Dr. Amar Bose Dead at 83

Don't speak ill of the dead is commonly accepted wisdom to which I almost always subscribe. However, an Amar Bose obituary in today's New York Times by Glenn Rifkin that read more like an advertisement than an obit forces my hand.

The obit writer claims the Bose Corporation "..became synonymous with high quality audio systems..." and that "His speakers, though expensive, earned a reputation for bringing concert-hall quality audio into the home." Really?

The article quotes Dr. Bose as saying "I never went into business to make money." It further states that "Dr. Bose was disappointed by the inferior sound of high priced stereo systems he purchased when he was an M.I.T. engineering student."

It then goes on to parrot the company line about the Bose 901 and how Dr. Bose's innovation incorporated multiple small drivers aimed at the surrounding walls instead of at the listener to produce the same ratio of direct to reflected sound one would hear in a concert hall.

No doubt both Henry Kloss and Edgar Villchur are turning over in their graves. Anyone old enough to remember the AR3a loudspeaker or the KLH Model 5 and how those sounded compared to the Bose 901 knows which sounded better and it wasn't even close.

The Bose 901 was introduced in 1968 to much fanfare. While Consumer Reports remains essentially clueless about high fidelity, back then it bought a pair of 901s and to its credit reported that it didn't like what it heard. Among the problems noted was that instruments often “wandered” around the room and were bloated in size.

This hardly came as a shock to anyone who auditioned a pair, as I did back then at a Queens, New York store, near my parent’s home.

I remember hearing a solo violinist larger than the orchestra, but why should that surprise anyone when the sound is being bounced off the wall by two arrays of four 5” speakers angled towards the wall?

Beyond that, the sound was boxy, obnoxiously colored in the midrange, and dynamically constricted. I thought the sound sucked compared to my AR 2ax’s.

The 901 required an "active equalizer" to compensate for the fact that the speaker had neither tweeters nor woofers, though one could argue that the surface area of nine 5" drivers adds up to 45 inches.

But, at the time I remember saying to myself, would you want your midrange driver also handling bass? In a small 2 way you have no choice of course, but this was a $479 speaker system, which at the time was a great deal of money. And no amount of equalization can make a 5" midrange driver behave like a tweeter so the speaker produced no high frequency sparkle or air.

Much was made about how much power the 901s could handle but that's because the "Active Equalizer" was a power sucking device, meaning driving a pair of 901s required a very powerful amplifier.

Bose couldn’t take the criticism (not from me, but that would come later as you’ll read) so his company actually sued Consumer Reports for expressing an opinion. Relentless in his desire to “get” Consumer Reports, Bose pursued the litigation for 13 years before finally losing the case in? In the United States Supreme Court! How crazy is that?

I moved to Boston in the fall of 1969 as the new company was gearing up for the full retail push that lasted for quite some time. I remember reading a full-page advertisement in a Boston newspaper (I think The Globe) in which Dr. Bose introduced himself and his loudspeaker.

He proudly proclaimed that he was an engineer, which in my mind at the time immediately begged the question "So what are the other guys toiling in this field, butchers?"

Dr. Bose trumpeted his M.I.T. background after which followed his rationale for the 901. He'd measured the percentage of direct to reflected sound at Boston Symphony Hall (pictured in the advertisement) as 8:1. Therefore his loudspeaker bounced the sound of 8 5" midrange speakers off the front wall while one 5" midrange fired towards the listener.

Reading the advertisement, I thought to myself what does the ratio of direct to reflected sound of Boston Symphony Hall have to do with recordings made at Kingsway Hall or any other concert hall? And with reverberation already captured by the great recordings of the time, why would it be a good idea to bounce sound off your walls anyway? To get a reverberation of a reverberation?

So, curious to hear whether perhaps my original listen the previous year was just a bad demo, I drove over to Tech Hi-Fi in Harvard Square to have a listen. I walked in and the salesman greeting me had a pink button on his shirt that says "Ask me about Bose". Up until that moment I had never seen in a hi-fi store such overt customer “steerage”—or any attempt to sway a purchase.

I was taken aback and said "Why are you wearing a Bose button? Why are you being a walking Bose advertisement? What about the other brands?"

This kid turned out to be 100% honest and/or clueless. "Because," he said to me, "for every pair of 901s I sell I get points towards a trip to Hawaii”!

“I never went into business to make money”—Amar Bose.

A few years later I’d gotten myself onto WBCN-FM where I started weekends on the all night shift. I liked that! I could do what I want, say what I want and establish an intimate rapport with the all-nighters and the lonely. It was great. I talked a lot. One of the things I talked about was hi-fi. Why not?

I got into my anti-Bose rap. I was expressing my opinion just as I am here. I think I did mention the Tech Hi-Fi visit and trips to Hawaii.

The next Monday I walked into the station’s sales office and I heard a guy named Kenny Greenblatt arguing over the phone with someone. He saw me, looked up and putting his hand over the mouthpiece said “What the hell did you say about Bose last Saturday night? I have got this guy from the company on the phone and they are insisting that the station fire you!”

