Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review

The frequency response of the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 is okay. It has a dark sound due to the pulled back trebles, and the peaks in the lower mids muddy voices and lead instruments, resulting in a dull sound.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and a devotee of polo shirts, reportedly wryly observed that “simple can be harder than complex.” It’s a presupposition that applies to both art and technology as well as the areas where they occasionally carelessly intersect, like soundbars. Even if it’s simple to mask problems with a variety of customizable features and add-ons, a simpler, more minimalist approach nevertheless needs to be executed almost flawlessly to avoid the risk of its rigidity revealing its shortcomings.

The Panorama 3, the first Dolby Atmos soundbar from venerable audio company Bowers & Wilkins, boldly works to simplify immersive home theater by offering no settings, room calibration, or sound modes to alter beyond a straightforward two-band EQ and, of course, volume. The soundbar will always automatically decode content accurately, whether it’s music, movies, or games, according to the business, eliminating any guesswork for the user.

Additionally, the company, which is well known for its line of built-in wireless speakers called Formation, is so confident in the B&W Panorama 3’s abilities that, unusually for a product at this price point, it chooses not to offer an optional subwoofer or rear speakers to expand the system into a “true” surround setup, choosing instead to market it as an all-in-one home theater solution. And we find it to be quite alluring. The purpose of a soundbar, after all, isn’t it to provide cinematic audio without the need for several speakers? However, we disagree with Bowers & Wilkins’ choice to do away with any add-ons that were optional. On the one hand, we’ve frequently discovered that with multi-box setups, the system soon becomes incoherent and the sub and surrounds can be bothersome unless all the speakers are top performers.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Design

The Panorama 3 soundbar has a low-profile, wide-and-sleek design that is elegant in its understatement. In a typical installation, the fabric grill covering the speaker’s front and sides and the plastic grill on its top panel make up the majority of what is visible. A glass strip with touch-illuminated control controls covers the middle top portion of the speaker and extends to a Bowers & Wilkins nameplate close to the front border. When you lift it, you can feel its moderate weight and the construction’s rigidity, which reflect its good overall build quality. The soundbar may be mounted on the wall using the accompanying wall brackets or placed on the table where your TV is located thanks to its low profile (just 2.5′′ high) and short depth (5.5′′).

Although the Panorama 3 includes upward-angled Atmos drivers, placing it on a shelf may prevent the speaker from projecting sound upward into the room ceiling. The Panorama 3’s unassuming exterior hides its exquisite interior. First, there are 13 drivers in total, organized in a 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos setup. The left, center, and right (LCR) configuration of the forward-firing array of drivers is used, with two 2′′ midrange drivers and two fully-decoupled 0.75′′ titanium-dome tweeters in each position. On the top panel, a pair of 4′′ subwoofers are placed using effective acoustic volume, which covers the majority of the speaker enclosure.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Connectivity

B&W’s emphasis on simplicity was noted in the introduction, and the Panorama’s back panel is the best example of this. An optical port, an Ethernet port, a USB-C port, an HDMI ARC/eARC port (misleadingly labeled as just “HDMI”), and the input for the speaker’s power cord are all located there. Although it might seem like a lot, it isn’t. You cannot attach additional devices to the USB-C port; it is only intended for usage as a service port. For individuals who have Ethernet cables close to their TVs, the Ethernet port is useful (but the onboard Wi-Fi is more than capable of handling networking tasks). The only remaining ports are HDMI and optical.

You can use both ports on the Panorama, unlike many other soundbars (cough, Sony) that offer both an HDMI and an optical port but then require you to choose just one to use with your equipment. Using the Bowers & Wilkins Music app, you may manually compel the soundbar to switch to the port that it detects as having an active signal instead of letting it choose on its own.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Sound Quality

It would be simple to be seduced by the Panorama 3’s advertising, especially when it claims to provide “the most immersive, most convincing spatial audio ever heard from a sound bar.” One-box Atmos bars have their drawbacks, but the Panorama 3 makes a compelling case to be listed among the best-sounding examples of its kind. This isn’t exactly “genuine” Atmos, so that is one restriction or compromise. Since True Atmos relies on surround speakers to produce a hemisphere of sound, the Panorama 3 lacks an upgrade path for adding additional speakers, making this an effort that is heavily focused on the front and doesn’t wrap the listener in the soundtrack. As a rear gunner, I would have assumed the Formation Flex would have been helpful.

The Panorama 3 nevertheless produces a wide, open, and enveloping sound. The B&W is able to extract every last bit of detail, from the smallest to the most significant, because to its tonally bright and crisp nature, which is not too dissimilar from the HT-A7000. When comparing the lossy Disney+ version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the lossless 4K Blu-ray, there is a tiny difference between the Atmos tracks on streaming vs. 4K Blu-ray. There is a bit less crispness and detail visible. The way it conducts itself, however, generally combines a great deal of intensity and force with a great deal of finesse.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Performance

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. Despite the outstanding speaker setup’s ample power, there is no automated room correction, and there are only a few options available for those who want to optimize the Panorama 3’s performance based on the room’s layout.

Fortunately, at least based on our experience, the soundbar is extremely adaptable and can be installed in the majority of rooms without any difficulty. It handles music deftly, with great stereo image due to its width and a tone that is balanced and lifelike. As a result of the woofers’ flawless integration with the rest of the system, the bass is tight and sensitive, and the entire performance is quite believable. You won’t be let down if you come to this bar with the intention of listening to music.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Setup

After examining the most recent B&W Zeppelin I was familiar with the setup process for the Panorama 3. The Bowers & Wilkins Music App is used to configure and manage the Panorma, which is similar to the Zepp in that it lacks a remote. The software connects with the soundbar instantly after being loaded and started on an iPhone or an Android device. It then walks you through giving it a name, activating Alexa voice control, and connecting it to your TV.

The best connection for that final aspect is HDMI eARC which enables volume control via your set-top box or TV remote in addition to being necessary for transferring distinct Dolby Atmos signals (via HDMI-CEC protocol). You can still get up to TrueHD lossless sound and the aforementioned remote compatibility with regular ARC if you don’t have eARC, but Atmos soundtracks will be downmixed to 5.1.

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Price and Release Date

For $999, the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 Dolby Atmos soundbar is currently on sale in the US. It will be available in the UK and Australia in late April and cost £899/AU$1,599. No matter what market you’re in, this is clearly a significant amount of cash. Furthermore, it puts Panorama 3 in a situation where it is more or less in direct rivalry with the Sonos Arc. The cost and setup are fairly comparable… and Bowers & Wilkins will be hoping that the final level of praise is also fairly comparable.

Conclusion

Actually, there are two ways to approach this. The Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 is a well-built, beautifully finished, and flawlessly specified soundbar that may significantly improve your audio experience for television and movies. This is the “glass half-full” perspective to adopt. It’s a huge, commanding listen that manages to achieve a decent level of Dolby Atmos height in its presentation. Surprisingly, the music is also surprisingly well-composed.

If you’re more of a “glass half-empty” person, the Panorama 3 is an expensive soundbar that has a subpar control interface, no multi-room capabilities (yet), is a part of a subpar ecosystem when compared to Sonos, and has a worse Dolby Atmos effect than one might hope. However, in our opinion, the entire performance’s quality makes it simple to overlook the Atmos delivery’s lack of multi-room support and more modest nature. If you value sound quality, the Panorama 3 is a great investment.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!

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Actually, there are two ways to do this. The Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 is a well-built, beautifully crafted, and impeccably specified soundbar that can greatly enhance your audio experience while watching TV and movies. That's the "half-full" view you should take.Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review