“Wealthy, expansive sound helps this sensible speaker ship a virtuoso efficiency.”

  • Expansive stereo sound
  • Modern, engaging design
  • Alternative of Alexa or Google Assistant
  • Straightforward-to-use controls
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and line-in choices
  • AirPlay 2
  • Costly
  • Some music providers not supported
  • Barely awkward multiroom management
  • No Chromecast choice for Android

Within the early days of the sensible speaker revolution, discovering a speaker that was each sensible and had nice sound was a problem. Fortunately, these days are lengthy gone. With merchandise from Sonos, Marshall, Apple, and Amazon, now you can have your cake and eat it too. However earlier than you choose a brand new wi-fi sensible speaker from a type of corporations, you must contemplate the $300 Bose Residence Speaker 500.

With an intriguing mixture of smooth design, expansive sound, and a selection of digital assistants, it might be simply the sensible audio machine your house has been lacking.

However is it best for you? Let’s have a look.

Design

Bose Home Speaker 500Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Out there in your selection of triple black or a complicated two-tone of silver and white, the Bose Residence Speaker 500 is deceptively sized. With an elliptical form that’s a lot wider than it’s deep, its base is sufficiently small that it ought to simply discover a perch on a counter-top, bookshelf, or mantle. At simply 4.75 kilos It’s additionally surprisingly gentle for its dimension.

Nothing breaks up the speaker’s clean aluminum and plastic contours — even the included auxiliary enter is barely noticeable, hidden on the again close to the underside. My triple black assessment unit appeared nice irrespective of the place I positioned it.

There are those that are tempted to cover their audio system (even the great trying ones) the place they are often heard however not seen, however that will be a mistake with the Residence Speaker 500. Not solely would that make it laborious to make use of the thoughtfully designed contact controls that adorn its high floor, however it will additionally stop you from seeing its front-facing coloration display.

Not that you want to see it, or contact it (it’s not a contact display), but it surely simply seems to be so rattling cool that it will be a disgrace to not place it the place it may be appreciated.

However I can’t assist considering that Bose has missed a chance right here. While you’re listening to music, the 3-inch display shows the album artwork for the at present enjoying monitor, together with the artist and monitor identify. When the speaker is idle, you’ll be able to select a clock face or nothing in any respect, however that’s all it does. I can consider a number of methods to make use of that display: Climate forecasts, information feeds, and even only a selection of gently animating display savers.

On condition that the Residence Speaker 500 will also be used a sensible speaker, it will be tremendous cool to see the display used as a secondary show for voice instructions, e.g. for those who mentioned, “Alexa, what’s the climate like?” and the display confirmed you the present climate together with Alexa’s spoken response.

However I digress. Those that wish to hearken to the identical artists, playlists, or radio stations regularly will recognize the Residence Speaker 500’s six devoted preset buttons. You assign them throughout the Bose Music app, and they are often related to nearly any music supply that the app helps.

Setup

Sonos has at all times been my benchmark for quick and easy setups, however Bose is a detailed second. Utilizing the Bose Music app, I obtained the Residence Speaker 500 configured for my dwelling Wi-Fi, linked to my Google account for Google Assistant entry, and fortunately streaming tunes in beneath 5 minutes.

The Bose Music app is straightforward and for essentially the most half very intuitive to make use of, with nice directions and suggestions at each step.

Connections

Bose Home Speaker 500Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Some dwelling wi-fi audio system like Sonos solely do Wi-Fi, however the Bose Residence Speaker 500 offers you 3 ways to attach: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the line-in enter I discussed earlier. Excluding a USB port for accessing hard-drive-based information, you’ll be able to’t ask for extra.

Nevertheless, Bose has opted to not embody an ethernet jack, one thing you would possibly miss in case your Wi-Fi community is spotty in locations. Sonos consists of them on all however one among its audio system, however I think only a few of their clients use them — I actually have by no means wanted to.

Wi-Fi, with its greater bandwidth than Bluetooth, needs to be your connection methodology of selection, however that is the place issues get a bit tough.

