Originally Posted by taichi4
Earlier in this thread I posted a few points about the impact of environment on systems like this, which depend upon reflection and psycho acoustics. Unlike separates, which are far less dependent on environment, the Ambeo works optimally in a room that is set up for it.
Apparently this system needs at least a medium-size room, because rear sound effects need some decent volume to be most effective. The other reason probably has to do with the potential for interference or cancellation effects to be more pronounced in very small rooms, because you would likely have a much more complex reflective sound field. Simply put, cancellation effects cancel out sound, rather than support it, and can collapse part of the sound field. In such a scenario the front effects would predominate because of the sheer force of direct sound. The Ambeo, or a similar system, needs a clear and ample space to engage the most effective reflection.
I asked one of the early somewhat critical posters what his room was like, and though he commented on the size, he did not describe his walls and furnishings. Absorptive materials hanging on, or spread out across walls, would not assist the Ambeo in projecting the best sound.
Given what firmware upgrades have accomplished for other systems, I don't think it's insurmountable for Sennheisey to add some optimization features down the road.
Based on the positive reviews, when it's set up properly this thing really performs, producing height, and surround, as well as impressive midrange, which is the most difficult for any system or set up. Being a fan of planar and full range drivers, which can produce tremendously coherent sound, I'm completely intrigued with the array of 4 inch Neumann drivers, which should be capable of really pure and unified sound and tonality. And all of this without cluttering your room.
I wish I had the budget to get one.
Everything in the world has its good as well as its bad. If it were only one way of both, there would be no reason to follow forums to discuss these things. And to those who post, it's preferable to be factual good or bad, information we can use. It's always appreciated so long as respect remains in the group.
So far, I think this is a very respectable group.
During shopping, sometimes we base judgment on feedback. Not just about products, this goes for movies, television shows, music, everything. I'll be perfectly honest. I usually skip the bad reviews with a blind eye. I'm always thinking: What are these people talking about? A product can't be THAT bad.
Did they set it up right?
What did they play?
What did they expect?
I mean, if I were to listen to the bad critics, I'd never buy anything!
Everything counts in determination. From the start like with a customer's attitude (and mine was good) to the manufacturer (theirs is also good). Sennheiser processed a product in good faith. A slight delay was a good sign because it was hoped a release would come only when mature, the German way.
Then came Digital River. OMG. I was helped, but I had to make two calls plus three emails before that happened for a simple tracking number.
On the other side, when it was discovered by Sennheiser personnel that logging onto the app was difficult, it was greatly appreciated in my being helped of his own will by their main man himself, Max. I liked that.
I account the good as well as the bad. Those reports have mostly been mentioned here because people visit these sites and this gives others some insight, vague as it may seem. This reality is why some come here that we sometimes don't hear in professional reviews.
Those minor issues are long gone. So, what's the problem?
A customer who has only 30-days to decide whether to keep this or return it, isn't much time to play around. In fact, it's a subconscience pressure. And that means this thing better be good. The customer's view of "good" really means satisfaction because he'll live with it forever. Speak now or forever hold your piece.
Let it be noted heresay, the Ambeo when it worked, was pretty good. However, it was no secret that my unit didn't meet my expectation in various ways. Not just in rear sound effects as more was desired, its total performance as well. That crummy app was no help. Yes, "crummy" was as I told them so. Sure, it was fine on the first day, but that was when it initially paired.
"First day" and "initially paired" are the clue, here. Who knew that the app hadda be "initially paired" EVERY TIME? A link in the iPad's homescreen via bluetooth was pointless. I consider the app as part of the product I'm paying for.
Now it's time to mention about the main unit. I didn't just wish I had it. I had it. Pardon me for saying so, quotes like "The Ambeo works optimally in a room that is set up for it" and then "I wish I had the budget to get one" mean it was never had to be heard and based on theory and whatever others have said. Until it's experienced, experience counts most because that evaluation is factual. Please be understanding.
First thing's first: the update. Update was a problem both in WiFi and Ethernet. My router was moved in the same room and it wouldn't see it. Then direct plugging with Ethernet wasn't any good, either. Was my router bad? Was it me? After all, others were successful. Then again, Digital Trends
also reported app hiccups. I've done this on other machines, before. Every other device from TV to BD player was seen and worked fine by the router. The app did reveal that it had the latest version, eventually. What a nightmare. How it got updated is not clear.
The sound effects were okay, not the best there can be and I didn't expect so from an all-in-one solution, nevertheless okay. Bass was ideal. For those of you who worry about the neighbors, this thing is great. In the late hours, I'd program a repetitive loud stormy sound effect from a movie scene, closed the window and gone outside. I could hear traces of the movie, but nothing that would disturb the neighbors. Yet it was satisfying inside.
Yes, theories about room reflections, room sizes, furnishings and so on, are important. That goes for any loudspeaker. Important guidelines, no doubt. For example, let's understand, the best placement for bass is not in mid-air under a TV compacted with high frequency drivers to begin with. Yet, it's commended that a company done a great job. Plus, they provide bass extension if more is desired. Let's face it, under the circumstances, not a bad toy.
About performance, a user presses a button which calibrates the room and everything within it. He's careful where he sets the unit and the mike. Then it says: "Done". Psycho is right, not just in acoustics, in the user too. Once calibration ends, the user sees "Done". That word "Done" means everything. Means that Dolby's guidelines of levels were established by the processors. Now the user thinks that in order to get to that point in the first place, the unit worked around all obstacles including room size, reflections, placement and so on. He expects, and in most cases, gets something worthwhile. The unit's self setting is one thing. Human perception is another. That's why further customization is essential.
Who cares if it works better in an ideal room? In my case, placement and purchasing was intended for a bedroom. A bed doesn't help reflections. Shall I get rid of the bed? I'd get rid of the soundbar before that happens or I'd sleep on the floor! Even if it worked better elsewhere, it wouldn't have fulfilled its initial purpose.
Likewise, I'm sure that the fore-mentioned early critic who didn't describe his walls and furnishings probably wouldn't accommodate for it, anyways. This unit was meant to deal with it, at least reasonably. Yet, that person's opinion, limited as it may have seemed, is far more informative than of some as I've heard complaining that this device was expensive time and time over.
I suppose either you like it, or you don't. Dependent on the individual. If you've heard the best like in a wired system with dedicated loudspeakers, you might think something's missing in this system. On the other hand, if you know you have limited freedom in installation and an all-out-easy setup is your only choice, this is a great option because it's better than the raw TV speakers. I now prefer the old way of dedicated rear loudspeakers. What can I say, I'm spoiled.
Again, 30-days is a pressure, particularly on an item which is not small change. Sure, eventually app updates may come. Who's to say that it's for desired features? No room for wishful thinking within 30 days. A smart purchaser knows that you ain't got nuthin' until it's materialized. They had over a year before being released. And maybe I'm wrong as I always blame operator error, being myself. One thing I know, whoever is wrong or right or even whatever I previously thought, goes out the window. Keeping an item is dependent by reasonable satisfaction.
It makes no difference one way or the other. My unit is dead; no longer powers up. Back it goes. After one whole week, I finally got an RMA. I still love Sennheiser, though.
Finally, I can say this because I wouldn't say so if I didn't do so. By all means, base decision on positive review. Don't forget the negatives. Those people logged on because they wanted to convey something. Better yet, for a neutral opinion, disregard what the manufacturer says. Disregard the reviews, the feedbacks, the theories. Moreover, disregard this post. It's the correct way in evaluating any speaker system. Buy it. Experience it. It's the only true way.