"Bose gives this soundbar an excellent appearance, excellent sound and numerous functions."

  • Fascinating surround sound

  • Beautiful design

  • Choice of Alexa or Google Assistant

  • Private listening option

  • Intelligent universal remote control

  • AirPlay 2

  • Not the best value

  • Some music services are not supported

  • No Chromecast option for Android

  • No HDMI inputs

Sound bars just started. Their mission was to deliver the best possible sound through a single speaker so people could forget about wiring problems and just enjoy their TV and music. While this still applies to some soundbar models, the industry has quickly shifted back to more speakers and less simplicity.

The $ 800 Bose Soundbar 700 is in some ways a return to the original soundbar concept, but some of its sleek exterior hides some thoroughly modern features.

Is it the right audio companion for your media room? Let's try it out.

design

Bose Soundbar 700Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you need to watch a soundbar from time to time, it should be the Bose Soundbar 700.

I claim that soundbars should do their utmost to get out of sight. If you want a speaker to be the highlight of your TV room, invest in the biggest ones you can find.

But let's face it: if you don't hide a soundbar in a wall – which would affect both sound and simplicity – you'll see it. So if you need to watch a soundbar from time to time, it should be the Bose Soundbar 700.

With its sleek lines, perfectly smooth glass top, and amazingly small and flat stature, the Soundbar 700 is one of those rare technologies that can improve your decor instead of compromising it. Available in black or white, you can choose whether it fits seamlessly into the background or makes a statement. Aesthetically speaking, it's quite an orator.

With a width of 38.5 inches and a height of only 2.25 inches, it is narrow and short enough to fit between the legs of almost all televisions that are at least 50 inches tall and slide directly underneath. If you want to mount it on the wall, an optional (and remarkably affordable) bracket is available for $ 40.

You won't find a single physical button anywhere on the Soundbar 700. The glass plate has a single touch-sensitive area near the front left corner to mute the built-in microphone. However, I recommend using it sparingly – as beautiful as the glass is, it is also a fingerprint magnet. Good thing Bose contains a microfiber cleaning cloth.

The only flat note in an otherwise stunning design is the included universal remote, a bulky, rubberized stone that doesn't match the sleek, minimalist lines of the Soundbar 700. More on that later.

configuration

Bose Soundbar 700Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Although it's a soundbar, the Soundbar 700 is also a powerful wireless smart speaker. Therefore, the setup process is guided by Bose's music app (free for iOS and Android). It's tempting to assume that virtually everyone has a phone or tablet that can run the music app. However, if you're one of the few who doesn't have one, or if you want to buy the Soundbar 700 for a friend or relative who doesn't have one, you might not be the right choice.

As long as you have a compatible device, setting up the speaker is easy thanks to the intuitive Bose app, which guides you through the process with easy-to-follow steps and lots of helpful feedback.

Part of this setup is to tune the Soundbar 700 to the acoustics of your room using the included Adaptiq microphone, a wired plastic headband that you wear like headphones. All you have to do is choose your five favorite places to watch TV and the app does the rest. It's not as elegant a solution as Sonos' TruePlay system, which uses the microphone of an iOS device to get the same result achieve. However, it does have the advantage of being compatible with all smart devices.

You'll also be quickly guided through the process of adding your home theater devices to the universal remote control, and you can choose between Alexa and Google Assistant if you want to use the speaker's voice control features. I strongly recommend that you do this.

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Bose Soundbar 700 Bose Soundbar 700

The Soundbar 700 can be connected to your TV via HDMI ARC or an optical cable. Since the speaker is limited to Dolby Digital and DTS audio signals, the choice of sound quality does not offer an advantage when choosing a speaker. However, the universal remote control is more effective when you use HDMI ARC because it can send some commands to connected devices via the CEC protocol (one way to send commands via HDMI).

As long as all your devices can be controlled via infrared (IR), I think an optical connection makes more sense. Why should you forego a valuable HDMI connection on your TV, especially since the Soundbar 700 has no HDMI inputs to compensate for this loss?

The HDMI ARC and the optical connections on the back of the bar also include Ethernet (as a more robust option for Wi-Fi) and several dedicated connections for the Adaptiq microphone, a wired bass module (subwoofer) and an optional IR repeater and one for "data" (we're still not quite sure what it does).

You can use it as a Bluetooth source for wireless headphones for private listening – it works fine.

Unfortunately, the connector for cabling a subwoofer is a proprietary Bose connector, so there is no way to use it with a subwoofer from another company. Even stranger, although it is possible to connect a wired Bose subwoofer to the Soundbar 700, both subwoofers sold by Bose (the $ 400 bass module 500 and the $ 700 bass module 700) connect wirelessly to the soundbar.

