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  1. #1
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    Review of Bose 901s

    http://www.epinions.com/content_105506836100

    In 1968, I took an old Philco record player and turned it into my first hifi record player by installing a Shure M3D stereo magnetic phono cartridge and then adding a preamp and low powered amp and sealing the entire deal by building these gigantic enclosures for a pair of Jensen duo cone 8" speakers that cost a grand total of $20/Pr. This was my introduction to stereo hifi and a new audionut had been born!

    This was also the year that the now famous Bose 901 DIRECT/REFLECTING speaker system graced the audio world with a courageous unorthodox design! Had it not been for Dr. Amar Bose and this speaker, who would have caused so many speaker designers to even give stereo imaging the slightest consideration!????

    Believe it or not, I wasn't even aware of the design at that time. In fact it wasn't until 1972 when I was stationed in Alaska for the USAF that I took to picking up a few stereo magazines including CONSUMER GUIDE and STEREO REVIEW and then ventured into the local hifi shop in Fairbanks that my first encounter with the 901 took place.

    When the salesman put on an album by a band called Chase, The 901's that were suspended from the ceiling immediately shook the room and the clarity was awesome! Stereo everywhere yet I could distinctly identify each trumpet, guitar, percussion and voices with better separation than I had ever experienced! The amplifier driving the speakers at the time was none other than Bob Carver's creation...the Phase Linear 700. The love affair had begun and I purchased my first set of Bose 901's.

    In 1983 I upgraded to SERIES V and just recently to SERIES VI...the subject of this review. It is a solidly well built speaker system throughout!

    The Bose 901 SERIES VI features a 21" x 12" x 13" cabinet with curved fronts and two angled panels in the rear. The two angled panels each contain four 4 1/2" drivers while one single driver is placed toward the center of the front panel.

    Thus the reason for the model #...9 drivers total with 1 in front. The design is appropriately designated as direct/reflecting with 89% of the sound projected from the rear and the remaining 11% coming out of the front. This proportion was the finding of Dr. Bose's MIT team when studying various halls where LIVE PERFORMANCES were featured.

    The impedence is a solid 8 ohms across the musical spectrum and should prove to be a most stable load for whatever amplifier one chooses but choose wisely as this speaker is extremely picky about what drives it and I'm not referring to just power alone! It is quite conceivable that a given 50 watt amp could sound better with the 901's than a competitive 200 watt amp!

    The small drivers themselves boast heavy magnets and high quality voice coils as they must move an enormous amount of air. The multi chambered ACOUSTIC MATRIX enclosure vents the speaker in a most unusual way with air speeds exceeding 60 mph! Three ports or jets protrude through the rear of the 901 enclosure.

    Because of the use of small full range drivers, an active equalizer which is absolutely essential to the system is used in place of the normal CROSSOVERS that introduce distortion no matter how well engineered. The 901 EQ simply smooths out any bumps or irregularities in the system's power response.

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE specs are not ever offered by Bose because one of the founding principles was that they offer little or no value to the audiophile! Bose simply observed that great specs certainly did not always coincide with equally great performance.

    The OWNER'S MANUAL is quite extensive and written in several languages. It also gives special instructions for mounting the 901's on pedestals or hanging them from ceilings.

    The speakers are rated to handle amplifiers of 10 to 450 watts of clean power but do not induce amplifier clipping as this will kill any speaker regardless of the rating or how well it is made! DYNAMIC RANGE is rated at 106db...well above the 90db capability of the best digital sources!

    The two finishes that are available are black ash and light walnut. I chose the light walnut for mine with dark brown indestructible grills that are absolutely seductive looking!
    Optional PS6 pedestals are available. Pedestals are also offered by others and you could save some money but make sure they support your 901's properly. Two foot high end tables offer a sturdy and childproof support of the speakers also.

    The bottom of each 901 speaker reveals a circular cutaway that surrounds the two heavy duty knurled nut speaker terminals that hold speaker wire like no other arrangement I know of. It is very secure and should make for a lifetime of good connection to quality OFC speaker wire. This wire is available from Kimber Kable and AR but for my money MIRASONIC.COM has the best stuff at super low prices that can truly make an audible difference. There is no substitute for controlled well defined bass and clear mids and highs. Good wire can accomplish that! It's been proven.

    After patching the 901 EQ into my TAPE MONITOR circuit on my humble Parasound integrated amplifier with the supplied patch chords and then carefully setting up the speakers in my living room I was able to listen to my vast collection of CD's into the wee hours of the morning night after night as I simply could not get enough of the beautiful sound the speakers project! A new TAPE MONITOR is provided on the EQ to replace your old one. Adjust the MID BASS and MID TREBLE slider controls moderately for room and source compensation.

    DO NOT MIX AND MATCH WRONG EQ's FROM VARIOUS SERIES MODELS AS THE SOUND WILL BE INCORRECT AND DO NOT USE WITH OTHER CONVENTIONAL UNEQUALIZED SPEAKERS FOR HOME THEATER!!!!

    901 EQ AND SPEAKER SERIES COMPATABILITY:

    SERIES I and II...ACOUSTIC SUSPENSION design from 1968-1976
    SERIES III and IV...ACOUSTIC MATRIX design from 1976-1983
    SERIES V and VI...ACOUSTIC MATRIX design from 1983-Present day

    Do not deviate from these guidelines as 901's are available in used condition over the internet. Undoubtedly as you read this review, someone is selling a SERIES IV 901 with a SERIES VI EQ or a SERIES II EQ with a SERIES III speaker and will result in total dissatisfaction with the product on the buyer's end.

    Also beware of the phony 901 look alike LDL 749 speakers that were manufactured from 1970 to 1974 without EQ's but did not equal the 901 quality sound. I almost purchased one of these systems back then but thankfully did not but beware as they can easily be peddled as 901's. They do resemble the Bose to a great degree. I think someone from the original Bose/MIT group jumped ship to make these imposters.

