Bose Soundbar 700 Full Review
A late 2019 addition to Bose’s audio tracks lineup, the Bose Soundbar 700 may be the latest speaker from the maker, and much like other models in its range uses QuietPort and PhaseGuide technologies. In addition, it includes the company’s ADAPTiQ auto audio tracks calibration, and uses the same cabinet as the prior 300.
The 700 sports an HDMI reference to eARC, support for Apple AirPlay 2, a redesigned universal remote and the Bose Music app. In addition, it has Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant built-in, rendering it a fully-fledge smart speaker.
Despite Bose’s declare that the 700 may be the world’s best soundbar, however, it doesn’t have any HDMI inputs, nor does it support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Those are some big negatives for a soundbar that costs £699 / $799 / AU$945 and doesn’t have even another subwoofer, so there’s a whole lot riding on performance.
The Bose Soundbar 700 certainly appears like a high-end speaker, with a stylish cabinet and a exceptional level of construction. There’s a perforated wraparound aluminium grille coupled with a tempered glass top, and a selection of glossy black or arctic white.
Unfortunately the design is suffering from form over function, with certain factors quickly becoming annoying. At the slightest touch the glass top becomes smudged with fingerprints, and once you turn on it it reflects what’s on the screen – which is quite distracting.
On the plus side the Soundbar 700 is merely 57mm high, so that it shouldn’t block your TV. It’s wide enough for TVs with screen sizes of between 45 and 55 inches, and there’s an optional bracket for all those that are looking to wall mount.
The design can be an exercise in minimalism, with only two touch sensitive controls: one for power and one for muting the built-in smart assistants. There’s almost no display, simply a row of lights, but you will need to be a specialist code-breaker to work through what they mean.
Design TL;DR: This soundbar looks stylish and is quite well made, however the glass top will reflect your TV screen; the lack of any HDMI inputs or perhaps a display may also frustrate.
Connections and remote
The Bose Soundbar 700 houses all its physical connections in two recessed areas on its underside, however in another design misstep there’s limited room to really plug-in the many cables. However to Bose’s credit, they do at least include optical and HDMI cables in the box.
The physical connections certainly are a mixed bag, and in a single recess can be an HDMI port, an optical digital input, an Ethernet port and a micro USB port for service. In the other recess may be the socket for the energy cable, and four 3.5mm jacks for a subwoofer, data, IR extender, and the ADAPTiQ headset.
Taking into consideration the price it’s surprising there are no HDMI inputs, simply a single output. The glad tidings are that it supports eARC (enhanced music return channel), in order to send lossless sound from your own TV back again to the soundbar. Of course that’s assuming your TV also supports eARC.
The wireless connections give a selection of Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz bands), Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth. The latter is bound to the SBC codec, so for all those that demand the best quality audio tracks the first two options are an improved choice.
The soundbar carries a well-made universal handy remote control, with metal construction and a motion-activated backlight. It usually is paired with numerous devices, including a TV, Blu-ray player, video game system, video streamer, or set-top box, providing control from an individual wand.
Unfortunately the zapper is suffering from similar short-sighted design choices to the soundbar itself. To begin with it’s too big, as the soft rubber buttons attract dust and fluff. They’re also impossible to see when the backlight is off, and even though illuminated they don’t always seem sensible.
At least the Bose Music App is well-designed, with an intuitive interface that goes through set-up. It enables you to fine tune certain aspects such as for example centre channel, bass, treble, and the remote, while providing access Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, TuneIn, AirPlay and Bluetooth
The Bose Soundbar 700 has a number of features, a lot of which are centered on its features as a good speaker: The inclusion of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant will be the headliners, and may be easily set-up by linking to your existing accounts using the Bose app.
The procedure is a cinch, as soon as complete you have a completely functioning smart speaker that provides the news headlines or weather, play music, select a radio channel and offer voice control. There’s a selection of four music services – Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer and TuneIn Radio.
The soundbar itself includes Bose’s proprietary PhaseGuide and QuietPort technology; the former is supposed to send music to the sides of the soundbar to produce a wider front soundstage, as the latter is made to deliver deeper, cleaner and distortion-free bass.
Where this soundbar really falls down is with regards to multi-channel audio: it could decode 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS, but doesn’t support lossless codecs like Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, aside from object-based audio tracks like Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.
Taking into consideration the price, this appears just like a major omission, and the shortcoming to support lossless audio tracks largely negates the inclusion of eARC. Having less upward-firing drivers or perhaps a separate subwoofer means the 700 is way better suitable for TV and music, instead of movies.
