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Review: BOSE Smart Ultra Soundbar

Review: BOSE Smart Ultra Soundbar - BOSE Smart Ultra Soundbar With Dolby Atmos Plus Alexa and Google Voice Control, Surround Sound System for TV
5/5 - (1 vote)

Bose, a renowned name in the world of soundbars, has introduced the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar, aiming to elevate the audio experience with artificial intelligence. In this review, we explore whether this innovative approach truly enhances sound quality and usability.

Introducing the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar, the latest addition to Bose’s prestigious lineup of audio equipment. This cutting-edge soundbar takes the reins from its predecessor, the Smart Soundbar 900, and brings with it a touch of artificial intelligence to redefine your audio experience. In this comprehensive review, we’ll delve into the innovative features and capabilities that set this soundbar apart from the competition and discover whether it lives up to the high standards that the Bose brand is known for.

Bose has a history of delivering exceptional sound quality and design, and the Smart Ultra Soundbar is no exception. With its sleek and elegant form, it seamlessly complements modern home entertainment setups, while under the hood, it packs a punch with a range of features designed to enhance your audio enjoyment. Among its standout offerings is the AI Dialogue Mode, a technology that promises to revolutionize how we perceive and engage with dialogues in movies and TV shows. Join us as we explore the AI Dialogue Mode and other aspects of the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar to determine whether it’s the audio solution you’ve been waiting for.

Technical data
Number of channels3.1.2
Connections/interfacesHDMI-eARC, Optical, Subwoofer, Bluetooth, WLAN, LAN
Supported sound formatsDolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus
AirPlay 2Yes
networkYes
voice controlGoogle Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Color variantsBlack-and-white
Dimensions (WxHxD)1045x58x107mm
Weight5.8kg
Price999.95 euros

Build Quality & Design

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar impresses its build quality and design, showcasing its commitment to form and function. Crafted with meticulous attention to detail, this soundbar is a sleek and sophisticated addition to any home entertainment setup.

In terms of build quality, the soundbar feels robust and well-constructed. It’s evident that Bose has used high-quality materials in its construction, ensuring durability and longevity. The soundbar’s slim profile, measuring around six centimeters in height, allows it to easily fit in front of most televisions without obstructing the screen. This thoughtful design ensures that it seamlessly integrates into your home theater arrangement.

Design-wise, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar retains the elegant aesthetics that Bose is known for. It features a flat top surface with a glass panel that adds a touch of sophistication and allows sound to project upward effectively. The minimalist design with discreet branding enhances its visual appeal, making it suitable for various room decors and styles.

The soundbar’s compact dimensions, measuring just over a meter in width, make it an excellent fit for most entertainment setups. However, if space is a concern, users may want to consider their available space carefully. Despite not being as slim as some other soundbars, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar maintains a relatively low profile that should work well with most TV configurations.

In summary, the build quality and design of the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar are top-notch. Its solid construction and elegant aesthetics blend seamlessly with modern living spaces, reflecting Bose’s commitment to delivering style and substance in its audio equipment.

AI Dialogue Mode:

One standout feature of the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is its AI dialogue mode, designed to improve speech clarity in movies and shows. By recognizing when characters are speaking it selectively enhances dialogues without affecting other audio elements. While it works well, some users might find the voices slightly subdued.

The AI Dialogue Mode in the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is designed to improve speech clarity and dialogues in movies, TV shows, and other audio content. It leverages artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enhance the intelligibility of voices and conversations, ensuring viewers can follow the plot and character interactions more easily.

Here’s how the AI Dialogue Mode typically works:

  1. Voice Recognition: The soundbar uses AI algorithms to recognize when characters speak or dialogue in the audio track. This recognition can be based on various factors, such as voice frequency, timing, and content analysis.
  2. Frequency Adjustment: When dialogue is detected, the soundbar adjusts the audio frequencies in real time. Specifically, it boosts the frequencies most relevant to human speech, such as midrange frequencies, where most vocal sounds are concentrated.
  3. Isolation of Dialogue: The AI Dialogue Mode isolates the dialogue from other audio elements, such as background music, sound effects, or ambient noise. This separation ensures that voices are more pronounced and less likely to be drowned out by other sounds.
  4. Dynamic Processing: The feature may also employ dynamic processing techniques to ensure that dialogues are clear without making the overall audio experience unnatural. This means that the enhancement is applied selectively, primarily during spoken lines.
  5. Natural Sound Preservation: One of the goals of AI Dialogue Mode is to maintain a natural and balanced sound profile. It should not overly emphasize dialogues to the point of distortion but rather make them more distinct while preserving the overall audio quality.

