You think audio for PC gaming, you probably think RGB headsets or fancy speakers from companies like Logitech or Creative. But what about sound bars?
We’ve often wondered if a high quality sound bar could replace a set of speakers. When Bose sent us the SoundTouch 300 Wireless Bluetooth Soundbar, we knew it was time to put find out the answer to this burning question.
That question is, are soundbars overkill for a PC audio solution? Are they the exclusive purview of home theaters, or can we put together a legit setup with this $700 Bose sound bar at the center?
Let’s find out.
First of all, this thing looks killer. It’s all slim and modern black, and that neutral design fits in with just about any build. We paired it with our orange and black Cougar Victory rig, and the Halloween vibes were spot on.
This beefy slab of metal has a premium glass top and perforated wraparound grille that adds a touch of class wherever it rests. The glass collects fingerprints unfortunately, but it’s worth it for that very in modern tech look, and as you’ll see you’re not going to have much reason to touch it.
Bose branded this thing very gently; there’s hardly any discernible characteristics on the front other than a small Bose logo. The SoundTouch 300 isn’t small, but it's not garish either. Think of it as an accent to your furniture. An accent that gets really, really loud when you want it to.
Before we can blow out our eardrums with sweet sonic goodness, we had to set the thing up.
The soundbar comes with an “Acoustiq room calibration system” AKA a dorky looking headset that adapts to the geometry of the room to dial in the perfect audio experience. By sending out a series of beeps and boops to five different positions in the room, the Bose SoundTouch optimizes the sound depending on where you are.
Does it work? In short, yes. We did notice a difference between the vanilla settings and post Acoustiq setup. We didn’t conduct extensive tests, but we all agreed that it sounded better in the cavernous studio space after we ran the setup. It was worth looking silly for a few minutes to set it up.
Other than that, there’s not much else you need to do.The Soundbar comes with a pretty extensive universal remote that can be programmed to work with anything in your setup. Again, this soundbar was clearly designed for a home theater with a television as opposed to a PC and a monitor, but there are still plenty of uses for the remote short of just volume.
We installed the Bose SoundTouch app on our PC as well as an Android phone.
You have to connect the soundbar via USB to your computer to properly configure the Windows application, as it operates over Wi-Fi and the Soundbar has no GUI.
The mobile versions of the app are much simpler to set up assuming you’re already on the same wifi network. As is to be expected from Bose, the interface of the apps is very elegant and minimalist, and allows you to adjust everything from volume to sound presets. There’s also quite a few built in music options.
As great as the app is, it’s no replacement for old fashioned buttons. In the quest for that ever shifting modern aesthetic, Bose eliminated any buttons on the face of the soundbar, meaning the only way to control the volume (or anything else for that matter) is with the remote, the app, or by modifying the volume from the source.
If this was part of a home theater setup involving a television this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but I’ve grown accustomed to being able to change my volume from the speakers themselves, so this is a bit of a bummer.
So how does the SoundTouch 300 actually sound? In a word: amazing.
It’s not hugely surprising given the cost, but this is a truly premium sonic experience. Not only does it get insanely loud, but the deep bass and crystal clear highs are an auditory delight. From the crack of Widowmaker’s sniper rifle to the rusty baritone of Roadhog’s voice, the SoundTouch 300 sounds altogether fantastic. There was virtually no distortion even at very high volume, and no discernable sibilance.
Though the SoundTouch 300 is a monster on its own, you can upgrade it even further with external speakers and subwoofers. I’m not sure why you’d need to, but it’s always nice to have options.
Good For PC Gaming?
It really depends on your setup. If you’re using a television as your primary display, and especially if you have an HDMI ARC ready system, this the SoundTouch 300 quickly integrates and is an easy recommendation.
That’s not our setup though. We were curious if the soundbar could replace external speakers, and that’s where it gets a little more complicated.
The results were mixed. On the one hand, there were ZERO complaints in the sound department, and that’s arguably the most important thing. But having to use the remote or the app to control the volume isn't ideal. True, most keyboards have shortcuts that can allow you to change the volume from the source, but being able to do both is better.
Other than that though, the Bose SoundTouch 300 impressed in every way. From the setup to the design, and most importantly the sound, this is a serious piece of audio tech in a beautiful body.
I’m not sure if it will replace a set of high end speakers for my gaming rig, but as far as a home theater goes, this soundbar is second to none.