Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 which is better?

I have been wanting to make this Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 article for a while now. A while back I put together this Bose Smart Soundbar 300 Vs Bose Soundbar 500 Review article that looked at the two Bose soundbars that were below the Bose Smart Soundbar 700. The Sonos Arc really does need an introduction as it is one of the most popular soundbars around. I have compared it to the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 before. The Bose Smart Soundbar 500 is clearly not packing what the 700 does, but I really wanted to put it side by side with the Sonos Arc to see if it could hold its own.

The Price

I have to say that I feel the price is perhaps the most important category in this Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 fight to the death! The reason I say that is, ok so this is a spoiler alert here, but the Sonos Arc is clearly going to be the more powerful and better sounding soundbar. However, the price difference between the two is more than likely going to be what sways a person to the 500 over the Arc.

Sonos Arc: 

The fact that the Sonos Arc has managed to keep its price right around RRP for so long is a real indication of just how good and popular this soundbar is. You are more than likely going to be spending $799.99 on this as that is the RRP and as it is so popular, retailers have no reason to lower the price! This is a soundbar that is actually worth every penny of that RRP in my opinion. Are there any deals to be found? That is perhaps what you are asking. If you shop around and are patient, you can find this perhaps for 50 maybe even 75 bucks less. Even if you go to eBay, you are not going to find this much cheaper, hell I have seen it way more than the RRP on eBay!

Bose Smart Soundbar 500:

When the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 was first released it had an asking price of 500 bucks. Then, I did not actually think it was a bad price for a soundbar of this quality and as far as I can recall, the 500 was the premier soundbar that Bose offered at the time it was released. The chances of finding a Bose Smart Soundbar 500 on Amazon or another major retailer these days is probably pretty slim. They are pretty readily available on eBay. Some people are still trying to sell new ones for 500 bucks. However, I did find a few that were in the $300 to $400 mark which is a lot more acceptable.

The Verdict: 

Even though the Sonos Arc is around 300 bucks or even more than the Bose Smart Soundbar 500, I feel that the Arc is better value for money. I am writing this article right at the end of 2021 and I could not imagine spending 500 bucks on a soundbar that does not offer you Dolby Atmos. If you can find the 500 on eBay or a discount site/store and it is closer to 250 or 300 bucks, it might have a chance against the Arc, but it is not a very big chance.  

The Design

I always get a kick out of putting Sonos and Bose in the ring together. In this Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 contest, this is probably going to be the most interesting categories for us to look at today. Both these companies do a great job in making sure that their soundbars look cool, sleek, and have a real sense of fashion about them too.

Sonos Arc: 

As far as the design of the Sonos Arc goes, it is a design I have come to appreciate more and more. Check out this rather recent (well as of me writing this article) Sonos Arc Wireless Smart Soundbar for Home Theater – Quick Look India that talks about the design (and sound capabilities too) of this soundbar. The first thing that I noticed about the Arc when I unboxed it was how curvy the soundbar was. Curves are something that I love about the design of Sonos’s series of soundbars. The rounded look of the soundbar is something that I am sure the majority of people are going to really like. Sonos knows that a soundbar is going to be out on display all of the time and the curves that this soundbar has, make it look very classy and cool.

The Sonos Arc is a decent sized soundbar as it comes in at 45” x 3.4” x 4.5”. It is pretty long, but the width and depth is not too bad at all so it should be fine under most 55 inch and above TVs. The whole soundbar is made with this very solid plastic and once you do take it out of the box, it has a real quality feel about it. Rather than using a fabric grille like they did with the original Sonos Beam. They use a strong plastic grille here. As well as being much better on the eyes (in my opinion) it offers the drivers far more protection than fabric. Plus, it is not easily damaged and it is way easier to clean too.

On the back of the Sonos Arc, we have a very minimalistic kind of design. It still has that stylish look of the front, but there is only one connectivity port on the back of here! Sonos only has an HDMI port on here and as this is a soundbar that is offering Dolby Atmos, I am more than ok with that. You may be wondering right now, what if I want to hook this up with an optical port? Well, first of all, you lose Dolby Atmos if you use an optical cable. However, if you really do want to hook it up that way, Sonos has you covered as they give you a handy HDMI to optical cable.

Bose Smart Soundbar 500:

Have a look at this Bose Soundbar 500 – Unboxing + Setup which is made by Bose themselves. Here you can see exactly what you are getting with the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 as well as a better idea of how cool this thing looks. I wish more companies would do quick unboxings of their products like Bose do. This is far smaller than the Arc coming in at 31.5” x 1.75” x 4”.  I would say this is more comparable with the Sonos Beam Gen 2 than the Arc when it comes to the dimensions of it. This is a great soundbar if you want something that is a bit more on the modest side when it comes to the size of it. I am pretty confident that the 500 is going to be able to easily fit between the legs of a 42 inch TV.

