Sonos Arc vs Bose 900: Which Soundbar Is Best?

Sonos Arc vs Bose

Sonos Arc vs Bose 900: Which Soundbar Is Best?

There’s something so appealing about a soundbar. Capable of delivering the experience of a complete, multi-speaker sound system inside a single product, soundbars have seen a lot of popularity over the past decade or so. Their rise can be tracked alongside the increasing popularity of smart TVs, which help bring a cinematic experience to the home. Soundbars and their surround sound capabilities are part of that experience. But which soundbar is best? And how do two popular options, the Sonos Arc vs Bose 900, stack up against one another?

Of course, the Sonos Arc vs Bose 900 debate cannot be resolved with a simple response. In order to come up with an answer, we’ll begin by making a full comparison of the Sonos Arc vs Bose 900. From there, we will make a side-by-side comparison of their respective specs. After that, we’ll go over the company histories and review the pros and cons of each soundbar. Once that’s finished, we will have a much better idea of which soundbar is best. Let’s break things down below.

Sonos Arc vs Bose 900: Full Comparison

First and foremost, both the Sonos Arc and the Bose 900 are top-of-the-line soundbars that deliver amazing sound quality at a premium price. These two soundbars from Sonos and Bose represent some of the most luxurious soundbars available on the market today. Both coming in just shy of $900, these two Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars are undoubtedly the priciest and most high-end of their kind. However, you’re paying for unmatched audio quality and an exceptional design. In other words, both Sonos and Bose prove themselves worth the high price.

Alas, they can’t both be winners. There are distinguishing factors worth noting. For one, the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 comes with nine internal speakers. The Sonos Arc, on the other hand, boasts two additional speakers for a grand total of eleven internal speakers. However, the Bose 900 is newer than the Sonos Arc by over a year — meaning it’s the more recent, more up-to-date audio technology. What’s more, each soundbar has its own proprietary configurations. For instance, the Sonos Arc has what’s called Trueplay fine-tuning, while the Bose 900 has ADAPTiQ audio room calibration.

Beyond these differences in audio tech, the two soundbars have a simple difference in size worth mentioning. The Sonos Arc is slightly bigger than the Bose 900, coming in inches higher, wider, and deeper than its closest competitor. It’s also about a pound heavier. Surely this can be credited to the Sonos Arc’s inclusion of two additional speakers compared to the Bose 900. As you can clearly see, these are two exceptional soundbars, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. But still: Which is best?

Side by Side Comparison: Sonos Arc vs Bose 900

Sonos ArcBose 900
ReleasedJune 10th, 2020September 23rd, 2021
Size3.4″ H x 45″ W x 4.5″ D2.29″ H x 41.14″ W x 4.21″ D
Key Features11 internal speakers, Trueplay fine-tuning, touch controls9 internal speakers, Voice4Video smart assistant technology, ADAPTiQ audio room calibration
Dolby Atmos Enabled?YesYes
Best Smart Soundbar
Sonos Arc Soundbar
  • Includes support for Alexa voice commands, AirPlay 2, and more
  • 3D sound with Dolby Atmos
  • Trueplay tuning technology produces sound optimized for your room's acoustics
  • Eleven high performance drivers
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03/03/2024 03:14 am GMT

5 Must-Know Facts About Sonos and Bose

  • MIT — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — is the majority owner of the Bose Corporation. Founder Amar Bose worked at MIT for years, and the university helped him foster the speaker brand throughout the 1960s and ’70s.
  • Bose has ventured far beyond home speakers to create headphones, car sound systems, and more. Sonos, on the other hand, has not strayed outside multi-room audio products.
  • Whereas Bose simply prioritizes speakers of all kinds, Sonos focuses on creating audio systems that can be spread throughout multiple rooms.
  • Bose does not release specifications for its speakers or audio products, claiming numbers cannot do justice to the experience of listening for one’s self.
  • Sonos has an exclusive partnership with IKEA to create more affordable, more slender versions of their speakers.

The History of Sonos

Sonos was founded in 2002 by John MacFarlane, Craig Shelburne, Tom Cullen, and Trung Mai. However, the multi-room audio product manufacturer went by a different name at the start: Rincon Audio. They stayed Rincon until 2004 when the first Sonos products were officially ready for their debut at a handful of major industry events. (Namely June’s “D2: All Things Digital” conference and December’s Digital Music Summit). The first Sonos products — the ZonePlayer 100 and the Controller, a.k.a. the ZP100 and the CR100 — were released in January of the following year.

For the next five years, Sonos continued to release various audio products for multi-room audio setups. They were slow to find success at the get-go, but after a few years on the market, Sonos really started to catch on with consumers. This was accelerated with the release of the company’s first soundbar in 2013: the PLAYBAR. A few years later in 2017, Sonos doubled down on soundbars with the PLAYBASE. This soundbar was made specifically for televisions. 2018 brought the Sonos Beam, which introduced smart assistant support to the soundbar tech. Then, in 2020, the Sonos Arc: the company’s most impressive soundbar to date.

