Bose Soundbar 900: the new Dolby Atmos reference

0
341

The first Dolby Atmos soundbar from the American manufacturer, the Bose Soundbar 900 promises a particularly immersive 3D sound and powerful lows in an ultra-slim format to fit under any TV. Its main advantage is a unique calibration system that uses headphones to take measurements at the same level as the ears and in the listening position. The Bose Soundbar 900 can receive sound from the TV via HDMI eARC/ARC or an optical connection, as well as music via Bluetooth, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. It can also be controlled vocally thanks to the integration of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The icing on the cake: this Sonos soundbar is compatible with the Bose Bass Module 700 wireless subwoofer, as well as the  Bose Surround Speakers and Bose Surround Speakers 700 wireless speakers to create a genuine wireless Dolby Atmos home theater system! Priced at €999, can the Bose Soundbar 900 really compete with the benchmark in modular Atmos bars, the Sonos Arc?

The Bose Soundbar 900 promises an enveloping sound thanks to its many drivers, which include two Atmos drivers.

Bose Soundbar 900: packaging & accessories

The Bose Soundbar 900 comes in a long cardboard box inside of which it is held in place by several pieces of polystyrene and wrapped in plastic.

The Bose Soundbar 900 comes with many accessories:

  • A remote control with 2 AAA batteries already installed
  • A cleaning cloth
  • ADAPTiQ calibration headphones
  • An optical cable
  • An HDMI cable
  • A power cable
  • A quick start guide
The Bose Soundbar 900 comes with many accessories, including an infrared remote control, a Bose ADAPTiQ calibration microphone, as well as three cables: power, HDMI and optical.

Bose Soundbar 900: presentation

Design 

The Bose Soundbar 900 tops the range of Bose soundbars that also features the Bose TV Speaker and the Bose Soundbar 500, with which it shares a similar design. The Bose Soundbar 900, however, has a longer format, with a length of 104cm. It is designed to accompany large TVs of 50 inches or more. This significant width allows this Bose soundbar to retain powerful and realistic bass despite its extremely thin design. Its height of only 5.8cm makes it the slimmest Atmos soundbar on the market. The Bose Soundbar 900 can therefore be placed in front of any TV without blocking the bottom of the screen. Even with the most recent bezel-less models, whose base is generally lower, the Bose Soundbar 900 is thin enough to let us see the entire picture. Only Bose could manage such a feat by using the expertise acquired when designing the Bose Acoustimass speakers, miniature models praised for their ability to deliver a powerful sound despite a small format.

The Bose Soundbar 900 is very long (104cm), but its thickness of only 5.8cm allows it to be easily placed in front of the TV.

The Bose Soundbar 900 benefits from an excellent build quality. Its front and side panels feature a metallic honeycomb grille that hides the numerous drivers. The upper panel is covered with a sheet of black or white tempered glass. It reinforces the elegance of this Bose soundbar, but has the disadvantage of reflecting the light of the image displayed on the TV quite significantly. A source of light pollution that can distract the viewer when viewing movies in the dark. If possible, the soundbar should be placed slightly above eye level, or under the TV if the stand is high enough, to limit reflections. Finally, an oval shape is cut out of each end of the Bose Soundbar 900’s glass plate to accommodate the Dolby Atmos speakers.

The Bose Soundbar 900 has an elegant finish, with an upper panel in tempered glass.

Acoustic design

The elegant silhouette of the Bose Soundbar 900 encloses nine drivers, including two dipole models positioned on the top panel. The latter ensure the reproduction of Dolby Atmos effects by reflection off the ceiling. They are combined with seven drivers on the front panel to efficiently reproduce each channel. The drivers designed to reproduce the front channels are flanked by tiny drivers on the left and right for surround sound effects. For optimal sound performance, the Bose Soundbar 900 can be paired with the Bose Bass Module 700 wireless subwoofer, as well as the Bose Surround Speakers and Bose Surround Speakers 700 wireless speakers. It is then possible to create a real wireless Dolby Atmos home theater system!

