Bose TV Speaker Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Sep 08, 2020 at 08:03 am
Bose TV Speaker Picture
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.9
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.8
Music
6.0
Movies
Channels
2.0

The Bose TV Speaker is a compact 2.0 setup. Although it's quite small, it's designed to be used with a TV thanks to its Optical and HDMI ARC ports. Even though it's lacking low bass, its sound profile is more geared towards TV content as it delivers smooth and balanced mids, which results in fairly clear and present vocals. It has a bit of a bright sound that some users may prefer, especially for listening to jazz. However, it's pretty slim on features. There's a dialogue enhancement feature to further improve vocal clarity as well as bass adjustment, but that's about it. You can also upgrade the setup down the line with a Bose Bass Module 500 or 700. That being said, it's well-equipped for playing your favorite TV shows and you can even stream audiobooks or music from your phone to it using Bluetooth.

Our Verdict

6.8 Mixed Usage

The Bose TV Speaker is alright for mixed-use. It doesn't support Atmos so it isn't ideal if you watch a lot of movies. It also lacks low-bass, so it struggles to produce a thumpy sound that could help immerse you in explosion-packed action films or beat-heavy EDM music. However, it shines when it comes to dialogue-centric content as it can reproduce clear and accurate vocals. Even though it has only a few sound enhancement features, it comes with a dialogue enhancement feature to further improve vocal clarity. You can also stream music or audiobooks to the bar using Bluetooth.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement feature available.
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
  • Bass adjustment feature available.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos.
  • No EQ or room correction feature.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
7.9 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Bose TV Speaker is very good for dialogue and TV shows. Even though it has a phantom center channel, it has a decently balanced sound profile, which can produce fairly clear and accurate vocals. If you need further vocal clarity, there's also a dialogue enhancement feature available. On the downside, the bar doesn't get that loud and there are compression artifacts and thumping at max volume. There's also no night or auto-volume mode. On the upside, if you want to listen to podcasts, you can stream them directly to the bar via Bluetooth.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement feature available.
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
6.8 Music

The Bose TV Speaker is fair for music. While it lacks low-bass, it has a warm sound profile with balanced mids and a slightly bright treble range. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with an EQ but there's a bass adjustment feature that can help you find a slightly different sound if you prefer. The bar doesn't get that loud, and there's thumping and compression artifacts at max volume, which isn't great if you want to use it in a large or crowded room. On the upside, you can stream your favorite tunes to it using Bluetooth.

Pros
  • Bluetooth-compatible.
  • Bass adjustment feature available.
Cons
  • No EQ or room correction feature.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
6.0 Movies

The Bose TV Speaker is disappointing for movies. Its sound profile lacks low bass, so you may find the explosions in your favorite action films to be less immersive, and there's no way to EQ it. It doesn't get very loud either, and there's thumping and compression artifacts at max volume. It also doesn't support Atmos and it has a poor surround performance. On the upside, it has an HDMI ARC port and although it also doesn't support eARC, it can play audio formats such as DTS and Dolby Digital Plus.

Pros
  • Bass adjustment feature available.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos.
  • No EQ or room correction feature.
  • Doesn't get very loud and compression artifacts at max volume.
  • 6.8 Mixed Usage
  • 7.9 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.8 Music
  • 6.0 Movies
  1. Update 9/21/2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Bose TV Speaker is a 2.0 soundbar from Bose's 2020 lineup. This manufacturer specializes in soundbars that are simple to set up and can be expanded down the line. However, this uniquely small bar is designed specifically to work with a TV as its main sound enhancement feature is dialogue enhancement. The Bose TV Speaker competes with the Bose Solo 5, the Sony HT-S100F, and the Sony HT-S200F.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Bose TV Speaker is a very small soundbar. It looks very sleek as it has a smooth plastic top while its front and sides have a metal grille with fine holes to protect its speakers.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

There are no subwoofers in this setup. However, you can purchase the Bose Bass Module 500 or Bose Module 700 to add a subwoofer to the mix. Note that these speakers can't be used wirelessly with this bar. You need to purchase a connection cable, which is sold separately.

Design
Style - Satellites

This soundbar doesn't have any satellites.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 23.5" (59.6 cm)
Bar Height 2.2" (5.7 cm)
Bar Depth 4.1" (10.4 cm)

This soundbar is remarkably small. You shouldn't have any problems fitting it between the legs of a 55" TV. It's also not tall enough to obscure your TV unless the screen sits flush to the table.

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

There's no subwoofer in this setup.

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

There are no satellites in this setup.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Universal (holes on underside)

The back of the soundbar has one opening for the power cable and the inputs. As there are also universal holes on its underside, you can easily wall-mount this soundbar.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

There's no subwoofer in the Bose TV Speaker's setup.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

There are no satellites in this setup.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The Bose TV Speaker has a great build quality. Even though it's partially made of plastic, it feels sturdy and solid. Its metal grille is sleek, giving it a slightly more premium look and feel. The universal mounting holes are even covered with removable rubber screws, which is a nice touch.

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

  • Manual
  • Optical cable
  • Remote with battery
  • Power cable

Sound
7.3
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
-0.12
ST Std. Err.
2.71 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
57.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The Bose TV Speaker has a decent stereo frequency response. Although it's almost completely lacking low-bass, it's still able to produce a decent amount of bass. The mid-range is also well-balanced while the treble range is a bit bright. While it doesn't have an EQ, you can adjust its bass if you prefer a slightly different sound.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
6.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.99 dB

The stereo soundstage of this soundbar is alright and it sounds wider than the bar itself. However, the soundstage doesn't sound that focused, which makes objects sound like they're coming from more general or diffused areas rather than accurate, pinpoint locations.

6.5
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
89.2 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
3.17 dB

Update 09/21/2020: We've discovered a value input bug that would cause the Dynamics box results to be slightly off. All soundbars reviewed since January 30th, 2020 have been updated.

The Bose TV Speaker has alright stereo dynamics. It doesn't get very loud and at max volume, there are a lot of thumping and compression artifacts present, especially in the bass range.

7.7
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.51
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.11

The Bose TV Speaker's THD performance is good and it falls within reasonable levels at moderate volume. There's a slight jump when you crank this bar to its max volume, but it may not be too noticeable to all listeners.

7.2
Sound
Center
C Localization
Phantom
C Slope
0.11
C Std. Err.
2.34 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
88.1 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.50
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.08

The Bose TV Speaker is a 2.0 setup and it doesn't have a dedicated center speaker. Instead, it uses its left and right speakers to create a sound in the center, which sounds more diffused and less clear than a discrete center channel. That said, its center performance is quite decent, resulting in clear and accurate voices. Some may find that it doesn't get too loud, though.

3.5
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
N/A
Sr Slope
-1.18
Sr Std. Err.
4.74 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
84.7 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
0.55
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.11

The Bose TV Speaker has a poor surround performance. As it's a 2.0 setup, it has to downmix surround content into stereo to play it, which doesn't result in the most accurate or clear representation of objects in the surround image. The result is a less-than-immersive bass-heavy sound. The bar also struggles to get loud, which is a little disappointing.

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 support Atmos.

2.9
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
No
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
N/A
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
No
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
N/A
Virtual Surround
No

The Bose TV Speaker has poor sound enhancement features. It lacks an EQ but at least there's a bass adjustment feature if you like a slightly more or less warm sound. There's also a dialogue enhancement feature available when using its remote. However, that's about it.

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

The Bose TV Speaker has a couple of physical inputs. It has an HDMI ARC so you can hook it up to your TV, as well as an AUX input so that you can connect it to older devices that may not have other connectivity options. There's a USB port, but you can only use it to service the bar with updates. On the downside, you won't be able to use it as a hub between your TV and other devices like a Blu-ray player.