The result is an audio experience where voices and conversations are more intelligible and easier to follow, even in scenes with complex audio elements or challenging acoustic environments. Viewers can enjoy a more immersive and engaging experience without constantly adjusting the volume to hear what the characters are saying.

However, it’s worth noting that the effectiveness of AI Dialogue Mode can vary from one soundbar to another, depending on the quality of the AI algorithms and the soundbar’s overall audio processing capabilities. Users may have different preferences for how pronounced they want dialogues to be, so some soundbars offer customization options to adjust the intensity of this feature.

3D Sound Immersion:

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar brings a captivating 3D sound immersion experience to your home entertainment. Including two upward-firing speakers, this soundbar offers a unique audio perspective that extends beyond traditional stereo sound. These additional speakers are strategically positioned to project sound upwards, reflected off your ceiling to create a sense of height and dimension in your audio. This three-dimensional soundscape adds a layer of realism to your movies, TV shows, and music, making you feel right in the middle of the action.

One of the standout features of the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is its ability to deliver an impressively wide soundstage. This expanded audio canvas envelops you in sound and enhances the overall immersion, whether you’re watching a thrilling action sequence or enjoying a concert performance. While the soundbar can create this 3D sound effect, it can be further enhanced by adding compatible rear speakers and a subwoofer to create a full-fledged soundbar surround set. This audio depth and dimension level ensures you get the most out of your entertainment and elevates your home theater experience.

Sound Quality and Sound Test

When it comes to music, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar shines with its wide soundstage. However, its tuning leans towards a bass-heavy profile, which might not suit all listeners. While it handles deep bass well, the dominance of low frequencies can occasionally overshadow other details.

The sound quality of the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is a crucial aspect of its performance, and it doesn’t disappoint, offering an immersive and dynamic audio experience that’s well-suited for various types of content, including movies, music, and gaming.

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar showcases its ability to provide a wide soundstage in a sound test. Dolby Atmos support allows for a three-dimensional audio experience, where sound seems to envelop the room and create a sense of immersion. This is particularly noticeable when watching movies with rich soundtracks or playing video games with detailed audio effects. Elements such as footsteps, raindrops, or distant explosions are delivered precisely, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action.

Including two upward-firing speakers further enhances the soundbar’s ability to create a broad soundstage. These speakers bounce sound off the ceiling, reflecting to the listener, creating the illusion of sound coming from above. This feature is especially effective in delivering overhead effects, such as helicopters flying overhead or rain falling from the sky.

However, it’s important to note that the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar leans towards a bass-focused audio profile. This means low-frequency sounds, such as deep bass notes and rumbling explosions, are well-represented and powerful. If you enjoy movies or music with a strong bass presence, you’ll appreciate the impact this soundbar delivers.

Regarding music playback, the soundbar maintains its ability to provide a pleasing listening experience. While it leans towards the bass-heavy side, it still reproduces mid-range and high-frequency tones with clarity. Vocals and instruments come through distinctly, making it suitable for various music genres. However, it’s worth noting that the sound may not be as neutral or transparent as some audiophiles might prefer, as it tends to emphasize the low end.

In summary, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar impresses with its ability to create a captivating and expansive soundstage, making it an excellent choice for home entertainment enthusiasts. Its support for Dolby Atmos, upward-firing speakers, and powerful bass output contribute to an immersive audio experience. Whether watching movies, playing games, or enjoying music, this soundbar delivers impactful and engaging sound. However, being aware of its bass-focused tuning is essential, which may not be ideal for those seeking a neutral sound signature.

Connectivity and Setup:

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar offers a versatile range of connectivity options, making it easy to integrate into your home entertainment setup. Setting up the soundbar is straightforward, allowing you to enjoy your favorite content without any hassle.

