The Bose Smart Soundbar is our favorite soundbar, as it creates an immersive and exciting home theater experience reminiscent of multi-speaker systems while offering a multitude of media playback options and effective Alexa and Google support. After loads of hair-splitting, head-scratching, listening, and watching, we deem it very worthy of our praise as the best overall soundbar. This model's ADAPTIQ technology tunes the soundbar to the unique acoustic properties of your living room, allowing it to bounce sound off your walls for a wide and immersive soundstage, exceeding our expectations of what can come out of one centrally located set of speakers.The Smart Soundbar is expensive, especially considering that it doesn't support the Dolby Atmos or Virtual DTS:X formats. While this is a major oversight, we find the ADAPTIQ as effective at giving the soundbar a big theater feel as many of the Atmos-enabled competitors.
Bose Smart Soundbar 700 Review
Pros: Great sound quality, crystal clear dialogue, useful sound customization features
Cons: Glass top shows a lot of smudges and dust, expensive, doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual X codecs
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Bose Smart Soundbar 700
$799.00 at Amazon
|$800 List||$280 List|
$278.00 at Amazon
|$399 List||$190 List|
$163.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Great sound quality, crystal clear dialogue, useful sound customization features||Phenomenal music playback, seamless integration with Sonos ecosystem||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Compact design great for smaller rooms, seamlessly integrates with other Sonos products, excellent musical sound quality||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included|
|Cons||Glass top shows a lot of smudges and dust, expensive, doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual X codecs||Huge, expensive, no Bluetooth||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||Not the loudest, Sonos app required for set up, no plug and play||Not the best overall sound quality|
|Bottom Line||This is high-end bar with high-end sound and features, making it an ideal choice for a home theater system and doubling as a smart speaker||This model sounds incredible while listening to music and provides a pretty immersive home theater experience||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This a great sounding little bar that excels with musical content, and packs plenty of punch as part of a home theater system||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value|
|Rating Categories||Bose Smart Soundbar...||Sonos Arc||Sony HT-S350||Sonos Beam||Vizio V-Series 2.1...|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease Of Use (35%)|
|Style Design (5%)|
|Specs||Bose Smart Soundbar...||Sonos Arc||Sony HT-S350||Sonos Beam||Vizio V-Series 2.1...|
|Dimensions||2.25" x 38.5" x 4.25"||3.4" x 45" x 4.5"||Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
|2.72" x 25.625" x 3.94"||Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
|External Subwoofer||No (optional)||No (optional)||Yes||No (optional)||Yes|
|Inputs (wired)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), Ethernet, 3.5mm AUX IR, 3.5mm AUX Data, 3.5mm AUX Bass, 3.5mm AUX ADAPTIQ tuning||Digital audio in (optical), Ethernet, HDMI (ARC)||Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC)||Digital audio in (optical), Ethernet, HDMI (ARC)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB|
|Supported Audio File Formats||Dolby Digital, DTS||Dolmy Atmos||Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch||Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby Atmos*, Dolby TrueHD*, Dolby Atmos (True HD)*, Multichannel PCM*, Dolby Multichannel PCM*||DTS|
|Voice Assistants||Alexa, Google Assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant||n/a||Alexa, Google Assistant||None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device|
|Syncs with:||Bose Simplesync enabled speakers||Sonos||None||Sonos||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is a best-in-class soundbar that very effectively doubles as a smart speaker with built-in support for both Alexa and Google Assistant. It easily connects to WiFi, allowing you to access a host of streaming services, use Apple Airplay, or keep it simple by just playing music off your device using the Bluetooth connection. This model doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X, and while some folks may see this as a dealbreaker, the Bose Smart Sound Bar has a few tricks up its sleeve to produce a wide and immersive sound stage. Even with a multitude of customizable parameters and a process called ADAPTIQ that analyzes the acoustics of your living room, setup is still an easy, frustration-free process, and it arrives with a universal remote that's quickly become our preferred way to control our home theater system.
Quality audio is why you've committed to spending the big bucks on a soundbar, and the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 delivers a top-notch performance as a home theater system and for playing music. Unique to this soundbar is a pair of sideways firing drivers and a tweeter placed in the center of the soundbar, creating a true center channel that helps with dialogue enhancement and an exceptionally wide soundstage.
This soundbar creates an immersive (and fun) home theater experience thanks to its ADAPTIQ technology that tunes the soundbar to the acoustics of your living room, enabling it to bounce sounds off the walls, effectively "faking" surround sound. The effect is very convincing, even eerie at times, and had our testers checking over their shoulders to make sure no one was approaching from their periphery. This is one of the most immersive soundbars we've used, despite its lack of support for the Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X codecs, though we can't help but wonder what the results would be if the Sound Bar 700 would be if it could decode these immersive formats and play them through its wide soundstage.