    As for the subject of speaker placement I can only suggest that you experiment a bit and rid yourself of any normal distance you would keep between conventional LEFT and RIGHT STEREO speakers as the 901 is anything but conventional itself! I really do believe that the LOVE and HATE stems from the fact that the 901 sound can change drastically in the lower frequencies when not setup properly! Alas, I have found the 901's to sound best on 18" high pedestals and out 18" from the REAR wall along the SHORT wall of my listening room as compared to the LONGER wall. I think this is better than hanging the speakers from the ceiling where the bass tends to get lost. Experiment...experiment...this is the key!

    Because of the angled rear panels, the "middle sound" will be quite strong and stable eliminating the typical "sweet spot" rules. You can separate these speakers miles apart from each other and in fact should do so within reason to get great stereo separation!

    By doing so, you'll not only widen the fantastic soundstage but also eliminate any possibility of losing left and right channel detail. Don't worry, you will not have a "hole in the middle" effect. This way also gets you to move the 901's closer to the adjacent walls. Just keep the wall behind the speakers relatively free of drapes and teddy bears.

    Hanging the 901's from ceilings more than ten feet from the ground is not recommended as the sound may get obscured a bit and imaging along with deep bass lost. In other words, if you have a ceiling like the Sistine Chapel, forget it!

    The sound of the 901 SERIES VI is really special and downright seductive! Regardless of the many genres of music that have been played thru my 901's, the SOUNDSTAGING is such that never have I experienced a wider higher portrayal of various performances with equally impressive depth! You can literally point to every instrument in the orchestra or follow a soloist as he or she moves about the stage in front of you [e.g. Tony Clarke-"The Entertainer" as he as he moves to and fro banging his tambourine...it's really something to behold!]

    The break-in period for the 901-VI went very nicely with the drivers fully seated after six months. Be careful not to push them too hard at first and do not introduce amplifier clipping. By the way, this break-in period applies to owners of older 901 models that have had their foam surrounds replaced [Simply Speakers on EBAY has a wondertful kit for under $50].

    I love it when people say that the 901's can't go deep. Just checkout the opening low pedal note in the movie "2001-A Space Oddysey" and see if it doesn't rattle every window and loose floor board in the house! Or checkout Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" at the four minute mark. Just MIDRANGE speakers, huh? No, what's happening is that the ACOUSTIC MATRIX enclosure is moving huge amounts of air! That's what gives you bass...not just the physical size of the driver. Why do you think many top notch speaker systems like Win Burhoe's SILENT SPEAKERS or the Spendors use such small drivers and are still able to produce such deep notes? It's because the cabinets have special sophisticated chambers that create significant air speeds. Also the drivers have powerful motors in their voice coil and magnet assemblies.

    All other systems seem to be fat sounding in the bass...even the biggest most expensive ones! Forget about subwoofering the 901 as it is not necessary in the right room! Put your wallet away and be happy with the fact that you own a fantastic 40Hz gut puncher!

    Telarc's CD of "Carmina Burana" is so dynamic with the voices and orchestra bringing forth massive but clear emotional sound thru the 901's. Midrange and high notes are crystal clear thru the speakers when they are truly present. That brings me to another point...that the 901's only reproduce what's in the recording itself and very little of anything else! BUT YOU GOTTA LISTEN TO THEM FOR YOURSELF. YOU MAY NOT AGREE WITH MY FINDINGS AS THE 901 IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.


    The EQ is silent with no perceived extraneous noise. The only noise that will be revealed is amplifier hiss or such sound in an analog mastered recording. Some digital recordings even have modulation noise and you will recognize such flawed CD's immediately!

    The speaker has an uncanny ability to reveal eveything! Beware as this is certainly a double edged sword for the Bose. I have one CD of Barry White's Greatest Hits that on the song..."You're The First, The Last, My Everything" where this older recording used a poor microphone for Barry's voice that can sound downright harsh! Yet the orchestra behind him is very nicely portrayed. You will certainly stay up late the first night checking out all of your library to see what's good and what isn't.

    I'm not kidding when I tell you that the 901 can distinguish between a good MIC or a bad one. You can even hear "poof!" sounds from microphones that were not properly screened and windproofed! Just listen to a variety of radio broadcasts or checkout the "Buddy Holly Collection" CD of remastered recordings and listen for yourself.

    That is how revealing the 901 is. I dare say that many of you will not like the speaker because of this very fact. The quality of your amplifier and CD player will also be unveiled for whatever it is. Use good quality power as the 901 likes heaps of it! Yes, it can play quite loudly but sounds wonderful at a whisper.

    That high current Onkyo/Integra stereo only receiver should be wonderful with the 901's! I'm not so sure about some other massed produced brands. Certainly super audiophile expensive MONO BLOCKS will be at their best also.

    If you listen to JAZZ 88 in the Newark, NJ area you will hear non smeared percussion and wonderful vocalists with plenty of plucked basses and super sweet highs all naturally portrayed thru the 901's. The cymbals are so darn natural! TRANSIENT RESPONSE is exemplary! I love the fact that I can hear a kickdrum change tone or every subtlety and overtone on various recorded music. The simple striking of a trianglular bell can raise the hairs on my back!

    Accuracy of musical timbre is important and with the Bose you get plenty of it. You haven't heard the Beatles until you've heard "Sgt Peppers" played thru the Bose 901! There is a rather nice CD entitled "Atmospheres-Celtic Voices" featuring ambient waterfall sounds along with various seductive strings, tom toms, woodwinds and basses. This Irish music CD is worth seeking out as it reveals changes in the stringed bass's tones and subtleties that can be a very useful tool for speaker evaluation! You can probably pick it up for around $8 or less! The 901 sounds wonderful with this recording!

    But don't just take my word for it...listen for yourself! You may or may not agree. That is how controversial this speaker is! Speaker auditioning should be fun and pleasant so don't let snotty proprietors and extremely opinionated sales people stand in your way. Some of the hatred stems from the fact that Bose seems to pursuit competitors in court quite often and also even went after a negative reviewer...and that's not right. We are free to print how we feel about a product and should have no fear of repercussion!

    But as a maker of great speakers I think Bose does very well indeed and their customer support is unbelievable! I have had some nice chats with both Bose field and customer service reps.

