Bose Home Speaker 500 review

The world of smart speakers is ever-expanding, and the Bose Home Speaker 500 is one of the many. Bose has a lot of smart speakers in its arsenal, and the Home Speaker 500 fills the niche of being moderately sized, but with loud audio. Is that enough stand out from the rest?

About this Bose Home Speaker 500 review: We tested the Bose Home Speaker 500 over a period of a week. It was running firmware version 16.0.6, and the Bose Music app ran version 6.1.2. SoundGuys purchased the unit for this review.

What you need to know about the Bose Home Speaker 500

The touch panel on top of the Bose Home Speaker 500.

Sam Smart / SoundGuys

The Home Speaker 500 has a touch panel for controls on the top of the speaker.

  • Bose Home Speaker 500: $379 USD / $479 CAD / £359 / €399

The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a smart speaker that works wirelessly over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth 4.2, with support for the SBC and AAC audio codecs, and it has a 3.5mm aux input as well. It needs to be plugged into a wall outlet to work, and requires the Bose Music app (available on iOS and Android) to use Wi-Fi features, but those Wi-Fi features also include Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. There’s Alexa and Google Assistant integration, so you can choose which you want to use with it.

The Bose Home Speaker has capacitive touch controls on the top of the speaker, which allow you to adjust volume, play and pause music, turn on Bluetooth, turn the microphone on and off, and select presets. You can also control the speaker from the Bose Music app. It has an LCD display on the front, which will show what you’re listening to, and album art when you’re listening to music.

The speaker features two 2.5-inch full-range drivers, one on either side of the speaker, and Bose advertises good stereo separation.

What’s good about the Bose Home Speaker 500?

The Bose Home Speaker 500 sitting on an end table with a phone beside it, the speaker screen is showing that the speaker is playing Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift.

Sam Smart / SoundGuys

The Bose Home Speaker 500 sounds really good.

Arguably the most important aspects of a speaker are how loud it gets and how good it sounds. Thankfully the Bose Home Speaker 500 does well in both of those areas. The speaker gets quite loud, even when the volume is only half way up. It sounds really good, with a strong bass response and pleasant treble. When I play Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift through the speaker, the bass sounds punchy and loud while not drowning out the oscillating synth, and Swift’s voice comes through clearly throughout the whole track. The bass might be a little bit loud for some by default, but the Bose Music app lets you adjust it or treble, which I find really handy when I want to avoid irritating my neighbors.

The Bose Music app works really well for the most part. You can select your preferred voice assistant from Alexa or Google Assistant, connect a music streaming service and choose music, adjust bass and treble as mentioned, install updates, and more. It’s a simple app that helps out a lot with getting the most out of the speaker.

The speaker gets quite loud, even when the volume is only half way up.

The speaker can connect with other Bose speakers (to an extent, more on that later) to create an ecosystem in your house. This way you can use your voice assistant in multiple rooms, play music in different rooms, and enjoy your own smart home setup.

The touch controls on the Bose Home Speaker 500 are quick and responsive, and there are six buttons on the touch panel for presets, so you can quickly play your favorite playlist or song at any time.

It’s also very aesthetically pleasing. The aluminum exterior works well with a lot of different interior styles, and it blends in easily in a home. The light silver color I’m using matches a lot of my tech products in my home.

What’s not so good about the Bose Home Speaker 500?

A hand pressing the first preset button on the Bose Home Speaker 500, with the screen showing the preset being chosen.

Sam Smart / SoundGuys

I wish the buttons gave a better indication when pressed, like a sound or an LED on the touch panel.

Immediately upon setting up the Bose Music app, the speaker had an update. This update took 10 minutes to install, and made me think something was wrong. Never-ending updates are a known issue with the speaker, and can sometimes take hours or never complete at all. After downloading the update, neither the app nor the speaker show progress for how long the update will actually take to install, so you’re left to wonder when you’ll be able to use the speaker. After that, setup does take a while and the process is quite convoluted.

