Bose Smart Soundbar 900

MSRP $899.00

“The Smart Soundbar 900 adds Dolby Atmos for only $100 more, making it a superb choice for a single-speaker home theater sound system.”

Pros

  • Elegant design
  • Good Dolby Atmos results
  • Excellent music high quality
  • Handy TV voice management
  • Private listening headphone sync

Cons

  • Only one HDMI port
  • Basic, non-backlit distant
  • Limited help for Android

When Bose debuted its $799 Smart Soundbar 700 within the final half of 2018, it in all probability ought to have included Dolby Atmos, the extremely immersive encompass sound format getting used to enhance each films and music. It didn’t, and that gave perennial competitor Sonos a chance to swoop in with its personal Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Sonos Arc, which debuted in 2020 for a similar value because the non-Atmos Smart Soundbar 700.

But Bose has lastly hopped on the Atmos bandwagon with its $899 Smart Soundbar 900. Is it value the additional $100? Let’s discover out.

Holes within the glass

Bose Smart Soundbar 900.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you assume the Smart Soundbar 900 seems acquainted, you’re not dreaming. It’s a lifeless ringer for the Smart Soundbar 700, proper all the way down to the fashionable (but simply smudged) glass high. The largest distinction is the matching set of racetrack-like oval holes on both finish of the glass sheet. Those openings are for the additional up-firing drivers, which assist the soundbar ship the peak results which have change into synonymous with Dolby Atmos.

The drivers are angled upward in order that they’ll bounce particular sounds off of your ceiling and again all the way down to your listening place. So though the 900 is impressively brief (2.29 inches tall) and will simply sit beneath most big-screen TVs, don’t put it there. It must be out within the open to benefit from these up-firing drivers.

In its black guise, the 900 just about disappears into the background, however if you’d like your soundbar to make a visible assertion in addition to an audible one, it’s additionally accessible in white.

One port too few

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 rear ports.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

You can join the Smart Soundbar 900 to your TV with an HDMI cable or an optical cable, and Bose consists of each within the field. If you utilize the optical cable, you gained’t have the ability to ship a Dolby Atmos sign to the soundbar even when your TV helps it. Atmos is just too bandwidth-hungry for an optical connection — it requires the fatter pipe of HDMI. This is to not say that the 900 gained’t ship extremely immersive sound when utilizing optical — it should nonetheless sound nice because of the corporate’s TrueSpace expertise — you simply can’t get the complete Atmos expertise with out HDMI.

The Smart Soundbar 900 delivers fantastically clear, room-filling sound.

Speaking of HDMI, the 900 has only one HDMI port, which it makes use of to obtain audio out of your TV and to ship management directions again to the TV. For most individuals, that’s going to be a small annoyance, because it forces you to surrender certainly one of your TV’s HDMI ports, and doesn’t offer you a alternative. Depending on the variety of HDMI units you’ve got and the variety of inputs in your TV, it’d even necessitate shopping for an HDMI swap.

But for the audio purists on the market with older TVs, it creates one other problem. If your TV doesn’t help HDMI eARC (that’s most TVs which might be older than two years), there’s simply no method to ship the highest-quality audio sign that the 900 is able to dealing with, specifically 24-bit, lossless Dolby Atmos in Dolby TrueHD.

With different Dolby Atmos soundbars, just like the Sony HT-A7000, you may join a Blu-ray participant or streaming media machine to one of many soundbar’s HDMI inputs, thus bypassing your TV’s HDMI ARC limitations by sending the audio on to the soundbar whereas the video is handed via to your TV.

The Smart Soundbar 900 isn’t the one Atmos soundbar with this limitation. The Sonos Arc additionally has only a single HDMI port.

Don’t lose the distant

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 remote control.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

While it’s true you could management the entire Smart Soundbar 900’s options from the Bose Music app (extra on that in a second), the included distant ought to be saved useful if for no different purpose than there aren’t any controls constructed into the soundbar itself. The solely controls that Bose consists of on that clean glass floor are for good speaker features (microphone mute, motion button). For quantity, mute, play/pause, and different features, you’ll want the distant or the app.

