In this article, we will take a look at the new Bose soundbars side-by-side, the Soundbar 500 and the Soundbar 700. The first thing you’ll notice is the size difference. The 500 is narrower, at 31.5 inches, where the 700 is 38.5 inches in size. The 500 is also shorter at 1 and 3/4 inches. The 700 is a half inch taller at 2 and 1/4 inches.
Other than the physical size, both soundbars share a very similar upscale design. There’s going to be glass that runs across the top of the 700 that picks up fingerprints and dust pretty easily, but the 500 has a matte material that’s a little more resistant to those fingerprints. The Bose 700 comes with a cleaning cloth to help with this issue. The Bose 500 doesn’t, but it doesn’t need the cleaning cloth that much anyways.
Both Bose soundbars have the same style grille, made from a single piece of perforated aluminum that runs across the front and wraps around the side. The other design difference you’re going to notice is on the back with how the inputs are laid out. They both have the same, one HDMI with ARC and one optical audio input, but the Bose Soundbar 700 comes with cables for both and the 500 only comes with one HDMI cable. It’s not a big deal since you’ll typically be using one or the other but if you’re getting the 500 and you have to use an optical cable, you’ll want to make sure you have one of those on hand for your installation.
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The sound is another category where you’re going to notice a difference. The 700 got more drivers built in, which make it capable of filling a larger room. Not only that, but it seems to throw the sound around a bit better too. It just gives a broader sound-stage which makes whatever you’re watching more engaging. For music and movies, for that matter, the vocals seem to pop a little bit more as well.
Bass was more noticeable too. That’s not to say the Bose 500 Soundbar was bad by any means. The 500 still sounds great on its own, but when you’re comparing it to the 700, you do notice some differences, which is okay since the 700 is more of an investment.
That way the Bose 700 Soundbar should sound better, right? Plus, the 700 can decode DTS and Dolby Digital where the 500 loses the ability to do DTS.
These systems both can also be expanded. They each have corresponding optional subwoofers, and Bose makes a set of wireless surround speakers that can be added to either system to give you a full surround set up. Another noticeable difference is in the way they’re controlled. Both work with the Bose music app and functionality is the same there. Both soundbars also have two touch buttons built into the top. But where they differ is in these supplied remotes.
The 500 has a more basic one designed to work with only the soundbar. The 700 comes with a universal remote that has a unique feature built in. It only lights up the buttons that are relevant to the source that you’re on. This makes using it a lot easier than other universal remotes out there. The sources to select from are going to be your TV, cable satellite box, game system, Blu-ray player, or another source. So the Bose Soundbar 700 has the bigger sound, better remote, cleaning cloth, and supplied optical cable, but it also costs about $250 more.
Do the extras justify the additional cost? Perhaps.
The “bigger sound” and better remote control, to us, are the most valuable, but we’re not sure everyone’s going to agree with us that they’re worth the extra price tag. If you don’t mind the smaller size and you want to save some money on a great sounding speaker, the Bose Soundbar 500 is an excellent choice. But if the larger size of the 700 doesn’t impact your installation and you have other sources to control, we would invest the extra money.
We will now look at both soundbars individually.
Bose Soundbar 500 Review
In this section, we’re taking a closer look at the Bose soundbar model 500 in a black finish, which is the only finish available for this particular speaker. This is the little brother of the SB 700 soundbar, and fortunately, it has a lot in common because the 700 is a terrific speaker. So this one’s a little smaller at only 31.5 inches wide but maintains the same similar design.
It has an extremely high-end look and feel. There’s no glass on this one, but it’s a nice looking matte material that runs all the way across the top and the grill’s made of a single piece of perforated aluminum that covers the front and wraps around the sides.
The only visible buttons are touch sensitive spots on the top and are for the action button and to turn on or off the eight built-in microphones. The microphones are for voice pickup because this soundbar has Amazon’s Alexa built-in. It’s supposed to be getting a Google assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 with a future update as well, so we’ve got a lot of potential flexibility here. The rest of the controls are going to be located on the supplied remote or through the Bose music app. Yes, you do have to download a new app from Bose to use with their new product, which we don’t particularly like to do, but the new app is well organized, and it’s easy to get the hang of.
