Bose Solo 5 Soundbar Review
Can this Compact Audio System Improve your TV’s Sound?
See full review below
Model year: 2016 to present
- Will provide better sound than most flat-panel TVs
- Compact size
- Easy to set up and use
- Universal Remote
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Dialogue mode
- Bass adjustment
- Decent bass output for music
- Narrow sound field
- Lacks stereo separation – with music
- Lacks stereo imaging
- Insufficient bass punch with movie sound effects – explosions, etc.
Bottom Line: If you want to enhance your TV’s sound, then the Bose Solo 5 is more than up to the task, and will deliver good sound quality. Just don’t expect it to be a full-blown tour de force soundbar that gives you the best in performance. It wasn’t designed for this purpose, and will only give you what is necessary to take your TV viewing experience to the next level, which is just above the performance of most flat-panel TVs.
Warranty: One year parts and labor
About this Product
The Bose Solo 5 is Bose’s least expensive soundbar and comes in at a price point that is unusually low for a Bose product. So does this mean the Solo 5 is a less capable performer than its higher-priced Bose counterparts? Let’s find out…
The Solo 5 is a very compact soundbar designed for smaller living spaces or a secondary TV room or bedroom, but it will also deliver adequate sound output into a medium-sized room. Its space-saving design allows it to be placed on a tabletop in front of a TV, mounted on a shelf or even wall mounted.
The Solo 5 is probably the smallest soundbar I have I ever encountered and measures only 2-¾” H x 21-5/8” W x 3-7/16” D and is very lightweight at 3.73 lbs. The soundbar enclosure contains two 2” drivers (speakers) that produce full-range sound or should I say as close to the full range as possible since they aren’t able to produce deep bass due to their small size (more on sound quality later). The speakers are mounted in the center portion of the enclosure and are angled outward (away from each other) to help disperse sound into the viewing/listening area.
The enclosure is constructed of sturdy plastic; the front grille is made of metal. Around back you will find TV inputs for optical and coaxial digital audio cables and a 3.5 mini-stereo audio input.
There are two small LED status indicators behind the grille that illuminate a particular color when certain features are enabled.
The supplied full-size universal remote operates the soundbar and can be programmed to operate other components including your TV, Blu-ray/DVD player and game console to name a few. The remote is not backlit.
- Built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from compatible smartphones and tablets
- TrueSpace technology produces spacious sound
- Dialogue mode makes speech easier to hear
- Soundbar connects to your TV with a single cable
- Optical digital cable included
- Remote has a bass control button that lets you adjust the amount of bass output from the soundbar
Setting up the Bose Solo 5 is very quick and easy. Use the supplied optical digital cable to connect the soundbar to your TV’s optical digital output. There are no control buttons on the soundbar. The soundbar is turned on using the remote. The soundbar also has an “Auto-wake” feature that can be set to turn on the system when an audio signal is detected. The soundbar will also automatically power off after one hour if no audio signal is present. Once you have the soundbar connected to the TV, power on both units and start enjoying your Bose Solo 5.
Note: Be sure to turn off your TV’s built-in speakers which can be done by accessing the TV’s menu. Or, at least turn the TV’s volume all the way down so it doesn’t interfere with the soundbar’s audio output.
As mentioned above you can pair the Bose Solo 5 with a Bluetooth device to stream music from a smartphone, tablet or other compatible devices.
Pairing is easy and straight forward: On the remote control, press the Bluetooth button until the Bluetooth indicator blinks blue. Make sure the Bluetooth indicator blinks blue before you pair your device. On your Bluetooth device (phone, tablet), turn on the Bluetooth feature.
Select the Bose Solo 5 system from your device list. Once paired, the Bose Solo 5 system appears connected in the device list. You can now stream music to the soundbar.
I’ve reviewed other Bose systems in the past and those products yielded very good performance and were much more expensive than the Solo 5. With that said, the question is how does this soundbar perform, for being such a very compact, bare-bones entry-level model.
Well, let’s start with movie soundtracks. Movie dialogue was easy to hear and understand and was projected into the viewing area with a strong presence and clarity. The soundbars Dialogue mode enhances dialogue and makes it more intelligible by essentially lowing the speaker’s bass output.
When called upon, the Solo 5 was able to deliver a decent amount of dynamic range for its size from movie soundtracks that contained loud passages and sound effects such as explosions, etc. However, the bass output from these scenes was lacking with a limited amount of punch, which was no surprise since the soundbars’ tiny speakers simply weren’t capable of low bass output. On the flip side, mid and high frequencies had good presence and crispness, and remained clean and clear even at high (not maximum) volume levels.
In general, this soundbar will not have trouble filling even a medium-sized room with full-size sound within its design parameters. In other words, the sound output will not be thin and lean, as is the case with many flat-panel TVs.
With music, the Solo 5 had overall good sound quality, but not without fault. Music had good clarity and detail in the midrange and upper frequencies, but its overall fidelity wasn’t what I’m used to hearing from more costly Bose soundbars. But this should come as no surprise for an inexpensive speaker system. Bass output, on the other hand, was solid and punchy and gave music more heft with decent impact from such a small enclosure.
Even though this soundbar produced loud, punchy and defined sound, it did have trouble producing a wide and spacious sound field which in reality was actually very narrow and was lacking in stereo imaging and soundstage separation. This issue gave music a somewhat one-dimensional characteristic. This also affected movie sound in the same way but was less perceptible because of the ever-changing soundscape in movie soundtracks.
I attribute this issue to the Solo 5’s small size and the center placement of the drivers within the enclosure which causes limited dispersion of sound, in my opinion.
Is the Bose Solo 5 a worthwhile investment? Yes, if you’re looking for a basic no-frills soundbar that has better sound quality than most TV’s built-in speakers. And from the looks of the many positive customer reviews, most consumers are really enjoying this soundbar. See for yourself and check out the customer reviews from Amazon.com and Best Buy.com.
Nevertheless, if you desire a soundbar that will fill a large room with spacious sound, better detail and clarity, and precise sound imaging, in addition to more features, then look to one of Bose’s more capable models such as the Bose SoundTouch 300 or the Bose Soundbar 700, if you want to stick with the Bose brand.