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Bose’s new flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar brings AI smarts to the dialogue problem

Simon Cohen


Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar in black.

Bose has launched its latest flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar — the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar — which looks identical to its predecessor, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 (which it replaces), and even carries that same price at $899. However, Bose says that the Ultra model has a new AI-driven dialogue mode that uses machine learning to make spoken words easier to hear. The new speaker is available on starting September 21.

“Ultra” seems to be the new hotness at Bose right now. Earlier this month, the company launched its new earbuds and headphones — the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds and the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones, with Bose’s immersive audio tech as the headliner update for both products.

As with the 900, the Ultra Soundbar has up-firing drivers to bounce height-channel sound off your ceiling to your listening position — a key ingredient in getting Dolby Atmos and other immersive sound formats to deliver their 3D effects. You can buy the Ultra in black or white and both versions come with an impact-resistant tempered glass top.

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar in white.

While the soundbar has been optimized for Dolby Atmos playback, Bose says its own spatial technologies can give non-Atmos content a more immersive sound too. It’s the same Bose TrueSpace tech that made its debut on the Smart Soundbar 900 and Bose has kept it for the Ultra.

Also making a return is Bose’s Adaptiq room correction feature which uses an external mic to take readings of your room’s acoustics and applies that information to the soundbar’s tuning.

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar in white.

Many of the Ultra’s other features will be familiar to fans of the Bose Smart Soundbar family of speakers, including a single HDMI eARC connection, Wi-Fi with Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Amazon Alexa built-in, and the Bose Voice4Video feature which lets you command some of your TV’s functions via Alexa voice commands.

You can pair the Ultra wirelessly with Bose bass modules and surround speakers, and the soundbar can function as part of a multi-room wireless sound system. Bose SimpleSync lets you connect select Bose wireless headphones over Bluetooth for a private listening experience with independent volume controls for the speaker and the headphones.

If the Ultra’s new AI-enhanced dialogue feature isn’t triggering your need to buy, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 will be sold at a generous discount — $749 instead of the usual $899 — until inventory is all gone. Some retailers are selling it for even less — as low as $699.

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Simon Cohen

Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…

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Polk Audio MagniFi Max AX SR soundbar.

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Polk Audio says that the key to the MagniFi Max AX’s performance, beyond all of those drivers, is the company’s Stereo Dimensional Array (SDA) technology. Now in its fourth generation, Polk claims that SDA delivers an ultra-wide soundstage by eliminating interaural crosstalk. My experience with Polk’s previous SDA-equipped models like the MagniFi Mini AX suggests that’s not just marketing-speak — they do provide a very convincing wide sound field.
MagniFi Max AX

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Sony HT-A3000 Dolby Atmos soundbar.

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The HT-A3000 shares many features with its pricier siblings, including AirPlay, Chromecast, and compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa smart speakers, plus the ability to connect to Sony’s Bravia XR series smart TVs, which can be used as an extended center channel for more immersive sound and more realistic dialogue.

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Vizio 2023 M-series TV hanging on a wall.

Vizio has announced its 2023 collection of new M-, V-, and D-Series smart TVs and M-Series soundbars, all with trickle-down features from the company’s flagship products — but totally absent were any new P-Series products.

Judging from what the company provided, it’s continuing its aggressive pricing strategy while adding some small but valuable improvements, like better Wi-Fi, Bluetooth integration, and expanded variable refresh rate (VRR) support. That’s great to see, and anyone considering a TV or soundbar purchase in the next few months now has more options, but it left us wondering, when will Vizio share its enhancements for its top-of-the-line P-Series Quantum and Quantum X TVs?

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