Now, the design of the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 is amazing. I love the way that this soundbar looks, it is so cool. Bose makes sure that all of their soundbars have a really premium feel to them and even though this one is not exactly “new” it still has that high-quality Bose feel to it. The majority of the soundbar is made from a strong black plastic, but what I really love about the design is that they use a metal grille which is awesome. Not only does this look incredibly badass, but it is also very easy to clean and it keeps the soundbar drivers very well protected. In comparison to the Arc, it is a bit “boxier” with the overall design, and if you like or dislike that, it is all a personal preference. I personally like it better, but I could see why some people would prefer the curvy style of the Arc.

On the back of the Bose Smart Soundbar 500, we have our various connection options. You have both an HDMI Arc and an optical port to hook this up to your TV with. This is great as you are covered no matter what you decide. There is also a micro-USB port and an ethernet port on the back of here too. There is a port for the headset that is included in the box (more on that later) and you also have a port for a sub so you can connect it to something like the awesome , but very pricey Bose Bass Module 500.

The Verdict: 

When I put the Sonos Arc against the Bose Smart Soundbar 700, the 700 knocked it out! I have to say that while I do like the curvy design that the Sonos Arc has. I still feel that the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 just like the 700 is a better looking soundbar. I do have to say that this is all down to personal preference as I could quite happily take someone liking the more curvy design of the Arc over the 500.

The Sound

This kind of feels like an unfair round in our Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 contest. We have a fantastic Dolby Atmos soundbar going up against a soundbar that does not only not have Dolby Atmos, it is not even the flagship soundbar from the company. Still, we are going to give both of these a fair try and see if the 500 can stand up against the Arc.

Sonos Arc:

Ok, so I have told you guys to check out this SONOS | The Mandalorian meets Arc video before, but it is so much fun and shows why this is such a great soundbar for those that want that big movie theatre kind of sound at home. We have to start by talking about the level of Dolby Atmos the Sonos Arc offers you. I think that the Sonos Arc does an amazing job of giving you great Dolby Atmos sound. A movie I want to talk about is the live action Dumbo which was great. I am a huge Tim Burton fan, but I was not sure what he would do with Dumbo! Anyway, the sound design in this movie, especially during the circus scenes are phenomenal. I legit felt like I was in the movie theatre when I was watching this scene. Just before the scene started, I cranked the volume up and I was well and truly immersed in the sound. I would have to be honest and say that I have heard better Dolby Atmos elsewhere, but still, this is amazing stuff and for under a thousand bucks, you are getting some awesome movie theatre style sound.

A well-balanced sound is what you really want from a soundbar, especially when you are spending like 800 bucks. To start with if you are watching a movie like Don’t Breathe 2 which has a really diverse kind of sound going on. The Arc well and truly comes into its own. From the quiet and tense scenes to the scenes where all hell breaks loose and there is shouting, fighting, and all kinds of noise. The Sonos Arc does a phenomenal job of making sure the whole sound is very well balanced and that you do not miss anything. Last Christmas we had the grandparents over and after dinner my son put on How to Train Your Dragon and my grandmother was amazed at how clear all the people were speaking!

Even though the Sonos Arc does not have a subwoofer, the bass and power in general offered here are great. I would never actually suggest to someone that they need to buy a subwoofer to go with this. Of course, the expensive and awesome, Sonos Sub Gen 3  is amazing and would certainly add a great deal to your overall experience. I think movies that have a lot of blood pumping bass and loud action scenes will not disappoint you. I am a nerd and way too obsessive about this kind of stuff. However, most people will probably not even notice that there is not a subwoofer included here.

Bose Smart Soundbar 500:

I have to try and be fair when talking about the sound capabilities of the Bose Smart Soundbar 500. For its day, this was the best that Bose had on the market, but the world of soundbars moves really fast! Still, in looking back, the 500 still has some great sound. If you were to watch a movie like Jurassic World for example. You will notice that the 500 manages to have a very well-balanced kind of sound. It manages to go above and beyond when it comes to cinema style sound, even if there are many other soundbars on the market now that can go beyond what this can do. Of course, in a direct comparison to the Sonos Arc. The Bose Smart Soundbar 500 does not offer Dolby Atmos or the same kind of room filling surround sound style audio that you get with something like the Arc. It is a solid 3.1 setup and again, for its day this was one of the best on the market.

Even though it cannot match the Arc in terms of 3D audio, surround sound, or whatever you want to call it. The 500 still fills the room with great sound. It may be my least favorite of the Avengers movies, but I remember watching Avengers: Age of Ultron with the 500 and being very impressed with the sound quality that it produced. It managed to have a very dynamic kind of sound and as I was sitting right in front of the Arc, I felt that I was getting really smashed with the sound and it was a very positive experience. On its own and if this was your first “premium” soundbar, you would be blown away by the sound this is producing for big budget Hollywood style movies.

