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Sonos Beam vs Bose Soundbar 500 (2020): Which Should You Add To Your Home Theater?

The Sonos Beam and the Bose Soundbar 500 are entry-level soundbars from two of the top-rated speaker brands today. While may not be the cheapest, they are still among the most affordable in Sonos’ and Bose’s line of premium soundbars. We deep dive into their quality and features to help you decide which soundbar will be the better addition to your home.

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Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar

Tuned by award-winning sound engineers and equipped with Amazon Alexa, the Sonos Beam is the audio giant's most compact and affordable soundbar to date.

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Sonos Beam vs Bose Soundbar 500 Comparison Chart

ModelSonos BeamBose Soundbar 500
 Sonos BeamBose Soundbar 500
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at Walmart

Wall MountableYes (mount is sold separately)Yes (mount is sold separately)
Dimensions (W x H x D)25.6″ x 2.6″ x 4.0″31.5″ x 1.7″ x 4.0″
Weight6.2 lbs7 lbs
Speakers51
Microphones58
Audio DecoderDolby Digital 5.1 ch, PCM StereoDolby Digital 3.0 ch expandable to 5.1 ch
Built-in Voice AssistantAmazon Alexa, Google AssistantAmazon Alexa, Google Assistant
Apple AirPlay 2YesYes
Remote ControlNoYes
AppSonosBose Music
Wi-FiYesYes
BluetoothNoYes
ADAPTiQ HeadsetNoYes
Audio InputOptical (through an adapter for the HDMI ARC)Optical, HDMI ARC
HDMI Port11
USB inputNoYes
Year of Release20182018
ColorsBlack, WhiteBlack

Design

Both the Sonos Beam and the Bose Soundbar 500 look sleek, but their grille material is different

sonos-beam-vs-bose-soundbar-500
The Sonos Beam (top) is shorter and thicker than the Bose Soundbar 500 (bottom)

While both the Sonos Beam and the Bose Soundbar 500 have a matte finish and minimalist, sleek design, their size and grille material are different. The Sonos Beam is shorter than the Soundbar 500 by about six inches and thicker by almost an inch. They both have grilles that match their body, but the Beam is covered by a cloth grille that extends around its frame while the Soundbar 500 comes with a metal grille that stretches to its side panels.

They both have touch-capacitive controls found at their top panels. As the Sonos Beam has a smaller footprint, it can fit in between the legs of most TVs when using a TV stand. Both soundbars are mountable, but you need to purchase their mounts separately.

Setup and Control

Both the Sonos Beam and the Bose Soundbar 500 have touch, app, and voice controls, but the Beam doesn’t have Bluetooth and physical remote control

The Bose Soundbar 500‘s remote control doesn’t really offer much functionality

Setting up these soundbars is effortless and smooth. Simply connect the soundbar to your TV through their HDMI cable and you can start setting up and configuring settings through the Sonos app for the Beam and the Bose Music app for the Bose Soundbar 500. With that said, it’s hard to beat the user-friendly interface of the Sonos app which is incredibly intuitive.

Despite being entry-level soundbars, the Sonos Beam and the Soundbar 500 are equipped with smart features that make the viewing experience even more convenient. They both have built-in Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and they also work with the Apple AirPlay 2. These smart soundbars are equipped with microphones so your voice assistant can easily pick up your voice even when music is playing. The Sonos Beam has five far-field microphones while the Soundbar 500 comes with eight custom microphones.

Since they both have Wi-Fi connectivity, you can easily stream music straight from your device. What the Beam is missing though is Bluetooth connection and remote control, features which the Bose Soundbar 500 has. It only works with Wi-Fi and the Sonos app works as its remote control. While the Bose may come with physical remote control, the Bose’s app still offers better functionality than the remote.

Features

Both soundbars allow limited EQ customization; the Sonos Beam has Speech Enhancement while the Bose Soundbar 500 boasts ADAPTiQ system

sonos-beam-vs-bose-soundbar-500-4
Enjoy clear vocals with the Sonos Beam

Apart from the built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, another noteworthy feature of both the Sonos Beam and the Bose Soundbar 500 is their respective apps let you adjust the equalizer settings to your desired audio output. The Sonos Beam has a Speech Enhancement feature in its app that gives better vocal clarity when the decoded sound is softer such as when characters in the movie are whispering.

Bose kicks it up a notch with its trademark ADAPTiQ calibration system. Your purchase of a Soundbar 500 comes with an ADAPTiQ headset. When using your new soundbar for the first time, put the headset on and sit in your five favorite spots when watching TV. Your Bose Soundbar 500 will detect the sound quality from your different locations and enhance the sound for the best audio output that’s bespoke for your room. This is why when you rearrange your room, you should do the ADAPTiQ calibration again. Take note that this system is only compatible with iOS.

Sound Quality

Both soundbars deliver a crisp, clear, dynamic sound, but the Bose Soundbar 500 sounds slightly better than the Sonos Beam

The Bose Soundbar 500 gives a slightly richer, more detailed audio

Soundbars deliver audio quality that the built-in speakers on slim TVs today just can’t. They elevate the viewing and gaming experience to match the stunning picture of 4K TVs today. Once you’ve tried a soundbar, it’s hard to go back to watching TV or playing video games without it.

The Sonos Beam, which works best in small to medium-sized rooms, delivers crisp and clear audio. It is equipped with three passive radiators for better bass, four full-range woofers, one tweeter, and five Class D amplifiers that work together for a great dynamic sound and wide soundstage.

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Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar

Tuned by award-winning sound engineers and equipped with Amazon Alexa, the Sonos Beam is the audio giant's most compact and affordable soundbar to date.

Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Sonos.com
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Where the Beam sounds the best is when you’re listening to music or watching dialogue-heavy content. When it comes to sound effects that require deeper bass such as booms and explosions, you may find the Beam wanting. With that said, it still offers incredible sound for its price. For a more immersive full surround sound, you can pair the Beam with rear speakers and a sub, but this can be costly.

The Bose Soundbar 500 delivers slightly fuller, more detailed sound with strong mids and trebles and punchy bass. Its vocals are clear, even when the volume is loud. Because of its ADAPTiQ technology, you can expect great audio from any of your favorite viewing spots in the room. Again, just don’t forget to calibrate when you rearrange your furniture. If you want even better audio to match your 4K videos, pair your Soundbar 500 with the Bose Bass Module 500 to make it shine further.

Verdict

The Sonos Beam offers overall better value for your money than the Bose Soundbar 500

Deal Finder
Sonos Beam Smart Soundbar

Tuned by award-winning sound engineers and equipped with Amazon Alexa, the Sonos Beam is the audio giant's most compact and affordable soundbar to date.

Check Price on Amazon Check Price on Sonos.com
We are reader supported. When you buy through our links we may earn an affiliate commission.

If you are after multi-room audio, the Sonos Beam is the clear soundbar of choice as the Sonos is hard to beat in this department. Setting up your soundbar with other speakers in your house is effortless, thanks to Sonos’ user-friendly interface. Even if you’re just looking to improve viewing experience in one room, the Sonos Beam still provides better bang for your buck.

While the Sonos Beam doesn’t sound as impressive as the Bose Soundbar 500, it still delivers crisp, clear audio quality that significantly upgrades audio quality. Even as the more cost-effective entry-level soundbar, its sound quality, smart features, and ease of use won’t disappoint.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.