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Bose Home Speaker 500 Review

The best sounding speaker we've tested, but asks a high price
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $400 List | $399 at Amazon
Pros:  Excellent Sound, Great volume, relatively compact, many connection options
Cons:  Expensive, multi-speaker management leaves a bit to be desired
Manufacturer:   Bose
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Nov 15, 2018
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 8
  • Sound Quality - 40% 9
  • User Friendliness - 20% 8
  • Volume - 20% 8
  • Connectivity - 20% 9

Our Verdict

If you're looking for a single speaker that can turn your living room into an orchestral oasis, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is one of the best options on the market. In our testing it produced the crispest clarity and some of the most powerful bass, resulting in an expressive soundscape that hangs drama and emotion on every note. Add in all the functionality that comes with built-in Alexa capabilities, a convenient Bluetooth connection, and enough volume to power any party you'd like to throw, and you have a speaker with almost no downsides (apart from a hefty price tag). If you're looking to build a multi-speaker system we think Sonos offers a better blueprint in general, but if you're looking for one speaker to rule them all, this is it.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Bose Home Speaker 500 is the most sonorous speaker we tested, and has plenty of user-friendly accouterments to boot. If you just want one speaker, we think this is the best option out there. If you want to build a multi-speaker system we still like the functionality offered by Sonos a bit better.


Performance Comparison


The Bose Home Speaker 500 took home the top spot on our scoreboard thanks to incredible sound quality and a user-friendly design.

Sound Quality


This is where the Bose Home Speaker 500 earned its throne with the top score in the group.


Best In Class Clarity and Seperation


The Bose Home Speaker 500 shattered our previous benchmark for top-notch clarity set by some of the high-end Sonos speakers we've listened to. We were blown away at the Home Speaker 500's ability to clearly define and separate every note in music ranging from EDM to rock to classical to acoustic. Even in complex melodies, every instrument was clearly identifiable, occupying the exact space on the score it was meant to. This made the listening experience akin to a live concert, where every sound and note can be clearly attributed to a specific instrument and musician. Though we still think the Sonos speakers provide great clarity, there were some melodies where Sonos speakers muddled a few complex phrases together, while the Home Speaker 500 kept them clear and separated. This incredible clarity also makes podcasts feel like someone is actually in the room talking next to you.

The best sounding home speaker we've tested.
The best sounding home speaker we've tested.

Deep, Resonant Bass


The Home Speaker 500 grounds that clarity with very powerful and punchy bass. Here again, the bass is a noticeable cut above that of the Sonos speakers, and even beats out the Amazon Echo Plus and its external subwoofer. However, it is not the most powerful bass in our selection. That honor goes to the Bose SoundTouch 20. While the SoundTouch 20 can't match the Home Speaker 500's clarity, you may prefer it if you tend to like music with a heavier low-end

Overal Sound Impressions


With clear, booming bass and incredible definition, the Home Theater 500 tends to bring out the best of whatever music you like to listen to. It is both the best sounding and most versatile speaker we've listened to.

User Friendliness


The Home Theater 500 offers pretty much all of the features one could want, and easy ways to control them.


Whether you want to play music over the Bluetooth connection, stream over WiFi using the Bose app, just tell the built-in Alexa to play a song, or physically hook up a device using the auxiliary input, we found the Home Speaker 500 incredibly easy to use. The built-in Alexa works just as you would expect it to on an Amazon built device and adds a lot of functionality to the experience (it's nice to be able to ask your speaker how cold it is outside and get a response). The small LCD screen even displays album artwork for a number of streaming services, adding a nice touch to the listening experience.

The LCD screen lets you know what is connected  and can even display album artowork for some inputs.
The LCD screen lets you know what is connected, and can even display album artowork for some inputs.

One area where Bose has upped its game is in the apps that accompany their speakers. compared to the older apps, Bose Music is much more intuitive, far less glitchy, and rarely crashes, if ever. It even rivals the Sonos app when it comes to managing multiple speaker systems. However, we would still suggest committing to the Sonos ecosystem if you're looking to use multiple speakers in your home. This is because Bose tends to make every new generation only compatible within that family. For example, SoundTouch speakers can only link to other SoundTouch speakers, and the Home Speaker 500 can only link to the newest offering from Bose (which, currently, are only soundbars). In contrast, every Sonos speaker can talk to every other Sonos speaker, so you're much less limited in terms of kitting out your house with more sound.

The new Bose Music app is much more user friendly than other Bose apps we have sued.
The new Bose Music app is much more user friendly than other Bose apps we have sued.

Volume


The Home Speaker 500's 360˚ design is meant to flood all corners of a room with immersive sound, and it succeeds. It was the loudest speaker in our testing, matched only by the guitar amp heritage of the Marshall Stanmore II. Even in large open spaces with a lot of people, the Home Theater 500 can keep the party going.


Connectivity


The Home Speaker 500 offers all the connectivity you could want, including Bluetooth, WiFi, a 3.5mm auxiliary in, and of course smart commands provided by Alexa. This is one area where we again prefer Bose over Sonos, as Bose offers the Bluetooth connectivity that Sonos lacks.


Value


At $400 the Bose Home Theater 500 is one of the most expensive speakers we tested. You can certainly get great sounding music for less from the likes of the Sonos PLAY:1 or the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 4. However, if you want a single speaker that can completely knock your socks off when it comes to sound quality and volume, this speaker is well worth the price.

The on-speaker controls of the Home Speaker 500.
The on-speaker controls of the Home Speaker 500.

Conclusion


The Bose Home Speaker 500 is the best home wireless and smart speaker on the market for those that want a single-speaker system. If you want to use multiple speakers at once, you may want to look at Sonos instead.


Max Mutter and Steven Tata