The Bose Smart Soundbar 500 has a few different presets that you can play around with, but one thing that I do want to give special attention to is the way that the soundbar handles dialogue. My wife loves the live action remake of Beauty and the Beast and a movie like this sounds great through the 500. The way it handles the more softer-spoken dialogue and then the louder more intense stuff is very well done. Clear voice is something that Bose has always done well and even going back to this, it is still very impressive. I do have to say that if we go back to when the 500 was first released, this thing is a slam dunk, awesome in every way! However, I am writing this at the end of 2021 and there are far better sounding soundbars on the market than this around this price range.

The Verdict: 

For its day the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 was a fantastic soundbar that offered amazing sound and it still offers great sound to this day. The thing is, Bose themselves have ditched the 500. It was first replaced by the 700 and more recently the Bose Smart Soundbar 900.  Look, side by side, the Sonos Arc smashes the 500 when it comes to sound in every way. It is so one sided that I kind of feel it is an unfair comparison, to tell the truth!

The Remote Control

If you want to know how you are going to control your soundbar this is the category for you. I have always loved a fancy remote control and that is why in our Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 it (well for me) it is a very important category for us to dive into today.

Sonos Arc: I have looked at the Sonos Arc probably over ten times here on the site. Most of the time each category has been fawning all over it saying how it is amazing and how great it is at everything. The one area where the Sonos Arc stumbles is the remote control. It is kind of like The Death Star having that port open on the top for it to be blown up by Luke! The Sonos Arc does not come with a remote control! Instead, you can control it with your voice (which I refuse to do) or you can use the Sonos app. The Sonos App to be fair is amazing and gives you so much control of your soundbar that you can just do the basics like turn the volume up or down, put it on a certain preset, and so on. Or, you can get really involved and play with the sound to get it just the way you want.

Bose Smart Soundbar 500: I have said it many times, but the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 has one of the greatest remote controls I have ever had the pleasure to use. The soundbar that came before it, the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 has a decent remote control in its own right too. It is a fairly simple remote control, but it has a nice and compact design and it has different buttons that allow you to switch to a different sound preset nice and quickly. I think the remote is pretty solid and even those who are not as technically minded are going to have no trouble using this remote control at all. You can also use the Bose App with this soundbar which is a great app and gives you even more control over the soundbar. It is worth noting that you can also use Google Assistant and Alexa with the 500 if you want. I am not at the stage where I am comfortable talking to my tech though!

The Verdict: I have to say that while at first glance the remote control that they give you with the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 looks basic, it more than gets the job done. It is a fun little remote that looks cool and it gives you access to the main features of the soundbar. Of course, you can also use the Bose App or voice commands if you like. In regards to the Sonos Arc, if I have said it once, I have said it a million times, the fact that Sonos has done away with the remote control sucks man!  

What Is In The Box?

We have to take a deep dive into the box of both of these soundbars. I always end these VS battles with a what is in the box category and that is going to stay true for our Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 today.

Sonos Arc: While the box that the Sonos Arc comes in is pretty large, I have had to test other soundbars that come in boxes which this one could fit in! Sonos is great when it comes to making sure that their customers are taken care of. You get the actual Sonos Arc and its power cable. You also get a little booklet to thumb through as well, but who actually does that. They give you a good quality HDMI cable and they also give you that little HDMI to optical cable in the box too. It kind of blows my mind that they throw that in here as most other companies would just advertise it to you so you go and buy one!

Bose Smart Soundbar 500: The Bose Smart Soundbar 500 is great in that it gives you what you need to get started. The box itself is not too large which is something that makes picking this up from the store more convenient. Anyway, as well as the soundbar they do also give you an HDMI cable, but there is no optical cable thrown in here. They give you a Bose ADAPTiQ headset which is fun to play around with. The idea of this is that it will make it easier to calibrate the soundbar so it is perfect for your room. When I got my Bose Smart Soundbar 700 I ended up selling it on eBay and buying a couple of Blu Rays with the money!

The Verdict: This is always the hardest category to pick a winner in. I have to say that I feel that even though the Sonos Arc is giving you all that you need in the box. The Bose Smart Soundbar 500 does come with a few extra bells and whistles that I think may just only slightly nudge it ahead. To be fair, I could write this segment again tomorrow and decide that the HDMI to optical cable converter makes the Arc the winner!

What Is The Best?

As we have gone through each of the categories in our Sonos Arc vs Bose Smart Soundbar 500 today, it is clear that the winner here has to be the Sonos Arc. When the Bose Smart Soundbar 500 was first released, it was a great soundbar and it still holds up well. However, for 500 bucks, I think that you are way better saving up longer and getting the Arc. Or, if you feel that you really want a Bose Soundbar go for the Bose Smart Soundbar 900. The 700 is great, but the 900 as it has Dolby Atmos is far more comparable to what the Sonos Arc is offering.

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