Bose Solo TV – a £349 Don’t Buy sound bar

Bose-Solo-TV

Bose is popular for its audio products and claims that the Bose Solo TV is both simple to use and that it ‘reveals much more of the depth and detail you’re meant to hear in your favourite programs’. It’s a slightly unconventional shape – shorter and deeper than a typical sound bar – but suitable for a range of TV sizes.

More models in this sort of style are finding their way into shops and although they look smaller, the cost certainly isn’t. The Solo TV comes with a price tag of £349.

When you’re paying that much for a sound bar, you’d want to receive good value for money from a product. Unfortunately, we found it does little to improve TV sound, apart from making speech clearer. One member of our testing panel even described the effect of its surround sound as ‘nauseating’.

Sound bar reviews – our test lab results

How do we test the Bose Solo and other sound bars?

Every sound bar is tested in exactly the same way, we put bold claims and impressive-sounding specs to the test.

Not only do we assess sound quality but also ease of use and extra features. Three independent expert listeners rate sound quality using the same set of audio clips that we use to test TVs, including classical, pop and jazz pieces together with speech and sound effects from film material, plus an extra track to measure any extra bass oomph.

But we don’t stop there: as living room layouts and TV equipment positioning can vary, we then listen to every product from different distances and angles to check for any issues that may arise if you’re not sat directly in front of the sound bar – like if you’re watching a film with a group of friends sat around the TV. Finally, we check how loud you can push up the volume before distortion kicks in, and can recommend the size of room it’s most suitable for.

How did we rate its sound and features?

The Bose Solo is small and easy enough to setup, but far better and cheaper sound bars are available. It offers little improvement over TV speakers. The sound bar sails smoothly through different frequencies, like when switching from bass to treble, but higher pitched sounds like a guitar solo often lack a clear, smooth quality.

As well being slim on extra features like a LCD panel, HDMI port or a USB input to play music from, the Bose Solo doesn’t offer equaliser settings or preset sound modes, which are found on many sound bars. This means there’s little you can do to tweak its sound.

More on this

How to buy the best sound bar – no matter the size, brand, type or connection, plus advice on the features you need
How to buy the best TV – everything you need to know
How to buy the best home cinema system – if you want to play movies and improve your TV’s sound

Categories: Sound bars

45 replies

  1. There does seem to be a lack of recommended cheaper smaller soundbars suitable for 22/24″ TVs. i.e. for bedroom/kitchen use.
    I use the TV for radio reception and could do with better music quality.

    1. Agreed. I have been looking for ages for a decent system. Perhaps, if space is limited, a pair of speakers with the amplifier contained in the case, would be the way to produce good sound quality.

    2. I believe you need active speakers for this, but as far as I can see, there is not a wide choice of such equipment. If anyone has suggestions, please let us all know.

    3. Yes it will but theres a new one out now so check it ok first .i think its called Bose 1 and has a bigger remote control .Same price . My sound is very very good i have had no problems With mine and i feel ( which )are wrong .

  2. I tried one of these devices for a week and then returned it. It was absolutely awful! The sound it produced was unnatural as it was “enhanced” in other words distorted. There was no adjustment for bass and treble to adjust it for the location and my preference. I have also heard the Bose Wave Radio and consider the sound produced is no better than indifferent. However, on the plus side, Bose have a superb marketing team………..

    1. Have tested and sold 2ndhand BOSE equipment in my local charity shop, agree the sound is truly awful and I almost feel guilty selling it at the “market price”.

    1. Comparing the Solo and Playbar is useless. The playbar mostly compares to the Bose cinemate 130, altough you really need to buy the seperately sold Sonos subwoofer to come even close to the same soundquality. Don’t get me wrong the Sonos system sound great when listening to music, but for a cinematic experience there is simply no replacement for the Bose system, at least not in this pricerange.

  3. The quality of sound from a loudspeaker is generally in direct proportion to the size of the speaker. I use a decent stereo amplifier with a pair of book shelf size speakers placed either side of the Tv. I can adjust sound tone with the amplifier controls to suit my ears and the room including speech quality. Watching a film with enhanced bass quality and stereo separation is fantastic, you do not need a multitude of speakers and wiring about the room.

