Bose is a very successful company in the speaker and headphone space because it focuses on what it does best – creating natural and high-quality audio experiences. Even though Bose products are quite pricey, they are also well-designed and look great in the living room. Having multiple speaker systems in a 2.1-channel or 5.1-channel setup is great because you can have that nice audio experience and make TV programs and movies sound a whole lot better. The problem is that these types of systems are tedious to setup with all the wires involved. This is why some consumers prefer the simplicity of soundbars and recently Bose jumped into this space. With the Bose CineMate series, the objective is no longer about playing back high-quality music but instead, making the TV audio miles better than the TV’s built-in speakers. But the Bose CineMate 130 has an even greater challenge as it needs to convince people that it is worth pouring $1,500 on.
The CineMate 130 system consists of a 3-component package with the largest component being the soundbar itself. It is completely capable of providing full-room sound to large 50-inch TVs but it isn’t as wide as other soundbars measuring just 37 inches wide. That’s about 3/4th the width of a regular 50-inch TV. Measuring 5 inches tall, the Bose CineMate 130 is certainly chunkier than typical soundbars although these kinds of dimensions allow Bose to cram all those sophisticated hardware to make the entire package work. As for the overall appearance, the CineMate 130 soundbar component is black all around and looks pretty with a small Bose logo on top. On the back, you will only find a power port and a single audio input which is only used to connect the soundbar to the main console unit via the included cable.
The main console serves as the heart of the Bose CineMate 130 system and while that adds to the load of setting up the whole system, having a separate console enables a greater degree of connectivity. Not only do you have the usual analog, coaxial and optical ports but you also get an array of 4 HDMI inputs and a single HDMI TV output. This HDMI arrangement simply allows other home theater components to use the soundbar directly without relying on the TV.
The console unit is considerably smaller than the soundbar unit but it is still something that you have to place somewhere in close proximity to the soundbar. Fortunately, it can be mounted to the wall if you buy the optional kit so the best kind of set up would be to have both the TV and soundbar mounted to the wall while the console hangs out on a table or cabinet below.
The last component of the package is the Acoustimass module which is basically Bose’s fancy term for its subwoofer. Like most other soundbar packages, the Acoustimass module wirelessly connects to the console so you get a bit more freedom as far as placement is concerned. You do have to attach the rubber feet when setting it up for the first time.
The CineMate 130 is first and foremost a speaker for your TV so you can really make the most out of this system if you hook it up to your TV. If you have a modern TV, chances are, the installation process is really simple. To get the best audio quality, you can directly connect the TV and Bose CineMate 130 console using an HDMI cable. The CineMate 130 supports Audio Return Channel or ARC which means that you won’t have to use an optical cable if your TV supports ARC as well.
There is no built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth which is a bit of a downer although you can add Wi-Fi capabilities by getting the SoundTouch accessory. This adapter will set you back another $100 but enables online streaming directly to the soundbar which is great for Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Deezer fans. Plus, if you have other Bose SoundTouch products in the house, the Bose CineMate 130 can be a member of the multi-room speaker family as well.
The remote deserves a heads up too because it is not your average remote. Instead, the remote is a fully-capable universal one that can be configured to control other home theater components and the TV too.
The CineMate 130 packs a lot of muscle to the point that the huge price tag is more understandable. Spacious sound is the key ingredient here and it makes movies sound fantastic. The soundbar is equipped with a pair of PhaseGuide sound radiators and 6 drivers to provide highly detailed sound whether the source is a TV, game, movie or music track.The Acoustimass subwoofer lives up to its name and performs far better than those soundbars with built-in subwoofer. It even has its own calibration called ADAPTiQ which automatically optimizes the soundbar for the room it is currently in. Finally, the Flexmount technology can further enhance the audio processing depending on its orientation and placement on the wall or surface.
$1,500 is far too much for a soundbar and you can expect it to underperform compared to a traditional 5.1-channel surround sound system that costs the same price. But the Bose CineMate 130 is a lot easier to set up and comes with an adequate set of ports that are ready to hook up to any TV.
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