Wi-Fi permits you to arrange and management the Residence Speaker 500 from the Bose Music app, and that features with the ability to stream music from Spotify Premium and Free, Apple Music, TuneIn, Pandora, SiriusXM, Amazon Music, Deezer, and iHeartRadio. It’s a wide selection, however not almost as complete as that supplied by Sonos. Tidal and YouTube Music, for example, aren’t among the many decisions. Neither is there any strategy to stream from a private music assortment on your house community.

When you’re an Apple machine proprietor, AirPlay 2 can go a protracted strategy to making up for this shortfall, letting you stream nearly any supply of audio out of your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, to the Residence Speaker 500. However for those who’re an Android consumer who finds the Music app missing, your solely fallback choice is Bluetooth.

Chromecast for audio may be a future Wi-Fi path for Android house owners, but it surely’s not supported but on the Residence Speaker 500. When it does present up, it is going to be as a subset of the Google Assistant, so those that choose Alexa — or no assistant in any respect — will nonetheless be caught with Bluetooth.

Sound high quality

Bose Home Speaker 500Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

Bose makes a reasonably large declare for the Residence Speaker 500: “The widest sound of any sensible speaker.” I put it side-by-side with the $200 Amazon Echo Studio, which has a really comparable inside driver format and each merchandise are designed to supply immersive sound. The Residence Speaker 500 carried out admirably, delivering a barely wider soundstage than the Echo Studio, regardless of having weaker bass response.

Simply how expansive the sound will get is partly affected by placement. In a great world, you’ll give it plenty of respiratory room, away from partitions and ideally not tucked right into a bookshelf.

Widest or not, I feel you’ll love the way in which this speaker sounds. Bose has positioned the interior drivers in such a manner that sound waves are dispersed in a type of lopsided 360-degree discipline. By that I imply the most effective seat in the home is sitting instantly in entrance of the speaker, however you’ll nonetheless be capable of get pleasure from about 80% of its full high quality from nearly wherever else.

It’s an impact I discovered to understand when reviewing Bose’s wonderful Moveable Residence Speaker, which produces an nearly completely round sound discipline.

What’s spectacular is that not solely do you get real room-filling audio, however you additionally get some fairly first rate stereo separation — not a straightforward feat for a speaker this small.

You possibly can tweak each bass and treble from throughout the app, however except your tastes run actually sturdy in a type of instructions, the manufacturing unit EQ delivers a satisfying stability of each.

If there’s a weak spot, it’s within the midrange definition — a difficult space for even the most effective small audio system. It’s most noticeable when enjoying genres like classical or jazz — devices that reside within the center frequencies like cellos, and a few woodwinds, can get a bit flattened. However general, the Residence Speaker 500 is a pleasure to hearken to, whether or not it’s offering the backdrop to an intimate dinner or a raucous get-together.

The Residence Speaker 500 can also be able to some downright spectacular quantity ranges. Max this factor out and be ready for loads of knocks on the door from irritated neighbors.

Multiroom audio

Bose Home Speaker 500Simon Cohen / Digital Developments

One of many advantages of shopping for a wi-fi speaker for the house is with the ability to play completely different music in every room, or the identical music in all rooms (or some mixture thereof). The Residence Speaker 500 can simply be grouped with different Bose Residence audio system, just like the Residence Speaker 300, or the Bose Soundbar 500, by way of the Bose Music app.

Nevertheless, utilizing multiroom requires a little bit of planning. As a result of you can too create speaker teams utilizing AirPlay 2, you want to resolve whether or not you propose to stream from a music service throughout the Bose Music app — through which case you’ll handle your speaker teams there — or, from one other app in your cellphone or pill — through which case you’ll handle the teams utilizing the AirPlay 2 interface.

The 2 techniques don’t play properly with one another; teams created within the Bose Music app don’t prefer it if you attempt to modify them utilizing AirPlay 2 or vice versa.

