Bose Solo 5 Review
Everyone has been in that situation, audiophile or not, where you come home from the movies and switch your TV set on but your sound system, that’s if you’re not already relying on your TV’s in built speakers, sounds like a potato in comparison to the rich and full depths of a cinema audio experience.
Some movies are made for a surround sound system and you can really miss out the experience of that movie if the sound is just rattling around in your TV set rather than immersing you in the warping bass of a space vacuum or the thumping environment of a club chase scene.
If you want to upgrade your home theater experience without spending an arm and a leg, then a soundbar might be the choice for you. A soundbar encloses multiple speakers and subwoofers within a single, wide but short, cabinet.
The advantages of this piece of kit are directed straight at the home theater buff, the compact design of a soundbar allows it to be wall mounted or discreetly placed so it doesn’t sacrifice your living room’s ambience either.
The Bose Solo 5 soundbar is one of the most popular on the market and has some cool features, so we’ve reviewed the product so that you can focus on what movie you’re going for next time you Netflix and chill.
First, What Are The Specs?
Before we get any further, you might want to know if the Bose Solo 5 will even fit into your living room or home theater before you purchase it. Measuring in at 548 x 70 x 86mm and weighing only 6.35kg, the Bose Solo 5 is one of the lightest and most compact soundbars on the market.
This means that if you decide to mount it on the wall there’s no midnight anxiety that your soundbar will dramatically fall from the wall and smash your TV.
Soundbars are also usually designed with TV stands in mind, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it not fitting your TV stand, unless yours is particularly flamboyantly shaped.
I suppose this brings us to our first negative when it comes to the Bose Solo 5, unfortunately, you have to purchase the Bose WB-120 Bracket separately if you do want to mount the soundbar on the wall.
Double unfortunately, this will set you back another $10, and definitely some time to safely mount the bar on the wall, unless you’re handy with tools.
Importantly, if you do opt for wall mounting your speaker, it is important to recognise that you will lose some considerable bass.
As bass relies on the low frequency sound waves released by the subs, which vibrate, when the subwoofer is mid-air you lose a lot of this depth created by bass vibration.
Although, do not fear – Bose’s handy remote means that you can compensate for the bass you have lost by increasing the bass manually through your remote. There are not any manual controls on the actual Bose Solo 5 itself, hence the remote.
Other specifications include the input and outputs. The Bose Solo 5 offers the fundamental connections you will need such as auxiliary, optical, and coaxial inputs, as well as helpfully providing optical and coaxial cables.
With no HDMI connection, you should make sure if you want to connect another device that it can utilise a coaxial or optical output. The standard wireless Bluetooth connection is available for those who just want to play music, including an aux input for those who prefer that mode of connection.
If we are going to get techy, the wireless Bluetooth doesn’t support aptX codec which guarantees lossless audio quality. There is also no NFC button to quickly connect via Bluetooth. Although, the absent features align with the Bose Solo 5’s budget engineering
What Is The Remote Control Like?
As there are no manual controls on the Bose, you are provided with a slick and ergonomic remote to add to your ever growing collection which all seem to find their way down the side of the sofa.
Although, forget that, Bose’s remote control is universal. What does that mean? Well, it means you can get rid of that remote collection – The Bose remote control can actually be programmed so that it can interact with other devices through the database of manufacturer IR codes included.
While this might be a novelty to some and won’t be utilised, this is a really cool feature for the neat freaks among us who want to optimize the gadgets in their living room, and it’s also integral to understanding the remote’s design and layout.
Firstly, the ergonomic curved design of the remote makes it quite pleasant to hold and point at the TV, which adds extra comfort in your living room.
Moreover, there are six shortcut buttons on the top of the remote which can be programmed to control specific independent devices in your living room, anything from your TV to Blu-ray speakers – as long as it interacts with infrared, you can control it.
This interacts with another feature of the Bose Solo, that it auto-wakes when it detects sound, so it will turn on when your TV starts playing sound rather than having to monotonously turn each device on with a remote.
The remote has all the usual controls that you would expect from a remote control, plus ones that are useful when interacting with a separate device. The one defining feature is an equaliser preset called ‘dialogue mode’ which optimises the audio to make dialogue clearer.
This is great as this is a commonly reported issue with TV/Film audio mixing, at least from my gran, that dialogue is often quieter than the music or sound effects. If we want to be critical, we would like to see a few more equaliser presets for different viewing situations such as sport or cinema mode.
The Important Stuff: Audio Quality
First, let us talk about hardware. In the Bose Solo 5 there are two speakers (a left and right speaker) which are both located quite centrally, this means less stereo separation and a narrow soundstage.
For the non audiophile, this essentially means that the spread of the speaker is quite narrow, people who are wide of the speaker, i.e. not sat in front of it, could potentially experience less sound quality especially when it comes to high frequencies.
High frequencies are directional and can’t spread or go round corners, whereas low bass frequencies can spread and even go through walls.
The dialogue quality is actually pretty good, even without having the aforementioned Dialogue Mode on.
This mode is particularly good for the hard of hearing as it not only increases dialogue volume but equalises the bass to increase intelligibility so you can really focus on the dialogue, or if you’re watching a dialogue heavy film and want to focus then the Bose has you covered.
As I mentioned, while the DIalogue Mode is good, there could be further modes like this to enhance other desirable audio qualities.
If it’s volume you are looking for then this product has you covered too, having a frequency range of around 61Hz – 19Khz means the Bose will remain loud in a medium sized living room.
One potential downfall we noticed is that the Bose Solo 5 has some work to do on bass quality. There is no independent subwoofer, the woofers are built into the left and right speaker. However, we found the bass control generally always had to be on high to get the best quality.
Unfortunately, the Bose Solo 5 does not have a connection to add an external subwoofer if that is what you wanted to do, hence the ‘Solo’. Worth keeping in mind for those who love a good explosion in their action flick.
In terms of music, the Solo 5 performed well for its price range. Mids and treble were crisp, likely due to their focus on audio optimisation of dialogue. However, as mentioned, the bass needed turning up as the lower frequencies lack the presence they need otherwise.
- Single sound bar provides better sound quality compared to your TV.The Solo 5 TV sound system is an easy solution, with advanced technologies that deliver the clear audio your TV can’t.
- Dialogue mode to make every word and detail stand out
- Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly stream music from any of your devices
- One connection to your TV. Optical audio input (digital); Coaxial audio input (digital); 3.5 mm aux input (analog)
- Universal remote controls TV, bass, Bluetooth connections and more
What’s The Verdict?
The Bose Solo 5 is a great piece of kit, this is one of the better ‘budget’ soundbars. If you don’t want to break the bank, but want some impressive volume and audio engineered features, then the Bose Solo 5 will satisfy your needs.
The remote control’s universal compatibility is an interesting and useful feature to the domestic gadget man, but can be novelty to the audiophile who would wish for better sound features.
The negatives generally come where the bass is concerned, as bass is such a pivotal aspect of cinema audio we wish Bose paid more attention to speaker placement and engineering – but for their price Bose generally does a great job with this soundbar.
If you are looking for a simple soundbar that will increase volume and your general viewing experience, while still operating on a budget, then the Bose Solo 5 is a worthwhile option to consider.
Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API