    Look, my feeling is that a truly great speaker can involve you in the performance so well as to summon all your emotions as I have felt many tears in my eyes when listening to beautiful music thru the speakers. Telarc's "Rite Of Spring" has a tympani gut puncher at around the ten minute mark that can make your heart jump out and if you hold a tissue over one of the 901's ports it will fly out of your hand! Yet the orchestra sounds so sweet as to make you cry or stand up and exclaim...BRAVO!...as it does on CBS MASTERWORKS' "Nutcracker" w/Michael Tilson Thomas conducting the New Phiharmonia Orch.

    There are many bigger more expensive models costing well over $5000 a pair but I don't really consider some of these Gigantors to be appropriate for the average listening room. We don't have auditoriums for listening areas do we?

    Well the 901's have served me well in some of my rooms over the past thirty years and can sound great in rooms big or small if the acoustics are correct for them. If your listening room is smaller than average and full of curtains then look elsewhere for your special transducer. In larger rooms with solid walls or undraped windows the Bose 901 SERIES VI will be at its best! The fact that their current price is still within reason for such great performance at $1500 is a credit to Bose. The USA engineered speaker is now being crafted in Canada which lays claim to such fine outfits like Mirage, PSB and Paradigm.

    Although the system is not always setup properly in malls and generally not available through high end dealers, don't let that fact stop you from seeking the speaker out. My advice is to find someone locally who owns a SERIES III thru VI system and ask for an audition in the home where they reside. There is simply no substitute for auditioning the 901's in an actual home! You can also go online at BOSE.COM to place an order and use a 12 month payment plan that makes it so much easier on your pocketbook.

    A Special Note To 901 Owners And Perspective Buyers:
    Do not be discouraged or put off by those who feel this speaker system is overrated or hyped up. Trust your own ears! No amount of poetic flowery descriptive double talk can truly make a given speaker system sound great. Neither can impressive manufacturer's specifications! Listen for yourself.

    Compare the speakers to the best of the best like the B&W NAUTILUS 801's and 802's but also the biggest most expensive Tannoys, Martin Logans, Definitives, JBL's, Allisons, Bostons, Polks, Legacy's or any other brand you can think of as I have and see if you agree with my findings. Isn't it most interesting that some of these lovely sounding models cost up to ten times the price of the 901 or more! I did compare my Bose to these speakers! While I did so, the high end salesman tried to tell me what was wrong with them [like most of us audiophiles he was very opinionated]! I simply smiled as my 901's outperformed these great speakers on every single CD used for this audition!

    What a great audition but the salesman knew he had lost his battle! Who needs someone telling us what we should be hearing while auditioning speakers or any piece of audio gear? It is our decision. We know what to listen for! Just beware of this little trick when you decide to bring a 901 system into a high end store. They don't like Bose!

    This silliness began in 1971 when J Gordon Holt gave the original Bose 901 a somewhat negative review. He did however bring up some good points but was off the mark on the 901's sounding "fat" in the bass as they are anything but that! However, the battle lines were drawn. This review sparked the "Love/Hate" of the Bose 901 speaker system and you can link to the entire review from my profile page. Just so you have an idea of where Mr. Holt is at...he loves the sound of the B&W 801. I thought that this was rather ironic as this model [although great] has been tagged by myself and others as a bit overwhelming and "fat sounding" in the bass frequencies...again...room acoustics like it or not will affect various speaker models more than we sometimes are willing to admit!


    With the proper amplifier and room your reaction may very well be like this..."I may be living in a different world from everyone else but if so...DO NOT wake me up! I'm having too much fun listening to music the way it was meant to be heard with this heavenly speaker!" With the wrong amp and improper room you will probably feel that you've been ripped off and Bose is full of nothing but hype.

    I recommend the speakers highly with the condition that you fully audition them in the right situation but be aware of the fact that many of you will find yourselves wondering why you even bothered to give the beasts a listen! For those of you in this situation I highly recommend the Vandersteen 1C speakers at a slightly lower price. The Vandersteens are wonderful sounding in just about any room you can think of and are available at fine high end stores like John Rutan's Audio Connection of Verona, NJ [see the link on my profile page].

    Bose states that the 901-VI was engineered by passionate music lovers. This fact is so highly obvious once you give the speaker a listen in an appropriate setup [and the Bose Store may very well not be the best!]. It seems like no other speaker system delivers powerful accuracy quite like this one!

  2. #2
    RGA
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    I'm not sure I should laugh or cry or cry laughing. Whatever floats your boat...for me they are best used to make floating boats.

  3. #3
    Utmostjamin1
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    No Highs No Lows Must be BLOWS

    No offense man but i have a pair of modded out Optimus Pro-LX 8 speakers with the linaum design tweeter and IMHO they sound ten times better at a much lower price.
    i mean we are talking radio shack cheapos. and all done with out an Eq. just added more dampening and replaced the el-cheapo Xovers with a BI-amp setup. I think the total cost with mods was $500 for the pair.

    besides that most new AV receivers dont even have a tape monitor loop.

    if you buy Bose and you like the SOUND thats great just don't buy bose because of the name. My brotherinlaw has an all bose setup and he is so proud that he bought bose. he never talks about the sound just the fact that he bought bose.

    arrggg
    not a bose lover

  4. #4
    Forum Regular Sealed's Avatar
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    His post is a bad joke or a sales pitch

    **This review sounds like sales literature. So I decided to play devilís advocate. Itís my opinion and some actual measurements. I donít care for Bose, and I am offering my opinion as a counterpoint.

    Thus the reason for the model #...9 drivers total with 1 in front. The design is appropriately designated as direct/reflecting with 89% of the sound projected from the rear and the remaining 11% coming out of the front. This proportion was the finding of Dr. Bose's MIT team when studying various halls where LIVE PERFORMANCES were featured.

    --Actually, I prefer 89% direct, 11% reflected, that sounds more realistic to me.

    The small drivers themselves boast heavy magnets and high quality voice coils as they must move an enormous amount of air.

    --Actually, those drivers are available OEM for about $4.95 each. They are not particularly long throw, limited to a few mm with an overhung voice coil.

