For Bose sound system fans, it can be hard to pick the one model, especially if it is between Bose 520 vs 525. Both are nice systems although they are considered over priced by most of the surround sound enthusiast. Personally, I think they are high quality systems that are worth your money but I am the minority. Regardless, I will take a closer look between the Bose Cinemate 520 and Lifestyle 525 so that you have a common ground for comparing these.
Editor notes: for non Bose fans, check our review of the best wireless surround sound system for your home.
#1: Sound quality
This is a super subjective judgement as everyone has different views on what is a good sound system. Some needs a strong base while others focus only on the high notes. In the end, my personal view is that the Lifestyle 525 sounds better as it is able to touch the low base while maintaining a sharp high note reach.
#2: Wireless vs wired
If you want a wireless surround sound system, then the Cinemate 520 is your only choice between the two. However, do note that the wireless only applies to the rear speakers as the front ones still need to be connected via wires. The Lifestyle, on the other hand, is fully wired.
#3: Size of subwoofer
The Cinemate 520 has a smaller subwoofer relative to the Lifestyle 525. Maybe that is the reason that the 525 has a better base.
#4: Remote control
The Cinemate 520 only has a RF remote. The Lifestyle 525, on the other hand, has an additional IR repeater. This allow you to better control devices that are hidden away.
A related point is the on screen display For the 520, you need to do everything on the display screen that is available in the RF remote. The 525, in contrast, has the ability to project the display on a bigger screen for you to easily see and control.
The LIfestyle has a higher price point relative to the Cinemate. The difference can be quite significant as it ranges between a few hundred to a thousand, depending on the particular retailer or online store that you visit.
In summary, both systems are pretty solid surround sound systems, although they might be deem too expensive by some. I believe you pay for quality and convenience as the setup for both is pretty straight forward.