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Bose SoundTouch 520 Speaker System Review
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Review

Bose SoundTouch 520 Speaker System Review

by 2016/03/28
Overview
Price

$1349 on Amazon.com

Product Name

Bose SoundTouch 520

Positives

• Good home theatre solution
• Doubles as a music system
• Easy to set-up
• Links with other SoundTouch speakers

Negatives

• Doesn’t excel as a music system
• SoundTouch app requires active internet connection

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Sound Quality
82%
71%
Appearance
94%
76%
Worth it?
84%
78%
Ease of Use
83%
82%
Hardware
92%
82%
Features
93%
85%
Bottom Line

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.

88%
Our Rating
79%
User Rating
51 ratings
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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

Series II speaker by Bose

Bose SoundTouch 520 series II speaker

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.

Acoustimass module

Bose SoundTouch 520 acoustimass bass module

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.

SoundTouch 520 speaker system

Bose SoundTouch 520 speaker system (The speaker under the TV is the center speaker).

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.

Related: Bose SoundTouch: What’s the best Home Cinema System?

Wireless adaptor II by bose

Wireless adaptor II

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

soundtouch 520 control

Bose SoundTouch 520 control box

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.

Bose soundtouch control outputs

Bose SoundTouch 520 Control Console inputs and outputs

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.

United States: Amazon, Newegg
International: Nordstrom, Ebay, bhphotovideo

Choose this system if you're willing to pay a premium for a brand you recognize, good sound, and a stylish look.


The sound, as you'd expect from a Bose product, is wonderful (at least to my non-audiophile ears). It nicely fills our space and is clear at all volume levels.


Small speakers serve up big Bose sound, but this package comes with an exorbitantly high price tag, and some surprising limitations.


My overall review for this system is positive. I could actually listen to some the sounds in the movie and songs that I never knew was there. This system is an excellent improvement to your living room entertainment or to your theatre.


      Dimensions/weight:

    • Control console:2.5" H x 12.3" W x 8.2" D (3.28 lbs)
    • Direct/Reflecting® Series II speakers:7.5" H x 3.3" W x 3.3" D (2.28 lbs)
    • Center speaker:3.4" H x 7.3" W x 3.3" D (2.2 lbs)
    • Acoustimass® module:11.3" H x 7.6" W x 14.8" D (13.8 lbs)
    • Remote:8.8" H x 2.1" W x 1.2" D (0.3 lbs)

Additional details:

    • Power supply: Dual voltage 100-240
    • Wireless range of Acoustimass module: Up to 30 ft (9 m)
    • Supported audio formats: MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, Apple lossless
    • Shipping weight: 45 lbs (20.4 kg)

Inputs/outputs:
Console rear panel

    • 4 HDMI inputs
    • Coaxial audio input (digital)
    • Optical audio input (digital)
    • R-L audio input (analog)
    • 1 HDMI output (to TV)

In the box:

  • 5 Direct/Reflecting® Series II speakers
  • Wireless Acoustimass module
  • Control console
  • SoundTouch® wireless adapter II
  • Universal remote control
  • HDMI cable
  • Speaker cables
  • Power cords
  • USB cable (for updates)
  • ADAPTiQ headset

What's your reaction?
Thumbs Up
54%
Hype!
3%
Funny
7%
Cool
5%
Boring
0%
Rubbish
1%
Upsetting
30%
About The Author
Stephen Charlton
Stephen Charlton is a musician, journalist and editor.
  • L
    2017/01/21 at 3:34 pm
    Positives

    nothing to be impressed, not happy at all

    Negatives

    too expensive for what it does

    Rating
    Sound Quality14%
    Appearance48%
    Worth it?7%
    Ease of Use57%
    Hardware41%
    Features27%

    for the cost of it has a poor sound, otherwise is good
    being the 3rd product bought from Bose i thing is going to be the last one, i’m done with Bose

  • Franck
    2017/03/12 at 12:29 am
    Positives

    Small speakers

    Negatives

    No HDCP2 capability (BlueRay disk protection)
    no hardware upgrade
    No RF Remote

    Rating
    Sound Quality70%
    Appearance71%
    Worth it?9%
    Ease of Use50%
    Hardware10%
    Features16%

    No HDCP2 capability (BlueRay disk protection) : you can not update it cause it is a hardware lack
    Bose doesn’t allow to just upgrade the console (for hardware upgrade) : the new “jewel speaker” have different plug connectors
    Remote is IR and not RF (the iOS/Android app allow just streaming of music from library or internet radio) : you can not control volume of your movie via the app

  • Nate
    2017/03/21 at 10:39 am
    Positives

    sounds great
    base booming
    less wires

    Negatives

    bluetooth sucks
    wireless subwoofer need to be hardwire cause of interference from the wifi

    Rating
    Sound Quality90%
    Appearance90%
    Worth it?90%
    Ease of Use70%
    Hardware77%
    Features70%

    Bought it for 699 on sale at the bose store so I can’t complain about the price..

  • Laligam Mohan
    2017/10/10 at 6:18 am
    Positives

    Good Sound quality in a small room

    Negatives

    A provision could be given to adding an additional system to expand the listening area.

    Rating
    Sound Quality95%
    Appearance95%
    Worth it?64%
    Ease of Use70%
    Hardware70%
    Features76%

    I wonder if Bose Acoustimass 6 series V system could be added to soundtouch 520

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