Spent the last 3 weeks buying a few different multi room/theatre system setups with a goal of finding the best, very reliable, stellar quality, multi room system with a minimum of 5.1 DD capability that is easy to use (wife approved), sounds great and gives me the feeling my $2k+ investment was worth it. Here we go..
Like any other savvy tech buyer, I did my research. I've previously had full 7.1 in-wall and floor stand/wall mount setups, dolby atmos... the whole nine yards.. no stranger to wide soundstages here, however. My wife who is not techy, struggled to use those systems well. Now we've moved to a new place and I'm re-thinking priorities for my family, ease of use, little required adjustment and sound quality were the top requirements. The wife likes the sound of bose and sonos so it was between these two manufacturers.
Test Comparison Setups (Theatre Room, 15'D x 40'W) TV area is 12' deep to 12' long sitting area., 10' right of TV to wall, 30' left into kitchen.
1. Sonos - Playbar (vertical orientation mounted under TV. Sonos Sub, Sonos ones for surround
2. Bose Soundbar 700, Base Module 700, & wireless rears
3. Bose ST300, Bose module 700, & wireless rears.
I had all 3 systems hooked up and switched between them instantaneously during playback of movies and music.
Without getting too technical, here are my main point takeaways.. would like to hear others feedback on these as well.
Backwards compatible with prior gen products
Great app function
"good" room filling sound
auto source selection when TV is turned on
no remote! - love this..
Bass is punchy, not boomy.
Surround "ones" add immersion and depth
Trueplay sound tuning
Soundstage does not feel very wide (compared to Bose 700/ST300)
Dynamic range feels compressed, sounds a bit flat for my taste. Prominent sound should be brought to center stage, this feels more like it is behind a curtain.
No midrange adjustment (a 5+ band EQ would be nice)
Instrument sound separation is weak, (ex. Hans Zimmer, Netflix performance)
Treble tends to sound tinny when increased
No BT (I was able to get around this through other means)
Only TOSlink input on playbar for sound.
No DTS or other.. only DD.
Bass response does not go very low..(no thundering lows)
No center channel adjustment
Bose Pros (both ST300 and Bar 700)
Great Dynamic Range
Crystal Clear Sound
Excellent vertical separation with surround effects
Great stereo separation
Thundering low bass response
Center speaker level adjustment
Generally very high quality sound, excellent balance.
ADAPTIQ is effective.
Premium looking, polished glass, low profile.
No ability to stream music from NAS (at least not yet)
Limited multiroom speaker options for latest gen platform
Weak bass when connected to Bar 700 (was thundering on the ST300)
limited connectivity to sources
unsure of future support on this line of product.
buggy- unpolished app
new and old wireless platforms are not interconnectable
only way to change source from music back to TV is from remote (horrible!)
Remote is a pain to use.
1. Sound Quality - Bose wins hands down. There really is no comparison here when the two are side by side. The range and detail that bose is able to reproduce cannot be matched by sonos.
2. Reliability - Sonos wins - I had massive connectivity issues with the Soundtouch series, the Bar 700 seemed reliable but I wasn't able to test multiroom with this setup.
3. Future - Sonos wins - Bose was unable to get the ST and home speaker systems to bridge, leaving two separate platforms that cannot be used together. I expect Sonos will continue to provide better support and future connectivity for our forward driven tech world. I believe Bose will stay behind in this realm leaving much to be desired with the user experience.
4. Features - Pretty close tie between the two. I don't need 10 different streaming sources, I use the usual streaming suspects like most users.
5. Software - No comparison.. Sonos clearly has the edge.
6. Hardware - IMO, Bose has the better sound reproduction hardware, cleaner, crisper sound with detailed mids and highs that leave the heart singing. Its not quite as noticeable until you have the systems running side by side and switch between the two, but.. if you don't hear what you're missing and your ears aren't "tuned", then ignorance is bliss.
On the technology side of the hardware, Sonos is the clear winner.
1. Choice. I went with Sonos because of the future prospects of connectivity and support, the ease of use for my wife, the reliability of the system infrastructure. I read too many horror stories on the bose forums or un-reliable network issues stemming from product design.
2. Theft - These systems are not cheap, since most probably aren't mounted they could easily be stolen. Since we have to setup and account and share where we live to use a dang speaker, Does sonos have the ability to track our components if they are stolen and attempted to be used/connected by others? A low-jack for our audio so to speak?
2. EQ PLEASE!! Are there plans to add adjustable EQ for mids? This would be a game changer. I did find that turning off the loundness feature, increasing the sub level, sub volume and treble levels did increase the mid clarity but still, more adjustment is desired.
3. Playbar (needs a refinement), Reluctantly I am going to keep this unit in hopes a replacement or add-on is being developed to enhance its soundstage.
4. If choosing for theatre mainly, go with Bose. If choosing for Music, go with Sonos. If for both... well, that's where my dilemma will question my decision in the coming months. I really really liked the theatre experience with the Bose system, I was wowed on a number of occasions. The sonos system did not provide this elevated experience level in any instance. Again, I went with sonos because of reliability and ease of family use but for $2k, I expect better sound quality which could be achieved by adding user adjustable EQ/Effect options to the UI.
I would like to hear others thoughts that have gone down the same path that I have and the conclusions they came to. Thank you all for reading.