There’s additionally no strategy to create stereo pairs utilizing two Bose audio system. If multiroom audio is a high precedence, I feel you’ll be happier with Sonos.

Nevertheless, Bose does have one trick up its sleeve that I haven’t encountered on any wi-fi speaker system, together with Sonos. Bose calls it Simplesync, and it permits you to group any Bluetooth audio machine, from a conveyable speaker to a set of wi-fi headphones, with the Residence Speaker 500. Bose says this characteristic works finest with the corporate’s personal Bluetooth audio system and headphones, within the sense that audio shall be extra precisely synced.

It’s true. I attempted Simplesync with a JBL Flip 5 speaker I had available, and whereas setup was a snap, there was some split-second latency between the 2 audio system. I wouldn’t depend on it for doing multiroom audio, but it surely’s a reasonably helpful choice.

Voice assistants

Bose has adopted Sonos’ lead on its sensible speaker technique, and that’s a superb choice. Like Sonos, Bose permits you to select between Alexa and Google Assistant on the Residence Speaker 500 as an alternative of promoting two completely different variations of the speaker as different dwelling audio corporations have carried out.

I selected Google Assistant for this assessment as a result of I’ve extra suitable merchandise in my dwelling, but it surely’s simply as simple to arrange the Residence Speaker 500 with Alexa. Bose has actually nailed the sensible speaker expertise. Voice instructions are acknowledged effortlessly even in pretty loud environments, and from distances so far as 15 ft while not having to essentially increase your voice. If privateness is a priority, a devoted microphone-mute button ensures an A.I.-free setting.

Response occasions are additionally superb; I didn’t discover any distinction between the Residence Speaker 500 and my Google Nest mini by way of response occasions.

I particularly appreciated that the glowing white LED strip above the colour display offered prompt visible suggestions that my instructions had been heard. Most sensible audio system have an identical visible cue, but when they’re solely seen from the highest floor (like Sonos sensible audio system or Google’s Residence and Nest minis) you’ll be able to’t see them as simply from throughout a room.

There’s one caveat for those who’re selecting the Bose Residence Speaker 500 to be your sensible speaker, and that’s music service compatibility. Though Google Assistant and Alexa can take management of quite a lot of music providers, if the Residence Speaker 500 doesn’t help a selected service (see above, beneath Connections), you received’t be capable of use these voice assistants to regulate it. Google Play Music (now principally transitioned to YouTube Music), Apple Music, and Tidal are all examples of providers that may’t be voice-controlled by both assistant on the Residence Speaker 500.

Our take

At its new cheaper price of $300, the Bose Residence Speaker 500 prices the identical because the Apple HomePod and Google Residence Max, two superb sensible audio system. However with Bluetooth, line-in, a full-color show, and your selection of voice assistants, it delivers extra worth than each of those merchandise and sounds wonderful too.

Is there a greater different?

For $200, the Sonos One delivers very good sound and helps almost each streaming service on the planet. It doesn’t have the Residence Speaker 500’s ultra-wide stereo soundstage, Bluetooth, auxiliary enter, or fancy coloration display, but it surely has the most effective multiroom audio system we’ve ever used. It’s nonetheless our top-rated sensible speaker for a motive.

When you’re on board with Bose’s tackle the sensible speaker expertise however would favor to pay rather less, the $200 Bose Residence Speaker 300 loses the colour display and broad, stereo sound however retains each different characteristic.

How lengthy will it final?

Bose builds nice merchandise that usually final a very long time. It solely covers the Residence Speaker 500 with a one-year guarantee, although that is pretty commonplace for comparable merchandise from different corporations.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. The Bose Residence Speaker 500 combines attractive design with voice assistant flexibility and an expansive stereo sound that’s exceptional for its slender physique. The colour display is a pleasant contact too. Android customers ought to concentrate on the dearth of Chromecast as a Wi-Fi streaming choice, however Apple customers needs to be more than pleased with AirPlay 2 as a Bluetooth different.

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