The Best Bose Soundbars 2021: Reviewed, Compared, Sound, Features - Rolling Stone
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The Best Bose Soundbars In 2021

A soundbar from Bose is one of the biggest upgrades you can make to your home theater system, and will leave your TV’s built-in speakers in the dust

Bose TV SpeakerBose TV Speaker


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Bose has been synonymous with great sound since it was founded in 1964, and has added a roster of soundbars to its portfolio of speakers and headphones.

A soundbar is the best home theater system upgrade you can make because it’ll sound better than your TV’s speakers, which have to be small because 4K sets are so thin. But, they’re smaller than traditional home theater speakers, especially floor standers, which can take up a big chunk of your room. Soundbars are one of the true happy mediums in the audio world.

Bose company offers a bunch of choices in this category, but we’ve selected the ones that really stand out based on features, audio quality, hands-on experience, and price.

What Are The Best Bose Soundbars?

There are many factors to think about when choosing the right Bose soundbar for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Size: Bose’s will always take up less space than a traditional home theater system, but they can still vary in size quite a bit. We’ve made sure to include soundbars that can fit in any entertainment center.

Stereo Vs. Surround Sound: The Bose soundbars in our guide are designed to replicate 2.0 or 2.1 (stereo) and 5.1 (surround sound) audio systems. Surround sound will be more immersive, but requires plugging in more speakers, which take up more space.

Some of the stereo soundbars we’ve chosen can be augmented with additional speakers to create a compact surround sound system. This gives you the option to upgrade your home theater over time, rather than having to start from scratch if you move to a place with more space.

Ports: A soundbar’s inputs (otherwise known as ports) are what allow you to connect it to your TV. The most common ports found on soundbars are HDMI and Optical inputs, which are both found on all TVs released in the past ten years.

Smart home integration: In some cases Bose has partnered with a company like Amazon and Google to build their smart assistants (Alexa and the Google Assistant) directly into their soundbar. These soundbars allow you to control accessories like smart lightbulbs, so you can change the mood lighting in your home theater system to add ambiance to your movie night or gaming session.

Bluetooth support: Your Bose soundbar will always be connected to your TV with a cable, but many of the options on this list support Bluetooth. This lets you connect your phone, tablet, or computer to the soundbar and stream music to it wirelessly, which is nice if your home theater setup is in a living room or common area and you want to play DJ for yourself or guests.

1. Bose Smart Soundbar 300


Bose’s Smart Soundbar 300 is its its latest and greatest soundbar: It’s compact, supports the newest features, and sounded excellent in our hands-on testing.

At 23.6 inches wide, this is a pretty compact soundbar for its class, and should fit under most TVs. It’s a stereo soundbar out of the box, but you can turn it into a surround sound system by adding a Bose Bass module and a pair of surround speakers. We’ve tested the soundbar and subwoofer, but not the surround sound set.

The Bose Smart Soundbar 300 has an HDMI and optical audio input, plus ports for IR and Bass Module. Those ports are augmented with support for Bluetooth and Amazon’s Alexa, which makes the soundbar very well rounded. We used the HDMI port and Bluetooth during our testing, and both worked flawlessly right out of the box.

These design features are very important when considering a soundbar, but what really impressed us was the way the Smart Soundbar 300 sounded. It has five full-range drivers, which do a great job of filling a mid-sized room (think living room or bedroom) without cranking up the volume. Voices sound clear while watching TV, and the dedicated music mode actually makes a difference when you switch to playing some tunes.

You’ll get a great experience out of the box, especially for a soundbar this size, but adding the bass module is an improvement, especially if you listen to music. The drivers in the soundbar itself can focus on midrange and high frequencies, so you get a better balance overall.

Bose’s Smart Soundbar 300 is a well-balanced choice whose audio quality, modularity, and extras make it a huge upgrade over your TV’s speakers.

Buy: Bose Smart Soundbar 300 at $449.00

2. Bose TV Speaker


Bose’s TV Speaker is the company’s new entry-level speaker, and it keeps the most important features from the higher end Bose Smart Soundbar 300.

It’s 23.4 inches long, which makes it the right choice if you need an ultra compact soundbar. This is a stereo audio system, but you can pair it with a Bose Bass Module if you want more low-end. Around the back you’ll find an HDMI and optical audio input, an AUX input, and a port for the Bass Module. The Bose TV Speaker supports Bluetooth, but doesn’t have Amazon’s Alexa built in.

The most notable difference between this soundbar and Bose’s higher-end option is its two-driver audio system. It’s still designed for great sound, and will be a big improvement over your TV’s built-in speakers, but music, TV shows, and movies won’t sound quite as rich. Adding the bass module will make a bigger difference in this case, and close the gap in audio quality substantially.

The Bose TV Speaker is the right soundbar if you’d like to get the biggest possible sound from a smaller speaker.

Buy: Bose TV Speaker at $279.00

3. Bose Lifestyle 650


The Bose Lifestyle 650 is its premium soundbar, and a no-compromise option if you really care about audio quality.

This is a 5.1 surround sound system right out of the box, and comes with the soundbar, subwoofer, four additional speakers, and a pair of wireless receivers. The front speakers need to be wired, but the back speakers are wireless. The soundbar itself is 28.5 inches long, which makes it the longest option this guide; a multi-speaker system will naturally take up more space than a stereo soundbar.

The Lifestyle 650 has an HDMI and optical audio input, plus support for Bluetooth. It doesn’t have Amazon’s Alexa built in, but you can pair it with an Amazon Echo speaker to gain that functionality.

A surround sound system will always offer a more immersive experience over stereo, and that’s especially true of the Bose Lifestyle 650. Most surround soundbars build the center, right, and left channels into the bar, which limits the amount of depth you’d get from placing four speakers at an equidistant space around you, which literally surrounds you with music. Bose’s system gives you that opportunity by using the soundbar exclusively as the center channel.

If you watch a lot of movies, and want a surround sound system that won’t take up your entire room, Bose’s Lifestyle 650 is an excellent choice.

Buy: Bose Lifestyle 650 at $3,999.00

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