For decades, the name Bose has been synonymous with great sound and sound innovation. Loved by most and hated by audiophiles, can their foray into soundbars live up to the legendary name?
The Bose TV speaker has a 2.0 channel configuration and is smaller than we’ve come to expect from soundbars in recent times. It could be easily mistaken for a general-purpose speaker but the presence of Optical and HDMI ARC ports suggests that it is designed to be used with a TV.
With basic features and small construction, how does it perform, and it is worth your hard-earned cash? Let’s find out.
List of Specifications
|Product Dimensions||Width 23.5″ (59.6 cm)
Height 2.2″ (5.7 cm)
Depth 4.1″ (10.4 cm)
|Wireless Audio Protocol||Bluetooth|
|Physical Connections||Optical Audio In
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
|Special Features||HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
- Great for dialogue centric content
- Dialogue enhancement feature
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Bass adjustment feature
- No Dolby Atmos support
- Lacks bass due to absence of a subwoofer
- No EQ or room correction feature
- Doesn’t get very loud
- No auto volume mode
What’s in the Box?
- Optical cable
- Remote with battery
- Power cable
Design and build
The Bose TV Speaker has a simple yet sleek design. The top is made of smooth plastic while the front and sides have a metal grille to protect the speakers.
This device comes as a 2.1 channel setup hence no subwoofer is provided. You can, however, purchase the Bose Bass Module 500 or Bose Module 700 to add a subwoofer to the mix.
Coming in at 23.5″ (59.6 cm) x 2.2″ (5.7 cm) x 4.1″ (10.4 cm), this soundbar is quite small and will fit under the legs of almost any TV today.
The back of the soundbar has an opening for the physical cable inputs and the power cable. There are mounting holes at the bottom.
The build quality overall is good as we’ve come to expect from Bose. The plastic feels quite sturdy and solid and the metal grille gives it a more solid and premium look. It is also less susceptible to wear and tear than the fabric covering that most modern soundbars have.
The Bose TV Speaker doesn’t have a display for us to know what is going on but we mustn’t forget that this is a sub $300 piece of equipment. Instead, it has two LED lights at the front. One turns on when you’re connected to your TV via HDMI ARC or Optical and the other when you’re connected via Bluetooth. The light to the left blinks as you increase or decrease the volume or when you’re on mute. It also turns green when you turn the dialogue enhancement feature on.
A remote control comes in the box as with any other soundbar and it allows you to control the features of the Bose TV speaker as the bar itself doesn’t have any controls. Power on/off, input selection, Bluetooth, volume, bass level, mute, and dialogue enhancement are all controlled via the remote.
It also supports HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control) and therefore you can use your TV remote to control some aspects like volume up/down and power on/off if you are connected via HDMI.
An app would’ve been great for ease of control but it isn’t available.
Bose TV speaker has three physical inputs available. Optical audio in, HDMI Arc, and Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux). This allows for devices from varying generations to be used with this soundbar. Many modern soundbars wouldn’t work well with older devices but Bose has done a good job accommodating various generations of tech.
One cool feature you get is Dolby Digital content support via HDMI Arc and Optical in. This is good news for movie lovers, giving this soundbar a slight edge over its rivals.
On the wireless side of things, only Bluetooth is supported in this soundbar and it works well. However, lack of support for Wifi, Chromecast, and Airplay is a bit of a letdown.
The USB port at the back cannot be used for USB playback which is quite sad. It is designed as a service port to run updates and the like.
The Bose TV Speaker soundbar has a 2.0 Channel configuration. This means no subwoofer, no center channel, and no satellite speakers. At this price point, the latter two can be forgiven but the lack of a subwoofer is a letdown. If you really want one, you can purchase either the Bose Bass Module 500 or the Bose Bass Module 700 but these cost $499 and $799 respectively. This bumps up the total cost significantly.
It has a decent stereo frequency response. It lacks low bass, so you don’t feel the deep rumble in bass-heavy music or action-packed movies but that is to be expected due to the absence of a subwoofer. The rest of the sound range though is quite neutral and balanced, so vocals and instruments are reproduced clearly. As a result, it’s suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content.
The device is a 2.0 setup, and hence it doesn’t have a center speaker. Instead, it uses its left and right speakers to create sound in the center, which sounds more diffused and less clear than a dedicated center channel. The frequency balance on the speaker though allows you to hear the voices properly. In addition, the dialogue enhancement feature mitigates this problem quite well.
Regarding surround performance, the hallmark of any living room entertainment system, the Bose TV Speaker doesn’t perform well. It has to downmix surround content into stereo due to its 2.0 channel configuration. This doesn’t result in the most accurate representation of objects in the surroundings.
The audio seems to come from in front of you rather than from speakers placed all around you. Also, its frequency response is rather bass-heavy in a bid to counter the lack of a subwoofer which can muddy voices in your surround content.
The sub $300 price segment has a lot of soundbars competing for your attention and cash. With good overall sound, a lack of many connectivity options, and a lack of a subwoofer, how does the Bose TV speaker stack up against the competition?
With a dedicated subwoofer and WiFi support, the Polk Audio Signa S3 definitely provides the right amount of competition and it costs $30 less than the Bose.
Also with a dedicated subwoofer, the Toshiba TY-WSB1200D comes in at $299, about $20 more than the Bose. With this, you get 420 watts of power, HDMI in, Dolby Atmos, LED screen, and a subwoofer in addition to all the features that the Bose has.
If you are in the market for a very simple yet quality upgrade to your TV’s speakers, then this is it. Simple to set up and operate, the Bose TV speaker delivers good sound for the average listener with ease and at a fair price.
If you however want more from your sound setup, more bass, better surround, more wireless connectivity options, you are better off looking elsewhere. Even at this price, many manufacturers will load up their soundbars with a lot more features.