  4. I also use a separate stereo amplifier and bookshelf speakers which are totally controllable, cheaper, and not subject to the size and location constraints of soundbars. I could be attracted by a portable mains or rechargeable stereo amplifier/speaker system with direct input, Wifi, Ethernet, Bluray and Internet streaming which would cover all my needs at present and allow me to ignore FM radio which is poor in my area (only 10 miles north of Brighton but on the wrong side of the South Downs!), and DAB which is even worse. Thank heavens for Freesat which has to be the practical TV solution in my area. Surely DAB was a marketing exercise for the pleasure of the Radio Industry which could see the writing on the wall. Freesat plus Internet radio gives you massive TV and Radio choice and a reliable signal (Oh, of course, as long as your Broadband reception is good enough). But I must say my average maximum download speed is only 1.8 Mbps and I get reliable Internet radio at that speed.

  5. How disappointing to to hear Bose have not come up with the goods on their Solo soundbar as I was just about to go out and buy one. This is so surprising Bose have a superb reputation in small speaker design technology.
    Does anyone know of any company producing a good quality soundbar which would fit under a 28-32 inch TV for kitchen/bedroom use? Surly it is not rocket science, to fill this gap in the marketplace.

    Also does anyone have any comments regarding lack of sensitivity of TVs with HD tuners fitted. My new W series Sony is great, but signal drops out every now and then when tuned into HD channels. I was advised this was common to all HD tuners. True or False?

  6. I don’t understand the negative criticism from both Which’s own reviewers and members. I’ve had a Bose Solo for about a month now and find the sound fantastic, particularly for music and film soundtracks. I love it’s minimalist design and cabling.
    It’s exactly the quality and performance I would expect from a Bose product.

  7. The Bose Solo is designed for TV sound enhancement, and should not be compared to sound bars designed for home theatre. The Bose Cinemate 1-SR would offer a much fairer representation of Bose products in this category. Unfortunately, ‘which’ have no idea what they are reviewing or under what context. Shame on them really!

  8. I purchased the Bose Solo 3 days ago.Primarily to aid me in the cessation of turning the tv volume up when attempting to listen to dialogue and turning the volume down when the adverts are on.The Which report commented,”Unfortunately,we find it does little to improve tv sound apart from making speech clearer.I believe the product does exactly what it says on the box,and does it well.

    1. After reading this review from which I had to have my say I’ve had the Bose solo for a month now and must say I love it i watch alot of movies and the solo certainly does what Bose says on the box…. Just my opinion but I love the sound from my solo especially when you bump it up when watching a good action movie… I would give it 9/10

  9. Try the Orbitsound box. It’s shiny black like a grand piano’s finish and made of wood. It comes with a black or silver front grill to suit your taste. You can increase the treble and base to suit your particular requirements unlike the Bose, as well as the volume. It has a separate, but built-in base speaker. I tried the Bose Solo and couldn’t stand it because the base and treble were fixed by Bose and couldn’t be changed. The treble was overbright and the bass was a dull thudding sound. Hopeless. The Orbitsound is so much better and I am very happy with it. One thing to watch out for is that your TV must have pcm mode because without it, it will not handle freesat sound.

    1. I can’t understand why you can’t adjust the base and treble. You should learn to use your tv sets because you adjust it on the TV not the unit .so there is no problem .I’ve had hi fy all my life so I know what I’m talking about I’m 53 now .the witch mag don’t know what they are talking about you can bet the so called testers are young kids just out of nappies who think they know everything about nothing . And nothing about everything .and they fill your heads with crap and make money out of you all by selling you there mag that’s know help to anyone at all you should go to a maindealer and ask them for advice and you should look and listen then make your own mind up not let a mag or a critic tell you what’s good and what’s not .after all your taste is different to there’s and you will be the one missing out

  10. What a totally ridiculous and incorrect review! Bose were the first company to bring out a product like this whereby you sit your flat screen TV on the speaker. The fact that due to the absolute success of this product for Bose other manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and bought their own version to market Bose call it a “TV Speaker” and not a soundbar. It is designed for someone who does not want a conventional soundbar as they might not have the room and they don’t want a subwoofer on the floor taking up space. It has been designed to be a SIMPLE plug and play product – you choose your audio cable for your TV ( of which all 3 possible types of cable are supplied ) and plug it in. Done. Easy remote (on/off, volume up / down and mute). It does have a bass reduction setting. Hardly sounds better than a TV? Nonsense – You must be deaf!

