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Bose Home Speaker 500 review: Amazing audio quality, voice control via Alexa

Anyone looking for a premium, one-piece smart speaker, Home Speaker 500 is the best option.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jan 23, 2019, 11.41 AM IST
Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker 500
Price: Rs 39000
Rating: ****

Specifications: Wireless smart speaker, colour display, WiFi, Bluetooth, Auxin connectivity, Anodized aluminum body, Amazon Alexa built-in, eight microphone array, 6 preset buttons, dual custom drivers, 2.15kg

Pros: Robust design, wide soundstage, deep thumping bass, colour display for information, works great with Alexa for voice commands, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity also available

Cons: High price, no option to group with older Bose speakers, Bose app currently does not support Amazon Prime Music in India, fiddly Bluetooth setup

When it comes to a smart speaker with Alexa, you either have the option of going for Amazon’s own Echo range or Harman Kardon’s Allure. Many others are in the pipeline. Bose has now joined the race of smart speakers with the new Home Speaker 500.

Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker 500

We think it looks and feels worth every Rupee thanks to the smooth, cold, anodized aluminum. Look closely and you’ll see precision machine drilled holes that go all the way around the unit. Up front it has a colour display for album art and song details (it’s not a touchscreen). Album art is automatically pulled from the internet when you play a song — a nice touch! On top are control buttons for volume, play/pause, AUX mode, microphone mute as well as six configurable presets for radio stations. At the outset, the Home Speaker 500 is definitely one of the most robust-looking smart speakers.

On the inside, it has two custom Bose speaker drivers pointed in opposite directions. Bose says this delivers the widest soundstage of any smart speaker today and we agree. The sound quality is phenomenal with a deep thumping bass. Bose typically makes any speaker sound much larger than it actually is. You can use it as a party machine for a small house and the wide soundstage delivers roomfilling audio for a great experience. We used the speaker with various genres of music and it impressed on all accounts. This is way better audio than the Echo speakers. Needless to say, you are paying a big premium for the big brand name and sound quality.

The addition of Alexa gives the speaker two big advantages: first is voice control and second is access to Prime Music’s massive music library. Bose has added eight far-field microphones on the speaker to recognize voice commands. Even with music playing at 70% volume, it will recognize your voice and commands. If you don’t want to use Alexa, you can use it with internet radio, as a standard Bluetooth speaker or over a wired AUX connection. For both internet radio and Bluetooth, the setup can only be done using the Bose Music app which is a bit cumbersome.
Bose Home Speaker 500
Bose Home Speaker 500

There are also a few bugs on the Home Speaker 500. First, it works with an entirely new Bose Music app. Even if you have another Bose speaker at home, you will need yet another app. Next, you can’t group the Home Speaker 500 with any other Bose speaker. The third and the strangest issue is that currently Prime Music for Indian users is not available on the Bose Music app. This means you cannot search for a song or create playlists with Prime music on the Bose app. However, if you do link your Amazon account, you can search for songs via voice commands using Alexa. Bose India has promised us that the Prime Music issue will be fixed with a software update in some time.

Overall, the Bose Home Speaker scores on the audio quality as well as voice control via Alexa. In typical Bose fashion, the price is on the higher side but for anyone who wants a premium, one-piece smart speaker, the Home Speaker 500 is the best option.

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