Bose Solo 5 SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
6.2
Mixed Usage
7.2
Dialog / TV Shows
6.4
Music
5.4
Movies
Channels
:
2.0

The Bose Solo 5 is a decent sounding soundbar when it comes to stereo content, but it won’t be great for a good surround sound experience. It has a fairly good and neutral audio reproduction, but this bar lacks quite a bit of bass, which can be partially explained by the fact it’s missing a wireless subwoofer. This means it won’t be great for bass-heavy content. It also doesn’t support Atmos and height channels, which won’t be great for movies, and doesn’t even support DTS, which is quite common on Blu-ray discs. On the upside, this bar is well-built and will be a decent option for audio content like podcasts, audiobooks and TV shows where dialog is the most important factor.

Test Results
Design 7.5
Sound 6.0
Connectivity 3.0
Pros
  • Well-built design.
  • Decent sounding on stereo content, especially for its size
Cons
  • Lack of DTS support; poor connectivity options.
  • Poor bass performance.
  • Small soundstage.

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Market Context

The Bose Solo 5 is a budget 2016 standalone soundbar by Bose. It's a 2.0 channel bar that does not come bundled with a sub or satellites like the higher tier Bose Soundbar 500. It can also be wall-mounted unlike the Solo 15 which are pedestal speaker type that sits under your TV. The main competitors of the Solo 5 are the Vizio SB3821-C6 and the Yamaha YAS-1018.

7.5

Design

Style - Bar

The Bose Solo 5 is an all-black soundbar that looks very ordinary. It is made of solid plastic except for the metal grid that surrounds the front and the sides. There are no controls on the bar. Overall it is very simple and doesn't feel premium. The subwoofer is embedded in the soundbar and the port is visible on the back.

Style - Subwoofer

There is no external subwoofer with this soundbar setup. The subwoofer is embedded in the soundbar.

Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this setup.

Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width : 21.7" (55.0 cm)
Bar Height : 2.6" (6.7 cm)
Bar Depth : 3.2" (8.1 cm)

The Bose Solo 5 is a fairly compact bar. It doesn’t cover the entire width of most TVs so most likely it will fit nicely in front of the stand of your TV. Also, it is not very tall and thus should not obstruct your view of the screen, unless your TV screen sits flush on your table, like in the case of the Sony A9G.

Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width : N/A
Sub Height : N/A
Sub Depth : N/A

There is no subwoofer with this soundbar setup, the subwoofer is included in the bar.

Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width : N/A
Sat Height : N/A
Sat Depth : N/A

This setup doesn't have satellites.

Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
:
Universal (holes on back)

The back is very plain. On the right, you have a section for all the input ports and on the left the port of the built-in subwoofer. There are also two holes for wall mounting, but if wall mounted it could obstruct the subwoofer port.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
N/A

The subwoofer in this setup is included in the bar. There is no separate subwoofer.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

7.5 Build Quality

The Bose Solo 5 has a good build quality. It is made from solid plastic except for the metal grid that surrounds the bar on the sides and at the front. The subwoofer is embedded in the bar and its port is at the back. The entire build feels solid although not too premium.

In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
:
N/A
Digital Optical Cable Length
:
5.0 ft (1.5 m)

  • Remote
  • Power cable
  • Power brick
  • Batteries
  • Optical cable
  • Manuals

6.0

Sound

7.1 Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
:
-0.43
ST Std. Err.
:
2.51 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
61.7 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
:
19.6 kHz

The Bose Solo 5 has a decent stereo frequency response, especially for its size, but it noticeably lacks bass. Its low-frequency extension is fairly high, which means this soundbar will have difficulty producing the low-end thump and punch of bass. On the upside, the rest of the response is well-balanced and vocals and instruments will be reproduced accurately. It has a fairly neutral sound profile, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have any features that let you modify the noise to your liking.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
6.0 Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
:
3.23 dB

When listening to the Bose Solo 5, the soundstage is mediocre. The bar is very small and the soundstage size is about the width of the bar. On the upside, it is well focused and sound isn't diffused, which is good because objects seem to be coming from a more accurate pinpoint location rather than from a general area.

7.0 Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
:
87.4 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
:
1.86 dB

The Bose Solo 5 can only get decently loud, which might be disappointing for some. It won’t do too well in large rooms or crowded environments. Also, when pushed to max volume, you get pumping and compression artifacts in the bass range, especially on bass-heavy content.

7.4 Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.64
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.06

The THD performance is good. At a normal volume, it sounds clean and offers great fidelity of audio reproduction. Also, when pushing the bar to its maximum capacities, there's no big and noticeable jump in THD, which is good. However, there's a bit of audible bass port noise.

