This Dolby Atmos soundbar could be a big rival for the Sonos Arc

a closeup of the bowers & wilkins panorama 3 soundbar
(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

Bowers & Wilkins has finally jumped on the Dolby Atmos soundbar bandwagon, announcing its own one-box solution that could prove a big rival for the Sonos Arc – the best soundbar you can buy today. 

The Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 picks up where its predecessors, the Panorama and Panorama 2, left off, and it's designed to offer cinematic sound with no need for an external subwoofer or rear speakers.

Like the previous models in the range, the Panorama 3 is a slim and elegant-looking soundbar, with a whopping 13 drivers arranged in a 3.1.2 configuration. 

This is Bowers & Wilkins' first Dolby Atmos soundbar, and it comes with 50mm up-firing drivers that are angled to to bounce sound off of your ceiling and back down to your ears to give your film soundtracks, music, and games a sense of height and space. In other words, it should sound really immersive, and make you feel like sound is coming at you from every angle, without the need for a cumbersome surround sound setup

the bowers & wilkins panorama 3 soundbar beneath a tv

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

Bowers & Wilkins has kept connectivity pretty simple, with just one ARC/eARC HDMI port on the back of the soundbar that you can hook up to your TV – and if you have an older TV, there's an optical digital port, too. 

Optical connections usually mean that you won't be able to use your TV's remote to control the soundbar; however, the Panorama 3 is able to learn "key TV remote control commands", so you won't be missing out if your TV is on the older side. 

Stylish touch-capacitive buttons that light up when you interact with the soundbar give you another way to control the soundbar if you don't have your remote control to hand – and for voice control, the Panorama 3 comes with Alexa built-in.

There's plenty of wireless connectivity support, too. The Panorama 3 supports AirPlay 2 and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, so you can stream music from your smartphone or tablet – whether you're on iOS or Android. 

Spotify Connect means you can easily access your favorite playlists, while support for the Bowers & Wilkins Music App gives you access to other music streaming services, including Deezer,, Qobuz, Soundcloud, TIDAL and TuneIn.  Bowers & Wilkins says that the available services are set to expand this year. You can also adjust the sound of the Panorama 3 in the app, though that's limited to treble and bass control – there are none of the presets (like movie mode and music mode, for example ) that a lot of rival soundbars offer, so you can't tailor the audio performance to suit what you're listening to.

Bowers & Wilkins says its new soundbar is engineered to last, and its "powerful digital brain" can be upgraded over time. The company plans to introduce multi-room audio support "shortly after launch", which would make the soundbar compatible with Bowers & Wilkins' Zeppelin and Formation speakers.

Could Bowers beat Sonos?

Available to buy now, the Panorama 3 is priced at $999 / £899. Global pricing is yet to be announced, but that works out at around AU$1,400. 

That price puts the the new soundbar in direct competition with the Sonos Arc, which costs $899 / £899 / AU$1,499 (though it's worth noting the Arc was subject to the Sonos price increase last year, and launched at $799 / £799 / AU$1,399 in 2020). 

Bowers & Wilkins could have the edge over the Sonos Arc, as it's billed as a standalone unit that doesn't require the additional cost of a subwoofer or satellite speakers. 

The Sonos Arc sounds fantastic on its own, but it's definitely at its best when paired with the Sonos Sub and a pair of Sonos One SL rear speakers - and that bumps up the cost considerably. 

Whether the Panorama 3 can deliver a truly rich, immersive sound without the help of a subwoofer to provide rumbling bass frequencies remains to be seen, but it could certainly be a popular option for anyone that wants to upgrade their home theater setup with minimal fuss. 

In any case, we can't wait to get our hands on it to try it out for ourselves. The Sonos Arc has been our top pick for the best soundbar you can buy for nearly two years now, and the prospect of a new rival is very exciting indeed.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.