The Bose Soundbar 900 is equipped with 9 drivers, including two on the top panel to reproduce Dolby Atmos effects.

TrueSpace and calibration

To maximize immersion, the Bose Soundbar 900’s drivers work with the exclusive PhaseGuide technology that directs sound waves to separate areas of the room to create virtual speakers. This gives the impression that sound is coming from areas where there are no speakers. In the absence of Dolby Atmos content, with stereo or Dolby/DTS tracks for example, the Bose Soundbar 900 relies on Bose TrueSpace technology to virtualize effects to add a vertical dimension to the sound. 

A real feat of the Bose Soundbar 900, the ADAPTiQ audio calibration feature adapts the sound distribution to the configuration of the room. For the first time in the history of automatic calibration, this feature works in tandem with a headset equipped with microphones. Usually, calibration is carried out using a separate microphone or one integrated in the remote. Bose takes this concept even further by offering headphones that are ideally placed at ear height for the very first time. It’s really well designed!

Calibration is quick and easy, using the headphones included with the soundbar and the mobile app. Once the headset is connected to the soundbar, simply put them on and sit on your sofa or armchair in the preferred listening position, facing the soundbar and the TV. The Bose ADAPTiQ processor then analyzes the measurements and adapts the soundbar to the room’s layout. This process is inspired by the calibration systems of AV receivers, but the measurements are even more precise thanks to the headphones, which truly detect the perception of the different sound waves in the ears.

The Bose Soundbar 900 comes with a headset equipped with microphones to perform the acoustic calibration according to the room and the main viewer’s position.

Connectors

To enjoy Dolby Atmos streams, the Bose Soundbar 900 has an HDMI eARC/ARC port that simplifies the connection of a compatible TV to retrieve the soundtrack of the program being watched via any source connected to the television or a VOD service. The Bose 900’s processor then handles Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus tracks. Like its predecessor, the Bose Soundbar 900 isn’t able to play DTS streams. To enjoy these programs, it is necessary to convert to Dolby Digital or PCM in the TV’s settings. Lastly, an optical digital input is also featured to connect a television that isn’t compatible with HDMI ARC. However, this second connection option does not allow you to retrieve Atmos tracks. The 3D reproduction is then entirely simulated by the soundbar.

The Bose Soundbar 900 can be connected to the TV via an HDMI eARC/ARC or optical digital connection.

Controls

The Bose Soundbar 900 has only two touch-sensitive controls on the top panel. These allow you to activate/deactivate the microphones and start or pause playback. You can also control the soundbar remotely using the remote control of the TV connected via HDMI eARC/ARC or from the remote control delivered with the soundbar. Very exhaustive, it allows you to turn on/off the soundbar, adjust the volume, control the playback (play/pause and next/previous track), activate Bluetooth or select one of the six available presets. These can be assigned to your favorite streaming services.

The infrared remote control provides all the essential features needed to control the Bose Soundbar 900 remotely.

The Bose Soundbar 900 can also be controlled using the Bose Music app. The latter offers further settings, notably to configure the presets. It also allows you to calibrate or further customize the sound reproduction.

For even simpler control, the Bose Soundbar 900 is equipped with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. When the microphones are activated, it becomes possible to control the soundbar vocally. The voice capture is quite effective at moderate volume. It is then possible to adjust the volume, start the music, change the track or even turn on the TV (CEC protocol required), simply by asking.

Streaming 

The Bose Soundbar 900 is also designed for music listening. It is compatible with the AirPlay 2 protocol, allowing the distribution of any audio stream from an Apple device: iPhone, iPod, iPad, Apple TV or Mac. Music can also be streamed from any Bluetooth device. In addition, the Bose mobile app provides access to Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music platforms, as well as web radios via TuneIn. The available services are more limited than with the Sonos app on the Sonos Arc Bar. However, support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants allows you to listen to all the music services that are compatible with these assistants, directly on the soundbar. It is therefore possible to access Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Amazon Music, Apple Music, etc. Listening to web radios is also possible.

