Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 review: Raising the bar
The Panorama 3 represents Bowers & Wilkins’ latest foray into the high-end soundbar market – and the company’s first model to receive Dolby Atmos support.
With the Panorama 2 hitting shelves nearly a decade ago, this is also far from being the only notable addition. The last model didn’t even feature an HDMI port in the connections hub, after all.
Since you can’t add a subwoofer or rear speakers here, however, the Panorama 3 has a tough assignment – it’ll need to deliver immersion and bass without help.
Plus, as we’ve seen with the audio giant’s Formation Bar, a lofty price tag doesn’t necessarily mean this premium experience is a given.
So, does the Panorama 3 have what it takes in the sonic stakes, or is this one to skip over? We’ve been testing in order to find out.
Our quick take
As single-unit soundbars go, the Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 ticks all the main boxes. It’s attractively designed, with 13 high-quality speakers and 400W of Class D amplification on offer to create a solid 3.1.2-channel system with Dolby Atmos content.
The connectivity is adequate, with an optical digital input and a single HDMI connector with eARC. There’s also wireless connectivity available via Bluetooth, built-in Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2, as well as support present for Alexa, high-resolution music streaming services and Spotify Connect, as well. The only real omission here is the lack of expansion options for rear speakers or a separate subwoofer, which is a real shame.
Otherwise, the performance is excellent, with a soundstage that delivers width, overhead effects and a surprising amount of bass considering there’s no separate sub. If you’re looking for a single-unit solution, the Panorama 3 won’t disappoint – it sounds awesome with TV, movies and music.
The Panorama 3 sports a sleek and minimalist design. It’s attractive, but also discreet enough to not draw attention to itself while under your TV. The build quality is excellent, with a perforated top covering the up-firing drivers and a wrap-around fabric grille present for the front-firers.
The overall finish is matte black, but there’s a small glossy central section on the top, where you’ll find some basic touch-sensitive controls that light up when you pass your hand nearby. There’s also a microphone for the built-in Alexa support, but, strangely, there’s no display on the Panorama 3.
Overall, the width of this soundbar means it’s more suited to larger screen sizes (55-inch and above), but, at only 65mm tall, it shouldn’t block the screen when placed in front of any TV. If you don’t want to use a stand, and would rather wall mount, B&W includes a bracket and template for that purpose.
The Panorama 3 isn’t just minimalist in terms of its design – B&W has also stripped back the connectivity. However, it should be sufficient for most people, with the single HDMI connection supporting eARC (enhanced audio return channel), and, thus, allowing you to send lossless audio back from your TV.
The only other physical connections are an optical digital input, which is for anyone with a TV that doesn’t support ARC, an Ethernet port for those who prefer a wired internet connection, and a USB-C port, although this is for service only. Unfortunately, there’s no subwoofer output, so you can’t connect a separate sub and boost the bass performance.