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Sonos Arc vs Bose Soundbar 900: which Dolby Atmos soundbar is better?

Dolby Atmos Soundbar: Bose Smart Soundbar 900
(Image credit: Bose)

Can't decide between the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 and the Sonos Arc? We've tested both of these premium soundbars, so we're well-placed to reveal their pros and cons. Read on for the ultimate Sonos Arc vs Bose 900 comparison...

Let's start with Bose's offering. The Dolby Atmos-capable Bose Smart Soundbar 900 arrived in September 2021 and immediately impressed us. Bose describes it as an "all-in-one powerhouse that replaces the Smart Soundbar 700."

The Sonos Arc is the older of the two soundbars here. It debuted back in June 2020 and, like the Bose, supports Dolby Atmos surround sound. In our test we found it supremely capable, producing a detailed, weighty sound.

We're big fans of both products, but let's take a closer look at how these premium soundbars compare in terms of design, price, features and performance... 

Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 900: price

We tested the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 at £849 / $900 / AU$1399. It's the newer of the two soundbars, so discounts are likely to be harder to find for now.

The Sonos Arc has been on sale for well over a year and usually goes for £899 / $899 / AU$1499. It's still held in very high regard, but you might spot the odd discount (here's today's best Sonos Arc deals).

Price drops notwithstanding, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 undercuts its main rival and is the cheaper option here.

*Winner* Bose Smart Soundbar 900

Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 900: design

Sonos Arc

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Arc is specifically designed to partner with bigger TVs, hence its width measurement of 114cm (just a bit wider than a typical modern 49-inch TV). Its curvy design helps mask the Arc’s dimensions and makes it look svelte.

The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is designed for 50-inch TVs or larger and measures 104cm long. It has a very similar eye-catching aesthetic to the firm's Smart Soundbar 700, with rounded corners, a metal grille and a polished, impact-resistant tempered glass top.

Both models feature touch-sensitive controls but only the Bose comes with a separate remote. Both can be controlled through Alexa and Google Assistant but the Bose boasts an added bonus: Voice4Video. This feature further expands Alexa's capabilities by enabling users to turn on and control their TV or satellite box using their voice.

If you have a low TV, or are just short on space, the Bose 900 could be the best option for you. Not only is it shorter, it's also lower (5.8cm vs 8.7cm). That said, both models look suitably premium and are available in a choice of black or white.

**Winner** Draw

Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 900: features

Bose Smart Soundbar 900

(Image credit: Bose)

The Sonos Arc's Dolby Atmos sound field is generated by 11 Class D digital amplifiers that power 11 custom drivers. The Soundbar 900 makes do with nine channels of amplification, two fewer than the Arc. It also does away with side-firing drivers (more on this in the 'sound' section below). Instead, Bose's PhaseGuide technology beams multi-directional sound to distinct areas in your room. 

When it comes to set-up, the Sonos Arc uses Trueplay to measure how sound reflects off your walls. The software fine-tunes the speaker to max out performance according to the shape of your room. Bose goes further. The Smart Soundbar 900 comes with a headband with a microphone on the top. Pop it on your head and Bose's ADAPTiQ room calibration software brings out the best in the speaker. Will you look silly wearing the headband? Probably, but it's an effective system.

Whichever soundbar you choose, you won't be short of connections. Both are wi-fi enabled and support HDMI eARC, Apple AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. One feature that the Bose 'bar offers that the Sonos doesn't is Bluetooth. Most folk stream music over wi-fi these days, but it's worth bearing in mind. 

Both these premium soundbars can be supplemented with additional surrounds or a subwoofer, and both can be grouped with their respective brand's smart speakers as part of an integrated multi-room set-up. However, Sonos offers a far wider range of speakers, including affordable options in the Ikea Symfonisk series. 

It's also worth noting that the Sonos S2 app and software update brought support for high-res audio at 24-bit to most contemporary Sonos speakers, including the Arc soundbar.

In summary, each soundbar has its own unique appeal. The Bose 900 offers extra connectivity and cutting-edge sound calibration, while the Sonos can be more easily expanded into a top-notch multi-room system.  

**Winner** Sonos Arc

Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 900: sound

Sonos Arc

(Image credit: Sonos)

The Sonos Arc sounds exceptionally spacious and weighty for a device of its size, stretching right across the front of our test room and delivering bass with a depth and authority. 

It uses Dolby's 3D sound technology to great effect and, with a recent software update adding functionality to adjust height volume via its mobile app, delivers one of the most convincing Atmos presentations of any soundbar we’ve heard. There's a slight lack of directness to music, but that's really our only criticism of the Arc's sound.

With an impressively wide soundfield, clear forward projection and bright character, many listeners will likely be very pleased with the cinematic performance of the Bose Smart Soundbar 900. However, the sound doesn't extend outwards as much as we'd like. Of course, it’s a big ask to expect any soundbar to deliver height in the way overhead speakers do, but the Sonos Arc’s performance is much stronger in comparison. Musical delivery with the Bose is a mixed bag, too.

So, if you’re looking for the best-sounding Dolby Atmos soundbar, we’d suggest spending a small amount extra for the added height, transparency, musicality and dynamics of the Sonos Arc.

**Winner** Sonos Arc

Verdict

There's case to be made for both of these soundbars. The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is neater and sleeker, and features a beautiful glass top. It also comes with a remote, offers some clever calibration tech and supports Bluetooth. Sound is crisp and detailed, but the the lack of sideways-firing drivers does limit the soundstage when it comes to Dolby Atmos content.

The Sonos Arc might be a bit older – and a bit pricier – but it's also the better-sounding product here. Indeed, it's still the best Dolby Atmos soundbar we've heard at this particular price point. You're not just buying a soundbar, either – you're buying all the usual Sonos smarts and perks, including the ability to integrate it seamlessly into a multi-room system. If it's within budget, the Sonos Arc is the one to beat.

MORE:

Read our full Sonos Arc and Bose Smart Soundbar 900 reviews 

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Tom is a journalist, copywriter and content designer based in the UK. He has written articles for T3, ShortList, The Sun, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Telegraph, Elle Deco, The Sunday Times, Men's Health, Mr Porter, Oracle and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include mobile technology, electric vehicles and video streaming.