Strangely, Bose determined to equip the Soundbar 900 with certainly one of its fundamental, non-backlit infrared remotes, whereas the Soundbar 700 comes with a a lot fancier, backlit Bluetooth common distant. When I requested Bose why it did this, I used to be instructed that the Voice4Video function (which I talk about beneath) is seen as a alternative for a lot of the common distant’s options.

You’ll want an app for that

In principle, you need to use the Smart Soundbar 900 with simply the included distant management, however you’d be lacking out on loads. The Bose Music app (for iOS and Android) walks you thru the setup course of, together with getting the soundbar linked to your own home’s Wi-Fi, calibrating the sound utilizing the included AdaptIQ microphone, and establishing both Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa if you wish to allow the 900’s good speaker capabilities. Getting the soundbar linked to Wi-Fi is a prerequisite if you wish to reap the benefits of any of the natively supported music streaming companies, Spotify Connect, or Apple AirPlay 2.

Within the app, you’ll additionally discover the entire deeper settings, like changes for bass, treble, and top channels, in addition to the dialogue enhancement mode. None of those will be managed utilizing the distant. The app can be the one method to affirm that the soundbar is receiving and enjoying Dolby Atmos.

Brilliant sound

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 close-up.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Whether you’re enjoying 5.1, Dolby Atmos, or an ordinary 2-channel stereo combine, the Smart Soundbar 900 delivers fantastically clear, room-filling sound. In typical Bose vogue, the sound signature tends to intensify the midranges and excessive frequencies out of the field. For music, it offers vocals a crisp, high-energy sound, however it’s additionally ultimate for TV dialogue.

There’s loads of bass accessible, too. But as I discussed above, you’ll have to dig into the Bose Music app to maximise the speaker’s low-end capabilities, because it’s fairly tame if you first set it up. I additionally suggest boosting the peak channel settings. Even with my basement’s comparatively low, 7.5-foot ceiling top, I discovered I wanted the additional punch to get probably the most out of these up-firing top drivers.

It’s not onerous to persuade your self that there are extra encompass audio system within the room.

It takes some tweaking, however after getting the settings dialed in, the Smart Soundbar 900 creates a convincing Dolby Atmos dome of sound. All of my go-to Atmos check films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Ford V. Ferrari, and Avengers: Infinity War sounded thrilling. You can positively hear the added dimension supplied by the peak channels, however as with the non-Atmos Smart Soundbar 700, it’s the unbelievable width of the 900’s soundstage that you simply discover most. Sit lifeless middle and it’s not onerous to persuade your self that there are extra encompass audio system within the room.

This is the place evaluating the 900 to the Sonos Arc will get attention-grabbing. From a purely Dolby Atmos viewpoint, the Arc does a greater job with top results, and its considerably greater enclosure produces deeper, extra resonant bass. But the Smart Soundbar 900 is healthier at creating an general encompass sound expertise, and it additionally gives higher readability, particularly for dialogue.

When it involves music, each soundbars impress, however as soon as once more, every has its personal strengths. The Arc produces a hotter bass response, however it may possibly’t fairly match the Soundbar 900’s readability within the higher ranges. Because of the 900’s wider soundstage, I believe Bose has the sting for music, however it will probably come down to private desire.

Streaming sounds

It’s value noting that as a result of the Soundbar 900 helps AirPlay 2 however not Chromecast, Android customers have fewer high-quality music streaming choices. All of the streaming companies supported natively within the Bose Music app (Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, TuneIn, Deezer, iHeart Radio, and SiriusXM) will stream over Wi-Fi. If these companies help hi-res or lossless audio (and you’ve got entry to that tier of content material), you need to get the very best audio high quality. But when you use Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music, or one of many many companies that aren’t within the Bose Music app, you’ll be restricted to Bluetooth, utilizing both the SBC or AAC codecs.

Apple machine house owners get extra freedom of selection. Using AirPlay 2, just about any music app can stream over Wi-Fi in as much as 16-bit/48kHz lossless high quality from an iPhone to the Soundbar 900, and from there, any grouped audio system can even have the ability to play alongside.

This pales compared to the large array of companies supported by Sonos. The Bose Music app additionally doesn’t have the power to go looking all your companies from a single interface, or create a vast variety of favourite playlists and stations — you’re restricted to simply six.

