What about Bose? Part 2

March 30, 2006

BoseSo far in part one of our discussion, we’ve explored a little about why Bose is such a dominant brand with consumers and I’ve even shared a bit about my personal experiences with customers who’ve been Bose-Washed ©. Now let’s get into some specifics on why I feel you’d be doing yourself a disservice to buy any audio product, especially Bose, without first auditioning some other brands.

In all honesty I have to admit this part of my post has caused me some apprehension. The overwhelming sense of where do I begin has been gnawing at the back of mind since I first decided to write the article. Ultimately I decided retelling my most recent conversation about Bose would get the ball rolling, so here we go.

Many, if not all, of my friends know I’m in the consumer electronics industry and from time to time they’ll ask me questions like, “What kind of surround system should I get, Bose?” One particular time I was asked this question and I grimaced much like when someone shows you a picture of their newborn and asks isn’t he/she so cute? You’re trying to muster a yes when all you’re thinking is, oh gosh that’s an ugly baby. It’s quite an uncomfortable feeling. This is exactly how I felt recently when a friend was looking for my affirmation on their potential Bose purchase.

After pulling my thoughts together I realized this person is looking to me for advice and not a gloss over, so I began with “It really all depends on what you want out of the system.” My reply seemed to shock him a bit as he said, “Well… I want a great sounding surround system of course.” I replied, “Then Bose may not be for you.”

Now context is very important here. This is someone who has already shown a predisposition for a really good system (I know because I helped him pick out his projector) and not someone who was starting from scratch.


Bose standI went on to tell him about how Bose tries to discourage dealers from demonstrating their products head to head with competitors. If you’ve ever seen Bose on display in a retail setting, you may have noticed that the Bose stand or island display is set away from the rest of the sound equipment. Some might argue this is premium product placement but I’m of the opinion this is designed to put the product in a favorable light and in doing so, making it hard to make direct comparisons with the other products.

Lets talk about the product itself. In the interest of brevity for the rest of this post assume that I’m talking about a Bose home theater system. I’ve already mentioned my dislike of their all-in-one approach to electronics so for the remainder of the post, I’ll focus on their home theater speakers. But keep in mind whether you’re looking at a complete Lifestyle system with electronics or a stand alone speaker system, the speakers themselves are relatively consistent throughout the 6.1 packages.

• Frequency Response

Ah, let’s not forget about the diminutive cube speakers. Modern technology is a wonderful thing. We’ve solved so many day to day problems in our lives with technological advances. Many would assume the tiny speakers that handle the high and middle frequencies in a Bose system are just another example of this. Unfortunately, the laws of physics didn’t get the memo that a 2.5” driver can accurately reproduce high frequencies and down to lower-mid range frequencies. As it turns out, those lower mid range frequencies are one area where the Bose Cube-Satellite system falls short.

It’s not that the Bose system doesn’t recreate lower-mids at all, it’s where they come from that’s the issue. The Bose Acoustimass subwoofer by and large handles these low-mid frequencies for the system, which introduces another two-fold problem back into the system. Firstly since the cubes aren’t going down as low as a standard bookshelf speaker would, the system suffers from poor mid-range localization. And since those frequencies are being handled by the subwoofer, the sub itself suffers from an overachiever complex that often results in poor low end response.

Speaking of frequency response, Bose doesn’t publish frequency responses for their consumer products. Dr. Amar Bose was quoted as saying “looking at frequency responses on paper and charts doesn’t really matter – it boils down to how it sounds to people”. I will be the first to admit that frequency responses aren’t a good way to judge a speaker, especially if you’re comparing similar speakers. But I think it’s safe to say Bose would be exempt from the similar speaker comparison example.

When your competitors publishes their frequency responses and your company doesn’t, you’re either betting that your average customer doesn’t care enough to investigate statistics or that they really don’t matter at all. Given the fact that Bose cites several technological advancements as a direct result of their engineering, I’m betting it’s the former.

Here is the simple truth about Bose Cube/Sat speaker systems and their frequency response. There are obvious localization problems caused by the low-mid frequency shift to the subwoofer. A simple way to illustrate this (if you happen to own a Bose home theater system) is during a movie unplug all of your satellites and see if you can still follow the dialog from the subwoofer.

So far in about 5 out of 5 attempts, I’ve been able to follow the dialog. No I don’t own a Bose system, but I’ve replaced several. You shouldn’t be able to follow dialog from a subwoofer alone. This is indicative of a sub that’s recreating mid to upper mid-range frequencies, and not focusing on the low end as it should.

The general consensus is that as little as a 30hz gap or as large as a 80hz gap exists between Bose’s Cubes and Subwoofer. But again with out official frequency response figures from Bose, we’re left with outside independent reviewers speculating on the actual numbers. That is to say, I’m unaware of any credible third parties testing the frequency response of Bose’s Cube/Sat systems. But suffice to say, ANY frequency response gap would be worse than a high or low roll-off.

I haven’t even mentioned the price of Bose’s home theater systems, but I need to. Bose’s premium home theater systems aka The Lifestyle System, range anywhere from $1,599 to $3,999 at time of press. I don’t want to get into the “you could buy xyz components instead of Bose diatribe”, but I will say please do some shopping. You’ll be very surprised at what you can get in a component/speaker package from other manufacturers for say $2500.00, which often winds up being the average price of one of the Lifestyle Systems.

• Summary

I’ll close in saying that Bose is very often an emotional purchase by uninformed (through no fault of their own) buyers looking to buy a ‘surround sound system’ and more often than not the size of the Satellite Cubes is what seals the deal. However if you’re after genuine sonic fidelity and aren’t limited to a speaker that’s tiny, I urge you to do your research, hear multiple systems and refrain from impulse purchases, your ears and wallet will thank you.

In doing research for this article, I ran across a reprint of an article from SmartMoney entitled ‘The Sound and the Fury’. The article reviews 5 speakers (Bose among them) and features Lou Reed as a guest reviewer. There is a hilarious quote from Mr. Reed in the article about Bose, but I’ll let you read it for yourself.

Note: don’t take the link as an endorsement of Klipsch speakers, that’s just where the .pdf of the mentioned article resides.

p.s My goal here was informing potential Bose buyers, not lambasting current owners. If you own a Bose system and think it’s the cats meow then kudos to you, but please understand our comment system is for on-topic polite discussion and not for belligerent rhetoric.

Part (1) of What about Bose?



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Surround Sound


Comments

  • Caubehypah

    For all those that commented on why the writer did not mention anything about Bose speakers and their performance in the recording world, is that this blog is mentioning the home theater performances of the Bose speaker system strictly. I also feel that bose uses its name in other industry to lead customers into buying their “home theater” speakers. I recently walked into one of those Bose stores in an outlet and the salesman told me that Bose was a perferred speakers system in the Olympics, etc. He then showed me to a home theater surround sound Bose system to hear “why it was chosen for the olympics.” There is absolutely no comparison between speakers you use outside and speakers for your home theaters. It is deceptive. But for the average joe, it is highly appealing.

  • B.Greenway

    Folks thanks for all the comments, really. But this page is getting longish. Please post any new comments on part one of the article:

    http://www.hometheaterblog.com/hometheater/2006/03/what_about_bose.html

  • B.Greenway

    Folks thanks for all the comments, really. But this page is getting longish. Please post any new comments on part one of the article:

    http://www.hometheaterblog.com/hometheater/2006/03/what_about_bose.html

  • B.Greenway

    I’m completely aware of the litigation involving CE, Thiel and others. I’ve said nothing here that can be asserted as libelous by Bose.

    Slander: words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another <– cant be this one

    Libel: Published words or pictures that falsely and maliciously defame a person. Libel is published defamation; slander is spoken. <– Hard to consider these articles libelous with summations like these:

    “I’ll close in saying that Bose is very often an emotional purchase by uninformed (through no fault of their own) buyers looking to buy a ‘surround sound system’ and more often than not the size of the Satellite Cubes is what seals the deal. However if you’re after genuine sonic fidelity and aren’t limited to a speaker that’s tiny, I urge you to do your research, hear multiple systems and refrain from impulse purchases, your ears and wallet will thank you.”

    No where in that statement or throughout the articles do I libel Bose as a company or product, I’m offering my personal opinions and observations.

    “I urge you to do your research, hear multiple systems and refrain from impulse purchases, your ears and wallet will thank you” could hardly be construed as a damning comment.

    Oh and in case there was any doubt as to my opinion of the company in general. A friend of mine (who’s technical opinions I hold above almost everyone I know) tells me the Bose noise canceling headphones are an awesome product. There now that should dispel any myths that I’m on some frivolous anti-Bose crusade.

  • B.Greenway

    I’m completely aware of the litigation involving CE, Thiel and others. I’ve said nothing here that can be asserted as libelous by Bose.

    Slander: words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another <– cant be this one

    Libel: Published words or pictures that falsely and maliciously defame a person. Libel is published defamation; slander is spoken. <– Hard to consider these articles libelous with summations like these:

    “I’ll close in saying that Bose is very often an emotional purchase by uninformed (through no fault of their own) buyers looking to buy a ‘surround sound system’ and more often than not the size of the Satellite Cubes is what seals the deal. However if you’re after genuine sonic fidelity and aren’t limited to a speaker that’s tiny, I urge you to do your research, hear multiple systems and refrain from impulse purchases, your ears and wallet will thank you.”

    No where in that statement or throughout the articles do I libel Bose as a company or product, I’m offering my personal opinions and observations.

    “I urge you to do your research, hear multiple systems and refrain from impulse purchases, your ears and wallet will thank you” could hardly be construed as a damning comment.

    Oh and in case there was any doubt as to my opinion of the company in general. A friend of mine (who’s technical opinions I hold above almost everyone I know) tells me the Bose noise canceling headphones are an awesome product. There now that should dispel any myths that I’m on some frivolous anti-Bose crusade.

  • SH

    “By the way I’m a professional musician and know a little about sound.
    My friend helped me set them up and they sounded great.”

    <—Hilarious.

  • SH

    “By the way I’m a professional musician and know a little about sound.
    My friend helped me set them up and they sounded great.”

    <—Hilarious.

  • anon

    Well, my stint in Audio goes back to the mid 70′s as a dealer. We were BOSE dealers when I started, but there was a problem. We demo’d everything we sold in the same room with the same gear (whatever wasn’t under test would be identical; the only variable being the speaker, or whatever you were interested in) and we did it by plugging and unplugging, not switching.

    Anyway, the good people at BOSE were happy with out sales, overjoyed, even. We didn’t sell many 901′s except to certain customers: they were bulletproof, mostly, and you could play them “real loud”. So, if you came in after checking out some Cerwin-Vegas that you loved, or it was obvious that good=loud to you, you got 901′s and our service department remained blissfully ignorant of your tone deaf, always-clipping ways, which normally destroys a loudspeaker rather quickly.

    601′s we couldn’t move if we put guns to our customers heads, but the 301′s were nice, mellow speakers for certain people, and we used a lot of them when a clothes retailer or record shop wanted something not-to-fussy without all those annoying highs and lows; very unobtrusive sound that didn’t offend. We even had a customer who owned a record store, and we installed a pair of 301′s outdoors so he could play music to passers by. They lasted for years and did the job, polite, inoffensive, but hardly hifi.

    If you cared just a bit more about sound but still had the loud bug, we sold you Klipsch speakers (we were the largest Klipsch dealer in Canada at the time). They were also quite bulletproof, but so efficient that few amps ever made it to clipping anyways.

    The HF drivers occasionally blew out if you really abused them, but the rest was fine, and we offered a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty on them (not the manufacturer’s or distributor’s warranty, we ate the cost but it worked for us since it was fairly rare; 2 or 4 replacements a year).

    And if you wanted good sound, we had dozens of “proper” hifi speakers, from Rogers LS3/5a’s to Maggies and everything in between.

    But, they had a real problem with our demoing. Since we would not agree to a dedicated BOSE area, we mutually agreed to move the line to a competing dealer in town. We even sold them our inventory, which made the BOSE people a little miffed; they expected to sell new stuff to them.

    I think we sold 2 sets of 901s in the 5 years I was part of the store, but probably 200 pairs of 301s. Still, it was easy to say goodbye to them; no-one really cared for the sound and we did have a line for the Motorhead crowd, so they weren’t missed at all.

    Even then, BOSE was best known inside the industry (not to the public, though) as the triumph of marketing over music.

    Best regards.

  • anon

    Well, my stint in Audio goes back to the mid 70′s as a dealer. We were BOSE dealers when I started, but there was a problem. We demo’d everything we sold in the same room with the same gear (whatever wasn’t under test would be identical; the only variable being the speaker, or whatever you were interested in) and we did it by plugging and unplugging, not switching.

    Anyway, the good people at BOSE were happy with out sales, overjoyed, even. We didn’t sell many 901′s except to certain customers: they were bulletproof, mostly, and you could play them “real loud”. So, if you came in after checking out some Cerwin-Vegas that you loved, or it was obvious that good=loud to you, you got 901′s and our service department remained blissfully ignorant of your tone deaf, always-clipping ways, which normally destroys a loudspeaker rather quickly.

    601′s we couldn’t move if we put guns to our customers heads, but the 301′s were nice, mellow speakers for certain people, and we used a lot of them when a clothes retailer or record shop wanted something not-to-fussy without all those annoying highs and lows; very unobtrusive sound that didn’t offend. We even had a customer who owned a record store, and we installed a pair of 301′s outdoors so he could play music to passers by. They lasted for years and did the job, polite, inoffensive, but hardly hifi.