7.0 Center
C Localization
:
Phantom
C Slope
:
-0.48
C Std. Err.
:
2.53 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
:
87.2 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.56
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.06

The Bose Solo 5 is a 2.0 soundbar setup that doesn’t have a dedicated center speaker. Its performance with a phantom center is still decent. The sound profile is still fairly neutral and accurate which won’t affect dialog too much. It lacks a bit of bass, but this shouldn't matter too much since there is usually not a lot of bass on center channels. However, it uses the left and right speakers to create a sound in the center, which will sound more diffused and less clear compared to a discrete center. Note that when sending a 5.1 signal to the Bose Solo 5, it will downmix it to 2.0.

4.1 Surrounds
Sr Localization
:
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
:
N/A
Sr Slope
:
-0.59
Sr Std. Err.
:
5.83 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
:
86.0 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.63
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.00

The Solo 5 performs poorly when sending surround content to the soundbar. Everything is downmixed to a stereo signal since this soundbar is a 2.0 setup and it uses the left and right speakers, which won’t do an accurate and clear representation of surround object. This means the result won't be very immersive and the objects will be perceived to come from the front instead of to your sides or behind you. The overall sound profile is hyped with an excess in bass and treble, but the bar isn't able to get very loud.

0 Height (Atmos)
H Localization
:
N/A
H Slope
:
N/A
H Std. Err.
:
N/A
H SPL @ Max Volume
:
N/A
H Weighted THD @ 80
:
N/A
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
N/A

This soundbar doesn’t have height channels and doesn’t support Atmos.

0 Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
:
No
Dialog Enhancement
:
No
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
:
No
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Bass Adjustment
:
No
Treble Adjustment
:
No
EQ
:
No
Surround Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Rear Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Virtual Surround
:
No

Unfortunately, the Bose Solo 5 is practically just a speaker that is plug-and-play, without any enhanced features to help you get a better overall performance. It mainly lacks Room Correction, meaning the soundbar sound differently depending on your room. You can’t EQ it or even enhance the dialog to make it clearer at low volumes. This soundbar is very barebones and doesn’t allow for much control and customization of its sound.

3.0

Connectivity

Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
:
1
HDMI ARC
:
No
Full HDMI In
:
No
HDMI Out
:
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
:
1
USB for Files
:
No
Ethernet
:
No

The Bose Solo 5 has a limited number of inputs so you must follow a very specific setup when connecting it to the rest of your devices. There is an Optical Audio In, which can be used for surround sound, and a Coaxial which can connect to older devices. There are no HDMI ports, but there is an Analog 3.5mm input where you can connect a mobile device or any other device that does not support Bluetooth.

0 Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
:
No
ARC Dolby Atmos
:
No
ARC DTS:X
:
No
ARC Dolby Digital
:
No
ARC Dolby Digital Plus
:
No
ARC DTS
:
No
ARC Dolby TrueHD
:
No
ARC DTS-HD MA
:
No
ARC 5.1 PCM
:
No

There is no HDMI ARC support on this soundbar.

0 Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
HDMI Dolby Atmos
:
No
HDMI DTS:X
:
No
HDMI Dolby Digital
:
No
HDMI Dolby Digital Plus
:
No
HDMI DTS
:
No
HDMI Dolby TrueHD
:
No
HDMI DTS-HD MA
:
No
HDMI 5.1 PCM
:
No

There is no HDMI Input on this soundbar.

6.0 Audio Format Support - Optical
Optical Dolby Digital
:
Yes
Optical DTS
:
No

The Bose Solo 5 can decode Dolby Digital via its optical port but will downmix it to 2.0. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround content is very common in most streaming platforms and Blu-rays. The not supported DTS is not widely common on its own, it is the fallback for the higher quality DTS-HD MA found on many Blu-ray discs.

6.0 Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
:
Yes
Wi-Fi
:
No
Chromecast built-in
:
No
Apple AirPlay
:
No

The Bose Solo 5 allows you to play content wirelessly, only through Bluetooth. So you can easily connect your smartphone or tablet for a great music experience, but you can’t connect to the network, or cast to the soundbar from Chromecast built-in or Airplay.

Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
:
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
:
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
:
N/A
HDR10 Passthrough
:
N/A

Unfortunately, due to the lack of Full HDMI In you can not use this soundbar as a hub for your other devices.

Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
N/A

The subwoofer in this setup is included in the bar. There is no separate subwoofer.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
N/A

There are no satellites on this setup.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
No

The interface of the soundbar is very simple. There are only two discrete LEDs behind the grill. One serves as status light that shows that the soundbar is working, and the other one is for the Bluetooth. The lights flash when there is a change in settings. There are no controls on the soundbar.

Bar Controls

There are no controls on the bar. You can only control the soundbar through the remote.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
Yes

The Bose Solo 5 comes with a very versatile, and very large remote control that can also act as a universal remote. You can only control the soundbar with the remote as there are no controls on the bar. Once you change the settings a small led light behind the grill will flash to indicate the pressing of a button.

