September has been a busy month for Bose: First it unveiled the new Bose QuietComfort Ultra Noise-Canceling Headphones that promise to raise the bar for noise-cancellation technology, and now the company has released a new, cutting-edge Dolby Atmos soundbar.
It’s called the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar and it combines Dolby Atmos spatial audio with machine learning and artificial intelligence to create the best sound possible.
According to a post about the new soundbar on its website, Bose says that its machine learning model analyzed “millions of content clips” and uses the data to automatically adjust tonal balance, “making spoken words easier to hear without losing any impact of immersive sound effects”.
On the spatial audio side of things, Bose says that it’s creating a more realistic experience using its PhaseGuide technology. Instead of solely focusing on the upfiring component, PhaseGuide creates artificial surround sound channels that “pin” distinct sound to the right and left where there are no speakers.
This is definitely something that other soundbars have attempted to do in the past to little success, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Smart Ultra Soundbar performs.
Premium features at a premium price
Given its feature set, Bose seems to be positioning the Smart Ultra Soundbar as a Sonos Arc rival — Bose is even replacing the Smart Soundbar 900 with the Smart Ultra Soundbar as the company’s flagship home theater product.
At its launch price of $899 on Bose's website, it’s even the same price as the Sonos Arc — a clear strategic move on Bose’s part.
That being said, both soundbars are competing in the more premium echelon of home theater products. Yes, they offer a lot of flexibility and features for the price, but they’re still incredibly expensive compared to the basic 2.1 channel soundbars folks tend to flock to.
The other issue here is that the Smart Ultra Soundbar, like the Sonos Arc, doesn’t come with a subwoofer — you’ll have to add one on separately.
Given how cheap other Dolby Atmos soundbars like the $400 JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam have become, Bose will really have to make a compelling case for the $900 Smart Ultra Soundbar — but, given its decades of experience in the space, it’s entirely possible that this high-end soundbar will be worth every penny.
Need to amp up your home entertainment center ASAP? Check out our guide to the best soundbars.