Bose Soundbar 500 vs 700 – how much is it better

Bose Soundbar 500 vs 700 – how much is it better?

Bose has a solid reputation for delivering excellent speakers, in many different form factors, and in a wide range of prices. It’s no surprise then that they offer these 2 soundbars where both the quality of what they deliver and the price point for each will meet the needs of a wide range of consumers.

Both are 3.0 systems meaning, they both have 3 primary channels; right, left, and center. Neither offers satellite speakers nor a subwoofer. However, with the Bose Soundbar 700, these can be added. The likelihood is the satellites can be added with the Soundbar 500 as well but I haven’t tested it with these additions.

Both of these systems are fairly basic but based on their designs, they do deliver a premium look. This is more the case with the Soundbar 700 and its glass-finish top but even the mat black Soundbar 500, with its aluminum grill looks good in most settings.

As both of these models are a bit dated at this point they can be a bit hard to find. This is especially true for the Bose Soundbar 500 which doesn’t even appear on most of the online shopping platforms. I was surprised when I was searching to find only a few new units available on eBay. Most were refurbished/pre-owned.

This is much the same with the Bose 700 Soundbar. Again, there are far more pre-owned/refurbished units being offered than new products and for this model, the prices vary widely. Here are some links for both:

Bose Sound Bar 700 on eBay can be found here. The link for the same soundbar on Amazon is here. On eBay, the price is listed at $595. The same soundbar is offered on Amazon at $799. They appear to be exactly the same on both sites but with a $200+ price difference.

The Bose Soundbar 500 is listed on Amazon here. On eBay, you’ll find it for $499 so this one will save you about $100 compared to the Soundbar 700. Read on though. That extra $100 may be worth it based on the quality of the sound and the size of the room you’ll be using it in.

While both of these soundbars perform well and look good while doing it, neither will blow you away with their performance. On that score, they are acceptably basic. Yes, the 700 does offer a fuller sound and it doesn’t cost a ton more but, there are other soundbars in this price range that would probably win out in a head-to-head comparison. We’ll cover some of those in the summary.

On to the details – Bose Soundbar 500 and Bose Soundbar 700

Performance Specs:

Bose Soundbar 500

Bose Soundbar 700

3.0 Channels 3.0 Channels
None Add-on
None Add-On
No charging No charging
No playback time No playback time
Dolby Digital Dolby Digital, DTS, 5.1 PCM
1 Digital optical input 1 Digital optical input
No HDMI in 1 HDMI in
No HDMI Out No HDMI Out
ARC, Ethernet HDMI ARC, eARC , Ethernet
Bluetooth, WiFi Bluetooth, WiFi
Alexa, Chromecast, Google Assistant Alexa, Chromecast, Google Assistant
AirPlay 2 Support AirPlay 2 Support

Bose Soundbar 500

This comes in a single box and includes the power brick and power cord, a simple remote control, an HDMI cable, along with the soundbar and instruction manual. It also includes the Bose ADAPTiQ headset that you’ll use to help the bar automatically adust to your room.

With the ADAPTiQ approach to room calibration, you’ll don the headset while using an on-screen setup, and wander around your room so the system can listen to what you are hearing at each location. From what it “hears” adjustments will be made to the output of each of the 3 drivers as it attempts to produce the optimum sound performance. Competing soundbars do this with built-in microphones that make the entire process a bit less awkward but in the end, it functions effectively.

On balance, the Bose Soundbar 500 performs better with music than with movies. That is odd considering it’s been designed to match up with your TV and it’s one of the main reasons why you may want to consider alternatives, including the Soundbar 700 from Bose.

This soundbar doesn’t get too loud and if you do turn it up to the max the low-end will get a bit distorted/compressed. Still, for an average size room, the volume is adequate. Voices come through reasonably well throughout the middle of the volume range but get lost a bit at low and high volumes.

What you may find most disappointing is the bass reproduction. Without a dedicated subwoofer, it can’t move you with a powerful baseline or hit you with crashes and explosions. You’ll hear them all well enough but you aren’t going to experience any “wow” moments with this sound bar whether listening to music or watching movies.

One of the features I like most about this soundbar is its support for Apple AirPlay 2. This was an add-on after the initial release and came in the form of a software update that was delivered on later releases of this soundbar. If you are buying now you should find that this is included.

Unlike soundbar systems from TV manufacturers, Bose does not integrate seamlessly with any TV or make any coordinated use of the TV’s built-in speakers. This is one of the clear advantages both Sony and Samsung have as they deliver complete entertainment systems rather than stand-alone components.