    The multi chambered ACOUSTIC MATRIX enclosure vents the speaker in a most unusual way with air speeds exceeding 60 mph! Three ports or jets protrude through the rear of the 901 enclosure.

    --And when you sneeze, you can expel particles up to 200mph. All this system is, is an old,old theory of air/mass loading. Simply physics, not brain surgery.

    Because of the use of small full range drivers, an active equalizer which is absolutely essential to the system is used in place of the normal CROSSOVERS that introduce distortion no matter how well engineered. The 901 EQ simply smoothes out any bumps or irregularities in the system's power response.

    --I would not go that far. They sound quite mid bass heavy on some material, and are clearly rolled off starting about 13khz. They sound rather grainy and opaque to me. Any time you have one driver attempting to recreate high and low frequencies, you get awful Doppler distortion, and a diffusion effect.

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE specs are not ever offered by Bose because one of the founding principles was that they offer little or no value to the audiophile! Bose simply observed that great specs certainly did not always coincide with equally great performance.

    --That would be wrong. The BOSE 901ís FR is approximately 45hz to 13.5 khz +/- about 12db along the way. In most abx/dbt testing, the speakers preferred by audiophile and non audiophile alike are those that are frequency linear and controlled +/- 5db or less across response.

    DYNAMIC RANGE is rated at 106db...well above the 90db capability of the best digital sources!

    --Close micing of the 901 indicates severe response shortcomings (more than at normal volumes) if the speaker is played at a low volume. The dynamic range is probably more like 76db.

    There is no substitute for controlled well defined bass and clear mids and highs. Good wire can accomplish that! It's been proven.

    --yes, but not when connected to 901ís.


    DO NOT MIX AND MATCH WRONG EQ's FROM VARIOUS SERIES MODELS AS THE SOUND WILL BE INCORRECT AND DO NOT USE WITH OTHER CONVENTIONAL UNEQUALIZED SPEAKERS FOR HOME THEATER!!!!


    --Because the conventional speaker will make the 901ís sound bad by compare. Have you ever seen a BOSE setup that allows a/b comparing with another speaker? No. The sales method is to keep them separate.

    Hanging the 901's from ceilings more than ten feet from the ground is not recommended as the sound may get obscured a bit and imaging along with deep bass lost. In other words, if you have a ceiling like the Sistine Chapel, forget it!

    --Just how do you LOSE deep bass when you have more space to listen to it? 20hz wavelength is something like 57 feet (IIRC). So moving the speakers back will increase low bass perception, except the 901 doesnít make any 1st octave bass.

    You can literally point to every instrument in the orchestra or follow a soloist as he or she moves about the stage in front of you [e.g. Tony Clarke-"The Entertainer" as he as he moves to and fro banging his tambourine...it's really something to behold!]

    -- yeah, but the sound is kind of grainy and spitty.

    I love it when people say that the 901's can't go deep. Just checkout the opening low pedal note in the movie "2001-A Space Oddysey" and see if it doesn't rattle every window and loose floor board in the house!

    --That just indicates an overabundance of 60-80hz. You are causing a huge hump/node that just so happens to be the resonant frequency of the walls. The walls in your home have an F3 of probably 70hz. The true bottom of ďThus spake zarenthrustraĒ on a Telarc recording is not audible or visceral on a 901.

    Or checkout Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" at the four minute mark. Just MIDRANGE speakers, huh? No, what's happening is that the ACOUSTIC MATRIX enclosure is moving huge amounts of air!

    --They are blowing 60hz. Lots of MID bass air. The matrix doesnít move, the drivers do.

    That's what gives you bass...not just the physical size of the driver. Why do you think many top notch speaker systems like Win Burhoe's SILENT SPEAKERS or the Spendors use such small drivers and are still able to produce such deep notes? It's because the cabinets have special sophisticated chambers that create significant air speeds. Also the drivers have powerful motors in their voice coil and magnet assemblies.

    --More sophisticated techniques are Transmission line loading. The driver in the spendor costs more retail than it costs to make a 901 altogether. It has longer xmax, and more linear travel. Air speed isnít as important as volume.


    All other systems seem to be fat sounding in the bass...--All other systems??? You have heard all other systems? There must be millions! Wow, that IS impressive, and some kind of world record!

    even the biggest most expensive ones!


    --Expensive like those Cerwin-vegas sold at sears? You have to be more specific.

    Forget about subwoofering the 901 as it is not necessary in the right room! Put your wallet away and be happy with the fact that you own a fantastic 40Hz gut puncher!

    - 40hz is the top of the 1st octave. The 901 is -10db at 45hz. A real subwoofer will produce in excess of 90db at 20hz. The Bose 901 cannot do that.

    BUT YOU GOTTA LISTEN TO THEM FOR YOURSELF. YOU MAY NOT AGREE WITH MY FINDINGS AS THE 901 IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.

    - --I did. And I saw the measurements. I definitely do not agree with your non-founded, unscientific (marketing) ďfindings.Ē To call what you wrote findings is like wandering out of a brothel and saying you donít feel loved.

    The speaker has an uncanny ability to reveal eveything!

    - Really? You can prove this? Compared to what?

    - Beware as this is certainly a double edged sword for the Bose. I have one CD of Barry White's Greatest Hits that on the song..."You're The First, The Last, My Everything" where this older recording used a poor microphone for Barry's voice that can sound downright harsh! Yet the orchestra behind him is very nicely portrayed. You will certainly stay up late the first night checking out all of your library to see what's good and what isn't.

    --Really? You mean to say all this time that the 901ís should be used as a sound analysis device or a studio mastering speaker due to the innate accuracy?

    That is how revealing the 901 is.
    -I am sure it is in your own mind, or perhaps an alternate universe.


    Speaker auditioning should be fun and pleasant so don't let snotty proprietors and extremely opinionated sales people stand in your way.

    --You mean like your opinion of bose?

    Some of the hatred stems from the fact that Bose seems to pursuit competitors in court quite often and also even went after a negative reviewer...and that's not right. We are free to print how we feel about a product and should have no fear of repercussion!