For inputs, you get an HDMI with audio return channel and one optical input. Bose is going to provide an HDMI cable, but if you want to use the optical input, you’ll have to provide your own for that. There’s also Bluetooth that you can take advantage of without using the app.
Now, the sound, just like on the Bose Soundbar 700 was exceptional. There are not as many drivers in this particular model, but still, it sounds accurate and clear really at any volume. Vocals were sharp and easy to distinguish as well. Mids and highs are really where this one shines, but bass, even without a separate subwoofer, is adequate. If you need more bass, you can always add the base module 500 which does make a big difference.
So that’s the Bose soundbar 500. If you’re looking for a great replacement for your TV’s built-in speakers that offers a lot of flexibility with the built-in Amazon Alexa function, this is one soundbar to consider.
– The design is sharp.
– The sound is great.
– The app is easy to use.
It got some updates coming in the hopefully not-too-distant future that’ll make it even better. The only thing, and we say that about most Bose products, if you’re paying a premium for this speaker, but sometimes it’s worth the investment to get something that looks and works as well as this one does.
Bose Soundbar 700 Review
This is the Bose soundbar model 700. Now, the one we’re looking at here is in the black finish, but it also does come in white if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s the top-end model of Bose soundbars. In this section, we’re going to take a look at what’s supposed to make this speaker great. The design, just like their last top-end model, the ST 300, is very high-end. There’s a glass top that looks great but is an absolute magnet for fingerprints and dust.
It’s easy enough to clean, though, and it’s not really that annoying, so you don’t have to worry about it, and Bose provides a cleaning cloth in the box for you to use. The grill is going to be made from a single piece of aluminum that wraps all the way around the front and sides, and the back of the speaker’s finished off with a durable feeling plastic.
The only two visible buttons are printed on the glass top and are the action button and one for turning the eight built-in microphones on and off. The microphones pick up voice command for Amazon’s Alexa, but it is supposed to work with Google assistant and Apple AirPlay 2 with a future update. The rest of the controls are going to be located on the remote which is another one of Bose’s innovations for this particular speaker.
When you first look at it, the only buttons you’re going to be able to notice are for power, volume up and down, and then directional controls with a select button in the middle. But when you pick the remote up, the buttons that are relevant to the setting that it’s in are the only ones that are going to light up. Now, this is going to be great for anyone that’s worried about pressing the wrong buttons and maybe changing a setting that you might not know how to change back, and it makes the remote seem a lot less intimidating for a first-time user.
The other way you can control the SB 700 is through the Bose music app. Now, we’re not a huge fan of a single brand having several different apps for their different products, but the new music app is pretty good. It’s well laid out, and it’s easy to get the hang of, and it is nice to have another way to control the speaker if you have kids or a spouse that doesn’t know how to put the remote back where it belongs.
Now, when it comes to sound quality, we were extremely happy with this one. The drivers, which Bose doesn’t give a whole lot of detail on, they provide great mids and highs, and the vocals came through really strong and clear. It does a great job throwing sound around the room, too, so you do feel like there are extra speakers in the room. We know, that sounds kind of gimmicky, but it does.
The bass is also really good, considering this doesn’t have a dedicated subwoofer built-in. Now, that being said, if you do want to enhance the experience, you can add their wireless bass module 700, and although the bass on the soundbar itself is good, the bass module is a whole different level.
Bose gives you some accessories in the box, too. For example an HDMI, an optical cable, and they also provide an adapt IQ headset which is used to optimize the sound coming out of the speaker based on the room where it’s located. We didn’t need to use this feature, but it’s there for anyone who does.
We really like this speaker.
It looks great.
It sounds great.
The app works well. And it’s got an easy-to-use universal remote control. The only downside might be the price. You pay a premium for Bose product, but in my experience, the ease of install and the high-end looks do help justify a price that might be just a tad on the high side.