For most of us who want to set up a home theatre system, a 5.1-channel multi-speaker layout is essential for a full-fledged surround sound experience. But given the space constraints of today, this is no longer an option for many. Modern day living is all about aesthetics and convenience, but many audio connoisseurs don't want to compromise on quality. This is why Bose has done away with the clutter and wires of a multi-speaker setup and launched a range of soundbars: the Lifestyle 135 and Cinemate 1SR. This week, we have the Cinemate 1SR for review.

Overview

While the Lifestyle 135 system comes with an added console and iPod dock that ships with some other Bose products, the Cinemate 1SR ships with just the soundbar and a wireless subwoofer which Bose terms ‘Wireless Acoustimass Module'.

The soundbar itself is quite sleek, measuring 12.4 x 93.5 x 6.1 cm and weighing 3.5 kg. Unlike the Lifestyle 135's console which has a whole bunch of connectivity options, the Cinemate's soundbar only has provision for digital audio (two coaxial ports and two optical links). If you were looking for HDMI you'll be quite disappointed. The soundbar is meant to be placed horizontally under your television but it can also be mounted vertically or placed flat on a table. Bose calls this ‘Fleximount automatic placement compensation'. The company's proprietary technology automatically detects the speaker's orientation to adjust sound so as to give you the effect of a surround sound system.

The Acoustimass Module is quite bulky but because its wireless you don't have to set it up right under your television and keep it out of sight. The Cinemate 1SR includes a remote which can be programmed to control the system and five other components including TVs, DVD and Blu-ray players and even set-top boxes. The idea again here is to minimise the clutter that is characteristic of home-theatre systems.

Setting up

The Cinemate 1SR is classic Bose in every way, enabling quality sound output while compressing components. What you get is essentially a home-theatre like speaker setup in single, slim unit. The soundbar's glossy black finish and metal grill conceal four speaker drivers. During set up, the system calibrates depending on the surrounding using Bose's ADAPTIQ technology. This ensures that you get the same audio experience from any corner of the room.

Although Bose does not call the Cinemate 1SR a 5.1-channel system, surround sound was exceptionally good, coming from a soundbar. We watched ‘Letters from Iwo Jima' and the surround sound was most evident during one of the war sceneswith fighter planes bombing an army camp. The sound of the airplane approaching and the splattering of bullets created a spatial effect not unlike what you would expect from a 5.1 system, though not entirely as effective.

The surround sound effect was more evident when we watched a DVD of ‘An Inconvenient Truth', which had both English 2.0 and 5.1 options. The difference was quite evident between the two, with the 5.1 offering a much more immersive experience.

The Acoustimass Module that ships with the Cinemate 1SR is slightly smaller than the one that ships with the Lifestyle 135. When we played back some bass heavy tracks like ‘Get Over It' by the Eagles, voice clarity was good but the tracks lacked the depth that we hoped the subwoofer would add. To test this, we played the same tracks on the Lifestyle 235 and the bass reproduction was far better.

Our verdict

The Bose Cinemate 1SR is an ideal buy if you're looking for aesthetics coupled with excellent audio. However, the lack of ports will dissuade many users who might opt for the better connected Lifestyle 135 instead. Even if you do own a Bose system with a console, you won't be able to pair your Cinemate 1SR with it. That said, it is a beautiful, compact audio system that could be a great addition to your living room if you can afford to shell out the big bucks.

Love: Complete, integrated design, good surround sound

Hate: Lack of ports, expensive

Rs 1,12,388

ketaki@thehindu.co.in

More In: Gadgets | Technology