STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ spacious room imaging given the onebox design
+ deep, contoured and quite dynamic bass
+ built-in, excellent Alexa/Google voice control.
- Voices sound a bit unnatural and not very smooth
- rather diffuse staging
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency6.5
Sound: Bass / Dynamics7.5
Connectivity / Handling9
Price / Performance7.5
The Bose Home Speaker 500 is not only the largest Onebox model in the US manufacturer’s Multiroom range. It also has a really unique selling point with its front display. In addition, it is supposed to offer ideal voice control for Amazon Alexa users in particular with a special microphone array.
The 360-degree directivity pattern of the smaller Bose Home Speaker 300 model was deliberately omitted here. The Bose Home Speaker 500 has a built-in 2-channel concept with virtual stereo imaging and is supposed to offer spectacular, but not too diffuse room imaging from a single speaker. In return, it is also more than twice as heavy as its little brother, but like the latter, it is available in matte black or white.
Many options to get music
Bose runs its own app called Bose Music App, which is mandatory for setup, but can also control streaming. In practice, however, the all-in-one speaker will rather be fed with music directly from the more popular apps of the streaming services. With Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Amazon Music, the most popular ones are available here.
It is even easier to do it directly via Bluetooth, which is always handy as an option. For iOS device users, the same is true to AirPlay 2, which the Bose Home Speaker 500 is also capable of. Chromecast is not installed, although controlling the system with Google Assistant is possible.
An analogue input via jack plug is also available, so that incompatible sources can also be connected without any problems.
Voice control or buttons – made easy
An array of 8 microphones is supposed to ensure precise and reliable voice control even at higher noise levels, and systems from Amazon and Google are integrated. This is especially interesting for Amazon Alexa users. Most competitor´s concepts still require an additional Amazon device.
In contrast to the small Home Speaker 300, the visual feedback is outstanding. The Bose Home Speaker 500 has a nicely done color display on the front that shows the cover and title of the current track in normal mode.
The touch sensors are located on the upper edge above the display. The most important playlists, input sources or radio stations can be preset on six preset buttons. This makes it possible to start the Bose in the morning without touching a smart device. The assignment of presets is also done via the app.
A user account with Bose is mandatory for the setup via Bose app. Of course, you have to be logged in to Google or Amazon to use their outstanding voice control.
The connection to the home network is only possible with Wifi. There is no Ethernet available, which would always be an alternative in case of connection problems. However, setting up the Bose Home Speaker 500 is still easy if you have already set up the account, which is obligatory for use. If you want to integrate several Bose devices in a multi-room environment, you don’t have to enter the Wi-Fi password every time.
This is how the Bose Home Speaker 500 sounds
If you buy a Bose, expect to amaze every visitor with plenty of bass from a small box. The Bose Home Speaker 500 can fulfill this claim like no other active speaker from the U.S. company: Its low frequency response is powerful, dynamic and surprisingly rich for all music genres. Unlike other bass wonders of this size, it can even produce really rhythmic and groovy bass. After all, its bass is much faster and more contoured than elsewhere in this class. This is even true to astonishing SPLs, whereby at party levels the Home Speaker 500 rather imperceptibly fades out the deep bass and otherwise continues to play blithely.
The Bose also fulfills the promise of conjuring up a large room from a mini speaker that is only 20 centimeters wide: Although the focussing of voices remains rather vague, the overall room imaging is amazing without tending to tinny reproduction in less damped rooms.
On the other hand, the voice reproduction is not quite as detailed; female singers sometimes sounded a bit cheeky and even annoying in extreme cases. This was associated with a differentiated treble reproduction, which, however, did not allow a really beautiful sound to emerge in many more difficult recordings.
Conclusion and alternatives: Bose Home Speaker 500
For those who rely on Amazon Alexa, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is an expensive but superbly performing onebox solution. Likewise, handling it is really intuitive and the display is very nice in practice. If you can do without that, you’ll find more sound quality for the money elsewhere, such as with the Harman Citation 300 or the Denon Home 250.
Specifications: Bose Home Speaker 500
- Price: approx. 350 $
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 20.3 x 17 x 10.9 cm
- Weight: 2.2 kg
- Special features: Integrated microphone array for voice recognition, analogue input, color display, virtual stereo
- More at www.bose.com
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