Bose Solo 5 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Sep 30, 2019 at 09:00 am
Bose Solo 5 Picture
6.2
Mixed Usage
7.2
Dialogue/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 that 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 dialogue is the most important factor.

Our Verdict

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 dialogue-oriented content like podcasts, audiobooks, and TV shows.

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.
7.2 Dialogue/TV Shows

Decent for dialogue and TV shows. The Solo 5 has a good and neutral sounding sound profile, with accurate reproduction of vocals and dialogue-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 dialogue 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. It won’t be great for large rooms or crowded environments as at max volume, as 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's 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.

  • 6.2 Mixed Usage
  • 7.2 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.4 Music
  • 5.4 Movies

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

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

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Bose Solo 5 is an all-black soundbar that looks very ordinary. It's 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's very simple and doesn't feel premium. The subwoofer is embedded in the soundbar and the port is visible on the back.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

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

Design
Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this setup. For a stereo 2.1 system with a subwoofer, check out the Polk Audio SIGNA S2.

Design
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'll fit nicely in front of the stand of your TV. Also, it's not very tall, so it shouldn't obstruct your view of the screen, unless your TV screen sits flush on your table, like in the case of the Sony A9G.

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

There's no subwoofer with this soundbar setup; the subwoofer is included in the bar.

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

This setup doesn't have satellites.

Design
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.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

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

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Bose Solo 5 has a good build quality. It's made from solid plastic, aside from the metal grille 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.

Design
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

Sound
7.1
Sound
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 it has a hard time producing deep thump and rumbles, but it still gets more low-bass than the Vizio SB3220n-F6 and the LG SK1. 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.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
6.0
Sound
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's 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
Sound
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
Sound
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
Sound
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 dialogue too much. It lacks a bit of bass, but this shouldn't matter too much since there usually isn't 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
Sound
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 excess in bass and treble, but the bar isn't able to get very loud.

0
Sound
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
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue 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's plug-and-play, without any enhanced features to help you get a better overall performance. It mainly lacks Room Correction, meaning the soundbar sounds differently depending on your room. You can’t EQ it or even enhance the dialogue to make it clearer at low volumes. This soundbar is very barebones and doesn’t allow for much control or customization of its sound. If you're looking for a similarly small soundbar with slightly more sound enhancement features, check out the Vizio SB2020n-G6.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
No
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
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's 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's an Analog 3.5mm input where you can connect a mobile device or any other device that doesn't support Bluetooth. For a 2.0 system with more input options, check out the JBL Link Bar or the Roku Smart Soundbar.

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

There's no HDMI ARC support on this soundbar. If you're looking for a small soundbar with an ARC port to play Dolby Digital content, check out the Bose TV Speaker.

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

There's no HDMI Input on this soundbar.

6.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
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 isn't widely common on its own; it's the fallback for the higher quality DTS-HD MA found on many Blu-ray discs.

6.0
Connectivity
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. 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.

Connectivity
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't use this soundbar as a hub for your other devices.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

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

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

There are no satellites on this setup.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The interface of the soundbar is very simple. There are only two discrete LEDs behind the grille. 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's a change in settings. There are no controls on the soundbar.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

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

Additional Features
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 grille will flash to indicate the pressing of a button.

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

No app pairs with the Solo 5 soundbar.

Additional Features
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
BestBuy.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.

Bose TV Speaker
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose TV Speaker is a better 2.0 setup for dialogue and TV shows than the Bose Solo 5. The TV Speaker feels better built, its sound profile is more neutral, and it has a couple of sound enhancement features, which the Solo 5 lacks altogether. The TV Speaker also has an HDMI ARC port, and while it doesn't support eARC or Dolby Atmos, it can play other audio formats like Dolby Digital and DTS. However, while the Solo 5 doesn't get as loud as the TV Speaker, it can reach max volume with less thumping and compression artifacts.

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
BestBuy.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.

Polk Audio SIGNA S2
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Polk Audio SIGNA S2 is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. It has a better overall sound and its dedicated wireless subwoofer provides more bass. It can get noticeably louder and supports audio formats over ARC. However, the Bose feels more premium and is shorter, which makes it a better option if you're looking for a compact soundbar.

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.

Sony HT-X8500
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony HT-X8500 is a slightly better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. While both soundbars have similarly balanced stereo frequency responses and soundstages, the Sony supports Atmos, which is a little surprising for a 2.1 setup. It also has EQ presets, one HDMI ARC and one Full HDMI In port, and its Optical Audio In supports both DTS and Dolby Digital too. However, the Bose is much smaller, which is great if you don't have a lot of room, and it's slightly better built.

LG SK1
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Bose Solo 5 is a better overall soundbar than the LG SK1. The Bose has a decent sound profile that lacks bass, but it still gets more bass than the LG. As a result, it does a slightly better job reproducing the low thumps and rumbles in bass-heavy music and movies. Both bars don't support Atmos or DTS. However, the LG has slightly more customization options than the Bose, thanks to its two EQ presets.

Samsung HW-Q60R
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.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.

Vizio SB3220n-F6
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Vizio SB3220n-F6 is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5 if you can go for something a little bigger. While the Bose feels better-built and gets a bit more bass thanks to the integrated subwoofer, the Vizio's soundstage is significantly better. The Vizio also has a couple of sound enhancement features, unlike the Bose which is essentially a plug-and-play speaker. You'll prefer the Bose if simplicity is your main goal, but the Vizio provides a more well-rounded experience.

JBL Link Bar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The JBL Link is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. The Solo 5 is rather straightforward, doesn't have many features, and is more of a plug-and-play type of soundbar. The JBL Link is also an Android TV Box and a Google Home speaker. Its stereo soundstage is also wider, and it has more inputs like full HDMI In ports and an HDMI ARC. It also supports wireless playback via Wi-Fi, on top of Bluetooth.

Roku Smart Soundbar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Roku Smart Soundbar and the Bose Solo 5 are very similar 2.0 setups. Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Bose has a better build quality and a better-balanced sound profile for its center channel. On the other hand, the Roku can get louder, but it has more compression artifacts at max volume. The Roku comes with a companion app and more features, like built-in voice assistant capabilities, dialogue enhancement, auto volume mode, and several EQ presets, so it's a bit more flexible. Unlike the Bose, the Roku also has an HDMI ARC port.

Vizio SB2020n-G6
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Bose Solo 5 and Vizio SB2020n-G6 are both similarly small soundbars, but the Bose Solo 5 has a better overall performance. The Bose has a better balanced sound profile, and it supports Dolby Digital content by downmixing it via its optical connection. While it doesn't have a dedicated center channel, the Bose can also create a phantom center that still has a decent performance. However, even though the Vizio have limited sound enhancement features such as only two EQ presets, the Bose don't have any at all.  

TCL Alto 5
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Solo 5 and the TCL Alto 5 perform quite similarly, but the Bose has a bit more bass and is easier to fit in most setups due to its smaller size. On the other hand, the TCL has a few presets and a dialogue enhancement feature, which the Bose lacks entirely.

Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0
SEE PRICE
BestBuy.com

The Bose Solo 5 is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. It feels much better-built, has a more balanced, neutral sound profile, and supports Dolby Digital content over optical. However, the Insignia can get much louder, and compresses significantly less at max volume too. It also has a few sound enhancement features, like EQ presets and a bass boost mode, which the Bose lacks.

TaoTronics TT-SK023
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Solo 5 is a much better soundbar than the TaoTronics TT-SK023. It has a much more neutral, balanced sound with better bass for music. It also supports Dolby Digital content over optical, feels better-built, and has a power-saving mode. The TaoTronics, however, has a couple of EQ presets, which the Bose is lacking, as well as a display to show you which settings you're on.

Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose Solo 5 and the Vmai 2.1 Channel Sound Bar are both entry-level, budget soundbars, and you may prefer one over the other depending on your listening habits. Overall, the Bose is better for watching movies, as it has a center channel and it supports surround content. That being said, the Vmai is better for dialogue-heavy content like TV shows thanks to its dialogue enhancement feature. The Vmai also comes with EQ presets and bass and treble adjustments, unlike the Bose, and it has an HDMI ARC port, though it can only be used to play PCM content.

+ Show more

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider
EARLY ACCESS

Gain early access to all tests results for new products

Early Access UI
PRICES LISTED

Prices will now be listed directly in reviews and tables

product prices UI
MORE VOTES

Have 5 votes per product category to choose which product we’ll review next

Additional votes UI
UNLIMITED ACCESS

Gain unlimited access to detailed test results in tools and results (no blurred results)

test table UI

Create Post