If you’d like to see this setup and get some additional insights into how it performs you’ll find an excellent video review from the folks at Digital Trends.

Bose Soundbar 700

The first thing you’ll notice when you unbox the Bose Soundbar 700 is how much more premium it appears to be compared to the Soundbar 500. It shares the same aluminum grill but this sound bar is noticeably bigger and sports a sleek glass top where all of the touch-screen controls are found.

As with the Bose Soundbar 500, this soundbar includes all of the cables you’ll need, with one notable exception. This soundbar has a built-in power supply so there’s no need for the separate power brick that comes with the Soundbar 500. You’ll also find a much nicer remote with additional functions and a backlit panel that makes it easy to use in low light. It’s one of my favorite remotes for this reason.

This soundbar also includes the ADAPTiQ automated sound setup and it uses the same headset and the same process to make the needed adjustments. You’ll wear the headset, move to one of several listening points around the room, and pause as the system “hears” what you’re hearing. The drivers will be adjusted based on this basis and the sound will be shaped to optimize your listening experience.

The Bose Soundbar 700 has a similar imbalance in performance when comparing music listening and the movie-watching experience. It’s actually a bit more pronounced with this sound bar which might be the result of the broader soundstage the soundbar produces. Still, by every measure, this bar produces a richer and clearer listening experience, especially when it comes to the reproduction of dialog.

It also enjoys more power and better balance so this soundbar will get louder and deliver less distortion/compression across the full volume range. Turn it up for a bit more punch or turn it down during a quiet evening and you’re likely to enjoy both just as much.

I mentioned the broader soundstage. This bar still has 3 drivers but two are side-firing with a bit of an upward tilt. This allows the sound to bounce off the walls and ceiling with a much better effect. They effectively deliver a much better surround-sound listening experience that has a neutral profile. This neutrality also offers a clear advantage over the soundbar 500.

Unlike the Soundbar 500, the Bose Soundbar 700 can be paired with both a subwoofer and satellite speakers so you can bring this system from 3.0 to 3.1.2 and the difference that makes is remarkable. Unfortunately, what these additions add to the price is substantial and may not be justified when compared to other brands and models.

You’ll find a good video review of this soundbar on the JimsReviewRoom channel.

It’s a bit dated but still very much on point. If you’re interested in seeing what happens when you add a subwoofer and satellites, you see a good review on the HelpBar channel.

The Final Verdict

Both the Bose Soundbar 500 and Soundbar 700 are, by my estimate, low to middle-of-the-road soundbar solutions. Their lack of packaged satellites and a subwoofer definitely impact the overall listening experience, and not in a good way. While you can add these features with the Bose Soundbar 700 the additional cost makes it hard to justify this purchase over some other soundbar solutions that come in at the same price point.

Of the two, the Soundbar 700 has some very clear advantages over its smaller sibling. The additional power is the primary reason for tilting the scales in its favor. Coupled with the broader soundstage you’ll get a much better surround-sound experience. Considering the fairly minimal price difference, I would definitely go for the Bose Soundbar 700.

There is also something to be said for the Bose pedigree. This company has fashioned great listening experiences for decades and they certainly haven’t done anything to tarnish their excellent reputation with these two soundbar offerings. They are well made, they do sound quite good for what they are, and like all things Bose, they are likely to stand the test of time very well.

So, that leaves me to talk a bit about some possible alternatives.

Let’s start with the Samsung Q90R Soundbar. This is a 7.1.2 soundbar that comes complete with a pair of satellite speakers and a subwoofer, all for a price that’s under $500. I did a comparison of the Samsung Q90R  and the Samsung Q800T that you may want to have a read through. You can also take a closer look at the Samsung Q950A, their flagship model, and still less than the Bose Soundbar 700. This is an 11.1.4 channel soundbar system that includes advances like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and will still cost $50 less than the competing system from Bose.

You can also explore the offerings from Klipsch, a premium developer of speaker systems, that offers a range of soundbar solutions that are also independent of any TV manufacturer and that also offer soundbar solutions that don’t include satellite speakers or a subwoofer. For example, have a look at the Klipsch Cinema 600. You can get this with a paired subwoofer but even without, you’ll probably find it delivers a richer surround sound listening experience when compared to either the Bose Soundbar 500 or the Bose Soundbar 700 and it still costs less than $500.

So, on balance, I would have to steer away from either of these offerings from Bose. At least where soundbars are concerned. There are better options that will cost you less while delivering a much much more bang for your buck.

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