Bose could trounce the Sonos Arc with its new Dolby Atmos soundbar

The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 on an entertainment center.
(Image credit: Bose)

The Sonos Arc is a formidable Dolby Atmos soundbar, but the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is going even bigger on spatial audio – in fact, it’s going in every direction.

Announced on Tuesday, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 lives up to its smart moniker by offering Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity as well as support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control. On top of that, it offers Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, and interoperability with all other Bose smart speakers and the upcoming Bose QuietComfort 45

But what makes it really special, however, is the way it supports spatial audio.

Not only does the Soundbar 900 support traditional Dolby Atmos via upfiring speakers, but it uses Bose’s PhaseGuide technology to better position that audio in your living room. According to Bose, the Soundbar 900 works by “precisely, placing and ‘pinning’ distinct sound to the right and left” offering a large soundstage full of audio cues. When there’s no Dolby Atmos input, Bose says its use of its TrueSpace technology will allow it to retain its horizontal soundstage while remixing signals to add in a virtual height channel.

Analysis: One step closer to a discrete 7.1.2 system 

At their core, both the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 and Sonos Arc attempt to recreate the sound of larger systems in a compact form factor – something that soundbars really struggled with a few years ago when they were first making waves.

Thanks to built-in Dolby Atmos support and wave-form technologies like Bose's, the gap between the technologies is starting to blur and we’re reaching a point where some soundbars can match discrete systems – especially at lower price points.

That said, a lower price tag in the audio world doesn’t exactly mean they’re cheap: the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 will be $899 (around £650, AU$1,200) when it drops on September 23. That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a full 7.1.2 system would be with an Atmos-capable AVR and support for HDMI 2.1, but it’s not exactly pocket change, either.

We’ll have to test it for ourselves to see how it stands up to the Sonos Arc – currently what we consider the best soundbar available right now – but, on paper at least, it’s looking like it will be quite the showdown.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.