Wi-Fi is the best choice to stream music to the soundbar. However, it also supports the AirPlay 2 streaming protocol from Apple and Bluetooth. If you are an Android user, this may be your best bet. We'll discuss this a little later.

Speaking of Bluetooth: The Soundbar 700 has a nice function: You can use it with the SimpleSync technology from Bose as a Bluetooth source for wireless headphones for private listening. It works with any Bluetooth speaker, but you can better sync with the on-screen dialog if you're using one of the Bose headphones. The volume of each Bluetooth device can be controlled independently. I tried Bowers and Wilkins PX7 headphones and it worked just fine – it even stopped my Netflix video when I hit the play / pause button on the headphones.

Sound quality

Bose Soundbar 700Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Bose Soundbar 700 sounds great and, unlike several other soundbars we tested, handles TV soundtrack audio and music streaming equally well.

Behind the grille are a number of midrange tweeters and a tweeter, which provide most of the direct sound you hear, including a very clear dialogue. However, Bose's PhaseGuide arrays are on the sides of the bar. These cleverly shaped tunnels project sound onto the sides of the soundbar and give the impression that there are invisible speakers above your television and even a few to the side – if your viewing area has walls on both sides.

In short, it triggers the magic trick that we all consciously or subconsciously expect from a soundbar, and that means we get impressive home theater sound without all the cables and speakers.

One limitation that needs to be mentioned – especially since the Soundbar 700 is a significant investment – is Dolby Atmos and DTS: X. These object-based surround formats are the latest and greatest. When a compatible soundbar is combined with a Dolby Atmos or DTS: X soundtrack, the results can be exciting and include sounds that feel like they fully match the on-screen action. The Soundbar 700 is not one of these speakers. It's still great at what it does, but it can't make you future-proof if you think these new technologies are something you want to explore someday.

If you are not yet familiar with soundbars as a whole, I should make one thing clear: as good as the Soundbar 700 provides a feeling of depth and breadth, it alone does not create such a deep feeling of low-end bass for a complete home theater system. Because of its small proportions, there is no way.

I was ready to fall in love with his music less, but it went against my expectations.

That doesn't mean there is no bass – it actually does an admirable job – it just can't compete with systems that come with their own subwoofer.

As mentioned earlier, you can add an optional Bose bass module, but this increases the price.

It can't shake the furniture with low-end bass, but boy can this thing get loud. I would bet that the Soundbar 700 cannot fill any space in your house, even if your home is in palatial proportions.

Dialogue playback is another outstanding element of this speaker. It is clear and easy to separate from background noise – even before you use the available dialog enhancement mode. If for some reason you find it insufficient, you can only increase the volume of the center channel in the Bose Music app and make adjustments for treble, bass and sync / delay if necessary.

At $ 800 I had fully expected the Soundbar 700 to be a capable TV speaker, but I was also less interested in their music. But it exceeded my expectations very much. Thoroughly modern studio mixes like Beck's Hyperspace album benefit most from the bar's ability to project sound in space, but older tracks like The Who & # 39; s classic Pinball Wizard also get new life from the depths of the Soundbar 700.

On a whim and because the Tidal app advertised it, I tried Buju Banton's The Upside Down 2020 Experience. I couldn't have chosen a better track to find out what the Soundbar 700 can do with the right material. Banton's voice comes through as if he were on stage in front of you, while his background singers, strings and occasional saxophone spread outwards and envelop you in a rich mix of tones. "It all comes from this one speaker?" my son asked. Yes yes it is.

The Soundbar 700 only stumbled once when it heard Hans Zimmer's deeply bass-laden Time from the Inception soundtrack – the cabinet vibrated very slightly.

Multiroom audio

The Bose Soundbar 700 is part of a family of wireless speakers that can be controlled using the Bose Music app. This includes products like the Bose Home Speaker 500 and the Portable Home Speaker. In Sonos' multiroom steps, you can group these speakers to play the same music or stream something different for everyone.

But when it comes to pure multiroom smarts, Bose still has some catching up to do if he wants to do something other than follow.

With Sonos, for example, you can pair any pair of Sonos speakers – from the Ikea Symfonisk bookshelf speakers for $ 100 to the Sonos Five for $ 499 – as a surround set for the Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar for $ 800 – Use dollars. If you want to do the same with the Soundbar 700, you'll need to buy a special set of Bose wireless surround speakers.

You also can't turn two Bose speakers into a stereo pair, although this is much less relevant when dealing with soundbars.

Music sources

While the Bose Music app is friendly and user-friendly, it does offer some features that I would like to see, such as universal search, support for other music services, and the ability to stream music from a personal library on the network.

