Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 Dolby Atmos Soundbar Review Page 2

This means that AV sources, whether they're over-the-top streaming services, a gaming console, or broadcast TV/set-top box, can only be fed into the Panorama 3 via your connected flatscreen. It's not an AV hub in itself. You can add music subscription services to B&W's Music app, however. There's support for Deezer,, Qobuz, Soundcloud, Tidal and TuneIn, but note that although the app streams Tidal and Qobuz in hi-res 24-bit, you'll need the Tidal app on a Google Android TV, or connected Amazon Fire/Nvidia Shield/Apple TV media streamer, to deliver spatial audio.

Chaos Theory
Bowers & Wilkins has a long and storied history of movie sound. Its premium speakers are routinely used in mastering suites at top-tier recording studios – including, famously, Abbey Road – although it has to be said the Panorama 3 is some way removed from the brand's 800 Series Diamond floorstanders (see p24). Somewhat surprisingly, it doesn't even adopt the Tweeter on Top design employed for some of B&W's collaborations with Philips TVs. Thankfully, it doesn't lack treble snap or articulation. The proto electronica of The Robots, by Kraftwerk, allows its glass fibre domes to shine, the track's distinctive robot voice effects sounding suitably crystalline. And despite the 'bar having a relatively modest footprint, it does big cinema audio remarkably well, and it's not totally dependent on Dolby Atmos content either.


The 'bar hides 13 drivers, including bass and Atmos pairs

The 5.1 soundtrack of Chaos Walking (Netflix), is given a seamless upmix. In the opening sequence, as our POV descends from orbit to New World terra firma, the soundstage blooms and opens as we swoop to meet Tom Holland for the first time. It's a wide and inviting performance.

Dialogue handling is good too. Clearly central to the movie's narrative in Chaos Walking, both spoken and imagined chatter is clear and well-rounded. Shut your eyes and it sounds like a bona fide centre channel speaker.

When misogynistic Mads Mikkelsen's horseback riders chase down Daisy Ridley, their hooves clump with believable weight, effectively cleaving through the score, pushing it wide left and right. I like how the bar sounds authoritative, and unapologetically cinematic.

Of course, to hear the soundbar at its spatial best, you'll want to feed it Dolby Atmos. The opening episode of Marvel's Moon Knight (Disney+) has an alpine chase sequence that's a full-on sonic thrill ride, with screeching tires and gunfire competing with Wham!'s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. Here the Panorama 3 is tight and exciting, neatly differentiating the pop track from the high-octane action – nothing gets lost in the mix.

There is a caveat, naturally. Without dedicated rear speakers, or any proactive DSP to create a surround illusion, the Panorama 3 doesn't fully envelop. In Moon Knight's fourth episode, Steve Grant finds himself in a medical facility, where a bingo caller is calling numbers. The Atmos mix cleverly rolls the caller from rear left around the entire soundstage, emphasising Grant's disorientation. On the Panorama 3, though, these calls remain chained to the front.


Although 1.2m wide, the 'bar chassis has a slender 6.5cm height

Balancing Act
The Panorama 3 is an impressive Dolby Atmos soundbar. The sheer size of the sonic canvas it paints is profound – it plays loud, and sounds formidable. Bowers & Wilkins' engineering team has done a brilliant job balancing the convenience of its one-box design with overall sound quality.

It's also enjoyably musical, and it's this that elevates it from a TV sound system to something rather more. I would have no qualms using it as a living room wireless speaker.

Operation could be improved. The lack of even a single HDMI input is a frustration, and while it's handy to use a TV wand to control volume, the reliance on the Music app to remotely switch sources is a pain point. After all, you'll not always be there when the system is being used, forcing everyone else to go manual with the touchpanel controls. Once they hear it in action, though, they'll love it.

HCC Verdict

Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3

Price: £900

We say: This slick Dolby Atmos 'bar may not be the easiest to live with, but it sounds terrific with movies and music, and the lack of a separate subwoofer is hardly missed at all.

Overall: 4.5/5


DRIVE UNITS: 3 x 0.75in Titanium dome tweeters; 6 x 2in woven glass fibre cone bass/mid; 2 x 2in woven glass fibre cone Dolby Atmos upfirers; 2 x 4in 'low-profile' bass drivers ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): 400W CONNECTIONS: 1 x HDMI eARC; 1 x optical digital audio input; Ethernet Dolby Atmos/DTS:X: Yes/No SEPARATE SUBWOOFER: No REMOTE CONTROL: No DIMENSIONS: 1,210(w) x 65(h) x 140(d)mm WEIGHT: 6.5kg

FEATURES: 3.1.2 Dolby Atmos playback; Dolby Digital Plus; stereo/5.1 upmixing; wall-mountable; Apply AirPlay 2; Spotify Connect; Bluetooth v5.0; Amazon Alexa built-in; Bowers & Wilkins Music app (incl. Deezer, Qobuz, Tidal and TuneIn).

Bowers & Wilkins