    If you cared just a bit more about sound but still had the loud bug, we sold you Klipsch speakers (we were the largest Klipsch dealer in Canada at the time). They were also quite bulletproof, but so efficient that few amps ever made it to clipping anyways.

    The HF drivers occasionally blew out if you really abused them, but the rest was fine, and we offered a no-questions-asked lifetime warranty on them (not the manufacturer’s or distributor’s warranty, we ate the cost but it worked for us since it was fairly rare; 2 or 4 replacements a year).

    And if you wanted good sound, we had dozens of “proper” hifi speakers, from Rogers LS3/5a’s to Maggies and everything in between.

    But, they had a real problem with our demoing. Since we would not agree to a dedicated BOSE area, we mutually agreed to move the line to a competing dealer in town. We even sold them our inventory, which made the BOSE people a little miffed; they expected to sell new stuff to them.

    I think we sold 2 sets of 901s in the 5 years I was part of the store, but probably 200 pairs of 301s. Still, it was easy to say goodbye to them; no-one really cared for the sound and we did have a line for the Motorhead crowd, so they weren’t missed at all.

    Even then, BOSE was best known inside the industry (not to the public, though) as the triumph of marketing over music.

    Best regards.

  • Greg

    Ok, good article but hear are some thoughts…

    Bose speakers are made with paper cones. Ever leave paper out on a humid day. What happens… The paper changes shape,curls, well this happens with your Bose speakers and that effects the sound. Also the speakers are held together with foam that will deteriate over time.

    Also the gap in the Frequency Response is like buying a $80,000 lexus and not getting a transmission. You are paying more not having those frequency responses.

    I am guilty of having my parents buy a BOSE system though. First I didn’t know how bad bose was and second I didn’t want to be bothered by them always asking… How do I use this thing again. I now can solve that with a Harmony universal remote control

    However when my Aunt wanted a home theater system I told her no Bose. Instead we went to a Home theater store in her area. Auditioned a complete set up in her price range. She wound up spending about $2100 installed with dual recievers for a second zone.

    Even Best Buy and others will install a system into your home and set it up for about the same price as a bose system.

    My Motto is if it costs more than $100, go spend 15 minutes on the web and do some research, it can save you thousands.

  • Greg

    Ok, good article but hear are some thoughts…

    Bose speakers are made with paper cones. Ever leave paper out on a humid day. What happens… The paper changes shape,curls, well this happens with your Bose speakers and that effects the sound. Also the speakers are held together with foam that will deteriate over time.

    Also the gap in the Frequency Response is like buying a $80,000 lexus and not getting a transmission. You are paying more not having those frequency responses.

    I am guilty of having my parents buy a BOSE system though. First I didn’t know how bad bose was and second I didn’t want to be bothered by them always asking… How do I use this thing again. I now can solve that with a Harmony universal remote control

    However when my Aunt wanted a home theater system I told her no Bose. Instead we went to a Home theater store in her area. Auditioned a complete set up in her price range. She wound up spending about $2100 installed with dual recievers for a second zone.

    Even Best Buy and others will install a system into your home and set it up for about the same price as a bose system.

    My Motto is if it costs more than $100, go spend 15 minutes on the web and do some research, it can save you thousands.

  • Drew

    Thanks for the info about Bose. Also, recommendations would be good and here’s why. I seriously do not have the time to go everywhere I would need to go to hear all the different systems. I had a friend who once drove 3 hours to audition a speaker system (Definitive maybe?) and I just can’t do that.

    So I read lots of magazines and Internet posts until I came up with what seemed to be a regularly recommended set of bookshelf speakers, Optimus speaker with Linnaeus tweeters by Radio Shack. Don’t have a cow, apparently Radio Shack’s speakers (at least that particular set) were an audiophile’s insider tip for cheap speakers (kinda like using 18-gauge electrical cord for speaker wires).

    Anyway, I bought them because the recommendation came around from many sources. I would appreciate a recommendation here, too. Maybe a $1000 set each. Just a suggestion.

  • Drew

    Thanks for the info about Bose. Also, recommendations would be good and here’s why. I seriously do not have the time to go everywhere I would need to go to hear all the different systems. I had a friend who once drove 3 hours to audition a speaker system (Definitive maybe?) and I just can’t do that.

    So I read lots of magazines and Internet posts until I came up with what seemed to be a regularly recommended set of bookshelf speakers, Optimus speaker with Linnaeus tweeters by Radio Shack. Don’t have a cow, apparently Radio Shack’s speakers (at least that particular set) were an audiophile’s insider tip for cheap speakers (kinda like using 18-gauge electrical cord for speaker wires).

    Anyway, I bought them because the recommendation came around from many sources. I would appreciate a recommendation here, too. Maybe a $1000 set each. Just a suggestion.

  • Average Joe

    Yup, I’m the Average Joe (TM). When I hear Bose I think bass.

    While an audiophile might want to set up all those speakers, I don’t. I just want to plug in and go.

    I’m also really impressed by the bass. I like how it thumps a lot, and I can always clearly hear all the bass in every song I listen to. I don’t really understand what you mean by mid-range though, but I do have bass, and lots of it. Yeah baby!

    I picked the Bose because there were only a few to choose from. I had walked into a Sony store, and was soon confused. They had so many different sizes and shapes of speakers I had no idea what made one better than the other, and I certainly wasn’t going to sit and listen to them all. It also helps that the bose are small as the old lady doesn’t mind so much.

    joe.

  • Average Joe

    Yup, I’m the Average Joe (TM). When I hear Bose I think bass.

    While an audiophile might want to set up all those speakers, I don’t. I just want to plug in and go.

    I’m also really impressed by the bass. I like how it thumps a lot, and I can always clearly hear all the bass in every song I listen to. I don’t really understand what you mean by mid-range though, but I do have bass, and lots of it. Yeah baby!

    I picked the Bose because there were only a few to choose from. I had walked into a Sony store, and was soon confused. They had so many different sizes and shapes of speakers I had no idea what made one better than the other, and I certainly wasn’t going to sit and listen to them all. It also helps that the bose are small as the old lady doesn’t mind so much.

    joe.

  • dom

    Well all good and well, but I can sit and tell the difference between speaker setups, and if other manufactrers arent willing to promote or shout about their product, what does that say about the company?! Oh, and you fail to mention what you’d pick instead!

  • dom

    Well all good and well, but I can sit and tell the difference between speaker setups, and if other manufactrers arent willing to promote or shout about their product, what does that say about the company?! Oh, and you fail to mention what you’d pick instead!

  • Mike Martinez

    Great article. I’m a sound guy for a 2500 seat auditorium and I’m always getting speaker questions from people and they inevitably ask me about Bose speakers. My reaction is almost exactly what the author describes.

    Part of the problem with speakers (and sound gear in general) is that the uninformed can easily get fixiated on an idea of what sounds “good” without really testing out whether what they’ve been told really matches up with how their ears and mind percieve sound. A potential purchaser will hear that certain types of speakers sound “warm” which can be a nice way of saying very mid-range in character while lacking high end clarity and low end body. Unless you know to listen for good clarity throughout the audible frequency range a buyer may have no idea what they’re missing.

    I agree with the author that I can’t completely rule out Bose as appropriate for some users but that my instinct when I here someone ask about them is that the person doesn’t know a lot about audio. Also I completely agree that Bose isn’t great in terms of bang for your buck. Even if you like a particular Bose system’s sound I guarantee you can get the same quality for less money elsewhere.

    I can’t emphasize enough the need to listen and compare various speakers to get a good idea of what you’re buying.

  • Mike Martinez

    Great article. I’m a sound guy for a 2500 seat auditorium and I’m always getting speaker questions from people and they inevitably ask me about Bose speakers. My reaction is almost exactly what the author describes.

    Part of the problem with speakers (and sound gear in general) is that the uninformed can easily get fixiated on an idea of what sounds “good” without really testing out whether what they’ve been told really matches up with how their ears and mind percieve sound. A potential purchaser will hear that certain types of speakers sound “warm” which can be a nice way of saying very mid-range in character while lacking high end clarity and low end body. Unless you know to listen for good clarity throughout the audible frequency range a buyer may have no idea what they’re missing.

    I agree with the author that I can’t completely rule out Bose as appropriate for some users but that my instinct when I here someone ask about them is that the person doesn’t know a lot about audio. Also I completely agree that Bose isn’t great in terms of bang for your buck. Even if you like a particular Bose system’s sound I guarantee you can get the same quality for less money elsewhere.

    I can’t emphasize enough the need to listen and compare various speakers to get a good idea of what you’re buying.

  • Ellis

    I was read both parts and was waiting for the Frequency Response to come up. I can say, yes Bose does make some (notice some) good sounding products. But I’ve listened to some of their products and thought “Damned my KLH book shelf speakers I bought years for $30 sounded better”.

    I’m one that says – get what your ear enjoys – but at the same time, being a geek – I look for the specs. So I want good specs on a products – but also want the performance that sounds good to my ear.

    Of course we could get into the transistor vs tubes ordeal. But lets not. =)

  • Ellis

    I was read both parts and was waiting for the Frequency Response to come up. I can say, yes Bose does make some (notice some) good sounding products. But I’ve listened to some of their products and thought “Damned my KLH book shelf speakers I bought years for $30 sounded better”.

    I’m one that says – get what your ear enjoys – but at the same time, being a geek – I look for the specs. So I want good specs on a products – but also want the performance that sounds good to my ear.

    Of course we could get into the transistor vs tubes ordeal. But lets not. =)

  • will

    I want to know what people see in the Bose noise cancelling headphones? A. They dont do that good of job cancelling noise B. They sound bad. I’ve tried a pair on next to my shure E3 (which are cheeper) and my headphones sound better and block more noise. The only thing I liked about the Bose were that they were more comfortable.

  • will

    I want to know what people see in the Bose noise cancelling headphones? A. They dont do that good of job cancelling noise B. They sound bad. I’ve tried a pair on next to my shure E3 (which are cheeper) and my headphones sound better and block more noise. The only thing I liked about the Bose were that they were more comfortable.

  • Chriszuma

    I remember a good many years ago I was riding in my dad’s car and heard an ad for the Bose Wave Radio. It was this guy saying how this radio was a complete revolution in audio equipment and you can’t possibly comprehend how good they sound. He said something like, “if I were to let you listen to it, you’d just hear your radio, and not be able to appreciate how much of a revolution in sound quality it is”

    As a little kid, I believed him. I thought, “wow that must be some really high-tech stuff.” Of course when I started getting into audio equipment, it became obvious how full of crap this guy was. It’s kind of sickening actually, that they get millions of people to buy these things with ads like that.

  • Chriszuma

    I remember a good many years ago I was riding in my dad’s car and heard an ad for the Bose Wave Radio. It was this guy saying how this radio was a complete revolution in audio equipment and you can’t possibly comprehend how good they sound. He said something like, “if I were to let you listen to it, you’d just hear your radio, and not be able to appreciate how much of a revolution in sound quality it is”

    As a little kid, I believed him. I thought, “wow that must be some really high-tech stuff.” Of course when I started getting into audio equipment, it became obvious how full of crap this guy was. It’s kind of sickening actually, that they get millions of people to buy these things with ads like that.

  • Keith

    Is it Ok to rant about one’s own personal Bose wose? I apologise if this is not the case.

    I fly every week and so I was over the moon when my wife bought me a pair of noise cancelling headphones. However, within a year they had falolen apart. The sound when travelling was great but the product was not robust enough to taken with you on a plae week in, week out.

    Undaunted, I marched on. I upgraded to the new version of the headphones, with their hard travelling case.

    Another year, another worn out pair of headphones. This time I mailed them back to Bose. I was silly and did not use UPS as directed. That was the last time I saw those headphones. That was the point at which I discounted Bose as an option for any future purchases I might make.

  • Keith

    Is it Ok to rant about one’s own personal Bose wose? I apologise if this is not the case.

    I fly every week and so I was over the moon when my wife bought me a pair of noise cancelling headphones. However, within a year they had falolen apart. The sound when travelling was great but the product was not robust enough to taken with you on a plae week in, week out.

    Undaunted, I marched on. I upgraded to the new version of the headphones, with their hard travelling case.

    Another year, another worn out pair of headphones. This time I mailed them back to Bose. I was silly and did not use UPS as directed. That was the last time I saw those headphones. That was the point at which I discounted Bose as an option for any future purchases I might make.

  • Ken

    Al Dunstan said:
    “…Evidently, the proper slogan is: “Better sound through marketing.”…

    Among some pro-audio folks I know, the saying goes: “Bose: Better Sound Through Plumbing.”

  • Ken

    Al Dunstan said:
    “…Evidently, the proper slogan is: “Better sound through marketing.”…

    Among some pro-audio folks I know, the saying goes: “Bose: Better Sound Through Plumbing.”

  • pappugulal

    my 2 Cents
    when it was time for me to buy, Bose was a known name. getting to an audio store, testing systems in various combinations was a tough task, especially with my layman’s ears. Add to it the impression that the set can sound completely different in the showroom and your living room. So, eventually went in for word of mouth recommendation. bought Bose Speakers, Yamaha receiver. Sounds good. Might go through the whole exercise when the next time comes around……

  • pappugulal

    my 2 Cents
    when it was time for me to buy, Bose was a known name. getting to an audio store, testing systems in various combinations was a tough task, especially with my layman’s ears. Add to it the impression that the set can sound completely different in the showroom and your living room. So, eventually went in for word of mouth recommendation. bought Bose Speakers, Yamaha receiver. Sounds good. Might go through the whole exercise when the next time comes around……

  • chris

    You’re obviously not aware of Bose’s lawsuit against Consumer Reports magazine that dragged on for years. You might get a visit from a lawyer very soon.