Regarding connectivity, the soundbar features an HDMI port with eARC support, enabling you to transmit high-quality audio from compatible devices like 4K Blu-ray players and gaming consoles through a single HDMI cable. This ensures you can enjoy your high-resolution content’s full potential without any audio lag or degradation. Additionally, there’s an optical audio digital input for older devices that may not have HDMI capabilities.

One notable feature is the inclusion of four jack sockets, which provide flexibility for expanding your sound system. These jacks allow you to connect compatible subwoofers via cable, significantly enhancing the bass performance. Moreover, an IR blaster can be paired through one of these connections for improved control of your devices. While the Data connection is somewhat mysterious, it adds an element of versatility for potential future updates or accessories. Another jack socket, labeled ADAPTiQ, plays a crucial role in room calibration, ensuring the sound is optimized based on your room’s acoustics.

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar also supports wireless connectivity through Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi. With Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Spotify Connect compatibility, you can stream music from your mobile devices and enjoy a seamless listening experience. Including voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant further enhances convenience, allowing you to control various functions using voice commands. Additionally, the Bose Voice4Video feature enables you to directly issue voice commands to switch TV channels, simplifying your overall entertainment setup.

To make the most of your soundbar and tailor the audio experience to your specific room, the Bose Music app for Android and iOS is a valuable tool. This app lets you set up the soundbar via Wi-Fi, stream music directly from Spotify, and configure voice assistants. It also facilitates the crucial room calibration process using an external microphone, ensuring the sound is optimized for your unique listening environment.

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar offers a comprehensive range of connectivity options to integrate into your home entertainment system seamlessly. Whether you prefer wired or wireless connections, this soundbar provides the flexibility and convenience to enhance your audio experience. The setup process is user-friendly, and the Bose Music app simplifies customization, making it an excellent addition to any home theater setup.

Comparison with Bose Smart Soundbar 900:

When comparing the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar to its predecessor, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900, it becomes evident that they share many similarities. Both soundbars are visually identical, featuring an elegant design with a glass pane on top and a slim profile that can easily fit in front of most TVs without obstructing the screen. The dimensions of these soundbars are nearly the same, so they occupy a similar amount of space.

In terms of connectivity, both models offer similar options. They come equipped with HDMI ports, including support for eARC, allowing for high-quality audio transmission from compatible devices. Additionally, they feature optical audio digital inputs for connecting older devices that may lack HDMI capabilities. Including four jack sockets in both soundbars provides flexibility for expanding your audio system, connecting compatible subwoofers via cable, or pairing an IR blaster.

Sound quality is another area where the two soundbars share common ground. They both deliver a broad and immersive soundstage, making them suitable for music and action-packed movies. Dolby Atmos support ensures a three-dimensional audio experience, with sound effects seeming to move around the room.

However, one key differentiator between the two models is the AI Dialogue Mode found in the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar. This mode utilizes artificial intelligence to enhance dialogue clarity during movies and TV shows. It recognizes when characters are speaking and raises the necessary frequencies to make voices more intelligible, all while preserving the natural sound of other elements in the audio. This feature is particularly useful in noisy or action-packed scenes where dialogue might get lost. While the previous dialogue mode in the Smart Soundbar 900 aimed to improve dialogue, the AI Dialogue Mode in the Smart Ultra Soundbar takes it further by being more selective in its enhancements.

When it comes to sound performance, both soundbars excel in providing immersive audio experiences. Still, the AI Dialogue Mode in the Smart Ultra Soundbar offers a slight advantage in enhancing voice clarity. However, it’s essential to consider the price difference between the two models. Depending on the pricing and availability in your region, it may be more cost-effective to opt for the Smart Soundbar 900 if you don’t require the specific enhancements of the AI Dialogue Mode.

In conclusion, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar and the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 share many similarities in design, connectivity, and overall sound quality. The AI Dialogue Mode in the Smart Ultra Soundbar is the standout feature that provides improved dialogue clarity, especially during action-packed scenes. When choosing between the two models, weighing the added benefits of the AI Dialogue Mode against the price difference is important to determine which one best suits your needs and budget.