‘Alexa, channel 33’

Bose Smart Soundbar 900.Your TV or streaming machine might have Chromecast built-in, however the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 doesn’t. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you select Amazon Alexa as your voice assistant, Bose gives a intelligent Alexa-only method to management your TV and cable set-top field with voice instructions. It’s known as Voice4Video, and also you configure it throughout the Bose Music app. Once the soundbar has appropriately recognized your TV, your cable field, and your native cable supplier, you’ll have the ability to flip your TV on and off and leap to particular channels utilizing your voice.

It’s hardly one thing you want, but when it’s one thing you need, you’ll be glad to know it really works rather well. I solely encountered just a few events the place I needed to repeat a TV-based voice command.

Multiroom audio

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 seen with Sonos Arc.Bose Smart Soundbar 900 (left) and Sonos Arc. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

One of the perks of getting a Wi-Fi-connected speaker is with the ability to do multiroom audio. That’s the place you may play a distinct supply of music on every speaker or have all your audio system enjoying the identical music in excellent sync or divvy up your own home into speaker teams, every doing their very own factor.

With the Smart Soundbar 900, you may create a whole-home audio answer with different Bose wi-fi audio system, Bluetooth audio system, and headphones — a really versatile set of choices. Those grouped audio system can play any supply the first speaker has entry to, whether or not it’s Bluetooth, the Bose Music built-in streaming companies, AirPlay 2, or your TV’s sound. Managing these speaker teams isn’t fairly as versatile, nonetheless.

If your group incorporates solely Bose Wi-Fi audio system, just like the Bose Home Speaker 500 or Bose Smart Soundbar 300, you may edit the group, simply including and eradicating audio system as you see match. But teams that include SimpleSync Bluetooth merchandise just like the QuietComfort 45, can’t be edited — you need to finish them and create a brand new group with the units you need.

Bose might not provide the identical stage of music management as Sonos, however its multiroom management is great.

Shhh … the children are sleeping

Bose Music app.

Bose Music app.

If you occur to personal a set of Bose Bluetooth headphones, just like the newly launched QuietComfort 45 or the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, you may pair them to the Soundbar 900 utilizing Bose’s SimpleSync expertise. Most soundbars provide Bluetooth as a method to stream music out of your telephone to the speaker, however only a few allow you to do that in reverse — from the soundbar to a set of headphones — and it’s a useful function.

Our take

The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 was already an excellent speaker for films and music. It solely lacked Dolby Atmos. Now that the Smart Soundbar 900 is right here, and provides that lacking part for less than $100 extra, it’s an excellent selection for a single-speaker house theater sound system.

Is there a greater various?

At this value, there’s actually just one various to the Bose Smart Soundbar 900: The Sonos Arc. They’re the identical value, and run neck and neck on many options. Both give you a selection of Google or Amazon voice assistants, each connect with music streaming companies, each can be utilized as a part of a whole-home wi-fi audio setup, and each use only a single HDMI eARC port for TV connectivity.

The Arc, because of Sonos’ excellent software program, is the higher selection for whole-home audio and management over your music. It additionally produces deeper bass and barely extra noticeable Dolby Atmos top results. But you may’t join a set of headphones for personal listening, the high-frequency readability isn’t pretty much as good as on the Bose, it doesn’t include its personal distant, and it doesn’t allow you to management your TV with Alexa. It’s additionally significantly greater and bulkier than the Soundbar 900.

One extra consideration: Bose offers you extra inexpensive choices for including a subwoofer and wi-fi encompass audio system. You can add these to the Soundbar 900 for as little as $798. To do the identical with the Sonos Arc requires a minimal of $1,147 — although you’re getting a a lot higher-quality set of audio system from Sonos.

How lengthy will it final?

Bose might not provide software program updates for the Smart Soundbar 900 ceaselessly, however I see no purpose why it shouldn’t offer you glorious efficiency for so long as you resolve to personal it. Bose merchandise include a one-year guarantee.

Should you purchase it?

Yes, except you already personal different merchandise made by Sonos, by which case the Arc is a extra logical selection.

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