Comparing the Sonos Arc with the Bose 900

Bose and Sonos are famous in the world of multi-room audio, so it’s no surprise there’s a battle between these two Dolby Atmos enabled soundbars. The Sonos Arc and Bose 900  have been extremely popular since the time of their release, leaving customers with a big question, what is the best bar for me?

Before we delve in the Sonos vs Bose soundbar battle, both of these soundbars will offer a great listening experience and both do Atmos extremely well. Where the differences lie are in the details. It's also worth noting that if you've already started a multi-room ecosystem around your home that you're happy with then we would suggest sticking with that brand to get the most out of your system. 

Article Breakdown: 

For our full, in-depth Sonos Arc and Bose 900 soundbar review, feel free to check out the below videos: 

Sonos Arc vs. Bose 900: Spec Comparison

Sonos Arc Sub Lifestyle
BOSE 900 SONOS ARC
£ RRP: £849

Speaker icon Can add surrounds and bass

  Dolby Atmos Enabled

Microphone icon Alexa & Google Assistant

Wi-Fi icon Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.2

£ RRP: £899 (view latest price)

Speaker icon Can add surrounds and bass

Dolby Atmos Enabled

Microphone icon Alexa & Google Assistant

Wi-Fi icon Wi-fi 


Design

Both soundbars offer a sleek premium appearance and are available in a colour choice of black or white. On the whole, Bose tend to go for a more traditional 'tech' look with the form factor and design of their products. I will say, the Bose 900 blends into the setup nicely, especially as it has a slim height (5.81cm compared with the Arc's 8.7cm). The glass finish on top does add a stylish flair, though it's worth pointing out that it can be a bit of a pain to keep clean.

On the other hand, the Sonos Arc is the longer soundbar of the two (114.17cm compared with 104.5cm on the Bose 900) so you'll need to ensure it can fit between the legs of your TV if you're placing it on a TV stand. The elegant, curved design of the Sonos offers a sleek, contemporary finish which, again, doesn't pull too much focus.

Sonos Arc wall mounted
BOSE 900 SONOS ARC
(WxHxD) - 104.5 x 5.81 x 10.7 cm

Black OR Arctic White

Microphone array for voice control

Ideal for TV's 49" and above great for medium-large sized rooms.

(WxHxD) - 114.17 x 8.7 x 11.57 cm

Black OR White

Microphone array for voice control

At just over a metre in length, the Arc is ideal for TV's 49" and above.

WINNER: I’m sorry to say we’ll have to start off with a draw. Design is really down to personal preference and what will suit the aesthetic of your room best. While testing we did find having a glass top on the Bose 900 a pain to keep clean and finger-print-free, though others found the glass top very classy. We do feel the Sonos Arc offers a more premium design overall but its form factor may be harder to accommodate in some people's TV setups.

FAQs

Q. Can the Sonos Arc & Bose 900 be wall mounted?
A. Yes, both soundbars can be wall mounted.

Q. What are the dimensions of the Sonos Arc?
A. (WxHxD) - 114.17 x 8.7 x 11.57 cm

Q. What are the dimensions of the Bose 900?
A. (WxHxD) - 104.5 x 5.81 x 10.7 cm


Sound

Both soundbars offer a detailed, engaging sound performance and excel in providing a full cinematic experience. Both the Sonos Arc and the Bose 900 offer support for Dolby Atmos however there is a difference in how they achieve this.

Firstly, let's look at the driver configuration in both of these bars. The Sonos Arc boasts 11 Class D digital amplifiers that power 11 custom drivers for an impressively spacious and detailed sound performance. With upwards and sideways firing drivers, it uses Dolby's 3D sound technology well and fills a larger space comfortably to create an immersive experience.

The Bose 900 makes do with only 9 drivers, 2 less than the Arc and it loses out on the side-firing drivers. While it uses Bose's PhaseGuide technology well to send multi-directional sound around your room, the sound doesn't extend out as much as the Arc. 

Both soundbars offer their own version of sound tuning and we have found great success with the below:

Our settings for the Bose 900 - We turned up the bass to 50, increased the centre channel to 30 and performed the Adaptiq tuning process which involves putting a headband with a microphone on top to perform a room calibration process - this works well in our experience.

Our settings for the Sonos Arc - We used Sonos' Trueplay tuning process to optimise the Arc for our testing room. This uses the microphone's in your IOS device to measure how sound reflects off your walls and then acoustically optimises the soundbar to perform best in this space. Note: Trueplay only works on IOS devices.

 

BOSE 900 SONOS ARC
Multi-directional sound

Dolby Atmos enabled

9 drivers

ADAPTiQ room calibration

✓ Can adjust centre channel

X No sideways firing drivers, limits the soundstage

 Multi-directional sound

Dolby Atmos enabled

✓ 11 drivers

Trueplay Tuning (Apple users only)

✓ Sideways firing drivers allow for a wider soundstage

X Can’t adjust the centre channel

WINNER: On the whole, both offer a great cinematic performance with clear vocals and impressive sound fields, bass and treble. However, the winner for us has to be the Sonos Arc. With those additional side-firing drivers it offers added immersion and handles Atmos content exceptionally well and provides an engaging audio experience.

FAQs

Q. What is Dolby Atmos?
A. Dolby Atmos is a surround sound format that is object-based rather than channel-based. Its unique coding means you benefit from a more immersive, yet true-to-life experience.

Q. Does my TV support Atmos?
A. The best way to check is either looking at your TV spec online, or you could look at the ports on the back of your TV. If you have a HDMI output labelled eArc you’re all good to go!

