Panorama 3 is Bowers & Wilkins' first Dolby Atmos soundbar

Nine years after the launch of Bowers & Wilkins' Panorama 2 soundbar, the audio specialist has finally unveiled its successor – and the Panorama 3 adds native Dolby Atmos playback to the one-box home cinema party.

Hitting shops today priced £900, the Panorama 3, like its 2013 predecessor and the original 2009-era Panorama, is a single-enclosure model with no external subwoofer. Instead, it combines a pair of 100mm (4in) bass drivers – 'mounted in a substantial acoustic volume' within the 'bar – with a front-facing L/C/R array and twin Atmos upfirers.

The L/C/R channels all comprise a 19mm decoupled titanium dome tweeter and pair of 50mm mid-range units, while the Atmos heights are angled 50mm full-range drivers engineered by B&W 'to excel with spatial audio soundtracks.'

While some soundbar brands keep power details under wraps, B&W reveals a claimed 400W total amplification – 40W to each subwoofer driver, 40W to each Atmos driver, 40W to each tweeter and 40W to each mid-range pair.

Return to slender
While the original Panorama and Panorama 2 models were somewhat chunky, and shared a similar aesthetic, B&W's new soundbar adopts a more svelte profile. Measuring about 1.2m wide but only 6.5cm high, it has been designed – according to Andy Kerr, B&W's Director of Product Marketing – 'to match a typical 55in TV.'

'Of course the customer might be using something larger, but we at the same time think, because of the price point, it's unlikely they'll be using something smaller than 55in.'

Unlike B&W's Formation Soundbar, the Panorama 3 cannot be paired with a wired or wireless subwoofer, or wireless rears. It is instead, says Kerr: 'a similar solution to the solutions we've been working on with our friends at Philips TV – an integrated self-contained solution... simple but elegant.'

Despite the premium price tag, the bar offers minimal physical connectivity, with just a single HDMI eARC input, plus legacy optical digital input, for hookup to a TV. And with a flatscreen always intended to be the hub for sources, this might help justify the decision not to include DTS:X decoding on the 'bar.

Other connections are Ethernet and a USB service port; there are wireless options too, of course. Apply AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect are supported, in addition to Bluetooth with aptX Adaptive. The Panorama 3 is also compatible with B&W's Music app, which integrates streaming services including Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz and TuneIn.

The company says its Music app will be adding more services later this year. The soundbar is also due an upgrade enabling multi-room capability with B&W Formation and Zeppelin hardware.

Somewhat unusually, the Panorama 3 isn't supplied with a remote control; operation is instead via a TV's handset either via the HDMI CEC protocol, or using the bar's remote learning functionality.

Central to the top fascia is a touch-sensitive 'hidden until lit’ control panel for source and volume adjustments. There's also Alexa voice control integration for hands-free operation.

Ramming home the Panorama's easy-to-use ethos is the lack of preset sound modes. 'The idea of this product is to make it as "turnkey" as possible,' explains Kerr, adding that DSP is onboard to fine-tune performance. 'It's intuitive in how it behaves – it examines the incoming content to deliver an optimised sound experience.'

'We found from our own experience, with our work with Philips TV, that a lot of the time we provide multiple options and actually the customer winds up using the fewest possible, essentially putting the product into one mode and leaving it at that.'

Bass and treble adjustments can, however, be made via B&W's Music app.