The Bose Soundbar 500 is an okay soundbar when used by itself, without the separate sub and back satellites. It doesn’t get as loud as other soundbars but its sound profile is fairly well-balanced and neutral sounding. However, some may feel like this bar lacks sub-bass. On top of not being able to get very loud, it has trouble performing at max volume, and compresses a lot, especially in the bass range. On the upside, the L/R drivers of this 3.0 setup are on the side of the bar, which helps to widen the soundstage a bit, but nothing quite like the Bose Soundbar 700.
The Soundbar 500 is part of the most recent high-end models from Bose, but came out in 2018. It is slightly smaller and doesn’t pack as much power as the Bose 700 from the same year. When fully set up with a sub and back satellites, the Bose 500 main competitors are the Samsung HW-N950, the Sony HT-Z9F with satellites, the 5.1 Sonos Beam setup with a sub and satellites, and the Sonos Playbar as well.
The bar of the Bose Soundbar 500 is fairly simple. The top is made of solid plastic and has two touch-sensitive buttons on the left. The front and the sides are surrounded by a metal grill. The entire feel of the bar is very good.
The bar is not too wide and you should be able to place it between the legs of the stand of most 55" TVs. It is not very tall and you should have no issues with it blocking the view of your screen unless you have a TV whose screen sits flush on the table.
This bar has no satellites.
The back of the bar has a port on the left and an opening in the middle where all the inputs connect. To wall-mount it, you must peel off the big rubber feet on the underside to expose the mounting holes.
The overall build quality of the Bose Soundbar 500 is great. It is mostly made of good quality plastic except for the metal grill at the front face and the sides. The entire build feels robust but not too premium.
The Bose 500 has an okay stereo frequency response for a soundbar. Its low-frequency extension is fairly high, so the bar has trouble reproducing the deep thump and rumble from movies and bass-heavy music genres. The general sound profile is flat and well-balanced, but it lacks a bit of sub-bass. You can get a wireless subwoofer for this setup though.
Note: This soundbar was tested with the bar only, but we plan to test it with a full setup (sub and satellites) in the future.
When listening to the Bose Soundbar 500, the soundstage is decent. The left and right drivers of the Bose are actually on its side instead of on the front, which helps to get a wider soundstage than the size of the bar. However, this results in a slightly diffused soundstage and objects are harder to pinpoint.
The stereo dynamics performance of the Bose Soundbar 500 is just okay. The bar can get decently loud, but not as much as most other soundbars. Also, there are noticeable compression artifacts when pushing the bar to its max volume, which is disappointing, especially in the bass range.
The THD performance of the Bose 500 is good. At a normal listening volume, the amount of THD is within very good limits. Also, when pushing it to its maximum volume, there’s no big jump in THD, which is great for a clean and pure sound.
This is a 3.0 setup that has great performance in the center channel. Due to its configuration, the Bose 500 has a dedicated center speaker, which results in a clearer and more accurate audio reproduction of the dialog in movies. However, the bar doesn’t get very loud, which is disappointing.
The performance of the Bose 500 when sending surround content to the soundbar is quite poor. Everything is downmixed to a stereo signal and it uses the left and right speakers due to the 3.0 configuration, which won’t do an accurate and clear representation of surround objects. This means the result isn’t very immersive and the objects are perceived to come from the front instead of the sides or behind you. On the upside, the L/R drivers are situated on the side of the bar, which might make the surround experience a bit wider than a traditional bar with stereo speakers at the front.
The Bose Soundbar 500 doesn’t support Atmos.
The Bose Soundbar 500 has decent sound enhancement features. It has a room correction feature that you set up using the Bose ADAPTiQ headset and it will apply sound correction depending on your room. It also has a Dialog Enhancement feature, which will help make dialog in movies a bit clearer, even at a lower volume. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an EQ to help you customize the sound to your personal liking.
The Bose Soundbar 500 has a limited set of physical connections. It can't be put in between your game console and your TV due to the lack of a Full HDMI In. Also, older devices can’t connect to the bar using their analog audio out jack. On the upside, you can cast files to this bar using your wired home network.
Decent audio format support via ARC. This soundbar supports eARC but unfortunately, it can only playback surround sound encoded in the Dolby Digital Sound format, which is common on Netflix or Blu rays. Unfortunately, this bar can't offer you a more immersive experience due to the lack of support for object-based surround sound formats, like Dolby Atmos.
