Bose Lifestyle 135 / CineMate 1 SR pictures and hands-on
When it comes to soundbars, Bose has been biding its time, mulling over what its rivals have produced and looking for the right technology to enter a rapidly growing sector of the home cinema and audio market. However, if it wasn't for tech specifically designed for the company's VideoWave TV, neither the Lifestyle 135 or CineMate 1 SR systems would exist.
It was only when the US company devised its PhaseGuide sound radiator technology that it felt confident enough to build a speaker with a small enough footprint to happily sit underneath a flatscreen telly. It allows, when combined with Bose's proprietary TrueSpace digital processing circuitry, a simple array of drivers (in this case, five - one left, one right and three in the centre) to produce a room-filling arc of sound that apes a far wider soundscape than a single speaker seems capable of.
It is this speaker, and an accompanying wireless small-form subwoofer, that forms the meat in the Lifestyle 135 and CineMate 1 SR sandwiches. The former comes with a media console that can be fed from six separate sources (four through HDMI) and the company's own Unify platform, essentially controlling external kit through the one Bose remote. The latter is made up from the speaker, sub and a dedicated remote.
Both sets are acoustically identical, but have different connectivity. The CineMate 1 SR is fed directly, with audio sockets in a recessed panel on the rear, while the Lifestyle 135 has just one lead running from the console to the bar, while all the switching is done in the set-top unit.
Perhaps, though, the most fascinating aspect of both systems lies within the, er, lie of the speaker. It has two positions: one where the front-face of the grille faces outwards, for when it is mounted on a wall underneath a flatscreen panel; the other with the face pointing upwards, for laying the bar on an AV stand or table.
In the second instance, the sound projects upwards, but still fills the room with an eerily similar soundstage. In our listen test, it was nigh-on impossible to tell the difference regardless of its orientation.
And the best bit is that the bar has an automatic correction function for each position, called FlexMount, so you don't have to worry about recalibrating it. All you have to do is run the ADAPTiQ audio calibration feature initially and Bob's your uncle, Fanny's your... snigger... "He said Fanny!"... Snort...
Of course, neither the Lifestyle 135 or CineMate 1 SR systems are intended to replace Bose's existing home cinema setups, but for a one box solution (two, if you count the wireless sub) it provides a mighty front stage, with more than decent spacing both left and right. There's plenty of bark too, as we discovered in our brief taste test using clips of Up on Blu-ray and How to Train your Dragon running from a laptop.
And The Head and the Heart's Rivers and Roads, one of our favourite listening tests when using an iPhone through a dock (320kbps), was as crisply delivered as a parcel on a snowy Christmas morning.
The Lifestyle 135 System weighs in at £2,400, while the console-free CineMate 1 SR System will set you back £1,300. Both are out now, and we recommend that you book a listen at a Bose store near you.
Are you willing to pay a bit more for quality? Or is price the most important factor in your buying decisions? Let us know in the comments below...