Like many of Bose's compact stand-alone speakers, the Soundbar 700 is exceptionally well balanced. What it lacks in size and power, it mostly makes up for in definition and clarity. While the bass isn't earth rumbling, it sounds pleasantly punchy, while the mids and highs have the signature Bose crispness. When the dialogue mode is engaged, the accentuated dialogue is louder, clearer, and effectively isolated from the rest of the mix while still sounding buttery smooth and natural. The effect isn't at all subtle, and folks who often find themselves missing important plot points in dialogue due to roaring kaijus and exploding helicopters will appreciate it.
This soundbar has some impressive music chops, and if you're looking for a speaker to pair with your flatscreen and be your main speaker for music playback, the Smart Soundbar 700 is a great option that's relatively free of compromises. It has plenty of power to fill your living room and then some with its well-balanced mix, though it's somewhat weak on the low-end. You can purchase and connect Bose's bass module, but be warned that it costs nearly as much as the soundbar.
Ease of Use
The Smart Soundbar 700 is by no means a plug-in-play device, but despite a few mandatory procedures, Bose manages to make the setup process and user interface fairly hassle-free, and there are plenty of options that make playing media easy, regardless of your chosen source. The soundbar connects to your tv via an HDMI eARC connection or an optical connection. Using the optical connection will free up your TV's HDMI port, but the optical connection can't take full advantage of the included (and very useful) universal remote.
Getting this soundbar up and running requires a few steps, but the well-designed app easily walked us through the process. After connecting to WiFi and sitting around waiting for a brief software update, the app took us through the process of calibrating the ADAPTIQ. A strange headset is included, and the headset has several microphones that send information to the soundbar, allowing it to attenuate itself to the living room based on where you'll be sitting. Sonos uses the mic on your smartphone for a similar purpose, though Bose's method orients the entire setup using the precise height and location of your ears.
With WiFi, Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and native support for both Google Assistant and Alexa, you'll likely be able to play your media however you prefer. Bose's app allows you to browse your favorite streaming services, while Bluetooth gives you the option to keep things simple and stream directly from your phone or tablet. The Bluetooth is also fast enough that we can connect this soundbar to a projector without experiencing any lag.
This soundbar comes with a large, rubbery universal remote. When the soundbar is paired with a TV with an HDMI connection, the remote has full control of the TV and soundbar functions, and the backlit buttons light up accordingly when you pick it up, omitting or including buttons based on what you're controlling. It works well, though we wished the LEDs stayed on a little longer while we searched for the correct button.
Some soundbars keep things too simple, making them easy to set up and control while omitting deeper customization options in favor of a few presets. The Bose Smart SoundBar 700 deftly takes the middle path, offering a dialogue enhancement setting that dramatically improves our ability to hear spoken word regardless of what else is happening on stream, plus a few EQ settings that can be controlled via the Bose app, including bass and treble adjustments, plus the ability to boost the center channel.
This Soundbar gets loud enough to fill even the most cavernous of suburban living rooms. We measured a maximum volume of 97 dBa. For reference, that's about as loud as a motorcycle engine or a train. You don't need to experience this level of volume very often, and neither do your neighbors.
Bose goes all out with the design here, combining a glass top with a metal grill. The result is pretty striking and conveys the fact that the Smart Soundbar 700 is a high-quality piece of equipment, though the glass top is very reflective, and a magnet for smudges. At 38.5" long, it takes up less space than its main competitor (the Sonos ARC at 45" in length), while sounding much bigger than similarly-sized models.
The bar itself is devoid of buttons save a touch-sensitive "action" button whose functions change based on your voice assistant, and another touch-sensitive button that turns off the microphone. You'll need the included remote or the Bose app to access all the other parameters and settings.
This well-designed, feature-laden model is anything but cheap, and its price tag is close to what you might pay for a multi-speaker surround system, though for a single unit, it sounds amazingly immersive and brings all the advantages of a soundbar- easy setup, no wires to run, and multiple means of connectivity, plus this one is "smart," so you can control all the tasks and functions of Alexa and Google Assistant.
The competition is stiff among the soundbars at all price points, despite the omission of Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X support, the Bose Smart Soundbar takes the top spot with its superior home theater sound quality, huge soundstage, and its excellent balance of simplicity and customization. If your budget allows, we feel this is the best soundbar you can buy.
— Michelle Powell and Matt Bento
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