Bose’s CineMate lineup is quite unique for a category that simply exists as an alternative to surround-sound speaker systems. The main point of making a soundbar is to make the installation process easier while saving considerable amounts of space. If you are going to price a soundbar at over $1,000, people are going to wonder how the soundbar compares to a real $1,000 5.1-channel speaker system. They will then have to determine if the size and setup advantages are really that worthwhile. Customers of Bose products will likely face this dilemma since 2 out of 3 of their current CineMate products cost more than $1,000. The other product is the Bose CineMate 15 although it still commands a fairly high $599 price tag. The CineMate 15 has a few key differences that help make the cheaper than the CineMate 120 and 130 models.
The Bose CineMate 15 is part of the CineMate family but the soundbar itself looks more like a large Bluetooth speaker. It certainly doesn’t have the form-factor of a typical soundbar with 3.25×12-inch dimensions although Bose is definitely correct by saying that the Bose CineMate 15 is the “simplest soundbar system from Bose”. You cannot mount the speaker to a wall but it shouldn’t be a huge deal considering its small size. Unlike its more expensive siblings, the CineMate 15 doesn’t offer a separate console. It also means that you’ll be dealing with fewer connection ports. On the back of the Bose CineMate 15 unit, you will only find an optical terminal along with analog and coaxial ports. That should be sufficient for a soundbar this size though.
Bose isn’t clearly a fan of integrating the subwoofer into the speaker or not having a subwoofer at all. But the strange thing is, the included Acoustimass module is a bit bigger and heavier. It is also not wireless so you need to take the extra simple step in connecting the soundbar’s cable to the subwoofer. While this restricts the placement possibilities of the subwoofer, it does not require its own power source. This is why it has two connectors – one for the speakers and the other for power. It is also nice to see Bose including both an analog cable and an optical cable so you should be good to go as far as setup is concerned. European models include a coaxial cable as well.
The CineMate 15 is a very basic speaker when it comes to features. It is more focused on simplifying the setup process and it clearly succeeds in this area. After connecting the speaker using appropriate cable to the TV, hooking it up to a power source and plugging in the Acoustimass module you are good to go. All of the things you can do to the speaker can be accessed from the included universal remote control. This remote has all the necessary buttons for TV, media player and even gaming console operation although you need to manually sync the remote to each device. The process isn’t that daunting and once finished, you may not need your existing remote controls to handle basic functions.
One of the few features that the Bose CineMate 15 has is auto-sleep. When enabled, the CineMate 15 automatically shuts itself down if there is no activity after an hour. Holding the “Power” button for about 10 seconds toggles this feature.
The Bose CineMate 15 might resemble a typical Bluetooth speaker but it performs a lot better than one. Bose managed to fit a four-element speaker array into the compact box and infuse it with Bose’s TrueSpace technology. This technology simply refers to the special way these elements were arranged as it helps spread out the sound better. Also remember that audio travelled through the wires will always sound better than a wireless audio streaming method like Bluetooth. The Acoustimass module dramatically helps with the overall sound too and you can adjust the bass level using the knob on the back of the module. There isn’t much else you can do to augment the sound but that could be a good thing for casual users.
The CineMate 15 is priced at $599 which is slightly more than half the price of the CineMate 120. A lot of cuts had to be done to achieve this including the removal of HDMI ports and even the possibility to add wireless capabilities. This soundbar is not compatible with the Bose SoundTouch wireless adapter so there is no way to stream music from your phone to the speaker unless the connected TV has some sort of feature. On the upside, the Bose CineMate 15 is smaller, lighter and more straightforward to install. Perhaps the most important thing is that this low-end CineMate speaker sounds great and true to the Boss brand.
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