The Bose Solo 5 soundbar delivers an easy audio upgrade in a compact size. First released in 2016, this affordable single-speaker soundbar continues to sell well years later due to its simple setup, voice-focused sound, and handy universal remote.
As a basic, entry-level model, the Solo 5 improves TV speaker audio at an accessible price point. However, its diminutive dimensions limit the overall power and bass performance. The soundbar shines for vocal clarity but falls short for truly immersive home theater.
Experts praise the Bose Solo 5’s plug-and-play simplicity combined with better speech intelligibility over a TV’s built-in speakers. But many note that the size constraints hinder bass impact and surround effects for movies, music, and games. It makes a good starter soundbar yet larger, more advanced models provide a bigger audio upgrade.
- Compact size fits smaller TVs
- Boosts dialog clarity
- Easy to set up and use
- Universal remote included
- Affordable price point
- Lacks bass punch
- Mediocre surround effects
- Minimal sound adjustments
- Basic connectivity options
- Underwhelms for music/movies
The Bose Solo 5 targets consumers seeking a straightforward audio improvement for secondary TVs in bedrooms, kitchens, or other small spaces. While not a revolution in home theater sound, it conveniently boosts the built-in speakers in smaller flat screens at an entry-level cost.
Bose Solo 5: Design & Setup
The Bose Solo 5 soundbar features a compact, minimalist design intended to fit inconspicuously in front of smaller TV screens. Measuring just 2.6 inches tall and 21.6 inches wide, the lightweight bar is tailored for TVs 40 inches and under.
Despite the low price, the soundbar has a solid build quality with a black plastic casing wrapping the sides and top. The front face utilizes a metal grille to protect the drivers while allowing audio to pass through clearly. The grille also displays subtle indicator lights behind it.
Since the Bose Solo 5 is so slim and compact, it can sit on a TV stand or be wall mounted above or below the screen. However, wall-mounting brackets don’t come included in the box so you’ll need to purchase Bose’s dedicated bracket accessory for around $30 extra.
Streamlined, Discreet Aesthetic
The all-black color scheme and lack of any logos or branding on the front give the Solo 5 an understated look. It doesn’t draw attention away from your TV, whether placed on the stand or mounted on the wall. The soundbar integrates well into any living room or bedroom without dominating the space.
Good Build Quality Despite Budget Price
While made of plastic, the Bose Solo 5 doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. The materials seem durable enough for daily use and Bose includes metal speaker grilles rather than fabric. The minimalist style also limits seams, gaps, and detachable parts that could degrade over time.
Limited Input Options but Provides Needed Essentials
Connectivity is limited but offers the essentials like optical, coaxial, auxiliary, and Bluetooth. An optical or coaxial digital cable can handle surround sound from a TV source while Bluetooth enables wireless music streaming from your phone or tablet. The 3.5mm aux input also connects devices like a Chromecast or game console.
Handy Universal Remote for Convenience
The included universal remote controls power, volume, and mute on the soundbar while also being able to program TV, DVD/Blu-ray, satellite box, or other devices. This single remote simplifies your setup rather than juggling multiple remotes. The soundbar itself lacks any buttons, though.
Bose Solo 5: Sound Performance & Features
The Bose Solo 5 improves the hollow, tinny sound of flatscreen TV speakers by providing clearer vocals and a fuller audio presence. However, its compact single-speaker design struggles to deliver truly powerful bass or immersive surround effects.
The soundbar utilizes two 2.25-inch drivers positioned in the center of the bar’s length. These full-range drivers handle the entire frequency spectrum from low bass to high treble. There is no separate dedicated tweeter or standalone wireless subwoofer included.
Dialogue enhancement technology aims to make speech from news anchors, talk shows, and TV dramas more crisp and intelligible. A basic bass adjustment lets you boost low frequencies to suit your preference, but there is no full EQ to customize treble, mids, etc.
Improves on TV Audio but Not a Massive Upgrade
The Bose Solo 5 adds body and clarity compared to a TV’s weak built-in speakers. However, it lacks the booming bass, detailed treble, and expansive soundstage of larger surround-equipped soundbars. The compact driver size inhibits bass extension and dynamic range.
Shines for Vocal-Centric Content Like News, Talk Shows
With clear center channel projection and amplification of mid-range frequencies, the Bose Solo 5 makes voices easier to understand over background noise and effects. Its strengths shine through best with news, talk shows, and other dialogue-focused programming.
Underwhelming for Action Movies and Music
Lacking real low bass presence and surround sound immersion, the Solo 5 doesn’t excel at delivering hard-hitting action movie effects or spacious concert music reproduction. The limited dynamics and soundstage make gameplay audio less exciting as well.
