In general, we have been blown away by the Bose products we've tested, but the Solo 5 was a rare exception. It is not bad by any means, just not the high caliber we've come to expect from the company. The Solo 5 is clearly meant to be Bose's budget soundbar option, and it does produce decent sound considering its relatively low price. However, the Yamaha YAS-108 outdoes the Solo 5 in almost every category, and costs $50 less. If you're looking for an inexpensive option we would definitely recommend the Yamaha YAS-108. However, if you already have a number of Bose products and just want an inexpensive soundbar that will integrate with them, the Solo 5 will still serve you well.
Bose Solo 5 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use
Cons: Comparatively mediocre sound
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bose Solo 5 is a decent soundbar, especially considering its relatively low price, but there are other models in the same price range (namely the Yamaha YAS-108) that outperform it.
The Bose Solo 5's overall score in our testing was just a bit below average. While we weren't overly impressed with it, we still feel it is a fairly decent soundbar.
In the sections that follow we discuss how the Solo 5 performed in all the different tests we conducted. In the end, we compile each model's performance in those tests to arrive at the overall scores you see in the chart above.
The Solo 5 produced decent sound in our testing, but just not the kind of sound we would generally expect from a Bose speaker. It ended up scoring a 5 out of 10, which was just a bit below the average. It was able to produce decently powerful bass considering its small size, but that bass often sounded muffled and indistinct, particularly in action movie scenes where explosions were going off and engines were roaring. Its dynamic range was broad enough for loud noises to sound surprising and hushed dialogue to carry the requisite intrigue, but most of the models we tested had noticeable broader dynamic ranges. Overall it had good clarity, but the slightly cheaper Yamaha YAS-108 sounded a bit more crisp, which overall made for a more enjoyable listening experience. The Solo 5 would definitely be a big upgrade from the built-in speakers on your TV, but models like the Yamaha YAS-108 and the Samsung HW-K450 provide better listening experiences in the same price range.
Ease of Use
We found the Bose Solo 5 to be one of the easier models to use. It earned an 8 out of 10 in our ease of use testing, just one point off the top scoring Yamaha YAS-108. A large part of this high score was the large, fully featured remote. This remote offered the most functionality of any of the remotes we came across in our testing. Most other models either provide an app to access more fine-tuned control or just trust that whatever device you're connecting to the soundbar will provide some adjustability.
Setup was also easy. We were watching movies with the Solo 5 within 5 minutes of opening the box. The only thing we didn't really like about it was the lack of any controls on the soundbar. This means if you lose the remote you're out of luck.
The Bose Solo 5 was one of the lowest scoring models in our sound customization testing, earning a 4 out of 10. It only offers two real adjustments. You can change the level of the bass, and you can turn on a dialogue mode. The dialogue mode essentially just turns the bass way down so you get a bit better sound quality in the register where most human voices fall.
Like most Bose products the Solo 5 has a nice sleek design. It earned an 8 out of 10 on our design and style scoresheet, putting it just behind the top score of 9. It has an all-black design with right angles and a metal/plastic covering that looks high quality. This simple, elegant design will surely blend into almost every living room.
The Bose Solo 5's low list price of $250 is quite attractive. However, the Yamaha YAS-108 lists for $50 less and provides better performance. This is a much better value for those looking for a budget option.
The Bose Solo 5 is a decent soundbar at a fairly low price. However, there are some better low budget options available (namely the Yamaha YAS-108), making this a poor choice for most users.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata