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Bose Solo 5 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 12:01 pm
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 small, compact soundbar that doesn't take up a lot of space in your existing setup. Its sound profile is pretty balanced and neutral, especially in the mid-range, so voices and lead instruments are reproduced clearly. However, its integrated subwoofer struggles to reproduce low bass, and this small soundbar doesn't get very loud. That said, it's Bluetooth-compatible, so you can easily stream audio from your phone or tablet to the bar wirelessly.

Our Verdict

6.2 Mixed Usage

The Bose Solo 5 is mediocre for mixed usage. Its balanced mid-range can reproduce dialogue-heavy content like podcasts and TV shows clearly. However, its integrated subwoofer struggles to create a low bass, which can be disappointing for some music fans. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it downmixes surround sound into stereo.

Pros
  • Good build quality.
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Dolby Atmos.
  • Lacking low-bass.
7.2 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Bose Solo 5 is decent for dialogue-heavy content like TV shows. Though it has a phantom center channel, it can still reproduce voices clearly thanks to its balanced mid-range. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, so you can easily stream podcasts to the bar from your phone wirelessly. Unfortunately, it doesn't get very loud, and it doesn't have a dialogue enhancement feature.

Pros
  • Good build quality.
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
Cons
  • Not very loud.
  • No dialogue enhancement feature.
6.4 Music

The Bose Solo 5 is passable for music. Its sound profile is decently well-balanced, especially in the mid-range where vocals and lead instruments are reproduced. However, its integrated subwoofer doesn't create a very extended low-bass, which may be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy music genres. Unfortunately, there aren't any sound customization features available.

Pros
  • Good build quality.
Cons
  • Lacking low-bass.
5.4 Movies

The Bose Solo 5 is poor for movies. It doesn't support Dolby Atmos content, and it has to downmix surround sound into stereo, which doesn't sound as immersive. Its sound profile is lacking a bit of low-bass, so action-packed scenes lack deep thumps and rumbles. Also, it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Good build quality.
Cons
  • Not very loud.
  • Doesn't support Dolby Atmos.
  • Lacking low-bass.
  • 6.2 Mixed Usage
  • 7.2 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.4 Music
  • 5.4 Movies
  1. Update 11/20/2020: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.

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 dedicated sub or satellites like the higher-tier Bose Soundbar 500. Instead, it has a sub integrated into the bar. It can also be wall-mounted unlike the Bose Solo 15. The Solo 5's main competitors are the Vizio SB3821-C6, the Bose TV Speaker, and the Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Bose Solo 5 is a very simple, all-black soundbar. It's mostly made of plastic, and there's a metal grille that covers the front and the sides of the bar. The subwoofer is also embedded in the bar, 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. For a stereo 2.1 system with an external subwoofer, check out the Polk Audio SIGNA S2.

Design
Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this setup.

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 should easily fit between the legs of a 55" TV stand. 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.

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

This setup doesn't have an external subwoofer.

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

This setup doesn't have any 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 grille helps protect the drivers, which is nice. 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
  • 2x 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 reproduces 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 are reproduced accurately. It has a fairly neutral sound profile, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have any features that let you modify the sound profile to your liking.

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

The Bose Solo 5 has a mediocre stereo soundstage. The bar is very small and although the drivers are angled outwards, 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 has decent stereo dynamics. It doesn't get very loud, likely due to its small size, so it may not be ideal to use in a large room or at a crowded party. There's a bit of compression when you play it at max volume, too.

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

This soundbar has a satisfactory stereo THD performance. At normal listening volumes, there isn't a lot of distortion, resulting in clean and pure audio reproduction. There's a bit more distortion when you play it at max volume, but this may not be noticeable with real-life content. However, the bass port does produce some audible 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 has a decent center performance. This 2.0 setup has a phantom center, so it uses its left and right speakers to simulate a center channel. However, this doesn't sound quite as immersive as a dedicated center channel. That said, its mid-range is very balanced, so vocal-centric content is clearly and accurately reproduced.

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 Bose 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 create an accurate and clear representation of surround objects. This means the result won't be very immersive and the objects are perceived as coming from the front of you instead of coming from 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 plug-and-play speaker, without any enhanced features to help you get better overall performance. It mainly lacks room correction, meaning it sounds differently depending on your room. You can’t EQ it or even enhance the dialogue to make it clearer at low volumes. It's 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 it downmixes it to 2.0. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround content is very common in most streaming platforms and Blu-rays. It also doesn't support DTS, but this format isn't widely common on its own. Instead, 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, but only through Bluetooth. You can easily connect your smartphone or tablet to stream audio to the bar wirelessly, but you can’t connect to the network or cast to the soundbar from Chromecast built-in or Apple 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 a status light that shows that the soundbar is working, and the other one is for 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 that you've registered a command.

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

The Bose Solo 5 doesn't have a companion app.

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

This soundbar automatically powers off after 60 minutes of inactivity. However, it doesn't have HDMI CEC support, so you can't control its basic functions using your TV remote.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System only comes in one color variant: 'Black'. If you come across another variant of this soundbar, let us know in the discussions.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Bose Solo 5 is one of the smallest soundbars we've tested. It has a decently neutral sound profile, so it's suitable for lots of audio content. It won't get as loud as other soundbars and lacks bass as it doesn't have an external subwoofer. See our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best small soundbars, and the best soundbars under $200.

Sonos Beam

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

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.

Bose Soundbar 500

The Bose Soundbar 500 is slightly better than the Bose Solo 5. The Soundbar 500 is a 3.0 setup with a dedicated center channel, which makes dialogue 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, although it has to reencode eARC formats into Dolby Digital.

Sony HT-S200F

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.

Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080

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

Polk Audio SIGNA S2

The Polk Audio SIGNA S2 is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. The Polk 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

The Sonos Playbar is a better option than the Bose Solo 5. The Sonos 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 Sonos also has a room correction feature to optimize its audio reproduction. The soundstage of the Sonos is also wider. On the other hand, the Bose supports Bluetooth, while the Sonos soundbar is only Wi-Fi compatible.

Sony HT-X8500

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

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.

Vizio SB3220n-F6

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.

Samsung HW-Q60R

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

JBL Link Bar

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

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.

TCL Alto 5

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.

Vizio SB2020n-G6

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 has limited sound enhancement features such as only two EQ presets, the Bose doesn't have any at all.  

Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0

The Bose Solo 5 is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Insignia NS-HSB318 2.0. The Bose 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 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

The Bose Solo 5 is a much better soundbar than the TaoTronics TT-SK023. The Bose 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

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.

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