I really love the sound of my Bose Soundbar 500 and 700, but I particularly do not like the Alexa integration. I have now been using these for a few months and I have come to the opinion that the Alexa integration is half baked. I am a very avid Alexa/Echo user with over 12 devices in my house dating back to the first gen Echo. Here are the issues I have with the Alexa integration.
1) The soundbars have amazing microphones! Great right? Well sort of. These soundbar lack the spatial awareness of other Echo devices including the $30 echo dot. I ask my daughters room alexa to 'Play Nursery Rhyme Parade' and the Soundbar 500 3 rooms down picks it up and starts playing the music even though I am 3 feet away from the dot in her room. I end up having to whisper to echos in different rooms so the Bose Soundbar doesnt hear. I have now resorted to updating the wake word for my echos from Alexa to Echo and trying to retrain my whole family to use the right wake word for different devices.
2) You cannot change the wake word on the Bose. It would be so much easier to just change the wake word on the Bose and not all other 10 devices. It would be even better if you could chose 'Bose' for the wake word. Best yet, I would like the opportunity to keep Alexa integration on, but disable the wake word on the Bose and use another Echo in the same room to do what I want like turn on the tv or play music through the Soundbar via the preferred speaker setting.
3) The response lag on these Soundbars is also annoying. If I say 'Alexa' it takes 2-3 seconds before the light comes on to know it is listening. This needs to be faster.
4) I cannot add these soundbars to an everywhere group for whole home audio. I know this is a known "issue", but I suspect Bose would rather you buy more of their products to create whole home audio so I doubt this gets enabled. It also may not be possible via Amazon.
5) If I ask Alexa to play music and then stop it to watch tv, the Bose is stuck on music setting and doesnt play the tv audio. I have to use the bose app to power on and off the soundbar to get it ti pick up tv audio again.
6) I cannot use my Soundbar to pair with myFire TV 4k stick to turn on the tv and control it via voice. I have to have a secondary Alexa device with the Echo keyword to do that. I should not have to have multiple echo devices to use voice control for the fire tv stick.
At this point, the only thing I use the Alexa for in my Bose soundbars is to play music via voice command and I have other Alexa devices with different wake words to do all the other heavy lifting that is possible via an Alexa device. I am not sure the utility of that is worth it. I may disable it completely and just use Amazon Music or Audible via my Fire Tv controlled by a fully functional Alexa device to listen to audio. Or just connect via bluetooth to my phone. Im sorry to sound annoyed and I hope some of these can be fixed via software updates.
Thanks for the post! As well, thank you for the suggestions. I've forwarded these up to the development team.
I can't say that I've noticed the same lag when saying 'Alexa' with my Home Speaker 500; I tested it over the weekend and every single time the reaction to the wake word took under a second.
Wake word, Alexa grouping and input changing via voice are all things that we are looking into for Bose Smart Home Speakers. If we hear anything from the development team, we will let the community know with a stickied post.
Brandon - Community Support
I just wanted to chime in here because i was happy to see that I am not the only person with the same issues. This unit was an Xmas gift for the family but we have been seeing many of the same issues. I too have noticed the delay in waking the Bose. Not being able to switch from TV to audio without the remote is very frustrating. But more importantly, I have been frustrated in that this is not a full Echo. I was expecting to be able to replace the Echo in my living room with the SoundBar but several features which I routinely use (Drop-In, Reminders and Routines) do not appear to be fully supported by the unit.
At this point we have been debating finding a way to disable to Alexa functions on the Bose unit and putting a dot on top of the unit so we can have that functionality back. Are there plans to update the firmware for this? Otherwise, I am not sure we will be keeping the unit. It is a great speaker but either I am doing something wrong or this isnt as "Alexa" as it claims to be.
Just wanted to say that I agree with points 4 and 5 of your post. I was expecting better Alexa intragration and hoping future software upgrades will fix some of these issue.
Number 5 is increasingly becoming a problem. I know how to triage and then fix the problem, but anyone else using it has issues figuring out why the tv has no sound. Is the best thing to do then is abandon arc and hook up via optical? Will the soundbar start playing audio even if it has stopped or paused some Alexa music beforehand?
I have an Echo Dot I use to control my Bose Soundtouch 300 when playing music. When finished, I tell Alexa to turn off the Bose. Then, I use my Harmony remote control to turn on my LG tv which uses CEC to turn on the Bose Soundtouch 300. To me, this works perfectly and I wouldn't want it to work differently. I guess it's somewhat of a user preference.
I wonder if trying to integrate too many devices into one is not such a good idea.
Thank you for a great summary of the issues. I'm interested to see the difference between the lag of the Soundbar 700 and an Echo. Would you be able to record a video of the two side-by-side responding to the Alexa wake word? This may help Bose to better understand the lag you observe?
I will see what I can do. I turned off Alexa functionality on the Bose recently. It caused way too many problems in my household.
I just wanted to add my vote to this discussion. I agree with the problems with Alexa. Having to turn off the Bose to get the TV working after playing music is not upto the standards of a Bose product. I also had to power off and on the Bose to get Alexa working the other day again not what I expect from a Bose product (FYI, powering off the unit is not easy. The system is plugged into a high end power conditioner and I have to power off the whole system). Yesteday, I found out Dropin doesnt work. I now have to switch my Echo back to the family room and will be disconnecting Alexa on the soundbar. Please update the firmware to bring this product upto the standards of Bose. I do enjoy the sound, the out of box experience was very nice and the setup was easy (I have base and rear speakers).