    I do not work for Bose but do sell this product. I have never known such a popular product and customers love it because of its performance and ease of setup, in fact I have had a number of customers return to purchase a second one for their other TV in another room!

    1. You sell this product so your comment can be ignored because you are clearly biased. The Bose has no controls to alter the treble and base to suit the acoustics of the place in which it is being used and your hearing preferences. Other reviews on this site support my review. I also endorse, once again, the Orbitsound I mentioned above which is also a simple plug in and play speaker, not a soundbar and requires no separate subwoofer, something Mr Sport seems not to know. It is visually pleasing and as easy to instal as the Bose. The sound quality of the Orbitsound is giving both me and my family immense pleasure and I am glad I bought it and returned the Bose. If Mr Sport tries out the Orbitsound, he’ll agree with me that the Bose lacks treble and base controls and is inferior, or would do if he did not sell them. Unlike Mr Sport, I have no connection of any kind with the manufacturer of the Orbitsound in any way, including selling them.

    2. One can adjust the volume bass on the Bose solo. Look in your hand book .And one can update the Bose solo useing the USB attached to data . And download updates from Bose web page .

  11. I’m not bised to the Bose Solo as I also sell other similar alternatives and I do not work on commission. The Bose Solo does have a “bass reduction” setting which is achieved by pressing the mute button for 5 seconds. I’m glad you are happy with the your choice of speaker. All I’m saying is that sound is subjective and to simply dismiss the item as rubbish is nonsense as there are many many owners of the Bose Solo who are delighted with it. You are entitled to your opinion as am I and I think the Bose is a cracking little product.

  12. The biggest problem is the cable you are supplied with are basic and rubbish, you need to update them with either phono cable ( QED @ £20 ) or Optical ( TCI Coral @ £35 ) by doing this it will open up the soundstage and make things much clearer and make the bass deeper / tighter.
    Seriously anyone thats had hifi seperates knows you need good cables they do make a major difference.

    1. Em, hi Louis. The Bose, “glass”, cable transmits bits. It does the same job any other one does. So cheap is irrelevant. It either works or it doesn’t
      Same with coax. Bits.
      Bose say on the box sound will suffer if you use the enclosed copper cable and they are correct. Analogue is a little more fussy and won’t carry configuration data.
      As for the unit itself, the Bose Solo 15; is the “Apple ” of the tv sound world.
      You plug it in and it works, no controls, no user choice, no argument.
      I hear everything, it turns noisy bits down and quiet bits up.
      And it replaces the “proper” stuff I had before. Insanely good stuff I had, (for sale on EBay, by the way)
      …and I get much more pleasure out of this invisible black box and my life is much simpler.
      I love Bose

    2. I think your comparison to “Apple” sounds appropriate.

      Which? seemed to think the ~£350 Bose performed no better than a ~£150 “brand-x” soundbar; in the same way an Apple PC costing ~£1000 does the same job as an ordinary PC costing ~£400.

      But, in either case, if you have the extra money to spend, the choice is up to you.

    3. Err. nope. Expensive cables may have made little bit of difference a few years back but now Digits are 1’s and 0’s and will be the same over a piece of cheap cable or HiFi rip-off cable. Optical cable also varies in price but not in sound quality.

    4. Its funny how people tell me how cable make no difference yet i had an old optical cable from many years back and i also purchased a separate cable of Amazon for roughly £8 and all cables sounded different, though it was the Bose cable that did sound the best. I did purchase the QED carbon optical which opens up the sound and makes it less muffled, though you may disagree with me i have taken the time and tried it and it is enough of a difference to notice without thinking it has. But i will add the standard Bose cable does do a good job. If you do not believe me, after running your speaker in purchase either the TCi or QED and try it (Guess what you can send the cable back you don’t have to keep it)

  13. I just purchased this Bose unit. 400 notes . It’s excellent. It’s not a home theatre system. It’s used to replace the crap sound from the tv speakers. I have a 55inch all singing LG 3d smart ext.
    I got so fed up with messing around with the tv volumes and setting I previously bought 2 soundbars neither have the quality of the Bose. I struggle to hear voice very well and this does the job, spot on.