  • chris

    You’re obviously not aware of Bose’s lawsuit against Consumer Reports magazine that dragged on for years. You might get a visit from a lawyer very soon.

  • Marcus

    I have to say, the new 3·2·1 GS system is a respectable effort to provide good overall sound without the full-on surround setup requirements. I think they are getting religion on value too (FINALLY!) since you can get it for $1,104 now . . . not cheap, but not bad either. Having said that, the Denon S-301 seems a better way to go if you like the 3·2·1 configuration.

  • Marcus

    I have to say, the new 3·2·1 GS system is a respectable effort to provide good overall sound without the full-on surround setup requirements. I think they are getting religion on value too (FINALLY!) since you can get it for $1,104 now . . . not cheap, but not bad either. Having said that, the Denon S-301 seems a better way to go if you like the 3·2·1 configuration.

  • Bose Fan

    I am pretty sure its true with what ever has been said.

    But, Marketing is also about the product. Bose is not true in its sound, but its wizardry MAKES the sound sound more glamourous. It might not be exact, but ‘feels’ and ‘sounds’ better.

    This is way Bose is the leading brand in Sound technology, works with the military and many other things.

    Its Bose that made possible the first mass in the chapel at the Vatican, thru its technology, no just faithfull sound.

    I have a perfect sound 13 speaker sound system from another brand in my car, and I change it any day for Bose system; Bose sounds better, even if it not necessarily ‘truer’.

    Its like a camera that makes the sky more ‘bluer’.

  • Bose Fan

    I am pretty sure its true with what ever has been said.

    But, Marketing is also about the product. Bose is not true in its sound, but its wizardry MAKES the sound sound more glamourous. It might not be exact, but ‘feels’ and ‘sounds’ better.

    This is way Bose is the leading brand in Sound technology, works with the military and many other things.

    Its Bose that made possible the first mass in the chapel at the Vatican, thru its technology, no just faithfull sound.

    I have a perfect sound 13 speaker sound system from another brand in my car, and I change it any day for Bose system; Bose sounds better, even if it not necessarily ‘truer’.

    Its like a camera that makes the sky more ‘bluer’.

  • dweeb

    It’s interesting to read the pro-Bose comments here. With two exceptions, they’ve been, “but I like them” from people who, like Joel in “Risky Business” are easily impressed by boosted bass. That’s all the Wave has going for it.

    The two exceptions? First we have the claim that Bose dominates professional circles – funny, but at every live performance I’ve ever been to, and every speech with a PA system, it says JBL on the front of all the speakers.

    The second was someone who is pleased because the Bose lousy high frequency response made it so no one noticed that the room they were in was an acoustic nightmare. Sort of like enough beer covers up how ugly your date is.

    When I hear these people defending their Bose purchases, why can’t I stop thinking of Judge Reinhold as a stereo salesman in “Ruthless People?” (You can’t even be buried in your 901′s)

  • dweeb

    It’s interesting to read the pro-Bose comments here. With two exceptions, they’ve been, “but I like them” from people who, like Joel in “Risky Business” are easily impressed by boosted bass. That’s all the Wave has going for it.

    The two exceptions? First we have the claim that Bose dominates professional circles – funny, but at every live performance I’ve ever been to, and every speech with a PA system, it says JBL on the front of all the speakers.

    The second was someone who is pleased because the Bose lousy high frequency response made it so no one noticed that the room they were in was an acoustic nightmare. Sort of like enough beer covers up how ugly your date is.

    When I hear these people defending their Bose purchases, why can’t I stop thinking of Judge Reinhold as a stereo salesman in “Ruthless People?” (You can’t even be buried in your 901′s)

  • redraider

    I have always stood by the notion that name does not equal quality. I personally have a 1976 Kenwood receiver in my house with a 1982 Hitachi EQ, and a 1989 Pioneer CD changer with late 90′s KLH floor speakers and a 10″ subwoofer that I built myself with an Acoustic Research amp plate. Properly tuned for the room, there is NOTHING that can touch the fidelity of that system. Vocals are super clear and the sound is very warm and rich and flows throughout the entire house. Crisp highs, tight clean lows, very clear mids. Try that on for size with a modern setup…….

  • redraider

    I have always stood by the notion that name does not equal quality. I personally have a 1976 Kenwood receiver in my house with a 1982 Hitachi EQ, and a 1989 Pioneer CD changer with late 90′s KLH floor speakers and a 10″ subwoofer that I built myself with an Acoustic Research amp plate. Properly tuned for the room, there is NOTHING that can touch the fidelity of that system. Vocals are super clear and the sound is very warm and rich and flows throughout the entire house. Crisp highs, tight clean lows, very clear mids. Try that on for size with a modern setup…….

  • Chris

    Someone commented about this reaching the “average person.” That would be me. I love music and sounds but I know more about computers than I do speakers.

    That said, I once went to Best Buy to purchase a surround sound system. I walked back and fourth between the four or five 5.1 stations and Bose was by far the best (the only other brand I remember hearing was JVC, which a close second). A friend of mine was a nay-sayer and Bose was the most expensive so I tried to hate the system but I couldn’t.

    Same thing happened with my recent headphone purchase. Another friend went off about “no highs, no lows, must be Bose” and I wanted to be open to his criticisms of Bose. I even ordered a second pair of headphones from Phillips and waited for them to arrive so I could return my Bose headphones (buyer’s remorse). After comparing the two, I returned the Phillips headphones. They sounded “muted” compared to the ultra crisp Bose headphones.

    No matter what the specs are, to my average ears, Bose sounds great and apparently, I find them worth the money. I’ve kept my $150 Bose headphones.

  • Chris

    Someone commented about this reaching the “average person.” That would be me. I love music and sounds but I know more about computers than I do speakers.

    That said, I once went to Best Buy to purchase a surround sound system. I walked back and fourth between the four or five 5.1 stations and Bose was by far the best (the only other brand I remember hearing was JVC, which a close second). A friend of mine was a nay-sayer and Bose was the most expensive so I tried to hate the system but I couldn’t.

    Same thing happened with my recent headphone purchase. Another friend went off about “no highs, no lows, must be Bose” and I wanted to be open to his criticisms of Bose. I even ordered a second pair of headphones from Phillips and waited for them to arrive so I could return my Bose headphones (buyer’s remorse). After comparing the two, I returned the Phillips headphones. They sounded “muted” compared to the ultra crisp Bose headphones.

    No matter what the specs are, to my average ears, Bose sounds great and apparently, I find them worth the money. I’ve kept my $150 Bose headphones.

  • Johnny Mnemonic

    I’m not surprised. Bose has always been a joke to anyone with a mind and an interest in making an effort to purchase quality products.

    Marketing is what made crap software from Microsoft the most popular and continues to do so. It worked for America Online and it works for Bose. You’ve got to give them credit, as it appears that they’re doing well. Unfortunately, they chose the evil path… spend money on advertising, not engineering… stupid consumers won’t know the difference anyway. Gee, I guess they got it right.

    It works and will always work as long as people are generally…

    a) lazy.
    b) looking for instant gratification .
    c) are uneducated buyers.

    Generally speaking, people don’t want to work – period. They certainly don’t want to work for their leisure items. Therefore, they foolishly submit to what advertising tells them is good for them (along with peer pressure from other idiots looking to justify their own foolish purchase). Why learn, compare and take you’re time to find the right products when you can have this shiny thing now? Oooh, see that glossy ad. Check out that display. OMG ponies!!! Bose must be for me!

    As smug as this may come across, let these people buy crap I say… they deserve what they get. I have no patience for fools.

  • Johnny Mnemonic

    I’m not surprised. Bose has always been a joke to anyone with a mind and an interest in making an effort to purchase quality products.

    Marketing is what made crap software from Microsoft the most popular and continues to do so. It worked for America Online and it works for Bose. You’ve got to give them credit, as it appears that they’re doing well. Unfortunately, they chose the evil path… spend money on advertising, not engineering… stupid consumers won’t know the difference anyway. Gee, I guess they got it right.

    It works and will always work as long as people are generally…

    a) lazy.
    b) looking for instant gratification .
    c) are uneducated buyers.

    Generally speaking, people don’t want to work – period. They certainly don’t want to work for their leisure items. Therefore, they foolishly submit to what advertising tells them is good for them (along with peer pressure from other idiots looking to justify their own foolish purchase). Why learn, compare and take you’re time to find the right products when you can have this shiny thing now? Oooh, see that glossy ad. Check out that display. OMG ponies!!! Bose must be for me!

    As smug as this may come across, let these people buy crap I say… they deserve what they get. I have no patience for fools.

  • Joel

    Unfortunately, most people that need to hear about the ineffectivness of bose speakers will never get it.

    The truth of bose as a company is that they made and still make great speakers, but just not in satellite form. Their paired speakers, be it just about any form or level do sound very good(especially the 901s), as they should since they do follow the laws of physics and the way sound moves through the air.

    I have always been impressed with just how bad the lifestyle system and all of their satellite systems are compared to their older speaker offerings.

    A really nice read, confirming what I had thought for years; the satellites don’t go down low enough which leaves a frequency gap, and then the sub has to try and come up to meet it, making the sub not “to be invisble anywhere in the room” as a quote from a home theatre sales guy.

  • Joel

    Unfortunately, most people that need to hear about the ineffectivness of bose speakers will never get it.

    The truth of bose as a company is that they made and still make great speakers, but just not in satellite form. Their paired speakers, be it just about any form or level do sound very good(especially the 901s), as they should since they do follow the laws of physics and the way sound moves through the air.

    I have always been impressed with just how bad the lifestyle system and all of their satellite systems are compared to their older speaker offerings.

    A really nice read, confirming what I had thought for years; the satellites don’t go down low enough which leaves a frequency gap, and then the sub has to try and come up to meet it, making the sub not “to be invisble anywhere in the room” as a quote from a home theatre sales guy.

  • AdventureDad

    Thanks for a fairly neutral and objective read. I’m an owner of a Bose Lifestyle system and although I love the system I don’t disagree with your views and opinions. I bought the system many years ago and it has worked really well. I listen to quite a bit of music and enjoy nice sound but I’m not an audio freak.

    I wanted a system that used several zones, had remote that worked in several rooms, offered pretty good sound, could be used with TV and DVD, and looked great on the wall. The price didn’t really matter. I think Bose was a good choice with those criteria. And I feel like many people who buy Bose feel the same. There are many systems that are better for a much cheaper price. But most look like crap on the wall. I had a beautifuyl apartment in NYC with unbelievable views and the system looked very nice hanging there with cables hidden in he wall. Most visitors seemed to agree.

    It’s obvious (at least to me) that the system is expensive and that you pay a lot for the design and the looks. The system still sounds pretty good and still looks good on the wall. For my next system I might buy something else but I must say that I really like the whole Bose combination of sound, looks, and convenience. If you’ve got a large plasma TV hanging on the wall the Bose system is a nice touch.

    Have a nice week ahead.

    AD

  • AdventureDad

    Thanks for a fairly neutral and objective read. I’m an owner of a Bose Lifestyle system and although I love the system I don’t disagree with your views and opinions. I bought the system many years ago and it has worked really well. I listen to quite a bit of music and enjoy nice sound but I’m not an audio freak.

    I wanted a system that used several zones, had remote that worked in several rooms, offered pretty good sound, could be used with TV and DVD, and looked great on the wall. The price didn’t really matter. I think Bose was a good choice with those criteria. And I feel like many people who buy Bose feel the same. There are many systems that are better for a much cheaper price. But most look like crap on the wall. I had a beautifuyl apartment in NYC with unbelievable views and the system looked very nice hanging there with cables hidden in he wall. Most visitors seemed to agree.

    It’s obvious (at least to me) that the system is expensive and that you pay a lot for the design and the looks. The system still sounds pretty good and still looks good on the wall. For my next system I might buy something else but I must say that I really like the whole Bose combination of sound, looks, and convenience. If you’ve got a large plasma TV hanging on the wall the Bose system is a nice touch.

    Have a nice week ahead.

    AD

  • ChazZ

    I agree with the article too, I have had bose before some 501′s and those cool octagonal tower speakers, I dont rembmer what they are called; 601? anyway, Bose always sound muddy to me, not very bright unless you can compensate with some manner of equalizer; its funny people use and equalizer to make things uneqaual but i digress…

    I am perfectly happy with the JBL towers i picked up a while back, they are bright, responsive and have a pretty good kick, when i choose not to use the sub(night movies… dont want to disturb the neighbors too much.)

    can anyone recommend some good surround speakers? all i have are some shi**y AIWA surrounds, they suck but they do the job, i would like some better ones especially a good center channel.

    -ChazZ

  • ChazZ

    I agree with the article too, I have had bose before some 501′s and those cool octagonal tower speakers, I dont rembmer what they are called; 601? anyway, Bose always sound muddy to me, not very bright unless you can compensate with some manner of equalizer; its funny people use and equalizer to make things uneqaual but i digress…

    I am perfectly happy with the JBL towers i picked up a while back, they are bright, responsive and have a pretty good kick, when i choose not to use the sub(night movies… dont want to disturb the neighbors too much.)

    can anyone recommend some good surround speakers? all i have are some shi**y AIWA surrounds, they suck but they do the job, i would like some better ones especially a good center channel.

    -ChazZ

  • oldie

    I agree with this article. Bose is really overrated. I have relatives and friends who swear by Bose and defend it at any cost. I used to be one of them till it was time to purchase a home theatre system 4 years ago.

    Since I had a pretty decent budget I started looking around at various home theater systems. I would use it 60% for music and the rest for movies. I found a lot of speakers that performed a lot better than Bose and was cheaper than bose. Some of the speaker I really loved comparing cost performance were JBL, Infinity and Kenwood. Never has the opportunity to check Klipsch. I spent over a month going to different dealers, carrying my own DVD’s and music CD’s and testing different system’s. It finally boiled down to JBL’s. I purchased a JBL 5.1 system. The front speakers where the wooden tower once. There produced the high’s and mid ranges extremely well.

    I preferred JBL’s because of the overall sound response (low, mid’s and high’s). The sound was crystal clear and it was very good at recreating a lot of the different musical instruments and sound effects very well. Infinity’s were my second choice and skipped them because I felt their BASS was weak for music, but the system was excellent for movies.

    In fact I had an opportunity to attend a movie award ceremony and spoke to the people who were in charge of sound (This was after I purchased my system). Guess what were their comments on Bose… overrated. One of their recommendations… JBL.

    Again… the choice of speakers defer from person to person. For anyone looking into buying a audio system, I would highly recommend looking into other systems before thinking of Bose.

  • oldie

    I agree with this article. Bose is really overrated. I have relatives and friends who swear by Bose and defend it at any cost. I used to be one of them till it was time to purchase a home theatre system 4 years ago.

    Since I had a pretty decent budget I started looking around at various home theater systems. I would use it 60% for music and the rest for movies. I found a lot of speakers that performed a lot better than Bose and was cheaper than bose. Some of the speaker I really loved comparing cost performance were JBL, Infinity and Kenwood. Never has the opportunity to check Klipsch. I spent over a month going to different dealers, carrying my own DVD’s and music CD’s and testing different system’s. It finally boiled down to JBL’s. I purchased a JBL 5.1 system. The front speakers where the wooden tower once. There produced the high’s and mid ranges extremely well.

    I preferred JBL’s because of the overall sound response (low, mid’s and high’s). The sound was crystal clear and it was very good at recreating a lot of the different musical instruments and sound effects very well. Infinity’s were my second choice and skipped them because I felt their BASS was weak for music, but the system was excellent for movies.

    In fact I had an opportunity to attend a movie award ceremony and spoke to the people who were in charge of sound (This was after I purchased my system). Guess what were their comments on Bose… overrated. One of their recommendations… JBL.

    Again… the choice of speakers defer from person to person. For anyone looking into buying a audio system, I would highly recommend looking into other systems before thinking of Bose.

  • Mac Beach

    I’m not particularly a fan of the company either, but a few years ago I moved into a second home at the beach close to one of their factory outlets and have been unable to resist the temptation of a small discount from time to time. I’ve often heard that the frequency response on Bose was bad, and pretty much accepted that as true, as it DOES seem funny that Bose doesn’t publish these numbers (although the magazines that do reviews publish their own findings, so the information is out there for anyone that wants it).

    I recently had a surprise though, when I consolidated all my stuff to the beach house I ended up with two of many things, including two home stereo systems. I kept using of course what I thought was the best of everything and boxed the second set up to give away or sell, keeping a Yamaha receiver, boxing up the Sony, keeping a set of Boston speakers, boxing up the Bose, etc.

    One thing that bothered me was that it seemed I was always having to tinker with the equalizer settings to get things to sound right. The Yamahas have a “Direct” setting that bypasses all of this and it seemed to me that with a good set of speakers I SHOULD be able to leave it in that mode. I definitely had the feeling I wasn’t enjoying music as much as I had in the past and was listening more to news.

    Finally, before I got rid of the second set of everything I decided to do a side by side test of the Boston speakers and the Bose. Having owned both sets for several years I had never done a side by side test, because they speakers were never in the same place. I plugged the Bose into the “B” terminals on the Yamaha so I could switch back and forth while particular music passages were playing.

    I was quite surprised that over a wide range of music the Bose actually sounded better to me. I could disable the equalizer and play several different types of music and it really sounded good. I decided to keep the Bose. Not very scientific. No graphs, and maybe it’s my hearing that is off and the Bose speakers happen so overdrive the parts of the spectrum where my hearing is week, but they just sound better. Maybe that is an inditement of the Boston speakers that I’m going to be giving away, but I paid about the same for them from a top-end audio store, where they sounded very good next to the other speakers there on display.

    It is too bad that you can’t hear Bose speakers side by side with the competition in most audio stores, and that has always made be suspicious of Bose, rather than the other way around, so I was quite surprised by the outcome of my side-by-side test. Neither the Bose nor the Boston speakers I tested were the top of the line models. Maybe that was a factor.

  • Mac Beach

    I’m not particularly a fan of the company either, but a few years ago I moved into a second home at the beach close to one of their factory outlets and have been unable to resist the temptation of a small discount from time to time. I’ve often heard that the frequency response on Bose was bad, and pretty much accepted that as true, as it DOES seem funny that Bose doesn’t publish these numbers (although the magazines that do reviews publish their own findings, so the information is out there for anyone that wants it).

    I recently had a surprise though, when I consolidated all my stuff to the beach house I ended up with two of many things, including two home stereo systems. I kept using of course what I thought was the best of everything and boxed the second set up to give away or sell, keeping a Yamaha receiver, boxing up the Sony, keeping a set of Boston speakers, boxing up the Bose, etc.

    One thing that bothered me was that it seemed I was always having to tinker with the equalizer settings to get things to sound right. The Yamahas have a “Direct” setting that bypasses all of this and it seemed to me that with a good set of speakers I SHOULD be able to leave it in that mode. I definitely had the feeling I wasn’t enjoying music as much as I had in the past and was listening more to news.

    Finally, before I got rid of the second set of everything I decided to do a side by side test of the Boston speakers and the Bose. Having owned both sets for several years I had never done a side by side test, because they speakers were never in the same place. I plugged the Bose into the “B” terminals on the Yamaha so I could switch back and forth while particular music passages were playing.

    I was quite surprised that over a wide range of music the Bose actually sounded better to me. I could disable the equalizer and play several different types of music and it really sounded good. I decided to keep the Bose. Not very scientific. No graphs, and maybe it’s my hearing that is off and the Bose speakers happen so overdrive the parts of the spectrum where my hearing is week, but they just sound better. Maybe that is an inditement of the Boston speakers that I’m going to be giving away, but I paid about the same for them from a top-end audio store, where they sounded very good next to the other speakers there on display.

    It is too bad that you can’t hear Bose speakers side by side with the competition in most audio stores, and that has always made be suspicious of Bose, rather than the other way around, so I was quite surprised by the outcome of my side-by-side test. Neither the Bose nor the Boston speakers I tested were the top of the line models. Maybe that was a factor.

  • Jason

    This is a conflict between the maximizers and the satisficers. The maximizers in this case are the audiophiles who talk like this:

    You need to be buying a Brand X reciever with a Brand Y center channel and a Brand Z subwoofer. The frequency response is great. Oh, you say you are in a small room? Is the room active? Then you need Brand A, with Brand C and Brand D. And look at these frequency response curves, aren’t they fantastic! Look at the RMS and the THD and the whizbat ratio! This is the best system for the money, unless of course you are a jazz fan, then you need this one ……

    The satisficer hears “blah blah blah Thing I never heard of something I don’t understand, graph and numbers”. Then they say, “I’ll just have the Bose, I know they have a decent reputation (because I was told that), and I want everything in one box that Just Works When I Take It Home”.

    To some extent, Apple Computer does the same thing — the make a tightly integrated, pretty, well-tested and user friendly product. It’s more expensive, and you sure can do better building a PC from scratch, but you need to know a lot more and most people don’t want to deal with all that hassle. They just want to turn on the computer and have it work. Same thing with TiVo. More expensive than other alternatives, but it just works and is easy to use.

  • Jason

    This is a conflict between the maximizers and the satisficers. The maximizers in this case are the audiophiles who talk like this:

    You need to be buying a Brand X reciever with a Brand Y center channel and a Brand Z subwoofer. The frequency response is great. Oh, you say you are in a small room? Is the room active? Then you need Brand A, with Brand C and Brand D. And look at these frequency response curves, aren’t they fantastic! Look at the RMS and the THD and the whizbat ratio! This is the best system for the money, unless of course you are a jazz fan, then you need this one ……

    The satisficer hears “blah blah blah Thing I never heard of something I don’t understand, graph and numbers”. Then they say, “I’ll just have the Bose, I know they have a decent reputation (because I was told that), and I want everything in one box that Just Works When I Take It Home”.

    To some extent, Apple Computer does the same thing — the make a tightly integrated, pretty, well-tested and user friendly product. It’s more expensive, and you sure can do better building a PC from scratch, but you need to know a lot more and most people don’t want to deal with all that hassle. They just want to turn on the computer and have it work. Same thing with TiVo. More expensive than other alternatives, but it just works and is easy to use.

  • SOhp101

    Want good quality speakers that are small yet produce great sound? Purchase high end computer surround sound speakers–fraction of the cost, way better sound reproduction.

    I have a Creative Gigaworks S750 set and they sound much better than any set of Bose speakers I’ve heard, and they cost way less.

    There’s no reason why Bose is a good choice in ANY situation.

  • SOhp101

    Want good quality speakers that are small yet produce great sound? Purchase high end computer surround sound speakers–fraction of the cost, way better sound reproduction.

    I have a Creative Gigaworks S750 set and they sound much better than any set of Bose speakers I’ve heard, and they cost way less.

    There’s no reason why Bose is a good choice in ANY situation.

  • ian

    I had the same senario that you described in Part 1 of the couple asking, “What about bose?” but instead it was me and my dad going to a chain consumer electronicss, which I won’t mention but use the color RED on their facade, anyway – We headed to this store and my dad already pretty much had his mind set on BOSE (see, there is an example of good marketing, I spelled the name in all caps!) I was already thinking of how overpriced they were and how funny that the bose system was never placed in the theater with the other ‘toys’. I have a feeling that my dad was there when they had an in-store demo of the bose system. They rounded up the crowd and herded them into the ‘general purpose’ room where they kept almost any kind of speaker – sony, infinity, boston acoustics, etc. The demo was one of those where they set everyone down and play them some tracks from a CD and/or DVD and you can’t help but notice the giant black mass of speaker mesh grill towering over the rest of the other components. The crowd goes ooh! ahhh! and then at the right moment they lift the giant grills to expose the TINY bose speakerlets.

    How can that not wow the average consumer. I too was surprised at how well it sounded, considering they didn’t demo it along side anything else – what wowed me more was their sales tactic. Herd up a bunch of men on maybe one of the bussiest days for men – fathers day or say the weekend before a superbowl or that day after thanksgiving sale.

    Anyways I remembered that day I saw the demo and the fact that we were back in the same store of said demo, I wanted to avoid the trickery. My dad is such a sucker though you know? He just wants the best, but of course how do you know what is the best if you haven’t shopped for something other than what you know to be the best when you haven’t even owned such a system before? He’s no musician, I am. I used the common sense my ears told me. Muddy? Flat? Brittle? Boomy? I don’t think those kind of words enter the average consumers heads when shopping, well maybe BOOMY. But that could be the hook that bose has and that is to compare the boomy products to the HIGHs and ‘clarity’ or ‘crispness’ of their sattelite speaker-lets.

    Why didn’t I just let my pops blow his wad on the bose or something equal price? Lets just say he did lots of damage to his wallet buying an SUV, and my inner-hippy was making me talk him into getting something more sensible. We ended up getting a Harmon-Kardon and Infinity speaker system that I set-up and sounds kick-ass. More than enough. He can’t tell the difference anyway and I saved him money.

  • http://www.ianlucero.com Ian Lucero

    I had the same senario that you described in Part 1 of the couple asking, “What about bose?” but instead it was me and my dad going to a chain consumer electronicss, which I won’t mention but use the color RED on their facade, anyway – We headed to this store and my dad already pretty much had his mind set on BOSE (see, there is an example of good marketing, I spelled the name in all caps!) I was already thinking of how overpriced they were and how funny that the bose system was never placed in the theater with the other ‘toys’. I have a feeling that my dad was there when they had an in-store demo of the bose system. They rounded up the crowd and herded them into the ‘general purpose’ room where they kept almost any kind of speaker – sony, infinity, boston acoustics, etc. The demo was one of those where they set everyone down and play them some tracks from a CD and/or DVD and you can’t help but notice the giant black mass of speaker mesh grill towering over the rest of the other components. The crowd goes ooh! ahhh! and then at the right moment they lift the giant grills to expose the TINY bose speakerlets.

    How can that not wow the average consumer. I too was surprised at how well it sounded, considering they didn’t demo it along side anything else – what wowed me more was their sales tactic. Herd up a bunch of men on maybe one of the bussiest days for men – fathers day or say the weekend before a superbowl or that day after thanksgiving sale.

    Anyways I remembered that day I saw the demo and the fact that we were back in the same store of said demo, I wanted to avoid the trickery. My dad is such a sucker though you know? He just wants the best, but of course how do you know what is the best if you haven’t shopped for something other than what you know to be the best when you haven’t even owned such a system before? He’s no musician, I am. I used the common sense my ears told me. Muddy? Flat? Brittle? Boomy? I don’t think those kind of words enter the average consumers heads when shopping, well maybe BOOMY. But that could be the hook that bose has and that is to compare the boomy products to the HIGHs and ‘clarity’ or ‘crispness’ of their sattelite speaker-lets.

    Why didn’t I just let my pops blow his wad on the bose or something equal price? Lets just say he did lots of damage to his wallet buying an SUV, and my inner-hippy was making me talk him into getting something more sensible. We ended up getting a Harmon-Kardon and Infinity speaker system that I set-up and sounds kick-ass. More than enough. He can’t tell the difference anyway and I saved him money.

  • tony

    Excellent article. My dad just bought the 3-2-1 system, and I thought he had finally gotten some really nice stuff. We watched a couple of movies at his place, and by the middle of the first movie my ears were tired. I’ve never experienced that before. Tired ears. Is that that low-midrange frequency gap? I’m by no means a technical wizard when it comes to home audio, but my setup at home doesn’t leave me tired, And it’s an old Sherwood (?) 5.1 system.

    Also to respond to Ivan above:

    Did you read the article? He did talk about Bose’s marketing prowess and their build quality. So how is he “guilty by omission”?

  • tony

    Excellent article. My dad just bought the 3-2-1 system, and I thought he had finally gotten some really nice stuff. We watched a couple of movies at his place, and by the middle of the first movie my ears were tired. I’ve never experienced that before. Tired ears. Is that that low-midrange frequency gap? I’m by no means a technical wizard when it comes to home audio, but my setup at home doesn’t leave me tired, And it’s an old Sherwood (?) 5.1 system.

    Also to respond to Ivan above:

    Did you read the article? He did talk about Bose’s marketing prowess and their build quality. So how is he “guilty by omission”?

  • Gabe

    Great article, but don’t give up on Bose comletely. Yes, Bose is over priced in many products lines, especially the lifestyle systems. But I love the sound from the cube speakers.

    I just decided to buy new speakers to go with my now 8 year old great sounding sony reciever. It does do the old school fake surround, but I just use it for two speaker stereo. Since it is for a small livingroom I was going to buy some polkaudio speakers or was even considering one of those home theater in a box (HTIAB) since I was on a budget and didn’t need a 3000 watt system.

    I listened to everything up to about $400-$500 range. I ended up buying a Bose Acoustimass 3(two tiny cubes and a small but sufficient subwoofer). The best part (for me) was thre fact that the cubes run through the sub to the reciever.

    The reason I chose these were because I did not HEAR anything that sounded good to me from other speakers or the HTIAB solutions. By the way I’m a professional musician and know a little about sound.

    My friend helped me set them up and they sounded great. The best part was seeing his face. He ownes a $600 dollar Sony surround sound set up. He told me latter that he had to go home and turn on his system just to make sure his sounded ad as good as my $200 Bose speakers.

    My suggestion is to shop around for the best sound in you price range. Experiment with different set ups. And yes don’t buy because of a name, buy because that’s what sounds good to you. I think I got luck with my set up.

  • Hunter

    A well thought and written article. I guess I would only add that I don’t think Bose has ever remotely targeted you (or us). The features that they hawk (small speakers, single compact unit, easy wiring, automagic setup) seem more targeted towards the person who wants good / passable / enjoyable sound in a space that is not dedicated to listening without investing in audiophile knowledge. A customer willing to invest his money but not himself. That is, by the way, a perfectly reasonable choice… Maybe said customer prefers to save orphaned african puppies with his/her time instead (or *shrug* maybe their grandkids). Good for Bose for so effectively marketing to this group (after all, my grandparents need sound too). Good for us for not being in that group and buying systems with better performance given our more nuanced needs.

  • Gabe

    Great article, but don’t give up on Bose comletely. Yes, Bose is over priced in many products lines, especially the lifestyle systems. But I love the sound from the cube speakers.

    I just decided to buy new speakers to go with my now 8 year old great sounding sony reciever. It does do the old school fake surround, but I just use it for two speaker stereo. Since it is for a small livingroom I was going to buy some polkaudio speakers or was even considering one of those home theater in a box (HTIAB) since I was on a budget and didn’t need a 3000 watt system.

    I listened to everything up to about $400-$500 range. I ended up buying a Bose Acoustimass 3(two tiny cubes and a small but sufficient subwoofer). The best part (for me) was thre fact that the cubes run through the sub to the reciever.

    The reason I chose these were because I did not HEAR anything that sounded good to me from other speakers or the HTIAB solutions. By the way I’m a professional musician and know a little about sound.

    My friend helped me set them up and they sounded great. The best part was seeing his face. He ownes a $600 dollar Sony surround sound set up. He told me latter that he had to go home and turn on his system just to make sure his sounded ad as good as my $200 Bose speakers.

    My suggestion is to shop around for the best sound in you price range. Experiment with different set ups. And yes don’t buy because of a name, buy because that’s what sounds good to you. I think I got luck with my set up.

  • Hunter

    A well thought and written article. I guess I would only add that I don’t think Bose has ever remotely targeted you (or us). The features that they hawk (small speakers, single compact unit, easy wiring, automagic setup) seem more targeted towards the person who wants good / passable / enjoyable sound in a space that is not dedicated to listening without investing in audiophile knowledge. A customer willing to invest his money but not himself. That is, by the way, a perfectly reasonable choice… Maybe said customer prefers to save orphaned african puppies with his/her time instead (or *shrug* maybe their grandkids). Good for Bose for so effectively marketing to this group (after all, my grandparents need sound too). Good for us for not being in that group and buying systems with better performance given our more nuanced needs.

  • loteq

    I own a couple of Bose products the 601 series floor speakers and a pair of the noise cancelling headphones. I dont particularly consider myself an audiophile although I have played classical guitar for the last 20 years, so I know music and what sounds good. I bought the 601′s for 600 bucks just before they were discontinued. I am VERY happy with some music a mildly unhappy with them in other kinds of music. For instance some live recordings lose feeling I think, but classical and modern pop (coldplay and the like) sound great. Some of my old blues stuff really gets muddy. I find the same with the headphones. So althought they are not as consistant as other sets of Shure e4c headphones I am very happy with them.

    Bose speakers I find are very finicky about placement, as are any speaker but I find them especially so.

    I share our friends opinion of the cube and woofer systems though that they are overpriced. They were cool in the day when they were the first to market, but that day has long since past. Spend your 2500 on a full setup, which will sound great for music as well as movies.

    Cheers

  • loteq

    I own a couple of Bose products the 601 series floor speakers and a pair of the noise cancelling headphones. I dont particularly consider myself an audiophile although I have played classical guitar for the last 20 years, so I know music and what sounds good. I bought the 601′s for 600 bucks just before they were discontinued. I am VERY happy with some music a mildly unhappy with them in other kinds of music. For instance some live recordings lose feeling I think, but classical and modern pop (coldplay and the like) sound great. Some of my old blues stuff really gets muddy. I find the same with the headphones. So althought they are not as consistant as other sets of Shure e4c headphones I am very happy with them.

    Bose speakers I find are very finicky about placement, as are any speaker but I find them especially so.

    I share our friends opinion of the cube and woofer systems though that they are overpriced. They were cool in the day when they were the first to market, but that day has long since past. Spend your 2500 on a full setup, which will sound great for music as well as movies.

    Cheers

  • Nic

    I agree. Bose is over priced and over rated. My system at home is comprised of Cambridge Soundworks and Dennon. For less price, I received 10 times the quality and power. Please everyone, do your research!

  • Nic

    I agree. Bose is over priced and over rated. My system at home is comprised of Cambridge Soundworks and Dennon. For less price, I received 10 times the quality and power. Please everyone, do your research!

  • Michael

    I have to admit I have a set of bose cubes/satellite and a center channel… with the rears, sub and receiver being various other brands. it was a conscious choice on my part, I know the old sayings about and have heard the arguements. even watched a few of my friends wrinkle up their noses at them after I had them set up.

    but, I think I have to agree with Adam. and I go even farther and disagree with your statement about bose display placement and how you can’t do a head to head comparison. if most stores did have a “clean room” and would let bring the speakers in and try them out in a real world environment, it would be easy to choose a solid set of speakers. but, really most stores stack the deck. they place the speaker displays in a way that makes even crappier speakers than bose sound HUGE… lots of wood, a ton of other speakers to vibrate in sympathy. it’s next to impossible to hear what a set of speakers sound like until you get them home. so, it all comes down to whether you trust the salesman to point you to the best speakers or the one that gives him the biggest commission, or just take the bose, which will give you middle of the road sound…

  • Michael

    I have to admit I have a set of bose cubes/satellite and a center channel… with the rears, sub and receiver being various other brands. it was a conscious choice on my part, I know the old sayings about and have heard the arguements. even watched a few of my friends wrinkle up their noses at them after I had them set up.

    but, I think I have to agree with Adam. and I go even farther and disagree with your statement about bose display placement and how you can’t do a head to head comparison. if most stores did have a “clean room” and would let bring the speakers in and try them out in a real world environment, it would be easy to choose a solid set of speakers. but, really most stores stack the deck. they place the speaker displays in a way that makes even crappier speakers than bose sound HUGE… lots of wood, a ton of other speakers to vibrate in sympathy. it’s next to impossible to hear what a set of speakers sound like until you get them home. so, it all comes down to whether you trust the salesman to point you to the best speakers or the one that gives him the biggest commission, or just take the bose, which will give you middle of the road sound…

  • Ryan Burrows

    The same debate comes around in Car Audio. Excuse me if I didn’t read all the comments. For expample, I have a very high end car stereo system with two JL 12″ W7′s. These speakers are amazing, but in reality I am paying a steep price, and some for the name JL. Which in car audio, pretty much means quality. Now many will disagree becuase of the price, but everyone loves my system. Then you have the people who get W3′s, and love their system. While its crap, it all depends on what you need. Not everybody needs the best, or can set it up themselves. All-in-one is good for a bunch of lazy Americans. Its the truth. But for us tech people, allinone, just isn’t happening. Good article.

  • Ryan Burrows

    The same debate comes around in Car Audio. Excuse me if I didn’t read all the comments. For expample, I have a very high end car stereo system with two JL 12″ W7′s. These speakers are amazing, but in reality I am paying a steep price, and some for the name JL. Which in car audio, pretty much means quality. Now many will disagree becuase of the price, but everyone loves my system. Then you have the people who get W3′s, and love their system. While its crap, it all depends on what you need. Not everybody needs the best, or can set it up themselves. All-in-one is good for a bunch of lazy Americans. Its the truth. But for us tech people, allinone, just isn’t happening. Good article.

  • Thomas Crymes

    Here is the problem as I see it.

    Most people start with a terrible or no home theater set up at all. They’ve spent the majority of their natural lives listening to the sound out of their television or car stereo.

    Give these people a Bose system, and they think they’ve gone to heaven. It doesn’t matter that Bose is overpriced and middle of the road.

    The fact is that without comparing, the Bose speakers sound wonderful. That is how they maintain marketshare and mindshare.

    It’s not like people are going home, hooking up their new Bose systems and become immediately underwhelmed.

    Same goes for HDTVs or any other audio video component. Unless you are educated on the differences, you don’t see or hear them. The question is, is that a bad thing? Is ignorance bliss? When I first bought my HDTV 4 or 5 years ago, I thought it had a great picture (I still love it today), but I know that it is now on the low end, and all I can think about is upgrading when I have the scratch.

  • Thomas Crymes

    Here is the problem as I see it.

    Most people start with a terrible or no home theater set up at all. They’ve spent the majority of their natural lives listening to the sound out of their television or car stereo.

    Give these people a Bose system, and they think they’ve gone to heaven. It doesn’t matter that Bose is overpriced and middle of the road.

    The fact is that without comparing, the Bose speakers sound wonderful. That is how they maintain marketshare and mindshare.

    It’s not like people are going home, hooking up their new Bose systems and become immediately underwhelmed.

    Same goes for HDTVs or any other audio video component. Unless you are educated on the differences, you don’t see or hear them. The question is, is that a bad thing? Is ignorance bliss? When I first bought my HDTV 4 or 5 years ago, I thought it had a great picture (I still love it today), but I know that it is now on the low end, and all I can think about is upgrading when I have the scratch.

  • Timothy Jones

    One friend I had in the retail business had a parody slogan for Bose’s “Better sound through engineering” campaign.

    Evidently, the proper slogan is: “Better sound through marketing.”

  • Timothy Jones

    One friend I had in the retail business had a parody slogan for Bose’s “Better sound through engineering” campaign.

    Evidently, the proper slogan is: “Better sound through marketing.”

  • Al Dunstan

    I am a current high-end audio/video salesperson and I also have to agree with others here that the writer hit the nail on the head. Bose has been wrong about speaker design since they started. The original 901s were designed to compete against the speakers of the time: AR 3a, KLH 6, etc… The problems with speaker design then was speaker and crossover matching. Their weren’t any CAD/CAM computer modeling back then, that’s for sure. It was building prototypes and hoping to get lucky with the variables involved. Bose was able to get rid of this matching problem by using 9 four inch drivers, eight backward firing and one forward firing midranges. A graphic EQ was used to boost the lows and the highs to compensate for the lack of tweeters and woofers. This worked because back then there was little high frequency response over 12-13khz, only tape hiss and record surface noise. Most manufacturers rolled off the high frequencies to make them sound “better” anyway. This product was viable at this time because of the competition and the state of the audio art. However, as we get better components and better source material, the Bose 901s begin to show their design flaws. A four inch driver is not fast enough or extended in their frequency response. The 901 ends up sounding dull and lifeless on the high end. The nine four inch drivers also have problems in the low frequencies as well. They don’t have the ability to move the air required to reproduce low frequencies below about 45HZ. They end up substituting more midbass to compensate for their lack of low bass. This ends up making them sound “tubby”. Bose still sells these speakers to this day and unbelievably they are the best product they sell.

  • Al Dunstan

    I am a current high-end audio/video salesperson and I also have to agree with others here that the writer hit the nail on the head. Bose has been wrong about speaker design since they started. The original 901s were designed to compete against the speakers of the time: AR 3a, KLH 6, etc… The problems with speaker design then was speaker and crossover matching. Their weren’t any CAD/CAM computer modeling back then, that’s for sure. It was building prototypes and hoping to get lucky with the variables involved. Bose was able to get rid of this matching problem by using 9 four inch drivers, eight backward firing and one forward firing midranges. A graphic EQ was used to boost the lows and the highs to compensate for the lack of tweeters and woofers. This worked because back then there was little high frequency response over 12-13khz, only tape hiss and record surface noise. Most manufacturers rolled off the high frequencies to make them sound “better” anyway. This product was viable at this time because of the competition and the state of the audio art. However, as we get better components and better source material, the Bose 901s begin to show their design flaws. A four inch driver is not fast enough or extended in their frequency response. The 901 ends up sounding dull and lifeless on the high end. The nine four inch drivers also have problems in the low frequencies as well. They don’t have the ability to move the air required to reproduce low frequencies below about 45HZ. They end up substituting more midbass to compensate for their lack of low bass. This ends up making them sound “tubby”. Bose still sells these speakers to this day and unbelievably they are the best product they sell.

  • Owen

    Interesting article if I may say so although a bit flawed maybe like the Bose speakers. First, Bose is really the only option for me in the space that I have available to put 5 decent sounding speakers to achieve some kind of surround sound. I think the fill that niche. Second, Aesthetics. You show me as nice a looking 5.1/6.1 speaker set with the same quality for a competitive price and I’ll give it a thought. And last, just like people like to have someone see them pull up in a BMW or Benz and think, nice car, some of us also like Bose because as you said, everyone knows Bose.

    I will not argue that the may not be ideal for a room dedicated to being a theater, but I will argue that some people don’t want 5 or 6 bookshelf speakers in the space they have available or their living room. And for those reasons, Bose is my 5.1 experience.

  • Owen

    Interesting article if I may say so although a bit flawed maybe like the Bose speakers. First, Bose is really the only option for me in the space that I have available to put 5 decent sounding speakers to achieve some kind of surround sound. I think the fill that niche. Second, Aesthetics. You show me as nice a looking 5.1/6.1 speaker set with the same quality for a competitive price and I’ll give it a thought. And last, just like people like to have someone see them pull up in a BMW or Benz and think, nice car, some of us also like Bose because as you said, everyone knows Bose.

    I will not argue that the may not be ideal for a room dedicated to being a theater, but I will argue that some people don’t want 5 or 6 bookshelf speakers in the space they have available or their living room. And for those reasons, Bose is my 5.1 experience.

  • Damnation

    Great article! Yet I do sense you are holding a few punches back.

    I sold audio back in the 80′s and the situation with Bose and their marketing was not as clear to me then as it is now. Yes, the product didn’t compete well in sound compared to other products we sold – Altec and Wharfedale. But if the customers came in looking to see a particular brand, it was Bose (or bo-say, as some would prounounce it).

    My manager at the time was a big fan of the 901′s and owned a pair. As such, he was our most effective saleman for the product. The necessity of the Bose EQ caused much uncertainty with me – what were we trying to sell here? Clean sound or mess with it any way you want? Judging by the popularity of EQ’s – the cheaper no-name brand/crud always sold out when we put them on sale) – people didn’t care.

    Let’s face it – the average consumer is uneducated on what good sound *IS* and how to go about getting it. Look at the popularity of the 20+ year old high quality audio gear on eBay today. This gear was the standard stuff we sold back then. It was good, but it wasn’t what we called high-end back then. Nowadays, that 20+ year old gear beats the crap out of anything on todays store shelves. Its all about 76.8 sound setups now. All hail the late great days of stereo!

  • Damnation

    Great article! Yet I do sense you are holding a few punches back.

    I sold audio back in the 80′s and the situation with Bose and their marketing was not as clear to me then as it is now. Yes, the product didn’t compete well in sound compared to other products we sold – Altec and Wharfedale. But if the customers came in looking to see a particular brand, it was Bose (or bo-say, as some would prounounce it).

    My manager at the time was a big fan of the 901′s and owned a pair. As such, he was our most effective saleman for the product. The necessity of the Bose EQ caused much uncertainty with me – what were we trying to sell here? Clean sound or mess with it any way you want? Judging by the popularity of EQ’s – the cheaper no-name brand/crud always sold out when we put them on sale) – people didn’t care.

    Let’s face it – the average consumer is uneducated on what good sound *IS* and how to go about getting it. Look at the popularity of the 20+ year old high quality audio gear on eBay today. This gear was the standard stuff we sold back then. It was good, but it wasn’t what we called high-end back then. Nowadays, that 20+ year old gear beats the crap out of anything on todays store shelves. Its all about 76.8 sound setups now. All hail the late great days of stereo!

  • x

    Quoted:

    Posted by: Rick at April 4, 2006 07:54 AM
    blah blah blah…
    Wholistically (if you can forgive the new-agism) Bose have been creating true populist hi-fi; good looking, easy to use, competent performing, well-supported – and will do for many years to come.

    u sound like a pompous prick – your post has absolutely nothing to contribute to this conversation; WTF!

  • x

    Quoted:

    Posted by: Rick at April 4, 2006 07:54 AM
    blah blah blah…
    Wholistically (if you can forgive the new-agism) Bose have been creating true populist hi-fi; good looking, easy to use, competent performing, well-supported – and will do for many years to come.

    u sound like a pompous prick – your post has absolutely nothing to contribute to this conversation; WTF!

  • babaganooj

    what speakers/combinations do i consider then? because without that or another article you’ve left us again with no alternative…! please!

  • babaganooj

    what speakers/combinations do i consider then? because without that or another article you’ve left us again with no alternative…! please!

  • Don

    I have an old Bose AM7 speaker system and I knew going in that it wasn’t what I wanted. I was all set to buy a set of Klipsch KG-5.5′s- unfortunately the room they were going in had absolutely no room for the big boys. In fact, the TV sat between two doors and had just enough room for the Bose satellites and _nothing_ else. Bookshelf speakers wouldn’t even fit. To be fair- I only paid maybe $700 for the whole set and they fit so I can’t complain. I’ve since gotten myself the Klipsch speakers I wanted for the new movie room so all is right with the world.

  • Don

    I have an old Bose AM7 speaker system and I knew going in that it wasn’t what I wanted. I was all set to buy a set of Klipsch KG-5.5′s- unfortunately the room they were going in had absolutely no room for the big boys. In fact, the TV sat between two doors and had just enough room for the Bose satellites and _nothing_ else. Bookshelf speakers wouldn’t even fit. To be fair- I only paid maybe $700 for the whole set and they fit so I can’t complain. I’ve since gotten myself the Klipsch speakers I wanted for the new movie room so all is right with the world.

  • Brian

    Very good article. Like other have said once you A/B Bose against other quality speakers the discussion is generally over. I’ve never been a big Bose fan, but the local quality AV store has a demo room set up with a Bose 5.1 Sub/Sat system and a comprable system from another vendor. I was amazed at how bad the Bose system sounded compared to the other. These guys actually purchased the Bose system to place in their showroom and it has to have more than paid for it’s self in increased sales of the other vendors speaker system.

    Bose is a company that does a outstanding marketing job and has lost the focus on engineering quality speakers they once had. At the same time other loudspeaker manufacturers have pushed the price/performance envelope and have products which are a much better value.

  • Brian

    Very good article. Like other have said once you A/B Bose against other quality speakers the discussion is generally over. I’ve never been a big Bose fan, but the local quality AV store has a demo room set up with a Bose 5.1 Sub/Sat system and a comprable system from another vendor. I was amazed at how bad the Bose system sounded compared to the other. These guys actually purchased the Bose system to place in their showroom and it has to have more than paid for it’s self in increased sales of the other vendors speaker system.

    Bose is a company that does a outstanding marketing job and has lost the focus on engineering quality speakers they once had. At the same time other loudspeaker manufacturers have pushed the price/performance envelope and have products which are a much better value.

  • Bob Purdom

    You have perfectly captured my feelings on this subject. Well done. My experiences with high-end audio goes back to the early and mid ’80s, before CD’s and surround sound. The first time I heard a pair of Bose 901′s, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. I’ve auditioned many brands of speaker and my favorite in the early ’80s is still my favorite today — Klipsch. My system is Klipsch and even my oldest son’s system is Klipsch.

  • Bob Purdom

    You have perfectly captured my feelings on this subject. Well done. My experiences with high-end audio goes back to the early and mid ’80s, before CD’s and surround sound. The first time I heard a pair of Bose 901′s, I wasn’t sure what I was hearing. I’ve auditioned many brands of speaker and my favorite in the early ’80s is still my favorite today — Klipsch. My system is Klipsch and even my oldest son’s system is Klipsch.

  • acousticiris

    I’m glad someone finally detailed the problems with the Bose “sub-woofers”.
    While shopping for a surround sound system, I walked into a “Bose Store” and had a very long chat with a sales-person. I asked specifically about the sub, and the sales-person said “It’s really not a sub-woofer in the traditional sense” and went on to explain that it produces for more than just the “very low” frequencies.
    I wasn’t an audiophile at the time (probably wouldn’t qualify as one now up against some of you folks!), but I remembered in my teen years “fiddling” with the cross-over for my kickers in my car. The higher you set the cross-over, the less bass you received from the kickers.
    When I pointed out this observation to the sales-person, he quickly said “it’s a more accurate representation of the sound than a traditional home theatre sub-woofer” and quickly moved on to the other “advantages” of the speaker before I could get out a grimmace.
    “No, thanks. None for me, today. I’m just looking.”
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. It’s hard to find good solid information that isn’t riddled with emotion (on both sides). I’ve noticed the hard-core audiophiles tend to start twitching and spitting when “Bose” comes up, and those who have purchased their $3999.99 systems seem to feel obligated to defend themselves angrily when someone even hints that there might have been a better choice.

  • acousticiris

    I’m glad someone finally detailed the problems with the Bose “sub-woofers”.
    While shopping for a surround sound system, I walked into a “Bose Store” and had a very long chat with a sales-person. I asked specifically about the sub, and the sales-person said “It’s really not a sub-woofer in the traditional sense” and went on to explain that it produces for more than just the “very low” frequencies.
    I wasn’t an audiophile at the time (probably wouldn’t qualify as one now up against some of you folks!), but I remembered in my teen years “fiddling” with the cross-over for my kickers in my car. The higher you set the cross-over, the less bass you received from the kickers.
    When I pointed out this observation to the sales-person, he quickly said “it’s a more accurate representation of the sound than a traditional home theatre sub-woofer” and quickly moved on to the other “advantages” of the speaker before I could get out a grimmace.
    “No, thanks. None for me, today. I’m just looking.”
    Thanks for the thoughtful post. It’s hard to find good solid information that isn’t riddled with emotion (on both sides). I’ve noticed the hard-core audiophiles tend to start twitching and spitting when “Bose” comes up, and those who have purchased their $3999.99 systems seem to feel obligated to defend themselves angrily when someone even hints that there might have been a better choice.

  • Mike

    Thanks! I’m looking at buying my first real non-computer speaker system this summer and this article has definately helped me figure out what to look at … made a big difference.

  • Mike

    Thanks! I’m looking at buying my first real non-computer speaker system this summer and this article has definately helped me figure out what to look at … made a big difference.

  • Geek

    I remember when my friend bought a pair of 901′s based on the “direct reflecting” nonsense they were using to pitch those things. I couldn’t understand how anyone could believe that all those 3″ or 4″ drivers were supposed to offer even close to 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response (more like 200Hz to 12kHz), but my buddy was proud of his 901′s and I was too sorry for him to explain the obvious physics laws that would have to be broken in order for those things to sound as good as say, a set of KEF’s that were in the same price range.

    The image of all those delicious sound waves bouncing off the walls and straight into your ears was just too convincing, I guess…

  • Geek

    I remember when my friend bought a pair of 901′s based on the “direct reflecting” nonsense they were using to pitch those things. I couldn’t understand how anyone could believe that all those 3″ or 4″ drivers were supposed to offer even close to 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response (more like 200Hz to 12kHz), but my buddy was proud of his 901′s and I was too sorry for him to explain the obvious physics laws that would have to be broken in order for those things to sound as good as say, a set of KEF’s that were in the same price range.

    The image of all those delicious sound waves bouncing off the walls and straight into your ears was just too convincing, I guess…

  • Kevin

    As the saying amongst audiophiles goes… “no highs, no lows… must be Bose.”