Over the last 20 years, Sonos has partnered with over one hundred different music services. These include Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Music, among countless others. In addition to such broad compatibility with so many music services, Sonos products are also compatible with all the major virtual voice assistants. Sonos works with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. (Of course, for true Siri compatibility, one has to use Apple’s Home app.)

Bose’s Legacy

The rivalry between the Sonos Arc vs Bose 900 didn’t begin until 2021 with the release of the latter, but Sonos and Bose have been in close competition for far longer than that. In truth, the Bose Corporation pre-dates Sonos by nearly 40 years. Founded in 1964 by MIT professor Amar Bose, Bose has been known for speakers and home audio systems since the release of the Bose 2201 in 1966. However, this first Bose release fell quite short of the excellence the brand is known for today. They didn’t see true success until the release of the Bose 901 in 1968.

Comprised of nine speakers, each with a distinct purpose, the Bose 901 popularized the idea of in-home surround sound and remained a key part of the Bose product suite until 2016. The Bose 901 was successful enough not only to undo the damage of the Bose 2201 but also to propel the audio equipment company to brand new heights. Bose released their first soundbar — the Cinemate 1 SR — in 2011. By 2012, they had become the highest-selling retail home theater system manufacturer in America.

They followed up the Cinemate 1 SR with the release of the Lifestyle 135. In truth, it was more or less the same product as the Cinemate, simply paired with an AV receiver instead of a television. While these soundbars were as functional and dependable as any other Bose product, it wasn’t until the release of the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 that the company truly brought its best tech to the table. Prior to the Bose 900, there was something to be desired with the Cinemate 1 SR, the Lifestyle 135, and the like. The Bose 900 effectively elevated the company’s soundbar offering from merely an accessory to a full-on, all-in-one sound system.

Best Overall
Bose Smart Soundbar 900
  • Two custom-engineered upfiring dipole speakers 
  • Exclusive Bose Voice4Video technology
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect
  • Bose TrueSpace spatial processing
  • Built-in Google and Alexa
  • Noise-rejecting microphones
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03/01/2024 11:59 am GMT

Pros and Cons of Sonos Arc vs Bose 900

Pros of Sonos ArcCons of Sonos ArcPros of Bose 900Cons of Bose 900
Has more speakers than the Bose 900More than a year older than the Bose 900Smaller and lighter than the Sonos ArcHas two fewer speakers than the Sonos Arc
Compatible with over 100 music streamers and all the major smart virtual assistantsQuite expensive at $899Bose has decades of experience over SonosIts $899 price point is not very affordable
Sonos is less secretive with its audio specifications compared to BoseWhile its eleven internal speakers are powerful and high quality, a proper surround sound system is still superiorFeatures Bose’s ADAPTiQ audio room calibrationCannot deliver the same kind of surround sound experience as a proper surround sound system
The Sonos Arc delivers more internal speakers for the same price as the Bose 900, making it a better dealLess experience in the speaker industry compared to BoseFar newer than the Sonos Arc, making it the more up-to-date productBose’s secrecy surrounding its audio specs raises more than a few questions about its true quality

Sonos Arc vs Bose 900: Who Has the Best Soundbar?

So, now that we’ve taken a look at a full comparison, reviewed the complete histories, and weighed the respective pros and cons, the question remains: Sonos Arc vs Bose 900 – which soundbar is truly the best option available today? Considering the Sonos Arc’s total number of internal speakers, the greater amount of innovation to be found at Sonos, and the sheer level of compatibility that Sonos provides, it seems more than fair to name the Sonos Arc the winner here.

It goes beyond just these advantages, too. Sonos is more open about the quality of its audio technology, unlike Bose which prefers to keep it a secret. Sonos is also more focused on in-home audio products, unlike Bose which has spread its product line quite thin across a whole slew of different niches. All in all, Sonos is the clear winner. (That’s not to say the Bose 900 is by any means a bad product — merely second to the Sonos Arc.)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which soundbar is cheaper, the Sonos Arc or the Bose 900?

As it happens, the Sonos Arc and the Bose 900 are both the same price: $899.

What came first, the Sonos Arc or the Bose 900?

The Sonos Arc arrived more than a year prior to the Bose 900.

Which company came first, Sonos or Bose?

Bose predates Sonos by several decades. The former was founded in 1964, while the latter came about in 2002.

Who owns Bose?

Bose is owned by MIT, who received majority stake in the company after founder Amar Bose gifted it to them. MIT was his former employer.

Are the Sonos Arc and the Bose 900 compatible with Dolby Atmos?

Yes, both the Sonos Arc and the Bose 900 are Dolby Atmos-enabled.

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