I like Bose products.
As any self-proclaimed “audiophile” is always happy to volunteer – even if you don’t ask for their opinion – Bose is “overpriced junk,” and they’ll incessantly espouse the virtues and superiority of setting up a complicated multi-speaker system for the “true home theater experience”…but, those people are obnoxious.
I came from a complicated 5.1 multi-speaker system, and although I agree that they are technically the best surround sound experience, I’m here to tell you why I decided to go with the simplicity, clarity and minimalist footprint of the Bose CineMate® 130 Home Theater System.
On The Topic of Bose
First off, I agree that Bose products come with a hefty price tag, but here’s the thing: I’m still using products that I bought nearly a decade ago. In addition, unlike certain fruit-logo-based companies, they don’t release minor iterations of the same product each year to try to get people to keep upgrading and paying full price.
For instance, I bought the Companion 5 speaker system roughly 7 years ago, but if you go to the Bose website, you’ll see that they have not released a Companion 6 model during that time because the Companion 5 is still considered their top computer speaker system.
Sure, I paid $399 for the Companion 5 system – which is the same price that it’s listed at today – but I use them everyday, and they still sound incredible. And although Bose has released newer models of the Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker since I first bought the original, the only differences are in the design, color selection and portability.
So, you may pay a little more up front, but it’s a long term investment in an excellent product. But anyway, let’s talk about the CineMate 130…
Leaving My Bookshelf System Behind
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re watching a movie on your multi-speaker system and you have to turn the volume up during dialogue heavy scenes, only to turn the volume back down when the action starts to heat up, then reaching for the remote again to turn it back up when the dialogue kicks in again.
So you make adjustments to the center channel speaker, along with the vast menu of surround sound settings, as you try to figure what the hell the difference is between “Movie Spacious,” “Movie Dramatic,” “Pro Logic I,” “Pro Logic II,” “Just Plain Movie,” “Dolby DTS,” “DVR” and “TV.” Then you have to account for the room size, while you tweak the sub-woofer so that your neighbors don’t complain, but not so much that you can’t enjoy nice full bass during the latest Blockbuster release.
You could hire an audio tech to come out for a few hundred dollars to calibrate your system…until someone (or your kids) hit the wrong button on the remote and accidentally screw up the settings. Then there is the issue of mounting your center channel, hiding wires, getting unsightly speaker stands for your bookshelf speakers and figuring out the wiring for your rear speakers — should you run them through the wall or along the baseboards?
This was my experience most of the time, and I was over it. Advances in audio technology were such that you could now fill a room with simulated surround sound – imperceptible to most ears when compared to a multi-speaker arrangement – with a simple soundbar, subwoofer and receiver.
But, Why Bose?
As I do with every major purchase, I researched a lot of surround sound systems. I decided to get the CineMate 130 for the reasons that I gave earlier, which was my confidence that buying from Bose would be an investment that would not require an update or replacement for many years to come.
On every Bose product that I own, their signal processing and engineering is such that I can max out the volume and never be concerned with blowing out the speaker, causing distortion or hearing that awful flapping noise that some cheaper sub-woofers can make when they can’t handle bass heavy scenes.
The other reason I decided to get the CineMate 130 is simplicity. I no longer wanted to dig into menu after menu of settings, trying to figure out which was the best for each viewing scenario and asking people, “Does this sound better? Or This? What about this?“…I just want it to work, and to sound good.
Look, if you’re an audiophile who loves spending countless hours screwing around with settings and calibrations to get that “perfect” surround sound experience, more power to you and I’m sure you also have an impressive vinyl collection.
But the average person won’t do that, yet we want to feel confident that we’re getting excellent sound quality out of the box, and frankly I trust the audio engineers at Bose to handle it, especially if I’m spending $1,500.00 for that convenience.
The last reason for my decision to get the CineMate 130 was the smaller footprint…especially coming from a system that required mounted speakers and speaker stands that can take up a lot of space, and become unsightly.
As you can see in the photos, the CineMate 130 soundbar can easily (and attractively) fit on your entertainment center – or mounted to the wall – without any change in sound quality. However, I found that placing it flat and flush on my entertainment center gave me slightly better audio quality, probably due to the sound response against the harder surface. The CineMate 130 soundbar fits perfectly in front of our 70″ television, and looks very sleek and modern, while not drawing attention to itself.
Additionally, the wireless Acoustimass module (sub-woofer) can be placed anywhere within 30 ft of the receiver — allowing you to place it out of sight behind a sofa or beneath an end table. For the best bass reflex and performance, I recommend placing it in a corner near a wall.
Speaking of the bass, it is crisp, clear and without distortion, yet fills the room with clean sounding bass that may not shake the windows, but perfectly compliments the lows in every scene, including the most bass heavy action sequences or music.
And the best part? Setting it up is as painless as you could possibly imagine.
The CineMate 130 setup process is the definition of plug-and-play ease. With 4 HDMI ports and a dedicated pass-through that connects your television to the receiver, you can easily hook up a DVR, and multiple gaming systems and devices. For example, I have our DVR, PS4, PS3 and Chromecast connected to the receiver.
The Universal remote also controls your television and menu navigation, along with all media playback, pausing, fast-forwarding and rewinding (among other features).
And remember all of my griping earlier in regard to no longer wanting to concern myself with countless settings and finding the perfect calibration? Bose has you covered there, too.
Wood floors, carpeting, plush rugs and unique room dimensions can all affect sound. The CineMate 130 comes with the ADAPTiQ® audio calibration system, in which you place the included calibration headset onto your head, and the system will instruct you to sit in 5 different locations throughout the room — positions where people are most likely to sit in front of your television.
Once in each position, the system communicates with the headset’s built-in microphone to optimize the simulated surround sound for all 5 seating positions. Viola! Done.
Beyond that, the CineMate 130 has an easy to understand and intuitive menu of settings, including a dialogue enhancer (for those who like to listen at lower volumes, but don’t want to miss a word), bass, treble and mid settings, and sync adjustments to ensure the audio matches perfectly with an actor’s lips.
And The Sound?
Well, I had to save the best part for last! The Bose CineMate 130 will easily fill any sized room with clear, clean, crisp and full sound…you won’t be disappointed.
Obviously before making a $1,500 purchase, you want to take the product out for a test drive. I ended up going to my local Best Buy in order to sample the CineMate’s sound and was very pleasantly surprised and equally impressed…especially considering that most Best Buys are built like warehouses, with wide open spaces and high ceilings.
The store I went to had the smaller and less expensive CineMate 120 on display, but based on its impressive performance, I knew the larger 130 would be perfect for what I was looking for. I recommend doing the same, by either visiting at a local big box retailer, or a Bose store if you have one nearby.
Movies, music and games all sound amazing through the CineMate 130. I no longer have to reach for the remote to continually adjust the volume levels. I can hear every word of dialogue, feel every explosion and sense every passing helicopter as it “flies” behind me.
With the intuitive plug-and-play setup, built-in calibration tools and outstanding audio performance, the CineMate 130 is exactly the system that I wanted.
Regardless of if I’m watching the latest Blockbuster on Blu-Ray, playing the newest video game on my PS4, or listening to a Spotify playlist, I just turn the CineMate 130 on and everything sounds amazing…no muss, no fuss, no complicated settings.