    The funny thing about listening is that it is subjective, and is very much subject to peer influence. If you’re friend says “doesn’t this sound great?”… you need some specific evidence to really disagree. The subjective impression is also very much influenced by factors totally unrelated to performance, like the wife-factor of trying to get the system to be invisible.

    Becoming an audiophile doesn’t happen overnight… it takes at least months and better years of critical listening, learning to identify how the individual elements of sound reproduction contribute to the overall experience of the music. In this vein, if you recognize that most systems are imperfect in some way, the errors can be classified broadly into errors of ‘omission’, and ‘comission’… with the latter being an order of magnitude easier to identify. If something makes an identifiable ‘off’ sound, it is easier to pinpoint than if it leaves something out.

    I believe that what Bose does right is making sure that the equipment always tends to err on the side of omission, and then overwhelms everybody with Jedo mind trick marketing just like the friend saying “Doesn’t this sound great?” The vast majority of the population doesn’t want to ever think about the detail of how something sounds… they’d rather make a snap judgment at first impression and be dome with it.

    Sometimes I envy the freedom of being happy with such a mindless purchase… but that only lasts as long as it takes for me to hit the next track which absolutely convinces me that the singer is right there in the room with me. I’ve heard so many different systems in so many different rooms, that I recognize that this experience is rare… and certainly non-existent for those with tiny cubes up near the ceiling.

  • Kevin

    As the saying amongst audiophiles goes… “no highs, no lows… must be Bose.”

    The funny thing about listening is that it is subjective, and is very much subject to peer influence. If you’re friend says “doesn’t this sound great?”… you need some specific evidence to really disagree. The subjective impression is also very much influenced by factors totally unrelated to performance, like the wife-factor of trying to get the system to be invisible.

    Becoming an audiophile doesn’t happen overnight… it takes at least months and better years of critical listening, learning to identify how the individual elements of sound reproduction contribute to the overall experience of the music. In this vein, if you recognize that most systems are imperfect in some way, the errors can be classified broadly into errors of ‘omission’, and ‘comission’… with the latter being an order of magnitude easier to identify. If something makes an identifiable ‘off’ sound, it is easier to pinpoint than if it leaves something out.

    I believe that what Bose does right is making sure that the equipment always tends to err on the side of omission, and then overwhelms everybody with Jedo mind trick marketing just like the friend saying “Doesn’t this sound great?” The vast majority of the population doesn’t want to ever think about the detail of how something sounds… they’d rather make a snap judgment at first impression and be dome with it.

    Sometimes I envy the freedom of being happy with such a mindless purchase… but that only lasts as long as it takes for me to hit the next track which absolutely convinces me that the singer is right there in the room with me. I’ve heard so many different systems in so many different rooms, that I recognize that this experience is rare… and certainly non-existent for those with tiny cubes up near the ceiling.

  • Ben Russo

    Around 2001 my wife and I were moving into a new townhouse. The interior had a two story foyer, a open staircase to the third floor, and the living room was 21 feet wide and 16 feet deep. With wood floors an open passageway to the kitchen…. It had 4 large glass windows (almost the whole front wall).

    My wife and I went to a local stereo store to buy a set of stereo speakers (for listening to CD’s and FM Radio). The store we went to offered a 1 year return for credit/exchange policy. We bought a pair of Infinity speakers (each had 2 tweeters, two 6 inch and a 9 inch) that sounded nice in the showroom’s accoustic room. In our living room they sounded like we were in an echo chamber and they were cold and sharp.

    We returned the Infinity speakers and took home a more expensive pair of some other brand (I forget the name) that also had a range of speakers in each case. These had a different voice, but still sounded like crap in our hard to fix room.

    We ended up asking the audio store to bring a pair of Bose speakers from the open showroom into the accoustic room so we could listen to them there. They sounded a little foggy, you know, muddy? But I thought we could give them a try since they had speakers on the front and back, pointed in different directions. They were also LESS expensive (and a little uglier) than the other two pairs of speakers we had tried.

    Bose speakers worked great! They filled the living room, foyer, kitchen, and dining room with warm sound that was GREAT. When people have come to visit they have mentioned how wonderfull the music sounds.

    Moral of the story… we bought a cheaper pair of ugly gray speakers that surely have worse technical spec’s (if we had bothered to find any). and they sounded better to us!

    We are happy with them!

  • Ben Russo

    Around 2001 my wife and I were moving into a new townhouse. The interior had a two story foyer, a open staircase to the third floor, and the living room was 21 feet wide and 16 feet deep. With wood floors an open passageway to the kitchen…. It had 4 large glass windows (almost the whole front wall).

    My wife and I went to a local stereo store to buy a set of stereo speakers (for listening to CD’s and FM Radio). The store we went to offered a 1 year return for credit/exchange policy. We bought a pair of Infinity speakers (each had 2 tweeters, two 6 inch and a 9 inch) that sounded nice in the showroom’s accoustic room. In our living room they sounded like we were in an echo chamber and they were cold and sharp.

    We returned the Infinity speakers and took home a more expensive pair of some other brand (I forget the name) that also had a range of speakers in each case. These had a different voice, but still sounded like crap in our hard to fix room.

    We ended up asking the audio store to bring a pair of Bose speakers from the open showroom into the accoustic room so we could listen to them there. They sounded a little foggy, you know, muddy? But I thought we could give them a try since they had speakers on the front and back, pointed in different directions. They were also LESS expensive (and a little uglier) than the other two pairs of speakers we had tried.

    Bose speakers worked great! They filled the living room, foyer, kitchen, and dining room with warm sound that was GREAT. When people have come to visit they have mentioned how wonderfull the music sounds.

    Moral of the story… we bought a cheaper pair of ugly gray speakers that surely have worse technical spec’s (if we had bothered to find any). and they sounded better to us!

    We are happy with them!

  • dubski

    Nico,
    The reason for not mentioning suggestions on what you should buy is so as not to sound like an advertisement. Many similar articles are just that. It was refreshing to read one that isin’t.

  • dubski

    Nico,
    The reason for not mentioning suggestions on what you should buy is so as not to sound like an advertisement. Many similar articles are just that. It was refreshing to read one that isin’t.

  • Ron Krauter

    Unfortunately, most of the people who are reading this already know that Bose is not necessarily the best choice when it comes to audio products. If only there was a way for the average user to read this article..

  • Ron Krauter

    Unfortunately, most of the people who are reading this already know that Bose is not necessarily the best choice when it comes to audio products. If only there was a way for the average user to read this article..

  • Johann Visagie

    Over time I’ve read a number of articles like this one, commenting on the overwhelming mindshare Bose has amongst the lay public. I’ve even seen some of it myself on various internet forums. I’ve been led to conclude that this must be “an American thing”, as I’ve certainly never witnessed anything similar in Europe or South Africa. (I can’t really speak of any other locations with any authority.)

    Maybe Bose has simply not pursued its wall-to-wall marketing campaign outside the US…?

    Or is my perception wrong?

  • Johann Visagie

    Over time I’ve read a number of articles like this one, commenting on the overwhelming mindshare Bose has amongst the lay public. I’ve even seen some of it myself on various internet forums. I’ve been led to conclude that this must be “an American thing”, as I’ve certainly never witnessed anything similar in Europe or South Africa. (I can’t really speak of any other locations with any authority.)

    Maybe Bose has simply not pursued its wall-to-wall marketing campaign outside the US…?

    Or is my perception wrong?

  • yttrx

    I have an old, “beta” version of Bose 4.2s, which were my main speaker pair for many years.

    I feel I must comment on the user who declared Bose to be the dominant beast in professional audio and staging equipment.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. While their equipment is adequate for professional use, they don’t stand out from the crowd at all. You can save nearly 50% on the average price of Bose professional monitors and loudspeakers if you use JBL instead, and get about three times the performance (on every facet). And that’s the low end.

    I’ve been stuck on Genelecs for some time, personally.

  • yttrx

    I have an old, “beta” version of Bose 4.2s, which were my main speaker pair for many years.

    I feel I must comment on the user who declared Bose to be the dominant beast in professional audio and staging equipment.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. While their equipment is adequate for professional use, they don’t stand out from the crowd at all. You can save nearly 50% on the average price of Bose professional monitors and loudspeakers if you use JBL instead, and get about three times the performance (on every facet). And that’s the low end.

    I’ve been stuck on Genelecs for some time, personally.

  • James AkaXakA

    What about the current 3.2.1 system? They don’t use the 5.1 speakers but (uhm) 2.1…

  • James AkaXakA

    What about the current 3.2.1 system? They don’t use the 5.1 speakers but (uhm) 2.1…

  • Santo Gold

    Interesting article. I’m not a fan of Bose, but when shopping for audio I always compare two products side by side. Turn one on and listen then turn it off and listen to the other one. After that, I make my analysis to how each one sounds and make the decision for a final purchase. It’s awkward how they try to separate two audio systems and move them further apart from other systems. I thought it was strange as they’re trying to make you go further away so you couldn’t compare one system versus another.

  • Santo Gold

    Interesting article. I’m not a fan of Bose, but when shopping for audio I always compare two products side by side. Turn one on and listen then turn it off and listen to the other one. After that, I make my analysis to how each one sounds and make the decision for a final purchase. It’s awkward how they try to separate two audio systems and move them further apart from other systems. I thought it was strange as they’re trying to make you go further away so you couldn’t compare one system versus another.

  • B.Greenway

    Adam

    I was deliberate in not suggesting other brands, here’s why. I wanted to share my impressions and first hand experience with Bose, in as neutral and even handed way as possible, offering up alternatives could be construed as having an agenda.

    Now even though I don’t sell anything here directly, this post could have easily been derailed with no ‘xyz’ is better, no you really need to hear ‘123’ type comments, and that is what I was trying to avoid.

    If my lack of suggesting alternatives pushes you toward Bose I have to believe you were already leaning that way to begin with. Again my purpose here was to hopefully flick on a few mental light-bulbs to the marketing machine, not to push xyz speakers.

    In the end the most important thing is enjoying what you take home from the store, if you don’t audition other speakers how will you really know you made the right decision?

  • B.Greenway

    Adam

    I was deliberate in not suggesting other brands, here’s why. I wanted to share my impressions and first hand experience with Bose, in as neutral and even handed way as possible, offering up alternatives could be construed as having an agenda.

    Now even though I don’t sell anything here directly, this post could have easily been derailed with no ‘xyz’ is better, no you really need to hear ‘123’ type comments, and that is what I was trying to avoid.

    If my lack of suggesting alternatives pushes you toward Bose I have to believe you were already leaning that way to begin with. Again my purpose here was to hopefully flick on a few mental light-bulbs to the marketing machine, not to push xyz speakers.

    In the end the most important thing is enjoying what you take home from the store, if you don’t audition other speakers how will you really know you made the right decision?

  • sithlrd

    I’ve much love for my Wave Radio. It’s the best way I’ve found to wake up.

    But I’ll stick with my Klipsh home theater speakers. :)

  • sithlrd

    I’ve much love for my Wave Radio. It’s the best way I’ve found to wake up.

    But I’ll stick with my Klipsh home theater speakers. :)

  • Alan

    I agree with the theater systems Bose produces a friend had one and I simply was not impressed. I had the 901 Series IV back in the late 70′s and they were absolutely awesome! The “Active Equalizer” which Bose required was somewhat limiting, but a 16-band additional equalizer made up for anything the Bose device lacked. At that time I was using a 135 watt/channel receiver and the Bose never once audibly complained.

  • Alan

    I agree with the theater systems Bose produces a friend had one and I simply was not impressed. I had the 901 Series IV back in the late 70′s and they were absolutely awesome! The “Active Equalizer” which Bose required was somewhat limiting, but a 16-band additional equalizer made up for anything the Bose device lacked. At that time I was using a 135 watt/channel receiver and the Bose never once audibly complained.

  • Sean

    I think BOSE has their uses, but I would never want to own a whole system. I had a BOSE center channel speaker for a while and it seemed to be very well geared towards that sonic spectrum.

    However, for the price of a Bose system, one could buy a very nice home theatre. If anyone here is reading for home theatre advice, I’d also suggest checking out avsforum.com. Those guys have saved me money with their advice and are pretty nice.*

    * Please note i have nothing to do with the site. Just a friendly heads up.

  • Sean

    I think BOSE has their uses, but I would never want to own a whole system. I had a BOSE center channel speaker for a while and it seemed to be very well geared towards that sonic spectrum.

    However, for the price of a Bose system, one could buy a very nice home theatre. If anyone here is reading for home theatre advice, I’d also suggest checking out avsforum.com. Those guys have saved me money with their advice and are pretty nice.*

    * Please note i have nothing to do with the site. Just a friendly heads up.

