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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Looks great anywhere
Excellent audio quality
Connects via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay 2
Integrated services like Spotify, Pandora, and Audible
Support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
No on/off button
Bose Music app needs work
The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a standalone wireless speaker with excellent audio quality, great design, and integrated music streaming services. It also supports both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free control.
Not all modern home speaker systems have both quality sound and good connectivity. The Bose Home Speaker 500 is on the pricier side, but it boasts excellent and wide stereo sound in a great-looking package. It's also very easy to use.
We’re going to take a look at the design, connectivity, Bose Music app, and sound quality to see what makes the Home Speaker 500 one of the best Bose speakers out there and worth the high price tag.
We love the look of this home stereo. Bose did a fantastic job getting all the details right. The aluminum body is well built, the color LCD screen is easy to see, and the touch interface on the top has a smooth feel to it.
The ovular shape and clean, modern design also make this speaker system stand out from others we’ve reviewed. Anywhere we put it, this Bose stereo looks great and fits right in with the decor.
The bottom of the case has rubber no-slip pads, making it feel sturdy on any surface and stay in place when pushing the built-in buttons. Even the power cable has a clean design—it plugs into the bottom at an angle, keeping it out of the way and easy to place out of sight.
The buttons aren’t really buttons but capacitive touch sensors, so you just touch the surface and the magic happens. The color LCD display, on the other hand, is not touch-sensitive. It simply displays album artwork for what’s playing and any system messages, like what device it is connected to. The colors are vibrant and clear, so the display can easily be seen from across the room.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 has an easy and simplistic design that is a joy to use. When we opened the box, we were surprised to see only two things: the power cable and the stereo system. We had the system set up and linked to a smartphone via Bluetooth in minutes. Bose has great instructions on how to use all the built-in features and how to connect to the Bose Music app.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 has an easy and simplistic design that is a joy to use.
Alexa and Google Assistant support allow you to use voice control of the speaker’s functionality and audio streaming through your favorite internet services.
These internet-connected services are easy to use with the help of the Bose Music app, but we ran into problems logging into Pandora and Amazon Music. Having read other reviews, we’re not the only ones who have had trouble setting up some of the streaming services. The Bose Music app seems to be the weakest aspect of this home stereo system.
The Bose Home Speaker 500 can play music from several streaming services over Wi-Fi and can be controlled either by Amazon Alexa or using the Bose Music app. You can also connect to the speaker by Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2, or use the standard 3.5mm auxiliary jack.
You can play music directly over your Wi-Fi connection from Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, SiriusXM, and Deezer. Additionally, Apple AirPlay 2 allows access to Apple Music services. The Wi-Fi was easy to set up, but we found the Bluetooth to be a more reliable connection—we suspect the Wi-Fi connectivity problem may be a firmware or software issue that will be addressed in the future.
The Bose Music app seems to be the weakest aspect of this home stereo system.
As with all the Bluetooth stereos and headsets we’ve tested in the past, the Bose Home Speaker 500 didn’t work well with a Chromebook. The Bluetooth would randomly disconnect every half hour or so, which is not great when you’re trying to binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. Fortunately, the connection was great and stable with Windows, iOS, and Android devices.
The Home Speaker 500 uses the new Bose Music app for setup, control, and music browsing, while older Bose SoundTouch products use the SoundTouch app. Unfortunately, the Home Speaker 500 isn’t compatible with Bose SoundTouch speakers, and we wished they had worked in some backward compatibility.
We tested three relatively new Bose speaker systems that all retail for around $300 and none of them are compatible with each other—if you are interested in linking multiple systems together, make sure you know which ones can be connected. The new Bose Smart Speaker family is still pretty small and includes the Bose Soundbar 500 and 700, Bose Bass Module 500 and 700, and Bose Surround Speakers.
The new Bose Music app is personalized so that you can set your favorite playlists or stations as presets and access them quickly. Multiple users can download the app on their separate devices so each member of the household can control their own content, making it easy to switch Spotify playlists when someone else wants to take over the music selection.
The Bose Music app may be a little difficult to navigate at first. It looks like you can name your devices if you have multiple speakers and control them all from within the app (this would be handy if you had a speaker in the kitchen, one in the office and another in the living room). Note that some users have complained there are problems with controlling each speaker separately, changing sound sources, connecting to streaming services, and connecting to their speakers over Wi-Fi.
Bose’s Home Speaker 500 has clear and well-defined sound with a very wide soundstage. It uses two custom drivers pointed in opposite directions, bouncing sound off the walls and filling any room with Bose’s signature tone and quality.
Regardless of what kind of audio you are listening to, this system covers all the bases.
The speaker system can get very loud with very little distortion. We tested the system with movies, TV shows and a lot of music across many different genres. The wide soundstage makes listening to classical, jazz, and live music particularly nice. The clean and articulate bass is great for electronic music and hip-hop but you won’t get that bass thump if you that’s what you’re looking for. For metal and heavier progressive music, we found the mid-range to be well-tuned to distorted guitars and aggressive vocals.
We’ve always found Bose speakers to have superior sound quality and the Bose Home Speaker 500 doesn’t disappoint. Regardless of what kind of audio you are listening to, this system covers all the bases.
No matter what way you look at it, the $399.95 (MSRP) cost for the Bose Home Speaker 500 stereo system is expensive. Bose does have a new pared-down version called the Home Speaker 300 without the LCD screen for $259.95 (MSRP). Because we’ve always found ourselves controlling the system through another device, we didn’t find the LCD screen worth the extra cost and think the 300 system is worth checking out if you want to save a little money.
If you want to add other Bose smart speakers to your speaker group, the investment goes up fast. The Bose Soundbar options are $549.95 and $799.95 (MSRP), the Bass Module options are $399.95 and $699.95 (MSRP), and if you want to add Bose Surround Speakers, you are looking at an additional $299.95 (MSRP). If you’ve used other Bose products in the past, you know that with the higher price you do get higher-quality sound and great design.
It’s a little hard to tell what the competition is for the Bose Home Speaker 500. It’s more expensive than the Sonos One and Google Home smart speakers combined. If you found them a little under MSRP you could buy two Sonos One smart speakers and link them together for the same cost or less.
The Apple HomePod smart speaker system is a close competitor, but the fact that it’s part of the Apple ecosystem makes it limiting to a lot of consumers. The design, build and sound quality are certainly on-par with the Home Speaker 500, though, and it typically sells for about $100 less than the Bose. Apple products always just seem to work as well, whereas the Home Speaker 500 is plagued by Wi-Fi connectivity issues. That’s a problem because connecting over Wi-Fi is one of Bose’s main selling points.
Great sound and design, but wait till it goes on sale.
Despite all we like about this speaker, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is too expensive with its current Wi-Fi connectivity issues. This would be a great buy if you can find it at a discount.