    --But bose knows the truth hurts. When Julian Hirsch went to print a truthful bad review based on measurements and critical listening, bose rushed to stifle the truth.[/I]

    [I]A Special Note To 901 Owners And Perspective Buyers:
    Do not be discouraged or put off by those who feel this speaker system is overrated or hyped up. Trust your own ears! No amount of poetic flowery descriptive double talk can truly make a given speaker system sound great. Neither can impressive manufacturer's specifications! Listen for yourself. There are many bigger more expensive models costing well over $5000 a pair but I don't really consider some of these Gigantors to be appropriate for the average listening room. We don't have auditoriums for listening areas do we?

    --You mean like the flowery double talk you have written here? Bose hides specs because they are very, very sad to look at. IOW, people should avoid reviews with big words in them?

    Compare the speakers to the best of the best like the B&W NAUTILUS 801's and 802's but also the biggest most expensive Tannoys, Martin Logans, Definitives, JBL's, Allisons, Bostons, Polks, Legacy's or any other brand you can think of as I have and see if you agree with my findings.

    --Bose does not come close to the accuracy, FR, neutrality, engineering and sound of any of the above. Do they still make Allisonís?

    Isn't it most interesting that some of these lovely sounding models cost up to ten times the price of the 901 or more!

    --That is because they did REAL R&D and use better parts than Bose does.

    I simply smiled as my 901's outperformed these great speakers on every single CD used for this audition! - which speakers were those?

    This silliness began in 1971 when J Gordon Holt gave the original Bose 901 a somewhat negative review.

    --JGH has more credibility in his belly button lint than you and Bose combined.

    Just so you have an idea of where Mr. Holt is at...he loves the sound of the B&W 801. I thought that this was rather ironic as this model [although great] has been tagged by myself and others as a bit overwhelming and "fat sounding" in the bass frequencies...again...room acoustics like it or not will affect various speaker models more than we sometimes are willing to admit!

    --Is that why B&W 801ís have been used to master some of the finest jazz and classical recordings worldwide since they were introduced? Is that why NO studio uses Bose?

    With the proper amplifier and room your reaction may very well be like this..."I may be living in a different world from everyone else but if so...DO NOT wake me up!

    --Yes, you are dreaming and/or hallucinating.

    Well, I am done here. Your post was obviously a really inane joke, or a poorly disguised sales gimmick. I donít know whether to laugh or call a psychiatrist for you.
    Last edited by Sealed; 02-06-2004 at 09:37 AM. Reason: syntax

  5. #5
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    A serious response assuming you are not a shill.

    As someone who still owns a pair of original Bose 901s and bought them new in 1970 and also owns other speakers, I feel I am in a position to give an objective response which frankly many other people posting here aren't. Most people who don't like them have probably never lived with them. I have. I know this speaker's strengths and weaknesses well. And I know the strengths and weaknesses of many others too.

    The concept has several serious flaws and misconceptions built in. First of all, in Dr. Bose's original white paper, he pointed out that in his measurements in Boston Symphony Hall, he measured that reflected sound constituted 89% of the total sound reaching the audience 19 feet from the stage. It was a greater percentage further back. If this is the rationale for his 11%/89% design, it makes no sense. First of all, just because 89 percent of the radiated sound is directed at the walls doesn't mean 89% of the sound reaching you will be. And of course, in terms of the distribution in space and time not to mention the shift in spectral balance, there is absolutely no correlation betwen the relationships of direct and reflected sound fields in Boston Symphony Hall or any other concert hall for that matter and the corresponing relationships produced by the Bose 901 loudspeaker in a home listening environment.

    After Series II, the lowest octave of bass, one of the original 901 strengths was sacrificed for improved efficiency. Actually, the original equalizer had a 40hz cutoff switch to reduce power requirements by electrically achieving the same results.

    Between the original offering at $476 and the current version of $1500, the price has more than tripled, not a very impressive value to the customer considering that the performance is poorer in the bass and certainly no better in the treble. In fact, I recently heard the series VI at a Bose store in a shopping mall and was not particularly impressed.

    The product was well made showing no signs of deterioration. There was one manufacturing flaw in mine however and that was the failure to securely connect all of the electrical ground terminals of the jack panel together instead relying on a mechanical press fit which occasionallt failed (I always thought it was the result of a defective cable.) This resulted in an occasional loud hum. A few years ago after careful inspection of the unit and a few feet of hookup wire and a few minutes of soldering, the problems was fixed once and for all.

    The biggest problem with the Bose 901 IMO is in the treble range. The inertia of 4 inch drivers is simply too great to reproduce the highest audible octave satisfactorily. The size and strength of the cones required for bass preclude this. Considering that by Dr. Bose's own measurements, phase shift above 180hz is inaudible, it is surprising the 901 didn't evolve into a two way design incorporating multiple tweeters as well. I have experimented haphazardly myself with different tweeters and additional equalizations but have not managed to find a satisfactory solution yet. I am contemplating bi-amping so that the tweeters stay out of the equalizer signal loop. If you do not do it this way, a small dome tweeter is out of the question due to the treble boost supplied by the equalizer.

    Placement and room interaction affecting the reflected sound is critical to the way these speakers will sound. No other loudspeaker in my experience comes close to being as drastically affected by room acoustics and placement as Bose 901. Most installations get it dead wrong and the demo in the Bose store was none too clever for showing off the attributes of this speaker.

    The best results I got were in an acoustically live room with wood flooring about 13 X 21 which unfortunately was open to an adjacent dining room. The speakers were about 10 to 12 feet apart on the long wall and toed outward about 30 degrees so that the reflected sound was directed somewhat toward the center. The optimal distance to the back wall was 15 inches. Using an AR amplifier capable of about 90wpc and an Empire 398 with 999VE and Shure V15 Type II, the speaker produced very good results (for its day) with absolutely no hole in the middle and very effective sound staging. The bass was excellent but would have been even better had the sheet rock walls not absorbed so much of the energy. You could feel them rattle. Makes you wonder how many sheet rock screws were omitted in the construction of that apartment. (I only played them loud when no other neighbors were around to complain.)

    I am not recommending that anyone buy these speakers unless you are certain in advance that this is what you want or that you have a firm agreement with the seller that you can return them for a full refund within a reasonable time if you don't like them. This is not a me too design. It sounds different than other speakers and does not please most audiophiles. However, for those who are not bothered by its shortcomings and are attracted to its attributes, they apparantly will not own anything else, much to the chagrin of the audiophiles who hate them. The overwhelming commercial success of this product over a period of 35 years shows that among the general public, this speaker is possibly most widely accepted and best selling single piece of audio gear in history.

  6. #6
    DIY Dude poneal's Avatar
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    I did a little research last night and noticed that you write a lot of reviews. I read one that was just as long about a $94 pair of sonys. You made it seem like those sonys sounded as good as some B&Ws. After I read this, I thought to myself, is this guy getting paid for writing rave reviews of speakers? Well, I don't know, but after reading about the $94 sonys it make me think that you just like to ramble on and on and on and on and on. By the way did those $94 sonys sound just as good as those booze 901s? Oh by the way here is the link to that review:

    http://www.epinions.com/content_119509782148

  7. #7
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    Real vs fake

    IMO, "Sam" has simply made a fake post, that is meant to sell products from his buisiness. Probably works for one of those net or electronics chain stores. My reply was as much tounge in cheek as it was to slam his fakery, not so much the 901, but the context in which he portrayed them.

    Skeptic has posted something that is more realistic. I can listen to bose 901's casually, while I am about the house, but critical listening is different.

    The 901 does not posess some sci-fi levels of ability, but more as Skeptic said, they provide a certain type of soundfield effect.

    Honestly, Bose are not THAT bad if we are talking HT or casual listening. But they are most certainly not high end or hyper-revealing and accurate. They just have to be enjoyed for what they do, not what they can't do.

    At least they aren't pretentious enough to charge $5k-$10k for a tiny two way speaker. Bose is by no means a rip-off compared to high end pricing. And nothing you really enjoy is a ripoff.

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    This is a product that actually had some original thought behind it. In other words, when it was first introduced 35 years ago, it was innovative in a world of me too products. It received high praise from three major consumer magazines in extensive reviews by then well respected reviewers. These reviews were in Audio Magazine, Stereo Review Magazine, and High Fidelity Magazine. They DID measure the frequency reponse and they came to the conclusion that this speaker had the capability to respond when sufficient electrical power was available from 23 Hz to 14 Khz. Its main frequency response anomoly within that range was a broad rise in the upper bass. In those days, low cost consumer equalizers to correct such a problem were not available and the high powered amplifiers needed to obtain the best performance possible from them were few and very expensive. Nevertheless, the product was immediately successful. It should be understood by people who have only come to this hobby recently possibly because of their age that there were many speakers in those days which did not have the sizzling high ends we are now accostomed to. Most loudspeakers did NOT have dome tweeters and the cone tweeters they did have were not particluarly good by modern standards. That's why you rarely if ever see them any more even on cheap loudspeakers. BTW, the low frequency performance of the origianl BOSE 901 and series II was better than practically any other loudspeaker available equaling or bettering other low frequeny champions such as AR3A and JBL Paragon.

    Sadly, while this speaker HAS EVOLVED from its original concept, from the point of view of the audiophile, it has not evolved for the better. As I stated in my other posting, it has lost its bottom octave of bass making it a me too product in that respect and it has not particularly improved in its treble or overall flatness of frequency response. If you have the inclination as I sometimes do, it may be possible to significantly improve the performance of the original design through outboard tweeters possibly bi amplified and additional equalization. This would produce all of the benefits of the special spatial radiation without the drawbacks. Unfortunately, the successor versions from series III on are not so adaptable since the speaker is useless below its higher low frequency cutoff of 40 hz. Of course, placement and room acoustics will still be a problem. On the other hand, from the point of view of producing a reliable source of profits, the Bose Director of Finance must jump for joy every time he sees the sales figures and profit margins this product returns. It is the cash cow that has kept this company in business and expanding for 35 years.

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    That is the silliest piece of ad press I've seen, or he's a nut

    And I'm talking about the Sony review. Nobody at Sony put as much thought into building that speaker than Sam did writing about it. Considering he took a trip to Best Buy and the Athena B1s were right next to it. Turning on the Athenas would give you an instantaneous notion that something was really severly WRONG with the Sonys. The notion wouldn't be easy to overlook, unless you wanted to write a wordy post with a lot of big words and ideas that could only be an attempt to polish a turd. Only they don't take a shine too well. Maybe he is involved with a creative writing class, or feels the need to be an audio reviewer. It appears he would fit right in a Sound and Vision.

    Ah, yes, the 901. The most successfully marketed failed experiment in the history of mankind. In 1969 terms, it wasn't a great speaker, but it got loud and had a "different" presentation. Since nobody really made a good tweeter back then, shortcomings weren't nearly as obvious, but I know of nobody with an audio background of any merit who has ever tried to pass it off as a "high end" product. It is/was certainly a unique product, and that is what gathered the attention. The ability to play loud didn't hurt either. The "hanging" thing was great in the 70's, but the shag carpet on the wall did detract from the full "experience" of a pair of 901s.

    As Skeptic mentioned, they did suffer from some "cost engineering" over the years. The wood box was replaced with a highly resonant plastic one, bass sacrificed for sensitivity (and lost due to the highly resonant plastic box), but the price has remained steady for about 20 years. Bose has lost all interest in selling them, but keeps them around as a reminder of where they came from. The 901 does remain the only true "Direct/Reflecting" speaker Bose ever made. Most of the others used pairs of tweeters that were aimed apart from each other more so to make up for the poor dispersion characteristics of a paper cone tweeter, but still marketed under the "Direct/Reflecting" banner. Alas, Amar has his own 901s reversed (from a very good source) preferring the sound that way. But, maybe, this is what influenced Ian Paisley to persue the whole Bi-Polar thing, which is actually a real, functioning design. But today, Bose would rather sell sub/sat product, since the profit margins are higher, and radios to old people on fixed incomes. (Is this creating the need for a Medicare drug benefit? Or the reason some old people are poor? Caused by Alzheimers?...all questions for future discussion)

    Sure the 901 caused a stir 35 years ago. But the audio world has changed dramatically since then. In 1968, it wasn't truly a competitor, and it is far from one now. As far as is sounding like a B&W 801, I won't really go there since both are perfect examples of "not my cup of tea". Suffice it to say, the 801 has grown over the years, and they both have a number ending in '01. Many engineering hours have gone into the different variations of the 801, searching for a higher plateau of performance. The 901 too has seen many, albeit fewer hours of engineering time, almost entirely devoted to reducing cost and increasing profit margins to the manufacturer. Again...they both end in '01, that has to mean something. AND, 901 is 100 more than 801, but the 801s cost thousands more than 901s...something awful strange is afoot here. Further investigation is in order.

    Hey, if I write glowing, wordy reviews of crappy products in an e-magazine would you guys want to subscribe? I could maybe get Sam to be my primary product writer...or animal food trough wiper, or something like that.
    Space

    The preceding comments have not been subjected to double blind testing, and so must just be taken as casual observations and not given the weight of actual scientific data to be used to prove a case in a court of law or scientific journal. The comments represent my humble opinion which will range in the readers perspective to vary from Gospel to heresy. So let it be.

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    Why is there always a group that has to bad mouth Bose? Not only is it fashionable at these types of forums to bad mouth Bose and make STUPID comments like they should be used to float boats, but it seems that it is a way to just jump on a band wagon and try to show some "sophistication", or tell others that you "really are an authority on sound quality".

    Bose makes good products and the 901 is not an exception. If it was so bad, then WHY ARE THEY THE BEST SELLING BRAND?
    Oh, let me answer that one ... duhhhh, they are flat and the typical consumer is not as adept as we are at evaluating sound ... duhhhh.

    Please, grow up, if this is what you REALLY BELIEVE! Then again, you are in YOUR OWN LITTLE WORLD if you believe this!

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    I'll tell you why

    "they are flat and the typical consumer is not as adept as we are at evaluating sound "

    That is not true. Their frequency response is far from flat. The bass range does not extend below 40 Hz. The treble is not adequate in the highest octave. They are extremely difficult or impossible to install in many rooms to obtain their special qualities. Their frequency response within their range is very sensitive to their interaction with room acoustics. Were this an inexpensive loudspeaker which cost say a few hundred dollars, then it would be accepted as merely an alternative for non audiophiles who have different needs and wants and do not care about accuracy. But given their price of around $1500 (if you include the pedistals) there are many far superior alternatives for audiophiles at that price and even at a lower price. Admittedly, those alternatives do not have the direct/reflecting feature which gives this loudspeaker its special sound, but that does not seem to bother audiophiles when they are forced to make choices.

    What is most distrssing to me about this loudspeaker is that when it was originally introduced around 1967 in its initial version, it was a better cheaper product. Most electronics products either evolve to where their performance improves, their price goes down, or they are replaced by products which if not cheaper are at least better. This product did no such thing. The price tripled in absolute dollars and the performance didn't improve materially at all, in fact if anything, it lost the capability to reproduce the bottom octave of bass without significant improvement in its treble. Audiophiles have a right to question the validity of the unique design, the value of its possibly misguided evolution, and its value for the relatively high cost this product asks compared to its competitors. Unfortunately, most of the negative comments are merely uninformed and inane.

    The overwhelming commercial success of the Bose 901 is not indicative of it being technically superior.

  12. #12
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    Again

    Why is there always a group that has to bad mouth Bose? Not only is it fashionable at these types of forums to bad mouth Bose and make STUPID comments like they should be used to float boats, but it seems that it is a way to just jump on a band wagon and try to show some "sophistication", or tell others that you "really are an authority on sound quality".
    + Bose are a fun "toy" speaker. They are decent for casual listening, and HT. They are not as huge of a ripoff as much of the high end componentry and accessories are. BUT, they are not accurate, cannot be used to mix or monitor recordings due to wild frequency anomalies and inadequate treble response. They are not a "capable" speaker to someone who really wants all the qualities of superior sound reproduction that will stand up to critical listening.

    Bose makes good products and the 901 is not an exception. If it was so bad, then WHY ARE THEY THE BEST SELLING BRAND?

    + Macdonalds sells a lot, does that make them the healthiest food?

    Oh, let me answer that one ... duhhhh, they are flat and the typical consumer is not as adept as we are at evaluating sound ... duhhhh.
    +They are not. Basically, bose was aimed at the average consumer, not someone discriminating. The problem with bose owners is that they do not report BOSE for what they are (like skeptic does). They report Bose like "Sam pro" did and give it impossible-by-design capabilities. They try to elevate bose far beyond it's capabilities. That opens the door to ridicule right there. "Well I was amazed by the 16hz wavefront the 901's produced. It was so powerful it dried my laundry hanging out back!" and other such outrageous things. A discerning listener usually has a lot of critical listening skills developed over time as a music lover or musician that the average person doesn't care about and cannot apply.


    Please, grow up, if this is what you REALLY BELIEVE! Then again, you are in YOUR OWN LITTLE WORLD if you believe this!
    Online

    Actually, our "own little world" is reality. It is not accepting mythological performance claims, and taking Bose for what it is, not something with fantasy realm accuracy and musical ability.

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    It's all quite simple.
    I used to think Bose was good too cuz of all the talk that was goin around about how they are the best selling brand (so i guess that must be good). And when I went to audition them...I guess they were pretty good. EXCEPT! I didnt compare them with anything except with thier own products and maybe some lousy computer speakers and a boom box at home. So yes! compared to that they were beautiful!!. Until of course I decided to shop around. Went to some hifi shops and found that Bose isnt as spectacular as I once thought. It was quite disappointing actually...but I found out what good speakers should sound like.
    With regard to the price...Bose is definately not the cheapest gear in the world. Even their wave radio, which is quiet ugly i might add, is pricier than a pair of decent speakers and a cheap receiver.

    Remember, everything is relative. Some people may like the sound of bose and thats cool, but there are others (like my coworker) who bought a used bose system off a friend without auditioning it. He just said: "Well, I guess they are good...it's bose"

    BTW, I think that friend of his took the money and bought some better stuff hahahaha....some friend huh?

  14. #14
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    What did you find out?

    "I found out what good speakers should sound like"

    There is only one way to find out what speakers should sound like and that is to go to live concerts where the instruments are all unamplified. This way when you hear a recording, the difference between the sound you heard at the concert and what you hear from the sound system is due strictly to the shortcomings of the recording and the sound system. So try to get the best recordings you can of music which has not been played by amplified instruments or twisted out of shape by knob twirling recording engineers.

    Short of this, you are at the mercy of fickle personal preferences of the moment that have nothing to do with high fidelity and the speaker you like this month might seem like a dog next month. That is why you changed your mind about the sound of Bose speakers. What makes you think you won't change your mind about what you like and don't like again?

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    Is that question pointed at me??

    Well with regard to live preformances, even then its not really the sound you hear, since they too use speakers that are amplified extensively, unless you are madly rich and hire ppl to do personal performances.

    Well, this is what i found. The most apparent was probably the soundstage. Simply, there was one. I'm not very experienced with the whole audio thing, since I only just started making some extra money so that I have a liberty of searching for something better than a boombox configuration. So simply, things just sounded better. I dont know how and why, but as many people say, trust your ears. And so I did.

    So what did I find out? I don't know. i don't believe music can be described. If its good its good. Why should I quantify it? Sure I can say I can start to hear the music as expression rather than notes, but who can be told what that is?

    I used to play piano. When I first started, I played notes. It wasnt until maybe 8 years later that I found out what MUSIC was. Took me a freakin long time, but it was definately worth it. I can't explain the breakthrough, but if you were a true music lover you would know what I mean.

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    Gee, and to think I just sold my 901's series 6's for $350 to help fund my purchase of a set of PSB Stratus Silver i's.

    The 901's have their place in history and their place in sound. Neither is a part of my house anymore.

  17. #17
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    Post And just who are these Audiophiles!!!

    I was wondering how these discussions go.

    People buy things they like.And they have the right to make choices. And just who are these Audiophiles? Who made them? Have they taken any courses? Are they certified?

    This is what is going on in this world. It has become a fashion to talk against what is the norm. If people say Bose is good..just start..saying it is nothing and Bose knows nothing about sound and music. Has anyone spent time and effort on music like him? Has anyone brought out innovations in sound like them?
    Your own ears are the best to depend on. Ask the seller if he will allow you to audition the speakers at your home,where you want to place them. This is applicable to all the speakers. Then put your favourite music,the type you would love to listen. See how it sounds. What is a better judgement? These jimmicks on scientific jargons are nothing.They can twist and turn them for thier advantages and disadvantages.

    I have used many speakers. I changed some of them not because I didnt like them. I have had Tannoys, B& W, and I still have them. But I am now stuck with Bose 901,because I dont want to part with them. It gives me smooth,natural sound,the way I want to listen to. I dont care about experts.Dont trust them. They are just trying to show off. Half of them are paid by the companies themselves!!

  18. #18
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    I can't believe you revived a THREE YEAR OLD THREAD just to rant.

    Couldn't sleep, eh?

  19. #19
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    holy thread revival!

    Quote Originally Posted by drbabu13
    I was wondering how these discussions go.

    People buy things they like.And they have the right to make choices. And just who are these Audiophiles? Who made them? Have they taken any courses? Are they certified?

    This is what is going on in this world. It has become a fashion to talk against what is the norm. If people say Bose is good..just start..saying it is nothing and Bose knows nothing about sound and music. Has anyone spent time and effort on music like him? Has anyone brought out innovations in sound like them?
    Your own ears are the best to depend on. Ask the seller if he will allow you to audition the speakers at your home,where you want to place them. This is applicable to all the speakers. Then put your favourite music,the type you would love to listen. See how it sounds. What is a better judgement? These jimmicks on scientific jargons are nothing.They can twist and turn them for thier advantages and disadvantages.

    I have used many speakers. I changed some of them not because I didnt like them. I have had Tannoys, B& W, and I still have them. But I am now stuck with Bose 901,because I dont want to part with them. It gives me smooth,natural sound,the way I want to listen to. I dont care about experts.Dont trust them. They are just trying to show off. Half of them are paid by the companies themselves!!

    let me introduce myself: I'm Basite (Bert, for those who know me), I'm one of those 'Audiophiles' you are mentioning in your rant.

    anyways.
    let my explain why people think that bose is good: they have good marketing. they are famous, and all you see when you enter a regular lo/mid-fi shop are boses. that's why people know them, now why they want them: again, because they are famous, and everyone not knowing anything about audio haves them. so they go to a shop to hear a bose system, and only the bose system, then they'll say that 'it sounds good' because they haven't heard anything else. that's where the marketing jumps in too, they won't hear anything else, because BOSE has forced them to use AN ENTIRE BLOODY WALL for their products, that only their products can use, and no one else. that's why people buy bose.

    then, why it gives you an impression that it sounds good (the first 10 minutes you hear it) is because most of the music ISN'T there, you just can't hear it, because they are so crappy. now, is that what you want? pay $2k just so you can't hear the music like it was recorded? Is it?

    please, now grow up or go away.

    Keep them spinning,
    Bert.
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  20. #20
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    Wow, those Bose fanboys just won't quit.

    Yeah, the 901's were "OK" back in the early 70's when I listened to them. But, consider, they were perfectly positioned in a room designed to show off their best points, and driven by high-powered amps, and were playing exactly the right music (symphonic).

    But, when I heard them in the real world, they didn't cut it and most were sold by hype, which continues to this day.

    If you like 'em fine, that's your opinion and prerogative, but don't think your opinion means anything to the rest of the audiophile community and your sniveling, whiney and arrogant rant just reinforces my opinion of Bose and their fanboys.

  21. #21
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    You found it! The lost thread from h.ll has been found. Long live the Bose myth.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    You found it! The lost thread from h.ll has been found.


    Now maybe it can go back from where it came.
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