Bose Smart Soundbar 900 review: an excellent adaptive soundbar

Can an at-home system ever rival the cinema surround sound experience? Bose is raising the bar with this

Bose 900 soundbar on dark wood cabinet placed in front of TV, with subwoofer on the floor beside
(Image credit: Bose)
Livingetc Verdict

A good-looking and high-performing speaker, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 leverages adaptive audio and Dolby Atmos to mimic surround sound, with great results no matter what you're watching. It may be too large for some living rooms but, if you can make space, it'll be worth it.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Sleek and stylish

  • +

    Simple and clear app

  • +

    Easy to set to your taste

  • +

    Great for streaming music as well as watching TV

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Sometimes slow for TV audio to start

  • -

    Confusing light sequences needs constant manual checking

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When you think of audio appliances, Bose is one of the first names that comes to mind for many. They have dominated the market in many ways and stepped into the world of soundbars back in 2011. It’s taken until now, though, for them to embrace Dolby Atmos – technology that aims to bring the 3D surround sound cinema experience to your living room.

It’s designed for TVs measuring 50 inches or larger and aims to boost the sound quality and the viewing experience. Whether you’re watching the latest immersive nature documentary or want to feel like a helicopter is flying above your head during an adrenaline-coursing action film, the 900 Soundbar promises it can cope.

If you want to see how it compares to the best soundbars, head on over to our guide. For now, get the popcorn ready as we try it out.

Bose 900 Soundbar instructions

(Image credit: Jen Thomas)

Bose 900 Soundbar: setting it up

The instruction manual gives very little information, as the majority of the set-up is done via the Bose app, which took a little while to download and update the settings, but nothing too painful. There is pleasingly little extraneous packaging, and the soundbar itself is sleek and stylish. The bar has a Bluetooth connection, so music can be streamed from your phone, and it comes with all of the required cables to connect to your television.

The version we tested is white, but it also comes in black. The impact-resistant tempered glass top is attractive, but there are times when the reflection of the TV glares from it. It would also be a magnet for sticky little fingerprints, which would be more noticeable on the black version.

The fun part comes when it’s time to don the included headset and use the ADAPTiQ room calibration software. It sees you moving from seat to seat to make sure that the sound is immersive and sounds just as good wherever you sit. No more fighting for the best seat in the house!

Once calibrated, it was time to fire up YouTube and load some Dolby Atmos tester videos. The result is impressive, with the height drivers and multiple channels of amplification filling the room with sound. The app is straightforward to use, although it was necessary to go onto the help section of the website to figure out what the (annoyingly similar) flashing light pattern meant. It only took ten minutes, though, before we were good to go, with a mini remote in hand and the app loaded up.

Bose 900 Soundbar on floor, taken out of packaging

(Image credit: Jen Thomas)

Bose 900 Soundbar: what is it like to use?

There are plenty of settings to fiddle with on the app, which is kept streamlined and simple. Occasionally the app said the bar was streaming audio from the TV when it wasn’t, despite tapping the “power” button in the app. It wasn’t until I pressed up or down the volume button on the physical mini remote that the audio would begin. Choosing to watch the second series of Bridgerton, the ‘dialogue mode’ under the ‘audio’ setting enhances the speech – meaning you won’t miss a moment of Anthony Bridgerton’s sweet nothings.

On the other end of the scale, the soundbar adds weight and depth to the sound of battle in an action film, and in the trailer for one of the Fast & Furious movies, it sounded like the car was in the room with you.

The soundbar also has Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, so you can make and receive calls to other devices or use Alexa to control the TV using your voice. The soundbar is also excellent for streaming music, and content can be connected via wifi, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, and Airplay 2.

Streaming a variety of genres from Spotify, the levels can be changed to boost the bass or treble accordingly. The mini remote also has pre-set options to choose from, whether watching a film or listening to music. It’s all user-friendly and won’t scare the less-technically savvy.

Bose Soundbar 900 app view

(Image credit: Jen Thomas)

Bose 900 Soundbar: how does it look?

Sleek and simple, the Bose 900 Soundbar proves it doesn’t need to be gaudy or in-your-face to be fancy. With all clean lines, it has a beautiful minimalist style in monochrome styles. We tried the white version, but it also comes in black.

As mentioned previously, the glass top could need a lot of cleaning if touched and also suffers a little from glare. There are only two physical controls on the soundbar’s surface. One of them is an ‘action’ button, and the other is a mute/unmute button for the built-in microphone.

The LED lights indicating the status aren’t the clearest, as there are around 25 different variations of color changes and pulses. You’ll find yourself squinting, trying to figure out if it’s a “central pulse” or “left to right pulse” to figure out what’s going on. This small irritation aside, it’s still a beautiful piece of kit, but don’t feel bad if you have to load up the troubleshooting guide.

Bose Soundbar 900 on writer's TV stand

(Image credit: Jen Thomas)

Bose 900 Soundbar: our verdict

It’s always going to be a stretch to rival the cinema experience on a small scale, but the Bose 900 Soundbar gives it a good go. With the ADAPTiQ room calibration, it genuinely makes a difference for everyone in the room, the app is easy to use, and the audio is heightened. The hardest decision is whether you want one in black or white?

About this review, and the reviewer

A music journalist, freelance writer, and radio presenter, Jen spends too much time listening to music or watching Wes Anderson movies or classic film noir. With décor that veers from red and black with leopard print to a pink and jade-green jungle bedroom, she is always keen to find items that fit in with both styles. As well as music, she is an avid fan of sewing, balcony gardening, and trying to teach her rescue dog (pictured below) new tricks. 

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 in its box beside writer's dog

(Image credit: Jen Thomas)
Jen Thomas
Freelance contributor

Jen Thomas has been a freelance journalist and reviewer for twenty years and is a presenter for Magic Radio. She loves leopard print, houseplants, clashing patterns and buying more gadgets than any one person needs. Jen spends her free time playing with and training her Romanian rescue dog, and balcony gardening.