"Good Solo Act that could be better"3.0 starson by absorber
Pros: Very good sound that is quick & easy to setup. Sturdy build quality with small convenient footprint.
Cons: Non-Programmable unit & remote. No volume level indicator or auto-power on features. Slightly expensive considering some features lacking.
Summary: The Solo nicely fits a niche form factor not met by most other sound bar offerings. I wanted to improve the basic sound quality of a Toshiba 37" LCD kept inside a large oak TV cabinet on an extendable swivel stand. I had been using a Sony sound bar to enhance the nearly nonexistent sound of a LCD TV. When the Sony bar bit the dust I went looking for another. The Solo seemed the perfect solution because I could put the Solo easily inside the cabinet on the swivel stand with the TV on top. Still at twice the price of other quality name sound bars I had reservations. finally decided I'd had good experiences with other Bose products, so I bit the bullet on the Solo.
Out of the box, the Solo is hefty and feels very solid. The top appears to be able to easily handle the 18 KG weight of my 37" LCD. Set up was quick & easy. Just connect the power cord and the included digital audio or analog RCA cable and you are ready to go... Nothing could be simpler. The base of my 37" LCD fits the foot print of the Solo perfectly with nothing hanging over. A very stable set up overall.
The sound quality was very clear and crisp from the first. It is far superior to both my old and most recently returned sound bars. Voices are very clear during dialog and newscasts. Background music or sound effects are more pronounced but not over-powering. I was expecting to hear a slightly booming bass effect like with my Bose Wave radio, but bass seems fairly controlled yet present. The base seems to come more alive with music and action sequences. You really do get the sense that the Solo is dynamically adjusting itself to the sound requirements of what is being watched. My wife noted it too. She raves about the realistic sound clarity. Still the Solo does not give a 5.1 or even a 2.1 surround sound experience. If that is what you are after, look elsewhere. However, to enjoy a HDTV with very good quality sound, the Solo delivers.
Basic operation is fairly straight forward. The Power and volume can only be controlled by remote. There is no on-screen volume level indicator. The TV cannot reflect the volume changes made on the Solo as with other sound bars. This is not a huge problem since I set the level to what is best for my ears. The Solo also powers down automatically after a few minutes of audio inactivity. However, it does not automatically power back up when the TV resumes sending an audio signal. So you have to find the remote to turn it on again. The lack of this feature is inconvenient.
The included remote is OK and works fine, but it's not programmable. It is small and easily misplaced. Programming and using one's regular TV remote is always better, like with the other sound bars I had. The Solo itself is not programmable to use other or learn existing remotes like the previous Sony bar I had. Instead, Bose Support says..."the Solo uses standard Bose IR codes that are offered in lots of cable set-top box remote controls along with other universal controllers." But Bose does not provide IR program codes with the Solo. This makes programming TV or other universal remotes inconvenient. Programming my remote to work with the Solo has been problematic. Both my DirecTV and Toshiba remotes do not list any Bose IR codes. So I had to use the "step-by-step" method of finding the right code. (Have an auto-searching remote would be better.) Once I found the code setting on each remote, only the power on/off worked. Neither remote will adjust the volume level for some reason. Bose tech support had no answer either and even acknowledged the problem with DirecTV remotes.
(Note: Bose does offer to sell you their very nice universal remote for $30. But for the price of the Solo, this should have been the remote that was included instead of the one provided, IMHO. I think Bose will get several returns on the Solo just based on remote control frustrations.)
Overall, I very much like the Solo sound quality and design. It does exactly what I wanted by providing very good sound quality to a HDTV with minimal fuss and clutter. Plus, it fits well in the area under my TV. For these reasons I rated it 3 out of 5 stars and would give a conditional buy recommendation. However, the Solo's not having an auto-sensing power-on feature, and not at least offering a convenient programmable option, drops its rating. Having these 2 additional features would push the rating to 5 stars with a strong buy recommendation that's well worth the $400 price. As it stands, we will see if I keep the Solo since I have another 75 days to decide and maybe other options can be found.