7.6
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

The Bose TV Speaker supports some surround sound formats via its ARC port. However, it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it. It doesn't support eARC or Dolby Atmos though.

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

This soundbar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port.

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

This soundbar only supports Dolby Digital via Optical, which is commonly found on Blu-ray discs as well as streaming platforms.

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

The Bose TV speaker has passable wireless playback options. It only supports Bluetooth, but at least you can play your favorite music from your smartphone wirelessly.

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

This bar doesn't support HDMI so it won't be able to do video passthrough.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

The Bose TV speaker doesn't come with a subwoofer.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

This bar doesn't have satellites.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The Bose TV Speaker's interface is extremely simple. There's a light that turns on when you're connected to your TV via HDMI ARC or Optical as well as a light to show when you're connected via Bluetooth. The light blinks when you adjust the volume or when you're on mute. The light also turns green when you have the dialogue enhancement feature on.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

This bar doesn't have any physical controls.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The remote is very straightforward. As the bar itself doesn't have any controls and there's no companion app, you can control all of the bar's features from here. Note that the bass button can adjust the bass up or down two levels from its default setting.

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 TV Speaker doesn't have a companion app.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
Auto-off
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

This soundbar shuts off after about twenty minutes of inactivity when connected via Bluetooth. However, if you have it hooked up to your TV, the bar shuts down after 2.5 hours of inactivity. You can also use your TV remote to control aspects of the bar such as volume and power it on/off.

Compared to other soundbars

The Bose TV Speaker is a very compact 2.0 soundbar designed for TVs and TV-centric content. While it's pretty bare-bones in features, it delivers decent bass with smooth and neutral mids right out-of-the-box, which is better suited for dialogue-centric content. It's also fairly easy to set up since it only has a couple of inputs, so you can get right into watching your favorite game shows or soap operas without too much delay. You can even expand this setup down the line with one of Bose's Bass Modules, which is nice. However, this soundbar doesn't get very loud, so it may not be ideal for large or crowded rooms. If you're looking for more soundbars, check out our recommendations for the best small soundbars, the best soundbars for dialogue, and the best soundbars under $300.

Sonos Beam

The Bose TV Speaker and the Sonos Beam are two differently performing soundbars. The Sonos is a 3.0 setup with a better surround performance. It comes with more sound enhancement features, it can also get loud enough for a large room, and you can stream music wirelessly to it using Wi-Fi or Apple AirPlay. It also has a companion app that can control all the bar's features. However, the Bose is a 2.0 setup that supports more audio formats via its dedicated HDMI ARC port, and you can use Bluetooth to play audio from your phone. The Bose also has an auto-off power-saving feature.

Bose Solo 5

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 TV Speaker and the Bose Soundbar 500 are two well-built soundbars with different setups. The Bose TV Speaker is a 2.0 setup that's smaller and more compact, which some users may prefer. It has a better-balanced sound profile with a decent amount of bass, and it supports Dolby Digital Plus and DTS audio formats via its HDMI ARC port. The 500, on the other hand, is a 3.0 setup with a better performing discrete center channel. It also has a better surround performance, EQ presets, and an ethernet port if you want to listen to audio from a flash drive. It even supports eARC, it has a companion app, and you can stream audio to it via Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay in addition to Bluetooth.

Sony HT-X8500

The Sony HT-X8500 is a 2.1 setup that's better for movies than the 2.0 setup Bose TV Speaker. Even though it doesn't get much louder than the Bose, the Sony has significantly better stereo dynamics. Its surround performance is better and it supports Atmos, which is great if you watch a lot of movies. The Sony also has EQ presets, its HDMI ARC and HDMI IN ports support all common audio formats, and it supports DTS via Optical. It even supports eARC. However, the Bose feels better built, its sound profile is better balanced and neutral, and it's more compact in size overall, which some users may prefer.

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