At IFA 2018, Bose has unveiled two new soundbars with Amazon Alexa built-in. Other voice assistants and Airplay 2 will be added via firmware later.
Alexa & other voice assistants
Bose starts out by saying that the Soundbar 700 “was engineered to outperform every other product in its category”. The company claims that it can expand the sound stage to surround via “PhaseGuide” technology and that it can adjust to its surroundings via a built-in “AdaptiQ” function.
The soundbars come with Amazon Alexa for voice control and the company says that other voice assistants will follow, without naming them.
- “Voice-controlled speakers aren’t new, and there are plenty of great options to choose from. But we had a different vision for ours, inspired by what we could uniquely do to make the experience better,” said Doug Cunningham, category manager, Bose. “Our Soundbar 700 and 500 are thin and discreet with jaw-dropping surround sound — whether you’re streaming Spotify or watching a movie. They combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for unbeatable ease of use, can be mixed and matched to play in sync or separately, and with new Alexa functionality and more VPAs on the way, they’ll only get better over time.”
The Soundbar 700 is more powerful than the 500 model. Both can be wall-mounted or expanded with a wireless bass module and rear speakers for a full 5.1 surround sound experience, the company said. Bose will add support for Apple Airplay 2 support in early 2019. Airplay 2 enables multiroom functionality as well as wireless TV audio and music streaming from to Apple TV, iPhone and iPad.
HDMI eARC for future compatibility
Besides sound quality, one difference between the 700 and 500 model is that only the former supports DTS while both support Dolby Digital. In addition, the soundbars support HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) and eARC (enhanced ARC). The latter can be used for receiving lossless audio formats from a TV but the soundbars cannot yet process these high-quality formats. Bose said that it is there “for compatibility with future technology”.
Bose is talking up the soundbars’ wide, surrounding sound stage but no support for object-based audio formats such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X puts a damper on things. To get the full benefit you obviously need multiple speakers but Dolby often likes to point out that object-based audio can improve the listening experience even on smaller setups. The 700 model will retail for $800 and several competing companies will give you some form of Atmos in this price class.
The company added that there is a universal remote included with the purchase of Soundbar 700. It features six preset buttons and “lights up only the buttons you need in the moment”.
At IFA 2018, the company also unveiled a “smart speaker” called the Bose Home Speaker 500 designed for music.
The Soundbar 500 and 700 will be available beginning this October for $550 and $800, respectively.
Bose Soundbar 700 - specifications
Dimensions/weight Soundbar: 38.5" W x 2.25" H x 4.25" D (10.5 lbs)
Inputs and outputs HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC) Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) Optical TOSLink Power input USB input