The Bose SoundTouch 520 is a 5.1 home theatre system with five small speakers and an Acoustimass wireless bass module. It also features a control console, programmable universal IR remote, ADAPTiQ audio calibration headset and a SoundTouch wireless adapter II. The SoundTouch 520 is quite similar to the older Bose Cinemate 520 system. The key differentiating factor is the SoundTouch wireless adapter, which allows users to play music through the system via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Does the system justify the high asking price though?
Bose SoundTouch 520 provides big sound from small speakers
The SoundTouch 520 features four slim-profile Direct/Reflecting Series II speakers and a wider single centre speaker. Each of the former measures 7.5″ H x 3.3″ W x 3.3″ D (2.28 lbs) and the latter measures 3.4″ H x 7.3″ W x 3.3″ D (2.2 lbs). Each speaker has two transducers set at angles customised for a surround sound experience. The five small speakers are wired, and if you plan to mount the speakers either on a stand or the wall, you will need to buy the mounts separately from Bose. This is a bit of a hassle considering the basic system doesn’t come cheap. Despite their small size, the speakers combine with the Acoustimass module to provide great sound for gaming and movies.
The mids and highs sound good and the bass is solid. Unfortunately Bose doesn’t provide full technical specifications for the system. The Acousticmass module may not provide an earth-shaking bass response but it will please most users, particularly if they have a small or medium-sized room. The fact that the module wirelessly connects to the system helps with placement. You’ll still need to plug the module in to power it however.
System expanded for wireless music
The SoundTouch wireless adapter II is a key selling point for the system. It enables you to stream songs from your music library as well as through Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Deezer and internet radio stations. The adapter is powered by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can control the music through the included universal remote or through the Bose SoundTouch app. The app can be controlled via tablet, phone or computer. In order to play music on the system using the app, you have to be logged in, and to complete the login process, you need an active internet connection. This is going to really hurt if your connection goes down just before you have some friends over. This is quite ludicrous really and seems like a large disadvantage which could have been easily avoided if Bose had chosen to do so.
If you have other SoundTouch speakers you can play the same music throughout the house or play different music in different rooms. We recently reviewed the Bose SoundTouch 10, the smallest speaker in the line. The SoundTouch 520 system sounds great for use with movies although it’s not quite as strong with regard to music. It’s good but not amazing if you view it purely as a wireless music system. It is primarily a theatre system so it’s not surprising it’s been tailored mainly for this purpose.
The Bose SoundTouch 520, like other home theatre systems in the line, features an ADAPTiQ audio calibration system. Once users have placed their speakers, they can use the ADAPTiQ headset to customise the system’s response to their room. The system accommodates for rooms of different sizes as well as the acoustic properties of the room and its contents.
Range of connectivity options
The control console has four HDMI inputs to link it to devices in your home theatre set-up. The following inputs are also included: coaxial audio input (digital), optical audio input (digital) and a R-L audio input (analog). There’s also a single HDMI output for the TV. Setting the home theatre system up and getting it going is fairly stress-free. That’s definitely one of the advantages of the system. The included quick start guide and more in-depth manual are well set-out and easy to navigate.
The Bose SoundTouch 520 is a great home theatre system that also has the option of being a music system, although it doesn’t quite excel at the second task. The system looks good, is easy to set-up and has good build quality. The sound is great for movies, although the bass isn’t particularly outstanding. The included wireless music system will naturally be more attractive if you have or intend to get other SoundTouch devices, which can be linked throughout the house. The system comes with a sizable price tag, and it’s far from perfect, so it’s debatable whether the product is worth the outlay.