  14. The Solo improves the sound of my TV a lot since I started using a wall bracket. It has eliminated all the echo and reverb that started after I hanged my TV on the wall. It seems to adapt to different styles, great for speech, good for music and also good for movies. Those of you that have had bad sound experiences might have received defective units. The Bose official forum has a lot of complaints about more replacement units than normal for Bose. As a side note, is 349 pounds the street price of the Solo? I paid 250$ all in (thats 155 pounds) at a Bose store. If you have to pay that much for the Solo in Europe I agree that you would expect better a tone control!

  15. So let me get this right, which say Dont buy, it does little to improve TV speakers, etc.
    How do you know how my tv speakers sound. You can’t.
    Come round to my house, listen to my Bose it’s a vast improvement over my tv, not just voice the total sound, it’s crystal clear. And when I buy another system , I will sell my Bose overnight. Same people that recommend Aldi as the best supermarket, reason Aldi is so cheap there is no super about the market. Keep up the good work which.

    1. I think Which? were comparing the Bose unit against other soundbars, not against built-in TV speakers.

      Having just dismantled a broken 22″ LCD full HDTV (which cost roughly £200 when new) I can report that the internal speakers are about 3″ long x 1″ wide – i.e. not very much bigger than laptop speakers.

      At least for a TV in that class, I would have thought that pretty much any kind of dedicated external sound system would significantly improve the sound quality.

  16. Don’t you people who moan about the Bose, listen to it first and ask all the questions from the sales guys before you buy it. Plus Bose do a 30 day you don’t like it bring it back guarantee.

    Go to Aldi

  17. I have just added the Bose solo to my collection of other Bose equipment I use and it is as good as it says on the box.
    Expensive if you buy direct but shop around and save up to £70. Another good choice of equipment in my opinion.

    1. Those who don’t rate the Bose Solo or the 15 then you need to give the little speakers time to run in, in hifi terms you would give speakers 24 hours of running before making an opinion.
      Another is to keep base and treble on the Solo 15 in the center as turning it up muffles the mid range.
      Yes you can change the cables, the optical does a pretty good job but if you do change it, change it for an award winning cable. The phono leads do need changing don’t use them buy £20 QED Leads.
      If you only running a sky box or equivalent without a blu ray player then go directly from the source not the tv.
      In setting of the source you are feeding the Bose system change the output to Dolby digital, some tvs will have this but not many.
      I use my xbox one with QED Graphite optical cable to feed the Bose Solo 15 with Dolby digital settings and the system sounds very nice!

  18. Firstly, kelvin, what a rant, complete with excellent grammar and punctuation. What was the point?
    Bose solo? I own amazing gear which I hang onto: I’m a musician, a have studio monitors and hi Fi stuff.
    However, when I watch tv, my bose solo does a fantastic job of playing sound and voice without my having to mess with anything. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, I just trust it to do a job, like a toaster or a washing machine. I would recommend it.

  19. I just realised that I replied on a comment from nov2013, not very useful. Am new to this place.
    Me myself have been working in consumer electronics for almost 10years and I’m sorry but this article is a big bunch of crap. The solo system is not a soundbar but a soundplate, made to improve the sound of badly sounding tv’s. According to most actual customer reviews it does this rather perfectly.
    If you want to review a Bose soundbar then choose the cinemate 130 or lifestyle 135. Do those sound good? Maybe. Are they the best? Maybe not. Are they good value for money? Again, maybe…

  20. Soundfield technology was created to alleviate these issues and to improve sound quality with clarity, not just amplification.

  21. Just bought a Bose Solo 15. Everything sounds great, except that now the audio timing is marginally out of sync with the visual. Anyone else had this issue or ideas for a solution?

  22. Mine is disappointing for the price vs product its a foolish buy…Another company living off there name from when the used to be quality…NOT WORTH HALF PRICE $100.00 WILL BUY MINE …….NEVER AGAIN BOSE NEVER !

  23. Every time I torn the television on the sound bar turns itself up to full volume and it randomly turns itself on during the night. Please explain to me why this was the most expensive sound bar on the shop? Because I’m starting to doubt the quality of this product

  24. I have a Bose Solo and find it great. I use the fibre optic connection and have no problem with the performance. I often use the tv for radio listening and find the Bose sound superb.

  25. I will never by Bose again. It developed a fault, I am a television/audio engineer and it is impossible to get spares. They won’t even supply a circuit diagram so I will have to send it to one of their service centers and pay their prices. That means members of the public can’t use their local engineer.

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