Today, Bose took the wraps off its first Dolby Atmos soundbar, the $899 Smart Soundbar 900. It goes on sale on September 23 but can be pre-ordered as of today on Bose’s website. The addition of Dolby Atmos puts the new model in direct competition with the $799 Sonos Arc, our current top pick for the best overall soundbar.
Available in black or white, the Smart Soundbar 900 bears a strong resemblance to the 5.1-channel Smart Soundbar 700, featuring a rounded rectangular shape and a glass top surface.
Unlike the 700 model, the Smart Soundbar 900 has small cut-outs in that glass surface at the sides, to allow for the upward-firing height drivers, which are the key to getting Dolby Atmos‘ 3D sound effects.
As with Bose’s other Smart Soundbar models, the 900 has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Apple AirPlay 2 for a variety of wireless connections. You can connect it to a TV via HDMI-ARC/eARC or an optical connection — Bose includes both cables in the box — but there are no HDMI inputs, so there’s no way to connect a Blu-ray player, streaming media device, or another video source.
All of the soundbar’s functions can be controlled with the included remote or by using the Bose Music app. It can also be used as a smart speaker, with your choice of Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
To deliver a Dolby Atmos experience, the Smart Soundbar 900 uses a combination of custom arrays, dipole transducers, and low-profile transducers with Bose spatial technologies. The company claims that its PhaseGuide technology goes beyond the conventional “overhead” sounds that are the hallmark of a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, by adding other dimensions, placing and “pinning” distinct sound to the right and left where there are no speakers.
Bose also says that even when Dolby Atmos content isn’t available, the soundbar can still make use of its immersive capabilities: “The horizontal spatial effects are just as effective, and Bose TrueSpace technology takes over for the vertical experience, remixing signals to add ‘height’ without adding a ceiling speaker,” it said in a press release.
On its own, the Smart Soundbar 900 can decode Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD, but for a fully discrete 5.1.2 experience, you’ll need to add a Bose wireless subwoofer and a set of the company’s wireless surround speakers. This can bring the cost up to $2,097.
Bose recently announced its newest noise-canceling headphones, the QuietComfort 45, which will also go on sale on September 23.