Bose SoundTouch: What’s the best home theater system?

Bose SoundTouch 220
Bose SoundTouch 220 in use.

The Bose SoundTouch home theater systems are wireless models designed to provide an integrated theater and music experience in the home. In terms of pricing they sit between the budget Acoustimass 6 series and the high-end LifeStyle SoundTouch line. Internationally, there are three SoundTouch systems available: the SoundTouch 120, which has a compact soundbar, the SoundTouch 130, which has a larger soundbar and the SoundTouch 520 5.1 system. The 120 costs $999 on Amazon, while on Currys it comes in at £999.95. The 130 and 520 are both priced at $1,349 on Amazon or £1,399.95 on Currys. UK buyers also have the option of the SoundTouch 220 (£1,000), which has two Gemstone speaker arrays. We’ll weigh up the advantages of each to determine which is the best home theater system for your needs. If you would like to see the whole selection we have reviewed, head over to the best speakers for home.

Introduction to the Bose SoundTouch series

First, an overview of the SoundTouch series as a whole is required before we can lead you to the best home theater system. Bose offer standalone speakers and a radio/CD player within the line, so it’s not limited to home theater systems. All the SoundTouch products are designed to be integrated as a single wireless system within the home, allowing you co-ordinate music throughout the house or play different music in different areas. All the models offer access, via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, to music stored on your computer, wireless devices and internet radio. Compatible sites include Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, iTunes, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM. All three SoundTouch home theater systems ship with a universal remote, although you can also choose to control the system via your device using the Bose SoundTouch app. All the SoundTouch home theater systems are essentially a wireless upgrade of the older CineMate systems. This is enabled with the addition of SoundTouch wireless adapter II.

Wireless adaptor II by bose
Wireless adaptor II

SoundTouch 120 offers compact option

The Bose SoundTouch 120 is a four-piece model. The compact 17 inch soundbar is complemented with the wireless Acoustimass module, control console and wireless adaptor. The Acoustimass module provides the bass and is identical across all three home theater systems. Its wireless design allows ease of placement, although of course it still needs to be plugged in to provide power. The module provides solid bass although it’s not the best in the market. It is well-suited to performance in small or medium-sized rooms.

Bose Soundtouch 120 Cinema System
Bose Soundtouch 120 Cinema Pack

The 120 is aimed at people who need a compact solution and those who want Bose quality without breaking the bank. The soundbar is powered by five drivers that are aided by Bose’s TrueSpace technology. As one would hope, the SoundTouch systems are very well-suited as home theater solutions. As a music solution they perform adequately but do not excel. This is particularly true for the smaller 120 model.

SoundTouch 130 provides larger soundbar

Bose SoundTouch 120 Soundbar
Bose SoundTouch 120 Soundbar

The Bose SoundTouch 130 includes four pieces, and the most notable upgrade from the 120 is the 37 inch soundbar. This makes it more than two times larger than the bar on the 120. The 130’s soundbar features six drivers and two PhaseGuide sound radiators. It’s a significant upgrade from the smaller unit, and 130 is also $349 more expensive. Apart from the soundbar, the included accessories and functions are all very similar to the 120. If you wish to mount the 120 or 130, both will require the purchase of a wall-mount kit from Bose.

Related: Bose SoundTouch 130 Review

Surround sound with the SoundTouch 520

The Bose SoundTouch 520 is an eight-piece system with five slim-profile speakers complementing the Acoustimass module. There are four identical Direct/Reflecting Series II speakers and a broader centre speaker. The dimensions of the former is 7.5″ H x 3.3″ W x 3.3″ D (2.28 lbs) while the latter comes in at 3.4″ H x 7.3″ W x 3.3″ D (2.2 lbs). The five smaller speakers are all wired, and if you wish to mount them, you’ll need to cough up some more money to buy the mounts.

Bose SoundTouch 520 speaker system pack
Bose SoundTouch 520 speaker system

SoundTouch 220 an alternative for UK buyers

The Bose SoundTouch 220 is a five-piece system available for consumers in the UK. It features two Gemstone speaker arrays in addition to the Acoustimass module. The arrays measure 2.5″ H x 5.55″ W x 4.1″ D (2.2lbs) each, which make them shorter than the 520’s speakers, although they are also wider and have greater depth. The unique Gemstone speakers are designed to create a wide soundstage for a a “cinema-like experience”. They have the advantage of less wiring and set-up hassle than the 5.1, although without the power of the full surround-sound set-up. If you don’t like the 17 inch soundbar on the 120, the 220 could be a good alternative at the same price-point. The 220 also allows you to space the speakers to suit your room.

Bose SoundTouch 220
Bose SoundTouch 220 setup.

The connectivity options across each SoundTouch home theater system are identical. In addition to the wireless connectivity, users will have the following to work with: Four HDMI inputs, a coaxial audio input (digital), optical audio input (digital), R-L audio input (analog), 1 HDMI output (to TV) and a 3.5mm connection (headphones/analog audio). Another aspect shared across all models is the ADAPTiQ headset. This inclusion allows you to calibrate the system’s response specifically to your room.

Which is the best home theater system from Bose?

The soundbars used in the SoundTouch 120 and 130 have the advantages of a very simple set-up and a tidy, minimalist look. The 220 is quite similar to the 120 but instead of a small soundbar, you get two Gemstone speaker arrays. The 520 has the advantage of a more authentic surround-sound experience. Whether the best home theater system for you is a soundbar to a 5.1 set-up is more up to personal preference than anything else. It’s definitely worth trying them out in-store to see which experience you prefer. Keep in mind that the size of the room will also affect the performance of the system. Regardless of your choice all the SoundTouch systems are quite straight-forward to set-up and get going.

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