The Bose Soundbar 500 doesn't have an HDMI In and can't be placed between your TV and an external device like a console, or a Blu ray player.
You can enjoy Dolby Digital surround sound, downmixed to 3.0 when connected to the bar through Optical. Dolby Digital is common in streaming platforms and in Blu rays. The DTS format, which is not supported, is not widely available on its own, but rather as a fallback of the common DTS-HD MA found on many Blu ray discs.
The wireless playback options are excellent. Bluetooth is the simplest way to enjoy your music from your phone on the bar, and you can also connect to the Bose 500 through Wi-Fi and you can cast sound using Apple Airplay, but not Chromecast built-in.
The Bose Soundbar 500 can't accept video as input and there is nothing to passthrough.
The Bose Soundbar 500 has quite a unique interface. It communicates with the user using a set of lights that behave differently according to your actions. Although it is neat, it requires a lot of time to learn and understand what it is doing. Fortunately, it's all in the manual.
The Bose Soundbar 500 has only two buttons: A 'microphone off' and an 'action button'. The action button can be used to manually activate voice assistants if you don't want to use your voice to activate them. Its other use is silencing alarms or timers. The 'microphone off' completely disables voice assistants and you have to unmute the mic to re-activate them.
A rather small but stylish remote is included with the bar. It has a few preset buttons, can control playback, can control the volume and can activate Bluetooth pairing.
The Bose Soundbar 500 pairs with the Bose Music app which includes the TuneIn service and can play internet radio or podcasts. Although the app can do many things you still need the remote to change the inputs in certain cases.
The bar enters a standby mode after 20 minutes of inactivity. You can use your TV remote to control basic functions of the bar.
The Bose Soundbar 500 can easily be upgraded with a separate subwoofer and satellites, but we only tested the bar. By itself, the bar has an okay performance but lacks bass without the sub. On the upside, it still has a very neutral and accurate sound profile. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best budget soundbars if you're looking for something more affordable, and the best soundbars with a subwoofer.
The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the Bose Soundbar 500. The Beam can get a bit louder, and its stereo frequency response is more accurate. The soundstage of the Beam is also wider, which feels more immersive. The Beam also has a room correction feature for it to perform accurately regardless of your room. On the other hand, the Bose 500 supports eARC and is also Bluetooth compatible. The Sonos Beam only supports wireless streaming via Wi-Fi. The Beam is smaller and more compact, which is nice if you have limited space.
The Sonos Playbar is slightly better than the Bose Soundbar 500. It can get a bit louder than the Bose and its stereo soundstage is noticeably wider. It has more sound enhancement features, which is great. On the other hand, the Bose Soundbar 500 can play content wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while the Playbar doesn't support Bluetooth. Also, the Playbar doesn't have any HDMI ports.
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.
The Bose Soundbar 700 is better than the Bose Soundbar 500. It has a better overall audio quality and can get louder, on top of having less compression at max volume. It also supports more audio formats and is slightly better-built and sleeker-looking thanks to the glass panel on top of it.
Okay for mixed usage. Without its sub and satellites, the Bose 500 isn’t a great option for movies as it doesn’t support Atmos and lacks quite a bit of sub-bass. The sound profile is still fairly good as it is neutral and well-balanced. This bar is a decent option for voice-oriented content like audiobooks and podcasts and will be versatile for a wide variety of music, but won’t be ideal for bass-heavy genres. It also doesn't get as loud as other bars, but should still be loud enough for most uses.
Decent for dialog and TV shows. The Bose Soundbar 500 has a well-balanced stereo frequency response which will result in an accurate reproduction of voices, which is great for dialog, audiobooks, and podcasts. However, the bar doesn’t get very loud at max volume, but should be loud enough for casual listening. Also, it has a dialog enhancement feature to help make voices clearer and it's easy to stream content wirelessly to the bar.
Decent for music. The sound profile of the Bose Soundbar 500 is fairly flat and well-balanced, although some may feel like it lacks sub-bass without the optional subwoofer. On the upside, it has room correction so it sounds better in your room. On the downside, it doesn’t get very loud and there’s noticeable compression at max volume, especially in the bass range, meaning it might not be the best option for bass-heavy genres.
Mediocre for movies. It lacks a good thumpy bass for action movies and the bar doesn’t get as loud as other soundbars, which is disappointing. On the upside, it is good for hearing dialog in movies. On the downside, it doesn’t support Atmos for an immersive listening experience, but the fact the stereo speakers are on the side of the bar helps to make the soundstage sound a bit wider.