That is a single-unit soundbar, so if you wish to increase the bass or add surround channels, you’ll have to spend more. Bose supplies the optional Bass Module 700 (£615) and Surround Speakers 700 (£499). Which means creating a complete 5.1 system will definitely cost of over £1,800 – which is expensive.
Features TL;DR: The inclusion of Alexa and Google Assistant is nice, but hardly essential in a soundbar. Nevertheless the insufficient lossless Dolby and DTS support is a significant omission.
The Bose Soundbar 700 uses four mid-range drivers – two either side of a central tweeter. At the far left and right may be the PhaseGuide technology, which was created to widen leading soundstage, however the company is rather tight-lipped about specific driver sizes and amplification.
Thankfully since that is a single-unit soundbar, it’s simple to install – just position before your TV and you’re all set. Set-up is equally straightforward: simply launch the Bose Music software and follow the instructions, which take you through the ADAPTiQ automated calibration process.
This does involve wearing the microphone on your own head, and while it could look somewhat silly, taking measurements from where you head is really located makes sense. Bose should be congratulated for including auto cal, and it’s a shame other manufacturers don’t do the same.
ADAPTiQ analyses a variety of frequencies, adjusting for distances, levels and the unwanted effects caused by the area itself. There are five measurements altogether, starting at the sweet spot and moving to other seating positions in the area, thus ensuring optimized performance.
There’s without doubt that engaging ADAPTiQ certainly increases the entire soundstage of the 700, with a nice sense of balance and a lively sonic signature which has a good amount of width and a good amount of depth. There’s also good stereo separation, which results in a few nice imaging.
The 700 certainly appears at its best with music, and the driving urgency of Placebo’s Every Me, Every You is delivered with precision. The sparse beauty of their cover of Running Up that Hill is equally impressive, with a well rendered mid-range plus some excellent high frequencies.
Watching TV doesn’t stress the Bose either, and with most programming it’s with the capacity of a solid efficiency that ensures music is enjoyably reproduced, effects are well defined and dialogue remains clear and focused. The news headlines, gameshows and documentaries all reap the benefits of this, while coverage of the Rugby World Cup delivered big crowds and clear commentators.
Where this soundbar struggles has been gaming and movies. Here the soundstage feels more constrained, without immersive effects, no surround channels and limited bass. The PhaseGuide technology widens leading soundstage, but does in order the trouble of the imaging, because of this effects could sound less precise than with a far more directional driver.
What this essentially means is that less demanding films sound quite good, with well-defined music and dialogue that retains clarity. However a far more directional soundtrack like Spider-Man: DEFINATELY NOT Home loses a lot of the precision necessary to localise and steer its effects. The same is specially true with gaming, where positioning effects could possibly be the difference between life and death.
The lack of another subwoofer is also a concern, and regardless of the QuietPort technology this soundbar lacks real low-end punch. Subsequently a bass-heavy film like Overlord will be a lot less fun, with the lack of low frequencies making the opening parachute drop less visceral and robbing gunfire of its percussive kick and explosions of their seismic impact.
Performance TL;DR: The soundstage has width a straight some depth, and overall that is a competent performance, however the insufficient separate subwoofer results in lightweight bass.
Other soundbars to consider…
The Sonos Playbar may be the clear alternative: it sounds good, is incredibly simple to setup and is effective as both a TV speaker and a standalone Sonos speaker. It advantages from all the features linked to the Sonos system, including an intuitive control app, voice control via an Alexa-enabled or Google Assistant-enabled device, class-leading multi-room capabilities, and extra TV functions.
If you’re a film fan or gamer, the Samsung HW-Q70R is a far greater choice. This impressive soundbar and subwoofer combo offers immersive Atmos and DTS:X performance, and comes with an HDMI input. It doesn’t have a good assistant built-in, however the soundbar works together with Alexa, and crucially the separate sub gives deep bass that adds a good amount of impact to your selected blockbusters.
It’s evident that the Bose Soundbar 700 has been made to contend with Sonos, hence the focus on music and smart features. But that misses the idea of Sonos – the selling point of which is mainly produced from its multi-room platform. Since it stands this soundbar feels as though something that falls between way too many stools. It lacks the multi-channel support and bass to please film fans and gamers, but it addittionally doesn’t have a recognised multi-room ecosystem like Sonos.
The inclusion of Amazon and Google AI assistants feels similar to a gimmick, and if you really desire a smart speaker there are a good amount of cheaper options. Ultimately the 700 is well-crafted and generally sounds good, b