If you want to use the Bose Home Speaker 500 as part of an ecosystem with a Bose Soundtouch speaker, you’re out of luck. You can pair this speaker with other speakers that use the Bose Music app, but since the Soundtouch line uses the Soundtouch app, the two aren’t compatible.

This speaker, and smart speakers in general, are not for people who don’t want to compromise on data privacy.

While the buttons are responsive, I wish it had a way of letting you know you used a control. A sound, or haptic feedback, or even physical buttons would be preferable. It just feels like I’m touching a cold piece of metal and hoping it does something, and it would be nice to actually feel like I’m pressing a button. The screen shows a light strip when you press something, but that doesn’t really feel like enough of an indicator.

A concern that applies to all smart speakers is privacy. The whole point of a smart speaker with a voice assistant is that it’s listening to you for a wake word or command, and the fact that it’s always listening can be quite creepy. You can turn off the microphone, but then you won’t be able to use the voice assistant. Your commands and questions are recorded and sent to servers which helps voice assistant software improve. Your data is also collected through the Bose Music app, adding to the information companies have about you. This speaker, and smart speakers in general, are not really for people who don’t want to compromise on data privacy.

Bose Home Speaker 500 specs

The Bose Home Speaker 500 sitting on a table.

Sam Smart / SoundGuys

The Bose Home Speaker 500 looks really nice, and blends in well with most home environments.

It’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into when you’re buying a smart speaker, so here’s some of the most important things to know about the Bose Home Speaker 500.

Bose Home Speaker 500

Size

203 mm x 170 mm x 109 mm

Weight

2.15 kg

Channels

Stereo

Audio specs

Two full-range drivers

Audio inputs

3.5mm

Wireless audio connection

Bluetooth 4.2
Wi-Fi
Apple AirPlay 2
Chromecast built-in

Streaming services

Amazon Music
Deezer
Pandora
SiriusXM
Spotify
TuneIn

App

Bose Music app (iOS/Android)

Controls

Touch

Price

$379 USD

Bose Home Speaker 500 review: Should you buy it?

The Bose Home Speaker 500 playing Xtal by Aphex Twin, sitting on a white desk in front of a computer.

Sam Smart / SoundGuys

The Bose Home Speaker 500 is a solid smart speaker with great sound, it’s just really pricey.

Overall, the Bose Home Speaker 500 works really well and sounds great, making it a solid choice for anyone looking for a high quality smart speaker. The biggest caveat is just how expensive it is, coming in at $379 USD. I would recommend this speaker to anyone with a lot of money who wants a loud smart speaker in their house. I wouldn’t recommend this for the majority of people, for whom the $379 USD price tag may be too expensive. There are much cheaper alternatives that could suit those with lower budgets, and this speaker isn’t the be-all and end-all of smart speakers. I also wouldn’t recommend this speaker, or any smart speaker for that matter, to people who don’t want to compromise on their data privacy.

If you want a cheaper option with Google Assistant integration and good sound, the Google Nest Audio is a great option. You can even pair two together to get stereo sound, or put multiple in different rooms to create a home ecosystem. You can pick up the Google Nest Audio for $99.99 at Google.

Another speaker with a lot of similar features to the Bose Home Speaker 500 is the Sonos One (Gen 2). It has Alexa and Google Assistant integration, streaming service integration, and in-app EQ in the Sonos app. It’s more affordable than the Home Speaker 500, though still pricey. You can buy it for $199 at Amazon.

Bose Home Speaker 500

Bose Home Speaker 500

Loud sound • Good design • Helpful app

The Bose Home Speaker 500 brings room-filling sound to your smart home setup.

If you want an aesthetically pleasing smart speaker to bring you great sound and voice assistant support, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is a solid choice.

Frequently asked questions

No, the Bose Home Speaker 500 is not water-resistant in any way, so you definitely shouldn’t use it in a humid environment.

No, the Bose Home Speaker 500 does not have Bluetooth multipoint.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *