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  1. #1
    Defender of Common Sense Registered Member
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    Differences between Bose 901 version I - VI.

    Differences between Bose 901 version I - VI.

    I recently purchased a Sansui 9090db in near mint condition. I now need some good speakers to go with it. I'm very interested in the Bose 901s for a variety of reasons, but I'm having a very hard time finding a comprehensive source of 901 information. I've read that there have been some 350 changes to the original 901s. However, figuring out exactly what changes have been made has been very challenging. Below I've listed what I've read on the internet, and if anyone could add to this list, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I've read that the series I and II used a sealed box, and the III-VI uses a vented boxes which supposedly increases efficiency at the cost of one octave in the low end.

    I also know that the first two series where made of real wood, and later series were veneered and then eventually the wood veneers gave way to wood-like laminates.

    I also know that the series III and IVs have a problem with foam rot.

    I've also read that the series II equalizer has more of a high frequency boost than the series I does. Are there any physics differences between the series I and IIs?

    I've also read that the equalizers for the series I and II are interchangeable. This would make sense if only the equalizers were different. If the series II equalizers and the speakers were both characteristically different from their series I counterparts, then it seems like they should not be interchangeable. If the only thing that's different is the equalizer, then why do the series IIs go for so much more on eBay? Many eBay sellers claim the series IIs are the most desirable of the series. What else is different?

    Anyway, this is what I've found on the internet so far. I don't think I've identified all 350 changes yet. If anyone can add to this list that would be great.

    Thanks
    njspeer

  2. #2
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Please fasten your seatbelts and return all chairs to their upright position. We'll be heading into a bit of turbulence now. So please hang on.
    Hope ya got an airbag.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  3. #3
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    It sounds like you already know more …

    It sounds like you already know more than you think you do. But check this out:

    http://www.epinions.com/content_4064256132

    And here's something I wrote a long time ago:

    The odd numbers are the major upgrades. The I and the II are almost alike, the III and the IV should sound exactly alike, the V and the VI are almost alike.

    The I (and I'm not sure about the II) have fabric surrounds, which seem to last forever. The cabinet is also made out of solid wood. I've never heard the early ones. Some people say they were the best. Other people say that they lacked detail in the bass and smoothness in the treble, compared to newer generations.

    The early ones are known for being power-hungry. this was fixed with the Series III, by giving them a more flexible voice coil. The III also introduced the plastic internal compartment known as the Acoustic Matrix, in part to improve the bass.

    The III still had power handling and reliability problems, which were fixed in the IV.

    The V added a coating to the back of the cones, to smooth out the low treble and high midrange. This ostensibly gives you more natural female voices.

    To my ears, the VI do sound subtly clearer than the IV.

    The V had aluminum on the sides, which nobody liked. That was the main reason they were replaced by the VI. The VI also had changes to the equalization, partly to adjust the sound to compensate for the change to particle board and wood veneer on the sides of the cabinets, partly because Bose "performed research" (changed their minds) about the acoustics in an average home.

    If you have the III, IV, or early V (as I said, I'm not sure what kind of surrounds the II had), them by now the foam surrounds should be brittle, unless, of course, they've already been replaced. If you don't do the work yourself, replacing the surrounds is expensive because each speaker has nine of them.

    Bose has a transferable trade-up policy. If the foam surrounds go bad, you pay for the shipment to Framingham, Massachusetts. For a discounted price, which keeps going up, you get new speakers and equalizer. they tell you to keep your present pedestals.

    (I wonder what they do with the old ones.)

    Starting with the later V, they've added antibacterial chemicals to the foam surrounds, to prolong their life.

    I used to own the 901 Series IV. I asked a Bose representative if I could upgrade them by replacing just the equalizer. His answer was no, that would make them spikier. Each generation of EQ is optimized to each generation of speaker. However, as I pointed out before, there is relatively little difference between EQs of Series I and II, between III and IV, and between V and VI.

    Yes, Stereophile has the best review I've read of 901s on their Web site:

    http://www.stereophile.com/printarchives.cgi?425

    It was originally printed in 1971. Even though speakers have improved since then, including the Bose 901, in my opinion, almost every word of this article is still true. Not only did J. Gordon Holt correctly anticipate the dichotomy - people either love the Bose 901s or hate them - but he explains why.

    Both 901-lovers, like myself, and 901-haters, can take away from this review things to agree with. Like most professional reviewers, Holt said that they were the best - *the best* - in some regards. But they have a distinct coloration which doesn't conform to the orthodoxy about high-end sound.

    PS. I know more now than I did when I wrote the above, and I wish I had time to write a more thorough update. Suffice it to say that the Series I and the Series II are *basically* the same speeaker, and the Series III, IV, V and VI are basically alike. The IV was the only generation with an extra connection for the Bose Spatial Control Receiver, which permitted the user to attenuate either the inner or outer rear banks, to widen or narrow the image.
    Last edited by Hoho; 02-24-2006 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Added info

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    Please fasten your seatbelts and return all chairs to their upright position. We'll be heading into a bit of turbulence now. So please hang on.
    Hope ya got an airbag.
    Should there be a warning to new posters about not taking responses to Bose questions personally? Welcome to AudioReview.
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  5. #5
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnMichael
    Should there be a warning to new posters about not taking responses to Bose questions personally? Welcome to AudioReview.
    So far so good. But you know that someone will be along eventually to throw this into high gear.

    njspeer,

    Welcome to AR and try to ingnore anything that isn't helpfull.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Welcome to Audioreview!
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  7. #7
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    Good Lord, we have an expert on Bose on board !!!

    There's somethin' you don' see every day!
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  8. #8
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Bose is junk. Bose sounds like crap. Anybody who likes Bose does not know anything about speakers. A Bose system that sells for $1500 costs around $8 to make. You can do better for less money.

    Okay, there. All that's out of the way. Carry on with discussion
    Last edited by N. Abstentia; 02-24-2006 at 04:32 PM.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    I wouldnt go so far and say they are all junk. I heard a 5.1 Minicube setup that for my taste is good enough for movies ( I just watch the Simpsons) and feel like my DIVAS would be ashamed if their owners use them for HT. Their system was easy to use, small and i find them better then those Paradigm Atoms i had in NC. Granted its expensive and overprized, but so is a lot of stuff in the audio world. The 901 when properbly EQed and driven aint all that bad, i heard much worse and highly reviewed.

    PS: I have no priority for movies, already had a fully THX-Ultra driven dedicated HT. It was fun, but not my interest so ALL HT freaks lay off me please For music i wouldnt touch this stuff, but that incl. every Paradigm, B&W etc.. too....!!! LOL
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  10. #10
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    I wouldnt go so far and say they are all junk. I heard a 5.1 Minicube setup that for my taste is good enough for movies ( I just watch the Simpsons) and feel like my DIVAS would be ashamed if their owners use them for HT. Their system was easy to use, small and i find them better then those Paradigm Atoms i had in NC. Granted its expensive and overprized, but so is a lot of stuff in the audio world. The 901 when properbly EQed and driven aint all that bad, i heard much worse and highly reviewed.

    PS: I have no priority for movies, already had a fully THX-Ultra driven dedicated HT. It was fun, but not my interest so ALL HT freaks lay off me please For music i wouldnt touch this stuff, but that incl. every Paradigm, B&W etc.. too....!!! LOL
    Hey! I'm an HT freak, and I resemble that remark.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  11. #11
    golden ear Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by njspeer
    Differences between Bose 901 version I - VI.

    I recently purchased a Sansui 9090db in near mint condition. I now need some good speakers to go with it. I'm very interested in the Bose 901s for a variety of reasons, but I'm having a very hard time finding a comprehensive source of 901 information. I've read that there have been some 350 changes to the original 901s. However, figuring out exactly what changes have been made has been very challenging. Below I've listed what I've read on the internet, and if anyone could add to this list, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I've read that the series I and II used a sealed box, and the III-VI uses a vented boxes which supposedly increases efficiency at the cost of one octave in the low end.

    I also know that the first two series where made of real wood, and later series were veneered and then eventually the wood veneers gave way to wood-like laminates.

    I also know that the series III and IVs have a problem with foam rot.

    I've also read that the series II equalizer has more of a high frequency boost than the series I does. Are there any physics differences between the series I and IIs?

    I've also read that the equalizers for the series I and II are interchangeable. This would make sense if only the equalizers were different. If the series II equalizers and the speakers were both characteristically different from their series I counterparts, then it seems like they should not be interchangeable. If the only thing that's different is the equalizer, then why do the series IIs go for so much more on eBay? Many eBay sellers claim the series IIs are the most desirable of the series. What else is different?

    Anyway, this is what I've found on the internet so far. I don't think I've identified all 350 changes yet. If anyone can add to this list that would be great.

    Thanks
    njspeer
    it is not right to say that Bose sucks...here's what i suggest. have a listen to Paradigm studio reference, B&W 600 series, Dynadio audience, Triangle, Monitor Audio, Mordaunt Short...and tell me if you still would like to buy a Bose..

  12. #12
    Defender of Common Sense Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by accastil
    it is not right to say that Bose sucks...here's what i suggest. have a listen to Paradigm studio reference, B&W 600 series, Dynadio audience, Triangle, Monitor Audio, Mordaunt Short...and tell me if you still would like to buy a Bose..
    I realize that most audiophile don't like Bose, and become irritated when newbies joins a forum and start asking about Bose. So let me explain why I'm leaning toward buying a pair of Bose 901s. The following are a list of priorities in order of importance:


    1. Good investment (will increase in value)
    2. Are visually compatible with my 1920 bungalow
    3. Best sound for the money


    The reason I have good investment listed as my first priority is that as a consumer, I try to buy things that will increase in value whenever possible. That way if I change my mind later, I can sell the item for a profit, or at least break even. Obviously this constraint involves research, but so far, it has been very rewarding. A pair of Bose 901s series I or II in great condition can be purchased for around $250 on eBay. Given the historical significants of the 901s, their great sound, and the large demand for them, they should be a relatively good investments. And if I decide to replace them in a few years, I will be able to sell them for a profit. If I were to purchase a set of B&Ws 600 series they would probably depreciate for the next 10+ years before they start to appreciate, if they ever appreciated at all. Often times, only the top of the line products appreciate while their cheaper counter parts continue to depreciate. The B&W 600 series are probably a good deal at $600/ pair, but are near the low end of the B&W speaker line, and will probably not be in high demand 10 or 20 years from now; for something to appreciate there has to be a high demand for it, and collectors usually only want the high end stuff which causes the lower end items to never appreciate, no matter how old they become.

    The second requirement is that they go with my 1920s Arts&Crafts bungalow. A large pair of shiny, black, piano finished speakers would be visually inconsistent with the mission furniture in my living room. The wife would strictly forbid them to be there, and any other redeeming characteristics they might have would be irrelevant. Not to keep beating up on the B&Ws, but even with the cherry finish, they would not look very good in my living room. The next time you're in a Barnes and Noble just look at a copy of American Bungalow magazine, and try to count the number of TVs or Stereos you see in the pictures. The number will most certainly be zero.

    My third requirement is universal and should be self explanatory. At $250, it's hard to imagine anything sounding better. I'm actually still open to suggestions on this point, but I'm pretty sure at $250 they can't be beat. Obviously "Best sounding" is subjective, but I believe there is a difference between a $50 pair of speakers and a $3000 pair of speakers. [BTW, the original Bose 901s sold for $500 in 1968; that's $2700 in 2005 dollars.] So, while they would certainly not be the best sounding speaker for $2700 today, at $250 (one tenth their original price), I just don't see anything beating them. But, like I said: I'm still open to suggestions on this point.

    Also, when it comes to my subjective opinion of "best sounding," I'm pretty simple in my tastes. In fact, some of my most memorable music experiences occurred while listening to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" through the stock speakers of an old Ford F150. It really doesn't take much to please me, and I don't equate things like silky-smooth highs and imaging with happiness. In fact, like most lay people, I generally find high frequency noises to be unpleasant, and when I listen to Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe" don't need to know exactly where Bob's harmonica was relative to the microphone during the recording to be happy. However, low-end frequencies are important, as I have a large Rock-n-Roll collection. I don't care how "smooth" the highs are, if the speakers can't do justice to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells", then they won't make me happy. Anyway, I've read that the Bose series I and IIs are reliable down to the mid 20s with a good amplifier. That should be plenty low for me, I just hope my Sansui 9090db will be sufficient.

    Anyway, I still would like to know what other differences exist between the series I and series IIs. the only difference I'm aware of is with the active equalizer. The series II has more of a high end boost. I'm sure there are other differences, but I can't find them. I would also be interested to know how a series I or II sounds compared to a series VI. Has anyone directly compared the them?

    Oh, and thanks for the warm welcome!

    NJSpeer

  13. #13
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by njspeer
    I realize that most audiophile don't like Bose, and become irritated when newbies joins a forum and start asking about Bose. So let me explain why I'm leaning toward buying a pair of Bose 901s. The following are a list of priorities in order of importance:


    1. Good investment (will increase in value)
    2. Are visually compatible with my 1920 bungalow
    3. Best sound for the money


    The reason I have good investment listed as my first priority is that as a consumer, I try to buy things that will increase in value whenever possible. That way if I change my mind later, I can sell the item for a profit, or at least break even. Obviously this constraint involves research, but so far, it has been very rewarding. A pair of Bose 901s series I or II in great condition can be purchased for around $250 on eBay. Given the historical significants of the 901s, their great sound, and the large demand for them, they should be a relatively good investments. And if I decide to replace them in a few years, I will be able to sell them for a profit. If I were to purchase a set of B&Ws 600 series they would probably depreciate for the next 10+ years before they start to appreciate, if they ever appreciated at all. Often times, only the top of the line products appreciate while their cheaper counter parts continue to depreciate. The B&W 600 series are probably a good deal at $600/ pair, but are near the low end of the B&W speaker line, and will probably not be in high demand 10 or 20 years from now; for something to appreciate there has to be a high demand for it, and collectors usually only want the high end stuff which causes the lower end items to never appreciate, no matter how old they become.

    The second requirement is that they go with my 1920s Arts&Crafts bungalow. A large pair of shiny, black, piano finished speakers would be visually inconsistent with the mission furniture in my living room. The wife would strictly forbid them to be there, and any other redeeming characteristics they might have would be irrelevant. Not to keep beating up on the B&Ws, but even with the cherry finish, they would not look very good in my living room. The next time you're in a Barnes and Noble just look at a copy of American Bungalow magazine, and try to count the number of TVs or Stereos you see in the pictures. The number will most certainly be zero.

    My third requirement is universal and should be self explanatory. At $250, it's hard to imagine anything sounding better. I'm actually still open to suggestions on this point, but I'm pretty sure at $250 they can't be beat. Obviously "Best sounding" is subjective, but I believe there is a difference between a $50 pair of speakers and a $3000 pair of speakers. [BTW, the original Bose 901s sold for $500 in 1968; that's $2700 in 2005 dollars.] So, while they would certainly not be the best sounding speaker for $2700 today, at $250 (one tenth their original price), I just don't see anything beating them. But, like I said: I'm still open to suggestions on this point.

    Also, when it comes to my subjective opinion of "best sounding," I'm pretty simple in my tastes. In fact, some of my most memorable music experiences occurred while listening to Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" through the stock speakers of an old Ford F150. It really doesn't take much to please me, and I don't equate things like silky-smooth highs and imaging with happiness. In fact, like most lay people, I generally find high frequency noises to be unpleasant, and when I listen to Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe" don't need to know exactly where Bob's harmonica was relative to the microphone during the recording to be happy. However, low-end frequencies are important, as I have a large Rock-n-Roll collection. I don't care how "smooth" the highs are, if the speakers can't do justice to AC/DC's "Hell's Bells", then they won't make me happy. Anyway, I've read that the Bose series I and IIs are reliable down to the mid 20s with a good amplifier. That should be plenty low for me, I just hope my Sansui 9090db will be sufficient.

    Anyway, I still would like to know what other differences exist between the series I and series IIs. the only difference I'm aware of is with the active equalizer. The series II has more of a high end boost. I'm sure there are other differences, but I can't find them. I would also be interested to know how a series I or II sounds compared to a series VI. Has anyone directly compared the them?

    Oh, and thanks for the warm welcome!

    NJSpeer
    There is only one question that you have not answered. Have you bothered to listen to any speakers to find out for yourself what really does sound better? I really don't care what you buy but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not actually listen to some other speakers before spending/wasting money on the 901's. Those of us on this and other forums who have listened to speakers prior to purchase never buy "Bose". For the money there are just lots of competing products that sound a lot better. Do you really think a pair of 901's will appreciate in value over 10 to 15 years? Finally, Bose speakers are not now, were not in the past and will not in the future be the best sound for the money. Only "Bose" and paid shills say anything about "Blose" being the best sound for the money. Please go and listen to some speakers before buying anything!
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  14. #14
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Granted there are many more better speakers out there for less money, but I am as audiophile as can be with my limited budget. I woul pic a 901 with the EQ over a B&W 600 or Paradigm Minibox. The coloration is about the same and the 901 will get much more dynamic and with the EQ properbly flatter.
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  15. #15
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    Granted there are many more better speakers out there for less money, but I am as audiophile as can be with my limited budget. I woul pic a 901 with the EQ over a B&W 600 or Paradigm Minibox. The coloration is about the same and the 901 will get much more dynamic and with the EQ properbly flatter.
    I am very surprised to see you write this. The Bose 901's are not a very good investment. Even with the EQ it is very difficult to get them flat because of its design. The many rearward facing drivers tend to overexcite room modes in a way that single drivers do not. The bass is often uneven because of this. They created artificial reflections that prevent one from hearing the actual natural reverberation found on the recording. It blurs imaging, and does not support phantom images very well. It has limited to no deep bass dynamics, and very rolled off highs because of the many reflection this speaker generates in room. Many instruments are oversized, and have absolutely no symbolance of what is heard naturally.

    I would prefer a B&W or a Paradigm over this speaker any day. I would highly recommend that the poster listen to other speakers before purchasing any this or any speaker.
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  16. #16
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Oh, well i thought that it was an obvious bad investment. The Lord knows that BOSE is a truly overprized trash product. But the resell value of a 901 is better then a Axiom or Paradigm box, regardless of sound quality ;-) I for one, would never touch a BOSE speaker and definetly not a B&W or a Paradigm box, altough for the money the Ref. 40's i heard where pretty ok.

    -Flo
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  17. #17
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    How did I know that this was going to drift so far off topic?

    I guess it was destiny.

    Pehaps we should start a new Forum topic; Speakers as investments
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  18. #18
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    People's priorities

    Quote Originally Posted by njspeer
    I realize that most audiophile don't like Bose, and become irritated when newbies joins a forum and start asking about Bose. So let me explain why I'm leaning toward buying a pair of Bose 901s. The following are a list of priorities in order of importance:


    1. Good investment (will increase in value)
    2. Are visually compatible with my 1920 bungalow
    3. Best sound for the money

    ...
    NJSpeer
    Very recently I urged fellow forum members not to be judgemental. Oh well But I think your Priority 1 is completely out to lunch. If you like good sound at all, your "investment" ought to be in enjoyment, not resall value, viz. finanial return. If the latter is really what you're after, I'm sure there are people here who can recommend stock, commodity options, etc..

    As for Priority 2, there are plenty of good speakers out there that aren't chrome & black, and both sound and look a lot better than Bose.

    Bose are way off the mark for satisfying Priority 3. But, hey, didn't I hear something about $250? Wow, that is quite an investment! Wouldn't want to put that at risk; (see Priorty 1).

    Anyway, sounds like you decided on Bose and aren't open to alternate suggestions. I'm glad there are a couple of people who could answer your questions about the 901 series.

  19. #19
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Sorry about the bumpy ride njspeer. Hope that second post was helpful. There may be a few other helpful posts so don't forget to check in now and then. I know there are others with more info.

    Spring aint far,
    Mike
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  20. #20
    Mutant from table 9
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    Quote Originally Posted by njspeer
    I realize that most audiophile don't like Bose, and become irritated when newbies joins a forum and start asking about Bose. So let me explain why I'm leaning toward buying a pair of Bose 901s.
    Then why join and start asking about Bose if you already know the result of such.

  21. #21
    Defender of Common Sense Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlumpBuster
    Then why join and start asking about Bose if you already know the result of such.
    I'm just trying to figure out which series to get. In my original post I asked what the differences were between the different series. The first response attempted to answer the question. Every other response has been Don't buy Bose. That's the answer to a different question.
    Last edited by njspeer; 02-26-2006 at 12:07 PM.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    When I sold audio equipment in the early 80s Bose 901's were our big sellers. They were series IV at the time. The only thing I know about the acoustic suspension versions is they require more power so a good amp will be important. One thing about the 901's is I have heard them in dealer showrooms and several homes and while not my favorites their sound was not the type that could drive me from a room the way some bright agressive speakers are able to do.
    JohnMichael

    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, Ringmat Anniversary mat, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, GSP Fanfare 3 w/PSU1

    Digital Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd, Marantz SA 8001

    Int. Amp Krell S-300i

    Speakers Focal 806V/Focal 800 stands

    Cables AQ Rocket 33's, Diamondback XLR's & IC's

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