With the Smart Soundbar 900, Bose has created an elegant sound solution for the TV, with impressive Atmos effects, effective room acoustic correction, easy operation and powerful sound.
- Wide sound for cinema sensation
- Impressive 3D effect with
- Dolby Atmos
Easy to use via app
- High price
- Bass balance a little too punchy for music
Home cinema and ANC expert Bose is expanding its range with the first soundbar to support Dolby Atmos. That alone makes you prick up your ears. In addition, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is said to have sophisticated room calibration and app control. Find out exactly what the replacement for the Bose Soundbar 700 has to offer and whether it is something for you in our test.
What can the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 do?
The Bose Soundbar 900 makes it easy. Either HDMI or Toslink. It doesn’t give you more options for connecting your TV – or any other source. But that’s all you need. All soundtracks can be sent from the TV to the soundbar via the eARC interface. Even the large amounts of data required by Dolby Atmos are no problem. The optical input can be seen as a plan B if your TV does not support an audio return channel.
Unfortunately, this also means you don’t have the option of connecting other sources, such as a Blu-ray player, to the soundbar. However, you will find a LAN socket on the back for an interference-free network connection. Streaming also worked flawlessly wirelessly. This way, Internet radio and the whole world of streaming services are available via AirPlay 2. If you use Spotify, you can also access Spotify Connect. Bluetooth 4.2 rounds off the Bose Smart Soundbar 900.
In addition to the Bose Smart Soundbar 900, we have tested many other Atmos soundbars that can reproduce 3D sound.
Noble design with glass
The Bose Smart Soundbar 900, available in black or white, stands out because of its low profile. At just 5.8 centimetres, it fits under just about any TV. The power of sound that comes out of the correspondingly slim drivers is all the more astonishing. They sit behind a simple perforated grille. The surface is a continuous pane of glass, which gives the whole soundbar a noble touch. Its uniformity is only interrupted by the two buttons of the voice assistant and the elongated openings for the up-firing speakers.
What the soundbar saves in height, it compensates for in width. With its almost 105 centimetres, it can ensure that its left and right channels are a good distance apart compared to other Dolby Atmos soundbars. Together with the shimmer of the glass top, this makes the Bose soundbar look slim and elegant. In contrast, the reduced remote control is almost cute. Its velvety surface feels good in the hand, and there are no confusing light effects like those on the remote control of the Soundbar 700. A good decision, in our opinion.
Cinema feeling in the living room
Ceiling speakers are usually used in cinemas that can play Dolby Atmos content. This is rarely suitable for use in your living room. That’s why many manufacturers work with speakers that beam the sound to the ceiling, from where it is then reflected back to you. The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 uses these up-wiring speakers.
In the film, a storm is brewing. The rain doesn’t just come from the direction of the TV. And it seems to come from above. Much closer and more intense than you are used to. Birds are screeching above you, and a plane is coming in for a landing. But not just from left to right; it flies right over your head. Bose has made the right entry into the Dolby Atmos business right from the start.
Soundbar for beat enthusiasts
Of course, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 can do more than add character to movies. If you’re into bass-laden music playback, you’ll love the soundbar for what it makes of each track. For our taste, however, it overdoes it a bit at specific points. That’s always when the bass overpowers other parts of the music. For example, David Gilmour’s guitar riff at the beginning of Lost for Words is partially hidden behind the drums.
On the other hand, Gilmour’s – and every other – the voice was crystal clear. Despite the warm tuning, Bose has given the Soundbar 900 a fair amount of resolution. We were particularly impressed by the fact that it manages to create a reasonably wide soundstage in front of you. The two side-radiating drivers seem to do a good job here.
Easy to use thanks to the Bose Music App
The soundbar is ready to play straight out of the box. Power and a connection to your TV are all it needs. The handy remote control covers the essential functions and lets you save up to six presets. With this plug-and-play, however, you’d ignore most of its functionality. So we whip out our iPad and set up the system – which is very easy thanks to the Bose Music App.
Once you’ve downloaded the app from the App Store or Google Play Store, it guides you step-by-step through the setup process, including linking your favourite voice assistant – Alexa or Google Assistant – and music streaming service.
To let you know if the soundbar is responding to your commands – remote, app or voice command – Bose has equipped the Smart Soundbar 900 with a discreet light bar. Below the only two buttons, a white light glows that changes colour, location or direction depending on the command. You can find a corresponding translation in the app.
Using the integrated microphones, you can command the Smart Soundbar 900 to start your favourite Spotify playlist, make weather forecasts or even control your TV if it has the appropriate configurations. The soundbar mostly understood us in the test without any problems, even at high levels. You can choose between Alexa from Amazon and Google Assistant.
Of course, you can also deactivate the voice assistants via the corresponding button on the top of the Bose Smart Soundbar 900. A red light will illuminate to confirm that your privacy is yours again.
Sound options and enhancements
The app gives you a lot of options to customise the sound. Although this does not change the typical Bose warm sound, you can give your home cinema system a personal touch. Convenient for our test was that you could switch the rears and sub on and off without having to throw them out of the system and re-integrate them. A direct comparison of which effects actually come from the soundbar and which from the set is thus possible.
You only have to get involved in the setup if you want to adjust the sound of the soundbar in your living room. The microphone Bose supplies for this purpose is reminiscent of a headband with a long cable. Crowned with it, you are supposed to take a seat at 5 different locations in the room while the soundbar emits test tones. ADAPTiQ is what Bose calls its setup programme. This option can also be deactivated later. The test showed that the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 sounds more harmonious with ADAPTiQ activated.Headphones and soundbar – synchronous via Simplesync
If you have Bose headphones, you can pair them with your soundbar via Bluetooth using the app. This way, you can follow all the soundtracks that are played on the soundbar through the headphones. A convenient feature is that you can adjust the soundbar’s volume and the headphones independently of each other.
So if you want to watch an action movie after the sandman without scaring your neighbours out of bed or your flatmates listening to blockbusters too loudly for your taste, you can use Simplesync. That’s what Bose calls this feature, which worked well right away, at least with the Bose QuietComfort 45.
Surround sound with – and without cables
Rear speakers have always taken a unique and always compact form at Bose. The Surround Speakers 700 are no exception. But for these little metal boxes to produce sound, they need both an amplifier and a receiver. Both are conveniently located in the thick power supply unit that comes with the speakers.
So don’t be surprised if your “wireless” surround set comes with speaker cables. First, you have to fix them for the speakers with the help of the supplied spanner. However, the cable is long enough to hide the power supply near a power socket somewhere in the room.
With the Smart Soundbar 900, Bose has succeeded in creating a worthy successor to the Soundbar 700 and jumping into the cold Atmos waters. It only struggles a little with delicate music playback. It is all the more convincing with clear voices and great streaming implementation. Whether you want it to put you in the middle of a hail of grenades or make the crime scene detective more understandable, the Bose Smart Soundbar feels at home in the movie business.
Its Atmos effects are natural and not overblown. Even without the appropriate surround speakers and subwoofers, the soundbar knows how to convince with details and subtlety. However, the last bit of immersion is experienced in the soundbar, sub and rears interplay.
Suppose you’re looking for a space-saving alternative to your hi-fi system and are a fan of the Bose sound. In that case, implementing streaming, Internet radio, and simple operation can be a great source of pleasure. Otherwise, the bass-heavy tuning might upset some quieter songs. But if you want to get the most out of your movies or feel every beat of your favourite hip-hop album, you can count on the Bose Smart Soundbar 900.
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