British audio company Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) has taken the wraps off the $999 Panorama 3 — its very first Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar. The all-in-one speaker is available starting March 3 at bowerswilkins.com and select B&W retailers. At that price, the Panorama 3 joins a growing collection of near-$1,000 Dolby Atmos soundbars that includes the $899 Sonos Arc, $899 Bose Smart Soundbar 900, and $1,000 Sony HT-A5000.
B&W might be best known in audiophile circles for its $35,000 per pair floor-standing loudspeakers, but the company also knows a thing or two about building speaker systems for those who want to keep things simple. In fact, that’s the whole premise behind the Panorama 3: There’s no wireless subwoofer, no HDMI inputs, and no option for rear speakers. Instead, B&W has put everything you need inside one remarkably slender speaker enclosure. There are 13 individual drivers, including three 3/4-inch dome tweeters, six 2-inch cone bass/midranges, two 2-inch cone Atmos (height) drivers, and twin 4-inch subwoofers — all powered by 400 watts of amplification . The result, B&W says, is “a room-filling and powerful sound no one-box rival can match.”
That’s a significant departure from the design of the Panorama 2, which acted as both soundbar and A/V receiver replacement, with a slew of HDMI inputs and the ability to add a wired subwoofer. But just because the Panorama 3 lacks some of these goodies doesn’t mean it’s lacking in features.
The two main connections are an optical input and an HDMI ARC/eARC input, both of which can be used directly with your TV over a single cable. Your TV will need to support Dolby Atmos over HDMI ARC/eARC, otherwise you’ll be limited to Dolby 5.1 surround sound. From a wireless perspective, the Panorama has Bluetooth 5, with aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC codecs, plus Wi-Fi and Apple’s AirPlay 2 technology.
Those wireless connections will let you stream virtual audio from a smartphone or laptop, but if you want to take advantage of the Panorama’s hi-res chops, it works with the B&W Music app. Within the app you’ll find access to Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Soundcloud, and TuneIn.
It’s also an Alexa-enabled smart speaker, letting you control a wide range of smart home and audio functions using voice commands. Alexa can also join the Panorama 3 to a multiroom audio setup, but B&W is planning its own mutlitoom feature. Shortly after launch, it will provide a software update that will make the Panorama 3 compatible with the company’s Formation line of wireless speakers, as well as its latest Zeppelin. Rounding out its features is Spotify Connect compatibility.
There’s no remote control — B&W encourages you to use your TV remote for that — but it does include a wall-mount bracket in the box, something most companies only offer as a paid option.