Q. Will I get Atmos over an HDMI ARC connection?
A. We do find in some cases that you’re still able to get a compressed version of Atmos over an ARC connection when streaming through apps on your TV. If you’re using external boxes like a BluRay player or Apple TV, you’d need an eArc to receive Atmos. Even without an eArc, both bars will make the most out of their multi-directional soundstage to give you an immersive experience. If Atmos is important to you and you’re unsure of your TV’s capabilities please contact your TV manufacturer who will be able to give you a definitive answer.

Q. What Audio Formats are supported on the Sonos Arc?
A. Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, DTS (S2 only), Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos (True HD), Multichannel PCM, Dolby Multichannel PCM

Q. What Audio Formats are supported on the Bose 900?
A. This Bose Dolby Atmos enabled bar also supports Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus

 


Connectivity

As you can see below, the main difference when it comes to connectivity will be Bluetooth. Now as a Sonos user, I've never missed Bluetooth, though I’m also an Apple user so Airplay 2 is the simplest solution (along with Spotify Connect). However, there will be some people who want the option of Bluetooth connectivity,  and with the Bose 900, you do get the option of Bluetooth on top of AirPlay and Spotify Connect. 

BOSE 900 SONOS ARC
Bluetooth 4.2

Wi-Fi

Chromecast (coming in Jan 2022)

Apple AirPlay 2

Spotify Connect

Voice control (Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant)

Wi-Fi

Apple AirPlay 2

Spotify Connect

Voice control (Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant)

X No Bluetooth

WINNER: While I think it’s easy to live without Bluetooth these days, Bose is still the winner as it’s always useful to have additional connectivity. As well as this, the introduction of Chromecast in January 2022 makes this soundbar even more inclusive.

FAQS

Q. What is Bluetooth 4.2?
A.  Bluetooth version 4.2 was introduced in 2014 and comes with a wireless range of 30 metres.

Q. Does the Sonos Arc come with a remote?
A. The best way to check is either looking at your TV spec online, or you could look at the ports on the back of your TV. If you have a HDMI output labelled eArc you’re all good to go!

Q. Does the Bose 900 come with a remote?
A. We do find in some cases that you’re still able to get a compressed version of Atmos over an ARC connection when streaming through apps on your TV. If you’re using external boxes like a BluRay player or Apple TV, you’d need an eArc to receive Atmos. Even without an eArc, both bars will make the most out of their multi-directional soundstage to give you an immersive experience. If Atmos is important to you and you’re unsure of your TV’s capabilities please contact your TV manufacturer who will be able to give you a definitive answer.


Bundle Options

Both soundbars come with the great option of adding wireless components, such as a subwoofer and smart speakers for the surround sound rears. One thing to note is that the Bose sub and rears can only be used with the soundbar. With Sonos, the rears can be used independently as wireless speakers and the Sub can also be used with a range of other Sonos products.

BOSE SONOS

To provide a powerful 5.1 experience, shop the Sonos Sub & Sonos One SL's.

SHOP SONOS ARC BUNDLE


Sonos & Bose App & additional features

In terms of ecosystems and apps, the Sonos App is more intuitive to use and we feel that is down to the guys at Sonos having the experience with designing multi-room audio from a customer's perspective.

There are little features such as Autoplay where the Sonos will automatically switch from music to TV when it detects the TV source which enhance your day-to-day experience. Bose are definitely narrowing the gap with software design and the app doesn't have any issues for us. Therefore, it will come down to which app you personally prefer to use.

There are a few other features worth highlighting. Both brands feature a mode to ensure dialogue is heard clearly so for anyone who’s hard of hearing, this feature can really help you to get away from subtitles and enjoy what you’re watching without compromising on the experience.

The EQ is easily changeable on both bars, which is great as I think both can be optimised out of the box. Finally, it would be great to see more music services on the Bose music App, but it’s not necessarily a massive downfall, as you can connect over Bluetooth and Airplay to listen.

BOSE 900 SONOS ARC
Can change the EQ

Dialogue Mode

X Music streaming services are limited on the app

Can change the EQ

Speech Enhancement

Night mode

WINNER: Sonos do still have a more refined App in our opinion that is more user friendly. This isn’t to say this is the way things are always going to be, as both brands are often giving free software updates to carry on improving things and making them better.

What’s in the Bose 900 box

What’s in the Sonos Arc box

  • Bose Smart Soundbar 900
  • Remote control with 2 AAA batteries pre-installed
  • Cleaning cloth
  • ADAPTiQ headset
  • Optical cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Power cable
  • Quick-start guide
  • Sonos Arc
  • Power Cable
  •  HDMI Cable
  • HDMI Optical Audio Adapter
  • QuickStart Guide
  • Legal & Warranty Information

Verdict

So here’s the big question, who do we think is the overall winner? Well there are pros and cons to both of these soundbars. On the one hand, the Bose 900 offers a sleeker form factor, Bluetooth connectivity and a very decent overall performance. However, it doesn't quite match up to the experience delivered by the Sonos Arc with a slightly wider soundstage and side-firing drivers and the Bose app isn't as intuitive as the Sonos App.

The ecosystem is also an important factor in this decision so you will need to decide if Bose will suit your style of listening or if Sonos is the better fit for you. For us, if the Arc is in budget for you then we think this one is a difficult to beat. We would suggest working out what your priorities are in a soundbar and decide what would be your deal-breakers!

Ultimately everyone’s ears are different and both bars are fantastic in their own right so we can’t imagine anyone would be disappointed with either!

Q&A

Q. Bose VS Sonos - who is the best brand to buy?
A. Both brands are extremely popular due to their high performing speakers, and ability to create a multi-room audio system. This brings the competition very close, though we’d tend to say Sonos have better software over-all. Of course, this is subjective, though we’d recommend sticking to one brand if you already have Bose or Sonos around your home.

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