STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ good speech intelligibility
+ easy installation and operation
+ convenient system remote control included in the song scope
- Little bass foundation and dynamics
Sound: Tonal balance / Transparency6.9
Sound: Bass / Dynamics6.8
Sound: Spatial Imaging7.8
Ease of use / Connectivity8.2
The Bose Solo 5 TV sound system is almost a classic in the short-lived world of consumer electronics. On Amazon, the ultra-compact soundbar I reviewed a few years ago is still on the bestseller list after many years. It’s aimed more at the basic needs of those who don’t aspire to a home theater, people who simply get annoyed by the thin sound of their flat TV. This is exactly a Bose specialty, to recognize the basic demands of a broad user base similar to Apple and to offer customized solutions. Technical data and measured values, on the other hand, take a back seat for the Americans from near Boston who are used to success.
The mini-bar is only 54.8 centimeters wide, 7 cm high and 8.6 cm deep. This allows it to be placed inconspicuously on the board in front of a flat-screen TV. If you prefer to hang your flat screen on the wall, you can also get a wall mount for the Bose Solo 5. Check the wall mount* An important accessory is included in the scope of delivery: The adaptive system remote control is based on Bose’s in-depth analysis of user habits. Accordingly, the operating concept is intuitively comprehensible even for most laymen. You can also use it to control your Blu-ray player and TV thanks to its learning ability, and you don’t have to fight your way through a bunch of remote controls.
Often, the electronics also takes the decision from the user. Thus, the Bose Solo 5 automatically selects the decoding method that best suits the respective audio track. However, the user can adjust the bass level to his liking with a dedicated button.
Simplicity as part of the concept
As far as feeding sound is concerned, Bose stays true to its spartan concept. Besides a Bluetooth interface for streaming smart devices and the analog AUX input with 3.5 mm jack, there is only one optical and one coaxial S/PDIF digital input for feeding the TV sound. The Americans do without HDMI connections and the USB input is not used for playing music from a memory stick, but for installing software updates. The soundbar is well-made, but very simplistically designed. But it is also suitably favorable by Bose standards. Just think of the legendary Lifestyle systems, which cost as much as an entire Japanese HiFi tower with floorstanding speakers with a small band bass subwoofer and five “almost invisible” 1-way mini speakers.
1-way technology, i.e. wideband systems that cover the entire audio frequency range on their own, are also the driving force in the Solo 5 TV Sound System. Bose has accumulated a great deal of experience in this field over the decades, ever since Professor Amar G. Bose made hi-fi history with the Bose 901 in the early 1960s. Eight small full-range drivers are also at work in this American loudspeaker icon, which has been built forever. In the Bose Solo 5, there are only two of them with a diameter of 5 centimeters, which are supposed to create a virtual surround sound through a special arrangement angled away from each other in combination with corresponding algorithms.
There was no room for an integrated subwoofer, such as in the much larger Canton Sound L sound deck, in the mini soundbar. There is not even the option to connect an external bass module. It’s easy to see from this that Heinkino fans who want to really let Arnold Schwarzenegger and/or Sylvester Stallone have a blast will probably be rather disappointed by the soundbar despite the bass reflex system. The concept focuses mainly on voices, and there is even a dialog mode for talk shows and news broadcasts that can be activated on the remote, which emphasizes speech even more.
Voices tune, basses could go better
However, this function was not really necessary in the listening test – rather the bass boost. But you shouldn’t expect any miracles from it. Those who prefer CNN, sports shows or dialogue-heavy author movies and neither have action ambitions nor want to fill their living room with flashy and expensive technology will find a simple but practical solution in the Bose Solo 5. A solution with which you can also play music or better audio books wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Because full-range loudspeakers do not require a crossover, there are no side effects of these components, which are unavoidable in multi-way systems. This gives them a certain inner coherence, especially on the time level of the audio signal. However, 5 cm cones are not exactly predestined to reproduce high frequencies correctly and also independent of direction. Obviously, Bose tried to counteract the treble drop of their concept somewhat in the Solo 5’s tuning by emphasizing the upper mids. This brightens voices a bit, but does not change the soundbar’s good speech intelligibility despite this small discoloration.
If you expect really rich bass reproduction and lively high-frequency impulses from a soundbar, you might be a bit disappointed by the Solo 5. The small Bose also does not conjure up room sound effects like with a virtual surround sound system. All that succeeds with the angulation of the two drivers is a subjectively wider soundstage. The Solo 5 sounds a bit bigger and wider than it is. If you have noise-sensitive neighbors and/or light-hearing walls, you’ll get a problem solution against tinny, thin TV sound with it – no more and no less.
Test conclusion and alternatives to the Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System
In its niche for users without special ambitions in the direction of surround, action or HiFi, the Bose Solo 5 is still relatively without alternative even after years. Compared to the full list price of 280 Euros/Dollars, even Bose now grants a discount in its own store. And if you want to save even more on your wallet and the environment, you can get a refurbished device from Bose for less than 200 Euros/Dollars. If you want to let it rip in your home theater, you have to dig deeper into your pocket and buy a soundbar with a subwoofer or a sound deck like the Canton Sound L with a larger enclosure volume.
Specs Bose Solo 5
- Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: 280 Euro
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 54.8 x 7 x 6.8 cm
- Weight: 1.69 kg
- Features: adaptive system remote control, Bluetooth
- More at www.bose.com
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