Bose Soundbar 900: key specifications

  • Dolby Atmos compatible
  • HDMI eARC and optical inputs
  • Bluetooth, WiFi and Ethernet
  • Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Bose ADAPTiQ calibration
  • Streaming services
  • Compatible with Bose wireless subwoofer and surround speakers
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 1045 x 58.1 x 107mm

Bose Soundbar 900: configuration

The Bose Soundbar 900 is extremely easy to set up. Once connected to the mains and to the TV via HDMI eARC or an optical connection, the soundbar is immediately functional. With certain televisions, the only necessary step is to activate the CEC feature so that both devices can communicate. It is then possible to enjoy the sound of any program viewed on the TV.

Once connected to the TV via HDMI eARC or an optical connection, the Bose Soundbar 900 is immediately functional.

For greater customization and to carry out the acoustic calibration, it is possible to continue the configuration in the Bose Music mobile app. It first prompts us to create a Bose account. Then, the soundbar is directly detected by the app. You then just need to enter the WiFi network you want to use, choose the room where the soundbar is located and associate the compatible music service of your choice. It may take a few extra minutes to update the soundbar.

The Bose Soundbar 900 can be set up quickly in the Bose mobile app.

Still from the mobile application, you can then configure Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant and determine the priority of the 6 presets of the remote control. To optimize the sound reproduction, it is possible to perform the Bose ADAPTIQ calibration. To do this, you must put on the microphone-equipped headphones that come with the soundbar, before launching the procedure from the app. The soundbar then emits different frequencies on each channel. Five series of measurements are necessary to take into account your different listening positions: the middle of the sofa, on a chaise longue or on an armchair placed to the side, for example. Using this data, a DSP adjusts the Bose Soundbar 900’s sound to best suit the room configuration and your listening position.

The Bose ADAPTiQ calibration system carries out a series of 5 measurements to adjust the sound of the Bose Soundbar 900 to best suit the room and listening position.

Finally, you can fine-tune the Bose Soundbar 900 by adjusting the level of the center channel, treble and bass, or by activating the dialogue mode. This enhances voices for better dialogue perception with talk shows and other TV programs.

Bose Soundbar 900: listening impressions 

The Bose Soundbar 900 offered a clear division of the different front channels. The soundstage extended beyond the screen’s boundaries with even more conviction than the Sonos Arc. The effects really seemed to come from the edges of our room. During Interstellar’s introductory scene, the aircraft flew from one side of our living room to the other, with great transitions between the different channels. The frontal Atmos effects were particularly well reproduced, giving the impression that the drone was really flying overhead. Cooper’s pursuit of the device through the cornfield was very immersive. The ears of corn hit the pickup energetically, providing a realism that almost put us inside the vehicle. 

The drivers positioned on the top of the Bose Soundbar 900 ensured a very effective Atmos reproduction.

The Bose Soundbar 900 created a very enveloping soundstage with movies and series. It was as effective with Dolby Atmos sources as it was in stereo or 5.1 thanks to a very effective spatialization system. The voices stood out clearly from the soundtrack and were rendered with naturalness and conviction. They were always well centered and clearly perceptible, even during action scenes. The latter were very convincing, especially thanks to the bass that was powerful enough to provide substance and depth. While not able to compete with the depth offered by a real subwoofer, the Bose Soundbar 900 gave explosions enough foundation and energy to transport us right into the middle of the action. The bass was very energetic and even felt tangible when the volume was turned up higher. This is truly impressive for a soundbar that is only 5.8cm thick. Only fans of ultra-powerful bass will enjoy combining this soundbar with the Bose Bass Module 700 wireless subwoofer. The latter will also be appropriate for large rooms to extend the depth of the lows.

The woofers combined with a dual bass-reflex enclosure ensure that the Bose Soundbar 900 delivers energetic, powerful bass.

