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The best new soundbars help solve one little problem you might’ve experienced with your home entertainment system: emotion-less sound. Yes, your TV comes with built-in speakers, but they’re often generic sounding, with little to no dynamics and poor distribution. You shouldn’t have to turn the volume up to 50 to hear it from across the room.
The best soundbars offer a major improvement over your TV’s average speakers and can make what you’re watching or streaming sound better in an instant. Our favorite sound bars can also sync up to your phone over Bluetooth or WiFi to listen to music, podcasts and more. We recently tested the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 to see how it holds up — here’s what you need to know.
The Bose Smart Soundbar 300, which hit stores last September, is part of Bose’s larger range of soundbars, and it’s ideal for anyone who wants to upgrade their home theater sound, especially if you don’t have a lot of space to work with. Depending on your setup, it’s small enough to slide underneath a screen or you can mount it to the wall. It’s an easy way to boost the sound of your favorite movies, TV shows, music and more.
How Does the Bose Smart Soundbar Sound?
When it comes to audio quality, you won’t be disappointed with the Bose Smart Soundbar 300’s excellent sound, thanks to its multiple built-in drivers. We compared our smart TV’s audio with that of the Bose, putting it to the test with everything from football games to the Grammys to other live performances, and, as far as the 4K TV we tested it with goes, the audible improvement from the soundbar is obvious from the first note.
It’s no surprise really that watching live sports with the Smart Soundbar might make you feel like part of the crowd for a brief moment — you’ll see it’s the official soundbar of the NFL (as printed right on the box once it arrives), and you can hear why, too: Announcers during games come through clear, without completely blocking out stadium sounds like whistles and calls. You shouldn’t have to constantly adjust the volume from your remote either.
Music, meantime, sounds excellent with the Smart Soundbar 300. If you’re using, say, Spotify, you can easily select the soundbar when you’re using the app, so it plays your music through the Bose 300’s speakers. Despite its portable size, the bar also fills the room easily with sound, for a truly immersive experience. You’ll hear every rip, roar and rumble of your favorite movie, and pick out all the little details from a favorite track.
While it’s a great fit for your TV, we also like that it’s a good all-around Bluetooth speaker for your house, whether you want to listen to playlists or switch to streaming Justice League or a Tiny Desk concert right from your phone.
When it comes to streaming albums, movies and games, the bottom line is that your display’s built-in speakers probably can’t compete with Bose’s superior audio quality. As far as how loud it can get, we decided not to explore its limits for fear of getting kicked out of our apartment, but even at lower decibels, dialogue and songs with a lot of bass sounded well-balanced.
How Do You Control the Bose Smart Soundbar?
Bose made sure to make its soundbar super functional and easy to run in a variety of ways: with your voice (thanks, Google), with the included Bose remote, and even your phone. That said, it might take some time to get familiar with how it interacts with your smart TV.
For instance, when we wanted to turn up the volume on the bar from our phone, instead of just the bar’s volume increasing, both the smart TV and the soundbar got louder at the same time, which resulted in a strange echo and a soundbar and TV speaker match we would’ve rather skipped. But after a couple test runs, we knew we could keep our TV’s volume down to zero and activate the Bose’s volume using the handy TV button on the remote that came in the box.
The remote lets you mute your music and the soundbar with the press of a button, and there are buttons to change the volume, an on/off button and a play/pause button.
We set up Google Assistant so we could more easily control everything without needing the remote. We could just say “Hey, Google. Pause.” During our testing of the feature, we noticed an occasional delay between asking the soundbar to play or pause a show and when that actually happened, and we sometimes had to repeat ourselves before it worked. We could also ask Google to rewind the show if we missed something a character whispered, or to adjust the volume. There were also times we used it for our virtual workout classes, having to pause the stream when we missed a critical step for a move (or when our dog decided to take a nap on our workout mat).
We never used to take advantage of voice features like this with our other smart products, but it’s a convenient function to have built into the bar (especially when you can’t find the remote). You can also use the soundbar as your smart home hub too.
How Much Is the Bose Smart Soundbar?
If you’re looking at the competition in the under-$400 price range, Sonos fans might consider the Beam soundbar, which includes Amazon Alexa, and which you can pair your other Sonos products too. When it comes to Bose vs. Sonos though, we did find the Beam to offer better connectivity, letting us pair other speakers and products like headphones with the Smart Soundbar 300.
For a slightly more affordable Bose product, the company also sells a remote-controlled TV Speaker for your home theater setup, and it goes for $224. It comes in just as compact of a design at two inches tall and under 24 inches wide, but you can’t use a voice assistant like Google or Alexa like you can with the Smart Soundbar 300.
How Do You Set Up the Bose Soundbar 300?
Out of the box, setting up the bar to a smart TV is quick and easy. Bose gives you an optical cable to connect it to your set, and you can also use an HDMI cable if you have one handy. You’ll want to download the Bose app so you can connect to your wireless and walk through the setup process on your phone. (However, you don’t have to only rely on the Bose app to use the soundbar moving forward.) It’s a straightforward step-by-step and you’ll be ready to roll in no time, WiFi connection depending.
What’s the Difference Between the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 vs. 500 vs. 700?
Bose makes a number of soundbars, but the main distinctions include the price differences and the wider designs. The Bose 500 goes for $549 and the Bose Soundbar 700 retails for $799 right now on Amazon. Both are going to take up more space at 31.5 inches and 38.5 inches wide, respectively.
Is the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 Worth it?
For a connected speaker that makes dialogue easier to hear and produces room-filling sound, the Bose Smart Soundbar 300 is a great soundbar you’ll want in your home. It outperforms many of its competitors with easy connectivity, expansive sound and crystal clear audio, all from a sleek and streamlined unit.