Very Straightforward Features and Adjustments
Aside from boosting bass and enabling the dialogue mode, the Bose Solo 5 keeps things simple. There are no surround, music, night modes or EQ presets to customize the audio profile. It follows a straightforward plug-and-play approach.
Verdict & Alternatives
The Bose Solo 5 best serves casual TV watchers wanting an affordable audio upgrade for smaller secondary screens. Larger and more fully-featured soundbars provide bigger, bolder sound for home theater use.
Sonos Ray – The Sonos Ray delivers a more well-rounded sonic improvement for only $50 more. Two woofers allow for better bass extension while the center tweeter enhances dialogue. Extra features like speech enhancement, night mode, and EQ let you customize the sound more. It’s a smarter investment for primary TVs.
Roku Streambar – Also equipped with dialogue enhancement, the Roku Streambar adds 4K streaming support. The wider design creates better stereo separation and it has a dedicated bass port for improved lows. Voice commands via Roku’s assistant provide hands-free control too. At $130, it’s a premium streaming soundbar bargain.
Vizio V21-H8 – Vizio packs immersive Dolby Audio decoding and a wireless subwoofer into this affordable 36-inch soundbar. The rear-firing sub adds rumbling bass while Dolby surround processing heightens effects and music. It delivers much more encompassing audio than the Solo 5.
Sonos Beam (Gen 2) – As a smart compact soundbar, the Sonos Beam Gen 2 makes the Solo 5 seem outdated. With Dolby Atmos support, integrated voice assistants, Wi-Fi streaming, HDMI connectivity, speech enhancement, and wider stereo separation, it provides modern amenities and full-bodied sound.
Ideal Starter Soundbar for Secondary TVs
The plug-and-play simplicity, compact footprint, and affordable cost make the Bose Solo 5 a sensible starter soundbar for kitchens, bedrooms, and office setups. It neatly and conveniently improves audio from wall-mounted TVs or smaller screens.
Upgrade Pick for Improving Clear Dialogue
The Bose Solo 5 best excels at amplifying clear, intelligible voices and dialogue. Someone looking specifically for this center channel vocal enhancement will appreciate the Bose soundbar.
Larger, More Advanced Bars Offer Bigger Sound
While fine for casual TV and talk radio listening, the Solo 5 predictably falls short compared to full-sized surround-capable soundbars with dedicated subwoofers. It lacks the powerful, immersive audio expected from home theater models.
The Bose Solo 5 soundbar has remained a popular entry-level model for several years due to its careful balance of improving TV audio at an accessible price point. This compact, single-speaker bar delivers worthwhile upgrades over lackluster built-in TV speakers, especially in smaller spaces.
Upgrades Dialogue Clarity and Fullness for TVs
The Bose Solo 5 soundbar’s angled driver configuration and mid-range enhancing technologies help make voices and speeches significantly clearer and more intelligible. TV shows, news programs, documentaries, and other vocal-focused content sound fuller and easier to understand.
While it lacks the bass power of larger soundbars with separate subwoofers, the Solo 5 does add some extra low end fullness. This prevents TV audio from sounding overly thin and tinny. Between improved clarity and a warmer tone, the Bose bar provides a satisfactory sonic upgrade for daily TV listening.
Falls Short of Immersive Home Theater Sound
On the flip side, the physical limitations of the compact Bose Solo 5 become apparent when trying to use it as a home theater sound system replacement. Size constraints mean restricted bass extension and lackluster dynamics.
Without any surround sound processing, the narrow soundstage fails to create an enveloping, room-filling audio experience. You don’t get the deeply immersive playback expected from action movies, intense gameplay, or concert videos.
Larger and more advanced soundbars equipped with wireless subwoofers, dedicated tweeters, and Dolby/DTS decoding deliver the genuine cinematic audio that the Solo 5 cannot match.
Best Suited as a Secondary Soundbar
Given its sonic limitations, the Bose Solo 5 fits best as an audio upgrade for secondary TVs in bedrooms, dorms, kitchens, offices, and similar environments. It conveniently boosts the sound from wall-mounted displays, smaller screens, and TVs used more casually for background entertainment.
The streamlined setup, compact footprint, and affordable pricing also cater to the needs of a supplemental soundbar rather than a primary home theater system. First-time soundbar buyers may appreciate the Solo 5’s simplicity too.
Delivers Good Value for the Price
While superior audio performance can certainly be found in more robust soundbars, the Bose Solo 5 delivers satisfactory improvements considering its low cost. Factor in the handy universal remote and ease of installation, and it becomes an even more compelling value proposition.
In the end, the Bose Solo 5 strikes an ideal balance between boosting vocal clarity and adding low-end body without striving for truly cinematic sound. It conveniently enhances TV audio in a compact, inexpensive package.
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