Bose has been making fantastic audio products for decades although a handful of consumers find a lot of their products pricey. You do get what you pay for but the competition continues to heat up as companies come up with compact speaker systems that still pack a punch but are on the light side when it comes to price. Single sound systems are becoming a popular option for people that are not contented with audio quality of their TVs and wish to upgrade without going through a complicated setup process. These sound systems are also ideal for small spaces. The Bose Solo TV Sound System is the company’s only single component companion to TVs and it still costs quite a bit so it has to prove that spending extra on compact sound system really means something.
Bose has its own design language for their speakers so it should not be a surprise to see the minimalistic nature of the Bose Solo. It is black all around with the speaker grille on the front and a prominent Bose logo on the center. The width of the sound system is a bit over 20 inches wide so it is quite small although the height is 3 inches making this speaker a lot thicker than many of competing sound bars today. But because of the solid build quality, it should be possible to place a TV on top of the Bose Solo providing that the weight of the TV is less than 40 pounds and the width of the base is greater than the system itself. Bose may not manufacture any TVs, but the Bose Solo should be able to match just about any TV.
There are no buttons on the front so you will need to use the included remote control to operate it. The remote control is as basic as you can possibly get with a mute button, pair of volume controls and the power button. Because of these basic controls, you should be able to use any kind of remote control to fiddle with the volume levels of the Bose Solo too.
The connections on the back are pretty basic as well. There are no HDMI ports which means Anynet+ functionality is absent. All you have to work with are the stereo analog jacks and coaxial and optical digital inputs. Fortunately, the cables that connect to these jacks are all included in the package so you shouldn’t have to buy any cables separately. While it should be possible to connect the sound system to other devices, Bose recommends that this speaker system is only connected to the TV to ensure that the picture and sound always match. Also on the back is a USB port along with a 3.5mm jack although these ports are only reserved for servicing purposes.
Judging from the controls on the Bose Solo remote, it is pretty easy to conclude that the Bose Solo is just a one-trick pony. The Bose Solo is solely focused on enhancing the TV sound experience and nothing more. If there is one other thing that the Bose Solo does right, it would have to be the ease in setting up the speaker. All you have to do is take the power cable and plug it in. After making the connection to your TV using the appropriate cable, you are all set to go. You do not need to set up a separate receiver to get the enhanced sound experience.
All the Bose Solo has left to redeem itself is the overall audio performance and that could really matter the most for those people that are really not satisfied with the TV’s built-in speakers and don’t care about much else. Fortunately, the Bose Solo is packed with power thanks to the 4 speaker drivers and 2 bass ports within the Bose Solo. Hardware-wise, that is enough for the Bose Solo to be a far superior audio solution than any TV solely relying on the built-in speakers. But how does it fare against other sound bar systems?
Watching regular TV shows is a pretty enjoyable experience with very clear vocals. Even subtle sound effects are noticeable. It uses Bose’s proprietary digital signal processing to optimize the quality across all volume levels. Basically, you shouldn’t find yourself frequently adjusting the volume while watching a single program.
Watching movies with the Bose Solo, on the other hand, might be a bit lackluster depending on how you feel with 3-D sound. The Bose Solo completely lacks the virtual surround sound technologies that plenty of other sound bars boast.
The $399 price tag makes this speaker system a pretty tough sell in 2013 and it could even get worse in the later years unless Bose follows up with a more feature-rich successor or big drop in the future. The hardware is indeed great as all Bose speakers are but the combined output wattage of 18 watts is a bit lacking for what you pay for and a virtual surround sound option would have made this speaker a lot more competitive. It also would have been nice if Bluetooth support was added so portable devices can make use of the impressive speakers. But if you are not really the audiophile or don’t have a massive 50-inch TV, there are still some things to like with the Bose Solo. It is ridiculously easy to setup regardless of the size of the room and the speaker looks great when placed right under the TV base if that type of installation is possible. Finally, Bose has great customer support in case you ever have issues with this speaker system.
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