You can choose between Spotify Premium and Free, Apple Music, TuneIn, Pandora, SiriusXM, Amazon Music, Deezer and iHeartRadio within the app or use any audio app on your phone or tablet and stream directly to the Soundbar 700 2 or via AirPlay Bluetooth. The disadvantage of these options is that controls and content reside on a single device, and other people at home cannot edit or continue listening to the playlist if the person with the source device leaves the house.

You are also limited to just six favorites (which Bose calls presets). Regardless of whether it's a favorite radio station, podcast, or playlist, you need to choose wisely.

Universal remote control

Bose Soundbar 700 universal remote controlSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

It's big, bulky, and I'm not a fan of the rubberized surface that covers all the buttons, but I have to admit that the Bose Soundbar Universal Remote is well thought out as long as you only need to control a maximum of three devices (except the soundbar itself).

The idea behind the dark rubber layer is that it intentionally hides the many buttons under its surface. Once you've programmed it for your devices – which is easy and possible via the Bose Music app – only the buttons that correspond to the device you want to operate are selectively illuminated.

Pressing these illuminated buttons first sends a Bluetooth command to the Soundbar 700, which in turn forwards the command to the device in question via IR or HDMI-CEC (if you use HDMI between the Soundbar and your TV).

The main advantage of this arrangement is that the remote control and the soundbar are always perfectly synchronized. Even if you select TV mode on the universal remote and then switch the soundbar to AirPlay 2 or Bluetooth mode using the Bose Music app, the remote will automatically show this status change.

Good as it is, it's not perfect.

Three devices (two if you don't count your TV, which is pretty mandatory) may not be enough for some people.

I wish I could control how long the buttons light up. It always seemed like the lights went out as I decided what to do and I had to shake the remote again.

The soundbar, remote control, or TV screen does not show where the volume is relative to the minimum and maximum settings. If you want this level of detail, you need to consult the Bose Music app.

You can use the remote control to adjust the volume of the soundbar during an activity. However, you cannot access settings such as EQ or dialog enhancement.

For reasons known only to Bose, there are no buttons to access the six music presets that you program in the Bose Music app.

Overall, however, it worked very well except for one mistake – I couldn't get the remote to speak to my cable box. My LG TV and Apple TV 4K were no problem at all. I attributed the bug in the cable box to poor IR connectivity and didn't have enough time to try to fix it.

Voice assistants

Bose Soundbar 700Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Soundbars that are compatible with voice assistants are being used more and more, but few offer you the choice of which assistant you want to use. With the Soundbar 700, you can choose Alexa or Google Assistant and change your mind at any time (you just can't do both at the same time).

One of the best aspects of a smart speaker that really rocks is the ability to summon your favorite music simply by asking for it. But be warned: although Google Assistant and Alexa can take control of a variety of music services, you cannot use these voice assistants to control if the service you want to control is not available in the Bose Music app. Google Play Music (now mostly switched to YouTube Music), Apple Music and Tidal are examples of services that none of the Soundbar 700 wizards can control.

Bose uses a small, multi-colored LED light strip on its smart speakers to give you visual feedback on what condition it is in. Two white bars indicate a pause, a single blue bar indicates Bluetooth and a small red dot means muting. However, the strip is also animated to inform you that a voice command has been heard. This is a great feature.

What I can't understand is why Bose is not using it to indicate volume – something I should consider for a future firmware update.

Voice commands were easy to hear even with some fairly loud sounds, and the response times were very good when I tested them with Google Assistant.

Our opinion

$ 800 may be a lot of money for a soundbar that isn't compatible with Dolby Atmos, but the Bose Soundbar 700 proves that the investment is a great combination of sound quality, great design, and a host of useful features, including yours, still worth choosing the language assistant.

Is there a better alternative?

The direct competitor of the Soundbar 700 is the excellent Sonos Arc for $ 800, a larger Dolby Atmos soundbar that also offers a choice of voice assistants and offers the best support for multiroom and music services in the industry. If you want to be future-proof for object-based surround sound, this is a good choice.

We believe that the Soundbar 700 treats TV and music audio better with the same accuracy (the Arc tends to prefer TV audio) and has several features that the Arc lacks, e.g. B. Universal remote control, Bluetooth and the ability to connect wireless headphones for private listening.

How long it will take?

The Bose Soundbar 700 comes with a one-year warranty. That's pretty standard for this type of product, but Bose has an excellent reputation for producing quality products and the Soundbar 700 should have a very long lifespan. You may want to replace it in the future, but you are unlikely to need to replace it.

Should you buy it

Yes. The Bose Soundbar 700 is a fantastic solution with a speaker for simple but exciting home theater sound. With optional subwoofer and surround speaker modules, it can grow with your needs as long as those requirements don't include Dolby Atmos.

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