Bose Cinemate 1SR review

Compact soundbar/subwoofer combi can still wrestle with the most demanding movies

Bose has to be different. You can’t call the Cinemate 1SR a soundbar, it’s a sound array. Likewise, the sub is not a sub, it’s an Acoustimass module. Bose is also coy about giving out technical specifications, so I know not what the power output is of either component. What I do know is that the ‘array’ has five drivers and connects by cable, or wirelessly, to the Acoustimass module.

Physically, both units are fairly compact. The sub is no oil painting and is best stashed away out of sight, an easily achievable feat given the cord-free connection. 

Connectivity, given the £1,300 price tag, is disappointing. No HDMI ports means zero compatibility with Blu-ray’s hi-res Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats and no HDMI switching. Coaxial, optical and stereo phono inputs are the order of the lo-res day.

The bar/array can be wall-mounted beneath a flatscreen (you’ll need to get the optional mount), but since it’s devoid of buttons, LCD screens, iPod docks and the like, it also can be laid flat in front of a stand-mounted TV, where its height of just 64mm will help it blend in. The effect of positional choice on its sound performance is taken account of during the installation process by Bose’s Flexmount tech.

Getting going is straightforward. First, power up by pressing the on button on the handset (a programmable universal remote that’s a bit bulky and dated-looking by contemporary standards), and the main unit should pair with its sub within a split second or two. Second, calibrate the speakers by donning the ADAPTiQ headphones-style microphone and connect it to a socket on the side of the array.  

A set-up wizard instructs you to move around the room into five separate listening positions, while it emits a tone from each speaker driver and the subwoofer, in a process that takes no more than five minutes. Ideally, you’ll have a rectangular room with the screen and soundbar dead centre of one wall.

Clarity and impact

The Cinemate 1SR may lack hi-res decoding but its movie performance is exceptional, especially with big, dynamic soundtracks. Disparate effects from the hijacking sequence in The Dark Knight are delivered with clarity and impact. Bullets ricochet around the room with real zing, and the soundfield generated from the ‘bar is spacious – when a chopper pans from left to right it seems to be above your head, rather than stuck in the TV. Muttered dialogue has clarity and orchestrated music really fills the room. LFE from the woofer feels a tad underpowered but can be manually increased.

The lack of equalisation or basic tone control on the main unit, however, can be frustrating as some sources seem unbalanced. For example, I found vocals on The Killers’ Losing Touch CD a bit lost and in need of a boost.

Summing up, the Cinemate 1SR doesn’t raise the bar for soundbars in terms of features, but approaches its audio-enhancement task with single-minded determination.


Bose Cinemate 1SR
£1,300 Approx

Highs: Delivers a wide, deep soundstage; wireless sub connection; ADAPTiQ to aid setup
Lows: No hi-res audio processing or iPod hookup

Performance: 4/5
Design: 4/5
Features: 3/5
Overall: 4/5


Drive units: Five (size not given)
Amplification: Not given
Connections: 2 x digital optical audio inputs; 2 x digital coaxial audio inputs; 1 x stereo phono input
Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding: no
Dimensions (soundbar): 6.1(h) x 93.5(w) x 12.4(d)mm
Weight (soundbar): 3.5kg 
Also features: Universal remote control; ADAPTiQ audio calibration system; Flexmount automatic placement compensation