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Having all but conquered the world of noise cancelling headphones, Bose recently began to set its sights more fervently on the broad landscape of home cinema set-ups. Their foray into soundbars has, by all accounts, been pretty successful.
As a rule, soundbars are a fairly sparse design proposition. This is for a couple of big reasons. Firstly, the practical restrictions on soundbars are that they have to occupy a fairly minimal amount of space. Not only that, but given that the majority allow for both on-stand and wall mounted placement, this comes with some further considerations as to things like placement of remote control sensors.
But the main reason is that the need for a soundbar to be unassuming, to blend into the background so as not to draw the eye away from the TV itself is often confused with (or, rather, used as an excuse for) laziness and cutting corners in terms of the visual effect.
Luckily, the SoundTouch 300 has no such problems. It is easily amongst the best looking, most comprehensively well designed soundbars we’ve reviewed. The overused black plastic finish is replaced here by a tempered glass surface on the top, and a mesh front piece with LEDs in the corner. There are no controls on the unit itself, which may be an annoyance to some, but we have not found this to be much of a problem.
If you’ve read any of our other soundbar reviews, you will notice that we often take issue with the remote control. Companies often skimp on the design, build quality, and even basic functionality of this pretty essential piece of kit, and it is of serious detriment to the overall offering. Bose has, on the whole, done a good job with the SoundTouch 300’s remote. It is pretty large, but well designed enough not to appear unnecessarily complex. One grievance is that the remote is pretty much essential to use; if you lose it or it breaks, you’re going to need a new one as you cannot replace its functionality with an app as is the case with many other products at this price range.
Included is Bose’s SoundTouch music system which enables you to stream from services including Spotify, Pandora, and pretty much all of the usual suspects without any quality loss. This is Bose’s response to the multi-room solutions offered by brands like Sonos, and so the SoundTouch 300 is compatible with several other models which can be paired together to create a semleass, full-home experience.
As well as HDMI in, you’ve got an optical digital port and a 3.5mm subwoofer out. Bluetooth is also included, as you would expect. There’s no 3.5mm input or headphone connection, but neither of these represents the end of the world by any means.
So, if you’re starting out with just the soundbar to work with, will it be enough to transform your audio experience? The answer is a resounding, categorical yes. The SoundTouch 300 is pretty remarkable in its ability to generate a wide sound stage with amazing presence for a single device, and this already great performance is only extended upon by adding a subwoofer (sold separately).
Usually, we find that soundbars excel at either movies or music (and usually the former is the case), but the Bose model works fantastically for both options which comes as quite a surprise. The best element of the listening experience is the convincing illusion of a much larger device without losing any quality to a faux surround sound performance. Music feels enveloping, and the bass (despite not being the most powerful we’ve heard by any stretch of the imagination) does a great job of adding to that over arching sense of immersion.
The SoundTouch 300 is, without a doubt, one of the best looking soundbars we’ve come across, and it has the audio performance to match. More than most, it manages to create a huge amount of presence and an impressive soundstage.