App
App Name : N/A
iOS : No
Android : No
Acts as the Remote
:
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
:
No
Casts Device Files
:
No

There is no App that pairs with the Solo 5 soundbar.

Other Features
Power Saving
:
Auto-off
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
:
No

There are no other features on this soundbar, except for a self-power off after 60 minutes of inactivity.

Compared to other Soundbars

The Bose Solo 5 is an okay sounding soundbar. It's one of the smallest bars we've reviewed so far. It has a decent sounding audio reproduction, especially for its size. It won't get as loud as other soundbars and lacks bass as it doesn't have a subwoofer. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best small soundbars, and the best soundbars under $200.

Sonos Beam
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. The Beam has a 3.0 configuration with a dedicated center channel, which makes voices even clearer. The Beam gets louder and is also noticeably better built. Its soundstage is bigger and it has quite a lot of sound enhancement features, which the Solo 5 completely lacks. On the other hand, the Bose Solo 5 supports Bluetooth, while the Sonos believe in better performance over Wi-Fi.

Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Solo 5 and the Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080 are very similar-sounding soundbars, but the ATS-1080 is slightly better. It gets louder and doesn't compress as much as the Solo 5. The ATS-1080 also has two built-in subwoofers. It has more connection options and has a dialog enhancement feature to make voices clearer. On the other hand, the Solo 5 is better-built and has a slightly better stereo frequency response, but most people won't notice the difference.

Sony HT-S200F
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony HT-S200F is slightly better than the Bose Solo 5. The Sony bar has a built-in subwoofer, but it doesn't give you that much more bass, unfortunately. The Sony can also get a bit louder and performs well at max volume, while the Bose compresses a bit in the bass range. The Sony offers a few sound enhancement features, which the Bose Solo 5 lacks completely.

Bose Soundbar 500
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Soundbar is slightly better than the Bose Solo 5. It's a 3.0 soundbar with a dedicated center channel, which makes dialog in movies clearer and easier to understand. It also has sound enhancement features like room correction, which the Solo 5 completely lacks. The Solo 5 has a slightly better stereo frequency response but overall, the Soundbar 500 will sound more natural due to the larger soundstage. The Bose 500 also has more inputs and supports DTS, on top of supporting eARC.

Sonos Playbar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sonos Playbar is a better option than the Bose Solo 5. It has a dedicated center channel due to its 3.0 configuration, which results in better dialog performance. It can also get noticeably louder and is better built. The Playbar also has a room correction feature to optimize its audio reproduction. The soundstage of the Playbar is also wider. On the other hand, the Solo 5 supports Bluetooth, while the Sonos soundbar is only Wi-Fi compatible.

Samsung HW-Q60R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung HW-Q60R is a better soundbar system than the Bose Solo 5. It has a wireless subwoofer, a dedicated center channel, and side-firing speakers, while the Solo 5 is a simple 2.0 system. The Q60R gets loud, has more features, and overall sounds better. It also has tons of connection options the Solo 5 doesn't have and supports more audio formats. Other than price, there's no real reason to get the Solo 5 over the better performing Q60R.

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6.2 Mixed Usage

Okay for mixed usage. The Bose Solo 5 sounds decent, especially for its small size, but only with stereo content. It doesn’t get very loud and lacks quite a bit of bass too. It also lacks height channels and Atmos support, which makes it a sub-par option for movies. It also might not be the best option for bass-heavy music genres. On the upside, it has great mid and treble reproduction and will perform decently well for dialog-oriented content like podcasts, audiobooks, and TV shows.

7.2 Dialog / TV Shows

Decent for dialog and TV shows. The Solo 5 has a good and neutral sounding sound profile, with accurate reproduction of vocals and dialog-related frequencies. It doesn’t get very loud, but most people will find the bar to be loud enough for content like podcasts and audiobooks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a dialog enhancement feature, but will still perform well for normal use.

6.4 Music

Okay for music. This soundbar has a decent sound profile but noticeably lacks bass, which negatively impacts its performance with some bass-heavy music genres. The soundstage is also fairly disappointing due to the small size of the bar. You won’t be able to get the bar to be very loud, but it should be enough for casual listening sessions, but won’t be great for large rooms or crowded environments as at max volume, the bar distorts and compresses bass quite a bit. On the upside, it’s easy to play content from your phone thanks to its Bluetooth compatibility.

5.4 Movies

Sub-par for movies. The sound profile is pretty good, but it is lacking sub-bass, which will affect movie scores quite a bit. This soundbar also lacks height channels and doesn’t support Atmos, which results in a less immersive experience than a high-end bar that offers it. The Solo 5 also has a mediocre soundstage due to its small size, but still sounds pretty decent with stereo content. Due to its configuration, all 5.1 surround content will be downmixed to 2.0. It also lacks support for DTS, even via optical cable, which is disappointing.

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