The Bose Soundbar 900 added space and depth to the content we watched. The different front channels were clearly delineated, with excellent spatialization for each effect. It was as if there were virtual speakers at the edges of the room, around the center channel, which was also very pronounced. The front Atmos channel also enjoyed this precise placement. The rain, storm and airplanes were materialized very efficiently above the TV. The surround sound effects were slightly muted and only very loud sounds seemed to come from behind us. To really catch yourself looking over your shoulder, you can add the dedicated Bose Surround Speakers or Bose Surround Speakers 700 for even better surround effects.

The Bose Soundbar 900 easily outdid the TV’s audio section and added both space and depth to the programs we watched.

When listening to music, the Bose Soundbar 900 kept its enveloping and spacious character. It didn’t try to sound natural and was very demonstrative by increasing the scale of the soundstage. Nevertheless, the sound was pleasant and surprising, with chords that were reproduced both at the edges of the room and towards the ceiling. This mobility could also be found in the vocals, which weren’t always perfectly centered, contrary to the result with movies. A stereo mode would have been a welcome feature to enjoy a musical reproduction that was less scattered and truer to the original mixes. With concerts, however, this spacious soundstage was very convincing and materialized the artists more effectively.

Bose Soundbar 900: compared to…

Sonos Arc: available for the same price (€999), the Sonos Arc is a reference when it comes to modular Atmos soundbars. Alone, it provides a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X reproduction over 5.0.2 channels. It can also be paired with the Sonos Sub and any wireless Sonos speaker to reproduce surround sound effects. Soundwise, the Sonos Arc soundbar also delivers a very immersive soundstage, but with lateral effects that aren’t as pronounced. However, the sound bubble effect was more impressive, with stronger surround sound, although the use of real surround speakers is still recommended. In addition, voices are a little louder on the Bose Soundbar 900, which also benefits from stronger bass. The Sonos Arc, on the other hand, is more versatile thanks to the Sonos ecosystem, which offers countless streaming and multi-room options. However, the Sonos Arc is thicker and can sometimes hide the bottom of the TV, unlike the Bose Soundbar 900, which is less than 6cm thick.

The Sonos Arc offers a narrower soundstage, but with more audible surround sound effects.

Bose Soundbar 900: who is it for?

The Bose Soundbar 900 is ideal if you want to enjoy an immersive 3D sound without filling the room with speakers. It brings more immersion to movies, series, video games and TV programs while remaining visually discreet. Very easy to set up and use, it is suitable for both seasoned users and novices. It can also be used to stream music, as long as you’re looking for an enveloping soundstage rather than an audiophile-quality reproduction. Last but not least, the true strength of the Bose Soundbar 900 lies in its slim format. It is much thinner than all competing models, making it easy to place in front of the TV. It is an obvious choice for the latest televisions of 50 inches or more which are bezel-less and have lower stands.

The Bose Soundbar 900 is ideal if you want to enjoy an immersive 3D sound without filling the room with speakers.

Bose Soundbar 900: conclusion 

With its first Dolby Atmos soundbar, Bose has set the standard for the industry. The Bose Soundbar 900 offers a solution that is both capable of overshadowing leading models and competing with a traditional home theater system. The front soundstage performs like a real home theater system with multiple speakers. Atmos effects using ceiling reflection are very impressive, while the bass is powerful and lively. Surround sound effects are more subdued, but discerning users can easily boost them with the wireless Bose Surround Speakers and Bose Surround Speakers 700. Lastly, the Bose headphone calibration system is the most advanced on the soundbar market. It ensures that the user can always enjoy the full potential of this soundbar. With the Bose Soundbar 900, the American manufacturer has achieved a feat, by providing excellent bass and a particularly immersive 3D spatialization with a soundbar that is less than 6cm thick, capable of fitting perfectly under any TV of 50 inches and more.

We liked:

  • The very spacious and immersive soundstage
  • The efficient placement of front effects
  • The state-of-the-art calibration headset
  • The realism of the Atmos effects
  • The ultra-slim design

We would have liked:

  • For the top panel to have been less reflective
  • A stereo mode for music
  • More noticeable surround effects

Share your opinion!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.