Bose Cinemate 1SR review

Can the Bose Cinemate 1SR live up to the hype around the brand’s SoundDocks?

Reasons to buy
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    Low profile design

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    Wireless sub auto-connects

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    Easy calibration

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    High price

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    Lacks dedicated modes

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    No surround effects

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The Bose Cinemate 1SR is the brand's first effort in the soundbar category, but does it live up to the high standard of its previous products?

The Bose Cinemate 1SR soundbar certainly looks the part, and in terms of audio performance, it's hard to criticise, though we're not sure it's as good value as rivals such as a the Yamaha YSP-2200. That said, it's certainly simpler, and a step ahead of more basic soundbars such as the Orbitsound T12v3 or the Panasonic SC- HTB520.

For a further grand or so, Bose also sells a Lifestyle 135 system, which includes the Cinemate 1SR alongside an iPhone dock and those much-needed HDMI inputs.

Bose Cinemate 1SR: Features

A sleek, slim style it may have (it measures 124 x 935 x 61mm), but the Bose Cinemate 1SR lacks an iPhone dock. If that's a bit of an oversight at this huge price, know that it does come with a wireless, powered subwoofer that Bose amusingly calls a 'Wireless Acoustimass module', which at 282 x 192 x 373mm is as deep, but about half the height, of a desktop PC tower.

Those after a cutting edge home cinema, or even some cable-saving HDMI switching, will need to look elsewhere. The five speaker drivers and wireless subwoofer might impress, but the Cinemate 1SR doesn't have any HDMI inputs.

That puts the Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtracks found on Blu-ray discs out of the picture, with all audio sources needing to be attached via digital audio (ports for two coaxial and two optical links are provided) or analogue phonos.

If your TV lacks audio outputs (most new TVs have optical), you're out of luck unless you're already outputting to an AV receiver.
There's no LCD screen, but set-up is the easiest we've ever seen; simply plug both the speaker and subwoofer into the mains, and switch both on with one press of the standby button on the remote. They both pair automatically in a split second without being asked, and go about their business. Impressive stuff.

Bose Cinemate 1SR: Design

The Bose Cinemate 1SR is remarkably slim, and appears to have been designed to be mounted on a wall; if used under a TV it must be laid flat, which looks a bit odd despite now being stunningly slim to the eye.

A sturdy metal grille hides its five speaker drivers, and the gloss black, branded tops/backs (depending on how it's positioned) are of good quality, though in grave danger of appearing dated in terms of styling – metallic finishes are now all the rage.

Bose Cinemate 1SR: Specs

It's physically versatile, though, able to work either on its own in front of a TV on an AV stand or table, or pinned to a wall, with Fleximount circuitry tweaking the settings to keep the same performance (again, this is automatic).

Another nice twist is the Cinemate 1SR's remote control. Though rather bulky, it can be programmed to take over duties from up to five other remotes. In the box is a booklet with numerous codes for components ranging from most brands of TVs, DVD and Blu-ray (and even HD-DVD) players and recorders, and cable & satellite boxes (including both Sky and Virgin Media).

Bose Cinemate 1SR: Audio performance

Oddly, there are no preset audio modes on the Cinemate 1SR, such as movie, music or games. With the AdaptIQ headphones-style microphone attached to both our head and a hidden input on the main speaker's side, an audio wizard kicks-in and instructs us to move around the room into five separate listening positions (we tried to fool it by staying still, but got short thrift).

It then pumps out tones from each speaker driver, then the subwoofer, in a process that takes around five minutes; the goal is a calibrated output that's shaped to the exact dimensions and furniture placement in a room.

The results are very good; clarity proved a huge improvement on our Panasonic plasma TV, with a lot of detail suddenly revealed even from broadcast TV. The subwoofer is nicely responsive and adds a subtle lick of low frequency that helps music shine, too. But surround sound?

To be fair, Bose doesn't promise 5.1 effects from the Cinemate 1SR, despite the slightly misleading name, and we encountered no rear effects whatsoever.

A note of caution about using the analogue phono connections: we experienced a slight audio delay, so plan on using the optical audio connection, were there were no such issues.

Bose Cinemate 1SR: Verdict

At £1299 we're not sure the slightly miss-named Cinemate 1SR is competitive. That said, there's nothing to dislike about its low profile design, the convenience of its easy to use set-up, and the clarity and subtle bass of its stereo results.

However, those who either need HDMI switching, or would rather a more complex offering with more audio modes – including an attempt at surround sound – should look elsewhere.

Bose Cinemate 1SR availability: Out now

Bose Cinemate 1SR price: £1,299

Jamie Carter

Jamie is a freelance journalist, copywriter and author with 20 years' experience. He's written journalism for over 50 publications and websites and, when he's not writing, spending most of his time travelling – putting the latest travel tech through its paces.