Bose has today unveiled a new flagship soundbar that claims to deliver all of the ‘big sound from a compact speaker’ impact the brand is renowned for along with an all-new AI-inspired Dialogue Mode designed to ensure that you never miss a word during even the loudest of action scenes.
The new Smart Ultra Soundbar is pitched at the top end of Bose’s soundbar range, replacing the previous flagship model, the Smart Soundbar 900. It ships as a single bar solution, with no external rears or subwoofer, though optional wireless bass and rear speaker modules are available as optional extras if you want them. It can form part of a wider Bose multi-room speaker system, too.
The Smart Ultra Soundbar features Bose’s proprietary PhaseGuide technology, where clever audio processing creates the effect of multiple sound dimensions, so that, for instance, you hear sounds coming from above you (handy for the soundbar’s Dolby Atmos playback) or to the side of your seating position.
The PhaseGuide tech also helps to place specific positional details accurately within the front soundstage. So effective is the system claimed to be, in fact, that it effectively replaces the traditional idea of a soundbar ‘channel count’.
While PhaseGuide will probably be at its best with Dolby Atmos soundtracks given that those take an object-based approach to sound, where sound effects are placed within a three-dimensional sound space, Bose claims that the technology also works very effectively with the horizontal spatial effects of non-Atmos mixes – while proprietary TrueSpace technology adds a vertical dimension to non Atmos sources , too, by essentially ‘remixing’ the sound to add a virtual height effect.
The Smart Ultra Soundbar’s new AI Dialogue Mode, meanwhile, uses machine learning developed from listening to millions of content clips to continually and automatically adjust the Smart Ultra Soundbar’s overall tonal balance so that dialogue always sounds clear and intelligible. Apparently this new system is particularly careful in how it balances surround sound channel information in Dolby Atmos mixes with the dialogue channel.
If all this talk of clever audio processing has got you worrying that the Smart Ultra Soundbar might be complicated to set up, fear not: It’s equipped with Bose’s ADAPTiQ technology, which is able to optimise the sound automatically to take account of your specific room layout and furnishings. It automatically responds to changes in your room set up, too.
The Smart Ultra Soundbar carries an HDMI port with eARC functionality, Wi-Fi for accessing features such as Spotify Connect and Airplay 2, and Bluetooth for direct playback from smartphones or tablets. You can also pair select Bose headphones with the soundbar using the SimpleSync feature in the Bose Music App, with separate volume controls available for the headphones and soundbar.
You can control the soundbar using your voice, if you wish, courtesy of built-in Amazon Alexa support and the ability to connect external Google Assistant devices.
The hardware used to deliver all of the Smart Ultra Soundbar’s various unique processing combines what Bose describes as ‘custom arrays’ with dipole transducers and low-profile transducers, all tucked inside a bar that’s 41 inches long by 2.3 inches high and just over four inches deep. The bodywork is built, finally, in an oval-shaped deign with a wrap-around metal grille and a polished, impact-resistant tempered glass top.
The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is available now in the US and from October 10 in the UK in either black or arctic white finishes.
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