  • Adam Brill

    I’d love to tell you how great that article was, but it was missing one incredibly important part… Suggestions as to what we *should* buy. Pretty much what I got out of the article is that you don’t like Bose. I’m currently in the market for a sound system, but I don’t have time to demo every sound system that exists, so thanks to you not giving examples of what you feel is better, it looks like I’ll be buying Bose. Unless of course you were to reccommend something for me to look at…

  • Adam Brill

    I’d love to tell you how great that article was, but it was missing one incredibly important part… Suggestions as to what we *should* buy. Pretty much what I got out of the article is that you don’t like Bose. I’m currently in the market for a sound system, but I don’t have time to demo every sound system that exists, so thanks to you not giving examples of what you feel is better, it looks like I’ll be buying Bose. Unless of course you were to reccommend something for me to look at…

  • Nico

    As a fan of Bose speakers, I tend to agree with everything you have said here, this is why I do not own a set of any of the speakers mentioned. However, I saw no mention of the other lines of Bose speakers. I have 2 901 systems personally and I love them. The only annoying thing to me is that you have to use the supplied eq in order for them to work properly, and that just is plain difficult with todays home theater all in one recievers. However, I don’t use the 901′s for my home theater set-up. I actually have a set 301′s and 201′ (front rear) with a nice velodyne subwoofer for that, but that is another topic.
    Nearly every person that has scoffed me for having a stereo in my ‘game room’ using the 901′s (hung from ceiling) has used the old saying “No highs, no lows, it must be Bose”. Then I turn the system on and show them much differently. To these people I reply, you must have never heard a REAL Bose setup that someone has actually taken the time to set up properly.
    The inefficiencies of the 3-2-1 or acoustamass systems you speak of are present in ANY speaker system that utilizes small satelite speakers with the subwoofer doing most of the work, not just Bose.
    I am not disagreeing with you, infact I believe I have agreed with you twice now. I also believe that Bose definately IS overpriced. However, I do not believe that it is junk, and that certain models of their speakers definately ARE still top shelf premium speakers when used properly. I understand that there are other speakers out there that cost less and may sound just as good, however, I am hooked on my 901′s especially when I play some classic vinyl through them.
    Also, I in no way am endorsed by Bose, nor do I work for them.

  • Nico

    As a fan of Bose speakers, I tend to agree with everything you have said here, this is why I do not own a set of any of the speakers mentioned. However, I saw no mention of the other lines of Bose speakers. I have 2 901 systems personally and I love them. The only annoying thing to me is that you have to use the supplied eq in order for them to work properly, and that just is plain difficult with todays home theater all in one recievers. However, I don’t use the 901′s for my home theater set-up. I actually have a set 301′s and 201′ (front rear) with a nice velodyne subwoofer for that, but that is another topic.
    Nearly every person that has scoffed me for having a stereo in my ‘game room’ using the 901′s (hung from ceiling) has used the old saying “No highs, no lows, it must be Bose”. Then I turn the system on and show them much differently. To these people I reply, you must have never heard a REAL Bose setup that someone has actually taken the time to set up properly.
    The inefficiencies of the 3-2-1 or acoustamass systems you speak of are present in ANY speaker system that utilizes small satelite speakers with the subwoofer doing most of the work, not just Bose.
    I am not disagreeing with you, infact I believe I have agreed with you twice now. I also believe that Bose definately IS overpriced. However, I do not believe that it is junk, and that certain models of their speakers definately ARE still top shelf premium speakers when used properly. I understand that there are other speakers out there that cost less and may sound just as good, however, I am hooked on my 901′s especially when I play some classic vinyl through them.
    Also, I in no way am endorsed by Bose, nor do I work for them.

  • JRHelgeson

    I can’t agree more with the article, bose does have some serious shortfalls with their frequency response. I heard a salesperson say once: “If there’s no highs or no lows, it must be a Bose.” I laughed.

    However, I bought a Wave Music System (Clock radio 2.0) for a kitchen radio and I’m very happy with it. (Keep in mind its use, I’m not watching movies with it.)

    Bose does have some neat innovations; how they get such great noise out of such small speakers, and they market the hell out of it. It doesn’t mean that they cover all bases equally well. No company does.

    All things considered, I can’t find a single thing to disagree with in this article.

    Joel

  • JRHelgeson

    I can’t agree more with the article, bose does have some serious shortfalls with their frequency response. I heard a salesperson say once: “If there’s no highs or no lows, it must be a Bose.” I laughed.

    However, I bought a Wave Music System (Clock radio 2.0) for a kitchen radio and I’m very happy with it. (Keep in mind its use, I’m not watching movies with it.)

    Bose does have some neat innovations; how they get such great noise out of such small speakers, and they market the hell out of it. It doesn’t mean that they cover all bases equally well. No company does.

    All things considered, I can’t find a single thing to disagree with in this article.

    Joel

  • Patrick

    I bought a Bose system because it was the only system asthetically pleasing to my wife. She didn’t want “big ugly” speakers in her living room. Thankfully, I bought it re-furbished so didn’t pay full price.

    We recently moved and I’m going to do a media room downstairs in the basement. You can bet dollars to donuts I won’t be getting Bose spearkers again…

  • Patrick

    I bought a Bose system because it was the only system asthetically pleasing to my wife. She didn’t want “big ugly” speakers in her living room. Thankfully, I bought it re-furbished so didn’t pay full price.

    We recently moved and I’m going to do a media room downstairs in the basement. You can bet dollars to donuts I won’t be getting Bose spearkers again…

  • Bubba

    I own a Bose Lifestyle 1-2-3 and it’s really junk. As the writer points out, the sub is really handling a much wider bandwidth than just the lows, so you never really attain that true 5.1 or even 2.1 sound.

    What’s worse is that the DVD player is so buggy, I don’t even use it anymore. And while I paid $900 for it, it retails for $600 more, which is $900 too much.

    I’ve replaced the whole setup with an entertainment center pc, complete with the Logictech X550 5.1 speakers. It is pretty awesome.

  • Bubba

    I own a Bose Lifestyle 1-2-3 and it’s really junk. As the writer points out, the sub is really handling a much wider bandwidth than just the lows, so you never really attain that true 5.1 or even 2.1 sound.

    What’s worse is that the DVD player is so buggy, I don’t even use it anymore. And while I paid $900 for it, it retails for $600 more, which is $900 too much.

    I’ve replaced the whole setup with an entertainment center pc, complete with the Logictech X550 5.1 speakers. It is pretty awesome.

  • Gerard

    My parents were lucky enough to have a salesman who was nice enough to demonstrate different speakers on the same audio equipment.

    Once you do that, Bose loses bigtime. Price AND performance AND looks.

    Their marketing really is incredible. I know for a fact that several of their suppliers for the electronics equipment can ask virtually any price, Bose just doesn’t care. They know their customers will pay, no matter what.

  • Gerard

    My parents were lucky enough to have a salesman who was nice enough to demonstrate different speakers on the same audio equipment.

    Once you do that, Bose loses bigtime. Price AND performance AND looks.

    Their marketing really is incredible. I know for a fact that several of their suppliers for the electronics equipment can ask virtually any price, Bose just doesn’t care. They know their customers will pay, no matter what.

  • Andrew Baker

    I am not an audiophile by any stretch, and will agree Bose has used very clever marketing that reaches people most other advertisers would not influence. However they do fill a few product niches (or at least used to) other than the surround sound systems. For example their Wave Radio alarm clock is a beautifully simple looking alarm clock with many subtle features. When I purchased mine several years ago there was nothing in the market to compete. Sure the bass is a little overpowering in the morning. Sure it is very expensive for what it is. I would still not be without it though.

    I often see Bose compared to Apple. Perhaps a reasonable comparison. They both offer a product that is more expensive than the competitor, falls short in many comparisons, and have both offered excellent marketing. However you would have to claw my Mac from my cold, dead fingers.

    In summary, I would argue Bose occasionally fulfill a gap in the market. In those cases they are the best simply because no direct competitor exists. Could something be better? Absolutely.

  • Andrew Baker

    I am not an audiophile by any stretch, and will agree Bose has used very clever marketing that reaches people most other advertisers would not influence. However they do fill a few product niches (or at least used to) other than the surround sound systems. For example their Wave Radio alarm clock is a beautifully simple looking alarm clock with many subtle features. When I purchased mine several years ago there was nothing in the market to compete. Sure the bass is a little overpowering in the morning. Sure it is very expensive for what it is. I would still not be without it though.

    I often see Bose compared to Apple. Perhaps a reasonable comparison. They both offer a product that is more expensive than the competitor, falls short in many comparisons, and have both offered excellent marketing. However you would have to claw my Mac from my cold, dead fingers.

    In summary, I would argue Bose occasionally fulfill a gap in the market. In those cases they are the best simply because no direct competitor exists. Could something be better? Absolutely.

  • rdas7

    Great article! I’ve never been a fan of Bose, as they are overpriced and incredibly gimmicky. Most of their “wow” factor comes from phase interference and clever marketing, neither of which leads to superior sound response.

    While I understand the market they are trying to address, they are almost criminally overpriced, where for the same money you could get a serious system, Bose offer sony consumer quality at pro prices – catering to the type of person who buys $50 bits of plastic to raise his speaker cable from the carpet “for better frequencty response” and then plays 128kbps mp3′s from his iPod.

  • rdas7

    Great article! I’ve never been a fan of Bose, as they are overpriced and incredibly gimmicky. Most of their “wow” factor comes from phase interference and clever marketing, neither of which leads to superior sound response.

    While I understand the market they are trying to address, they are almost criminally overpriced, where for the same money you could get a serious system, Bose offer sony consumer quality at pro prices – catering to the type of person who buys $50 bits of plastic to raise his speaker cable from the carpet “for better frequencty response” and then plays 128kbps mp3′s from his iPod.

  • Ivan

    A thoughtful and diplomatic perspective on the Bose vs The Rest of the Audio World debate. While it is refreshing to read editorial that appears to be without vitriol although treads somewhat over-cautiously, any discussion that neglects to mention Bose’ dominance in the professional audio and staging arena is guilty by omission.
    Further, to imply that marketing represents Bose raison d’être rather than A) research (haven’t you seen the new automotive suspension system they’ve recently dreamed up?) backed by that vital commercial locomotive element C) marketing, is also wrong.
    Every consumer Bose product is flawed – as is every consumer electronics product ever created. If an electronic entertainment product is a combination of performance, functionality, style, ease of use, quality of construction and any other minor criteria, then their have been very few milestones in consumer electronics that can score highly in these various criteria.
    Maybe that 6-CD B&O industrial robot number; perhaps the NAD 3010 amp or the Mission Cyrus, B&W Nautilus – and any number of Bose products.
    Wholistically (if you can forgive the new-agism) Bose have been creating true populist hi-fi; good looking, easy to use, competent performing, well-supported – and will do for many years to come.

  • Ivan

    A thoughtful and diplomatic perspective on the Bose vs The Rest of the Audio World debate. While it is refreshing to read editorial that appears to be without vitriol although treads somewhat over-cautiously, any discussion that neglects to mention Bose’ dominance in the professional audio and staging arena is guilty by omission.
    Further, to imply that marketing represents Bose raison d’être rather than A) research (haven’t you seen the new automotive suspension system they’ve recently dreamed up?) backed by that vital commercial locomotive element C) marketing, is also wrong.
    Every consumer Bose product is flawed – as is every consumer electronics product ever created. If an electronic entertainment product is a combination of performance, functionality, style, ease of use, quality of construction and any other minor criteria, then their have been very few milestones in consumer electronics that can score highly in these various criteria.
    Maybe that 6-CD B&O; industrial robot number; perhaps the NAD 3010 amp or the Mission Cyrus, B&W; Nautilus – and any number of Bose products.
    Wholistically (if you can forgive the new-agism) Bose have been creating true populist hi-fi; good looking, easy to use, competent performing, well-supported – and will do for many years to come.

  • Rick

    I agree with you. I don’t have top end equipment in my home theater by any means, but I didn’t pay close to what a Bose system would have cost me and I think my sound is pretty close to the Bose systems I’ve heard. Also, I don’t have an all in one home theater system, but I think they serve their purpose. I can’t imagine some of my friends or relatives trying to figure out a setup like mine. For them, the home theater in a box is perfect.

  • Rick

    I agree with you. I don’t have top end equipment in my home theater by any means, but I didn’t pay close to what a Bose system would have cost me and I think my sound is pretty close to the Bose systems I’ve heard. Also, I don’t have an all in one home theater system, but I think they serve their purpose. I can’t imagine some of my friends or relatives trying to figure out a setup like mine. For them, the home theater in a box is perfect.

  • Byron

    I never was a big fan of Bose, you’re paying for the name and their still paper speakers. My girlfriend was so happy when she brought home one of the Bose Wave® Radios and asked me what I thought, “You bought an expansive clock radio” was my response. The even worst part she has hearing problems so it was even more of a waste. The Bose was also returned because it didn’t get very good radio reception (I’ve always had this problem where I live).

    Funny you would mention Bose’s displays, at one of the big bigbox stores they have working speaker setups down the aisles, but the Bose displays are at the ends or in a separate aisle by themselves.

    Now my girlfriend bought one of the fancy (cheap) all in one stereos with a demo mode that makes the led display and vol lights flash and wonders why I can’t get excited, I have Rotel audio and HDTV equipment. I was trying not to laugh. I keep telling her I research stuff I buy.

  • Byron

    I never was a big fan of Bose, you’re paying for the name and their still paper speakers. My girlfriend was so happy when she brought home one of the Bose Wave® Radios and asked me what I thought, “You bought an expansive clock radio” was my response. The even worst part she has hearing problems so it was even more of a waste. The Bose was also returned because it didn’t get very good radio reception (I’ve always had this problem where I live).

    Funny you would mention Bose’s displays, at one of the big bigbox stores they have working speaker setups down the aisles, but the Bose displays are at the ends or in a separate aisle by themselves.

    Now my girlfriend bought one of the fancy (cheap) all in one stereos with a demo mode that makes the led display and vol lights flash and wonders why I can’t get excited, I have Rotel audio and HDTV equipment. I was trying not to laugh. I keep telling her I research stuff I buy.