piece solution will give TV owners with limited space or room designs a more complete sense of high-quality B&W-engineered sound to replace the thin, boxy sounding speakers available in most flat-panel televisions.

Those requiring more impactful bass from their soundbars can opt for one of the company’s previously introduced models, like the wireless Formation Bar and Formation Bass.

The company said its self-contained Panorama 3 model will present dialog, music and sound effects with the accuracy, detail and spaciousness that B&W is known for along with the multi-dimensional surround sound effects afforded by Dolby Atmos object oriented surround technology when playing back supported content.

However, the company said that for stereo content, the soundbar will only present a 3-channel up-mix effect and will not convert to the full Atmos experience that includes overhead channels.

Cosmetically, the B&W Panorama 3 was designed to be as unobtrusive to the picture viewer and the room decor as possible, measuring just 2.55-inches (65mm) high and 39.8 inches (1,012 mm) wide, making a good fit for televisions with 48-inch diagonal screens and wider.

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The soundbar’s input assortment is somewhat Spartan, with only a single Enhanced Audio Channel (eARC)-supporting HDMI port. However, the technology allows eARC-supporting televisions to act as the hub for connected source components, such that the television will  accept incoming signals from the source components and send the audio signal out to the soundbar to decode and playback various multi-channel formats over an HDMI cable.

This also enables controlling both the soundbar and the television with the TV’s remote control. B&W doesn’t even include a separate remote with the Panorama 3, relying instead on eARC to do the heavy lifting for the soundbar and TV together.

However, in more limited applications, viewers can use an optical input and IR remote repeater on front of the TV for basic up and down volume control using the TV remote.

The soundbar also supports Wi-Fi, Ethernet, aptX Adaptive up to Bluetooth aptX HD and Bluetooth 5+2 wireless connectivity.

Other control options include a manual top-positioned lit touch-panel UI, built-in Alexa support for basic control using spoken commands and a mobile device app.

The soundbar is designed to be positioned in only one flat horizontal configuration. It is not intended for vertical placement. B&W includes integrated wall brackets that support the intended positioning.

The acoustic platform includes 400 Watts of total sound output across 13 drivers, including a pair of built-in 3.9-inch (100mm) subwoofer drivers. Frequency response is rated at 43 Hz to 48 Hz +/- 6 dB.

The left, center and right channels drivers include 1.9-inch (50mm) full-range cones and 0.7-inch (19mm) decoupled titanium domed tweeters.

The pair of dedicated top-mounted forward-angled up-firing overhead channel drivers measure 1.9-inches (50mm) in diameter.

Together with Dolby Atmos support, B&W calls the Panorama 3 the “most room-filling and immersive sound we’ve ever produced from a soundbar.”

In addition to A/V entertainment, the Panorama 3 supports high quality music from a handful of the most popular music streaming services including Deezer and Tidal. It will also work externally for Spotify using Spotify Connect and can access Apple Music via AirPlay 2.

B&W is making the Panorama 3 compatible with its own Formation multi-room wireless audio platform and plans to issue a firmware update shortly that will enable wireless connection to the company’s Zeppelin wireless speaker.

However, the company said the Panorama 3 is not intended as a replacement B&W’s Formation Bar.

B&W said it expects the majority of consumers interested in the Panorama 3 will be those looking for a simple, elegant replacement for the limited audio systems resident on most TVs.

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By Greg Tarr

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