Bose vs Sonos Home Theater System: Which Sounds Better?

Upgrading your living room to deliver a full home theater experience is a significant investment. If custom setups with carefully selected components sound like too much work, you can save a lot of effort (and money) going for a pre-packaged surround sound set. Take a look at how the Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set and the Sonos 5.1 Surround Set, two of the best home theater systems available today, compare against each other.

Bose vs Sonos Home Theater System Comparison Chart

ModelBose 5.1 Home Theater SetSonos 5.1 Surround Set
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
SoundbarBose Soundbar 700Sonos Beam
SubwooferBose Bass Module 700Sonos Sub
Rear SpeakersBose Surround Speakers (2)Sonos One SL (2)
Wi-FiYesYes
BluetoothYesYes
Apple Airplay 2 YesYes
Remote ControlIncludedNone
Voice ControlYesYes
Microphone8-mic array5 far-field mic array
Audio CodecsDolby Digital, DTSDolby Digital
HDMI-ARCYesYes
Audio InputOpticalOptical

Design

Both Bose and Sonos home theater systems have premium, minimalist designs.

Bose vs Sonos Home Theater System Design
Only smooth and sleek surfaces cover both the Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set (top) and Sonos 5.1 Surround Set.

Designed to blend into modern widescreen 4K TVs, both of these home theater speaker systems do their best to look sleek and sophisticated without standing out. As the most visible of all the components, the Bose Soundbar 700 and Sonos Beam will fit perfectly right below your TV. The glass top, aluminum grille and light bar of the Bose 700 is a subtle blend of industrial and futuristic, while the solid matte smoothness of the Sonos Beam looks positively hyper-modern.

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As to the rest of the package, the Sonos Sub is particularly eye-catching due to its hollow middle, which as you’ll see below isn’t just for style. Meanwhile, the Bose Bass Module and Surround Speakers sport the same aesthetic as the Bose 700, creating a cohesive look. Overall, the Sonos 5.1 Surround Set looks a bit more muted and unobtrusive, while the glass polish of the Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set is more flashy.

Aside from power cables, all devices can be wirelessly connected to each other so it’s much easier to keep your setup neat. Both soundbars feature HDMI-ARC and optical sound ports, maximizing compatibility with the majority of HD TVs, as well as mic arrays for voice input.

Setup and Controls

The Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set comes with a universal remote and can be customized to your room. The Sonos 5.1 Surround Set is faster to set up and has a better mobile app.

Bose vs Sonos Home Theater System Setup and Controls
You can get the Sonos Beam set up in a couple of minutes, and simply connect the rest through Wi-Fi.

Getting the Sonos 5.1 Surround Set working together seamlessly only requires a few simple steps. You connect the Sonos Beam to your TV and simply follow the instructions included in the box or in the Sonos app. If you use the HDMI-ARC port, it will automatically detect your remote control and sync itself so you can control both your TV and surround system with one device. Plugging in the Sonos Sub and Sonos One SL speakers will allow them to be discovered via Wi-Fi.

In comparison, there are a few extra steps you need to do with the Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set to maximize its performance. The Bose Soundbar 700 comes with an ADAPTiQ headset which prompts you to move to different parts of the room so it can adjust sound levels properly. Doing so does significantly improve performance so it’s recommended you take the few extra minutes. It also comes with its own universal remote, though compatibility can be an issue with older TVs.

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There are only a minimal number of buttons on either soundbar, and they’re all touch-sensitive. You’ll find a lot more control options and settings in their respective mobile apps. In general, the Sonos app is a bit more user-friendly and easier to master than the Bose Music app, and there are fewer difficulties in pairing devices and finding what you’re looking for with the Sonos set.

Sound Quality

Both Bose and Sonos home theater sets deliver powerful, immersive audio.

Bose vs Sonos Home Theater System Sound Quality
Prepare to be blown away by the full on surround sound experience from the Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set.

Once you’ve got everything set up and working, it’s recommended that you have a seat before finally playing a movie or TV show in full surround sound. Both Bose and Sonos package will put a pretty nice dent in your bank account, but once you experience the depth and clarity they bring to your home entertainment setup, you’ll realize they’re worth every penny.

There’s really no clear winner in this department as their overall performance is too close to call. You get rich, crystal clear sound from both sets, along with bone-numbing lows from their subs. Those bass modules really make a difference in listening versus feeling what you’re watching. Both the Sonos Sub and Bose Bass Module 700 use innovative engineering to drastically reduce distortion so all you get is pure bass.

A couple points are worth mentioning before we proceed. The Sonos Beam features a Speech Enhancement mode that makes dialogue stand out more so you can follow what’s being said without turning up the volume. Meanwhile, if your living room has several different spots where you might sit, the ADAPTiQ setup for the Bose Soundbar 700 lets you customize the system better to sound great for all of them. There’s a speaker-tuning function in the Sonos app called Trueplay that lets you accomplish the same though.

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Smart Features

Both Bose and Sonos soundbars have built-in voice assistants.

Bose vs Sonos Home Theater System Smart Features
It’s easier to see voice assistant response with the Bose Soundbar 700’s light bar.

You can select between Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant on both surround systems as their included soundbars have them built in. There are eight custom microphones on the Bose Soundbar 700 while there are only five far-field mics on the Sonos Beam. Both mic arrays are designed to hear your voice even over loud music so you can issue commands while playing content. You can stream all of the popular music services such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Finally, you can further expand either Bose or Sonos system to encompass your entire home. Adding compatible speakers is easy since they can be auto-discovered via Wi-Fi, allowing you to control all of the speakers in the house via voice control or app if you wish.

Verdict

You won’t go wrong with either Bose or Sonos home theater system.

Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set

Sonos 5.1 Surround Set

There’s no easy way to say this, but there’s really no clear winner in this comparison. Both Bose 5.1 Home Theater Set and Sonos 5.1 Surround Set are excellent pre-packaged surround sound systems, offering immersive, high-definition audio with all the perks of modern voice control features.

If you already have either the Bose Soundbar 700 or Sonos Beam (or any of their current generation soundbar models), you can confidently upgrade your home entertainment setup by adding the bass and rear speakers. Fans of either brand might also wish to stick within their respective ecosystems since you can use the same app for any of their devices, and each company intentionally makes their products work better with each other.

As a last resort, since both home theater sets are so evenly matched in performance and features, you can simply decide based on price tag: get the system that currently offers the most savings.