Reasons to Buy the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar:

  1. Immersive Sound: The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar offers an immersive audio experience with its support for Dolby Atmos and upward-firing speakers. It creates a three-dimensional soundstage, enhancing your movie-watching and gaming experiences.
  2. AI Dialogue Mode: The AI dialogue mode intelligently enhances voice clarity, making it easier to understand spoken dialogues in movies and TV shows. This feature ensures that you catch every word, even during action-packed scenes.
  3. Broad Soundstage: The soundbar provides a wide and expansive soundstage, enveloping the room with sound. It can reproduce overhead effects, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
  4. Music Streaming: With built-in Wi-Fi and support for music streaming services like Spotify and Apple AirPlay 2, the soundbar is a versatile music player, allowing you to enjoy your favorite songs with impressive audio quality.
  5. Expandability: To create a full-fledged surround sound system, expand the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar with additional components, such as rear speakers and a subwoofer. This flexibility allows you to customize your audio setup to your preferences.

Reasons Not to Buy the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar:

  1. Price: The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is a premium audio product, and its price reflects that. If you’re on a tight budget, you may find more affordable soundbar options that still deliver good audio quality.
  2. Bass-Heavy Sound: While the soundbar’s emphasis on bass suits many users, it may not be ideal if you prefer a more balanced or neutral sound signature. The bass-focused tuning might overpower other audio frequencies.
  3. Size: The soundbar’s width, at just over a meter, may not fit well in smaller entertainment setups or under narrow TVs. Ensure that you have adequate space to accommodate it.
  4. Ergonomics: Some users may find the ADAPTiQ headband, used for room measurements, less comfortable and prone to slipping. This aspect of the setup process could be improved for user convenience.
  5. Limited Audio Customization: The soundbar lacks extensive audio customization options, such as a 10-band equalizer. If you enjoy fine-tuning your audio settings, this aspect might be limiting.

In summary, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is an excellent choice for those seeking a premium audio experience with immersive sound and AI-enhanced dialogue clarity. However, its premium price tag and bass-heavy sound profile may not suit everyone, especially those with budget constraints or specific audio preferences. It’s essential to consider your priorities and room setup when deciding whether to purchase this soundbar.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar impresses with its AI-driven enhancements, 3D sound, and expandability options. While its bass-heavy tuning and premium price tag might deter some buyers, it remains an elegant and capable choice for those seeking an immersive audio experience.

Positives:

  1. Immersive Dolby Atmos: The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar delivers a captivating and immersive audio experience with its support for Dolby Atmos. It creates a three-dimensional soundstage that enhances your movie and gaming experiences.
  2. AI Dialogue Mode: The AI dialogue mode intelligently enhances voice clarity, making it easier to understand spoken dialogues in movies and TV shows. This feature ensures that you catch every word, even during action-packed scenes.
  3. Broad Soundstage: The soundbar provides a wide and expansive soundstage, enveloping the room with sound. It can reproduce overhead effects, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
  4. Expandability: To create a full-fledged surround sound system, expand the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar with additional components, such as rear speakers and a subwoofer. This flexibility allows you to customize your audio setup to your preferences.
  5. Music Streaming: With built-in Wi-Fi and support for music streaming services like Spotify and Apple AirPlay 2, the soundbar is a versatile music player, allowing you to enjoy your favorite songs with impressive audio quality.

Negatives:

  1. High Price: The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is a premium audio product with a price tag. It may not be budget-friendly for everyone, limiting its accessibility.
  2. Bass-Heavy Sound: The soundbar’s emphasis on bass may not suit those who prefer a more balanced or neutral sound profile. The bass can sometimes overshadow other audio frequencies.
  3. Size: With a width of just over a meter, the soundbar may not fit well in smaller entertainment setups or under narrow TVs. Ensure you have enough space for it.
  4. Ergonomics: Some users may find the ADAPTiQ headband, used for room measurements, uncomfortable and prone to slipping. Improvements in this aspect of the setup process could enhance user experience.
  5. Limited Audio Customization: The soundbar lacks extensive audio customization options, such as a 10-band equalizer. This limitation may disappoint users who enjoy fine-tuning their audio settings.

In summary, the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar offers an impressive audio experience with its immersive features and AI enhancements. However, its premium price, bass-heavy sound, and size considerations may not be suitable for all users. Weighing these pros and cons can help you determine if it aligns with your audio preferences and budget.