Fortunately the management stuck up for me and I wasn’t fired but Bose’s strong arm tactics beginning with the Consumer Reports lawsuit was just the beginning of the company’s legal bullying and litigious ways.

Bose sued Thiel Audio in the early 1990s to stop the audiophile loudspeaker maker from using ".2" in the name of the CS 2.2 speaker.

Bose sued Harman Internation. Bose sued to prevent a company called QSC from trademarking the term “PowerWave” because Bose had a trademark for the “Wave” radio.

But in terms of corporate asshole-ishness, nothing beats the suit filed in 2003 against CEDIA the non-profit industry trade association that runs the annual home theater show of the same name because I believe CEDIA’s publication was “Electronic Lifestyles” and Bose owns a trademark on “Lifestyle”. Bose lost that one, but not before the trade organization was forced to spend around $1,000.000.

“I never went into business to make money”—Amar Bose.

But wait! There’s more! As we all know, Bose went on to “invent” the “Wave” radio as if there was anything particularly inventive about a small plastic radio. The real innovation was make the ridiculous advertising claim that the radio produced “concert hall sound” and replaced “a rack of expensive audio gear.”

Bose developed and patented what it calls the “acoustic waveguide.” Look it up and then tell me just how different it is in concept from the “Acoustic Labyrinth” found in my parents’ old Stromberg-Carlson console music system from the 1940s?

In 1998 the New York Times assigned me to write a story about the vinyl revival.

The editor with whom I worked really liked the story and later that year assigned me to write a story about five computer speakers. I could pick one very inexpensive one, one, moderately priced one, one “tweaky” one and two from Bose: the $219 Mediamate and the $599 Bose Acoustimass system—the one that used as a speaker protection system a lightbulb in series with the speaker.

Uh oh.

I chose a Henry Kloss developed Cambridge Soundworks Microworks system ($249.99), Altec Lansing’s ACS48 PowerCube Plus ($149) and for the “tweaky” system, the Eminent Techology LFT-11 planar magnetic system plus box subwoofer ($599), which also required an outboard power amplifier.

Once Bose found out I was doing this review I got in the mail a box of “goodies” that included a Bose baseball, a Bose hat and some other swill, but to its credit, nothing that could be seen as the type of “gift” to which The New York Times would object. Read the story at the link below

DOWNTIME; Making the Best Of Computer Sound.

I was as responsible and respectful as I could be without selling out, which I refused to do. I wrote as many good things as I could about the wooferless Mediamate suggesting readers “pass” on it unless they had no room for a separate subwoofer.

I wrote that the $149 Altec-Lansing could reasonably be sold for $300 in the context of what I’d auditioned, and that the Cambridge Soundworks system produced the “deepest, tightest bass of any system in the survey”, which was absolutely true, and that it is “the best balanced, most dynamic-sounding of the lot”, which it was.

Had I been 100% honest, I would have written that the Cambridge Soundworks system was twice as good as the Acoustimass, which it was, at half the price!

But I didn’t write that. Instead, I wrote that “….getting a satisfactory blend with the compact woofer unit (18 1/2 by 8 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches) is difficult because inexplicably, the Acoustimass system does not offer a bass-level control, something offered by both the Altec and Soundworks systems, which are less expensive”, which was all true!

I described the Acoustimass system as one that “…can play reasonably loud, but it sounds strained when pushed, at a volume where Microworks is still coasting. It is hard to justify the Acoustimass's high price.

All of that was true! And it was in The New York Times! Bose was not used to getting such a review. It was more used to the idiotic slobbering you’ll find all over the net and in Bose advertisements.

For instance, read habitual Bose slobberer Rich Warren’s recent review of Bose’s $6000 LED television fitted with one of its “wave”-type sound systems .

At the bottom of the review you’ll find this: ”In full disclosure, Bose underwrites the national syndication of my radio program. However, my impression of this product comes from viewing it at a local dealer in real-world conditions.”

So, I hand in my piece, which I felt was both honest and respectful of all involved. I get a call from the editor, Bruce Headlam, a few days later telling me what a great piece it was, how it was “voiced” just right for The New York Times, how clean the copy was, etc. and that I would soon have more assignments from The New York Times.

Weeks pass and nothing. Meanwhile, I thought of a few really good ideas to pitch and I pitch them. I hear nothing. More weeks pass. Nothing.

I attend an industry event and run into a guy I know who worked then at JBL. He says to me “I read that computer speaker piece in The New York Times. Nice work, but you know, you’re never going to write for them again.”

I said, “What are you talking about? They loved that piece!” “Yes,” he said, “but it wasn’t sufficiently respectful of the ‘B word’ “.

I responded “Oh, bullshit! It was honest and respectful and most of all truthful.”

“Doesn’t matter,” he responded, “you’ll see.”

More weeks passed and then in The New York Times I read a story similar to the one I’d pitched but written by a knucklehead who hadn’t the slightest idea about what he wrote. I was pissed! I emailed Bruce Headlam again, reminding him that I’d pitched essentially that same story and that I know much more about it than the person who was assigned the story and what’s up with that?

This time I heard back! He was in a snit and wrote that if I thought disparaging one of the paper’s writers was an effective way to get an assignment from The New York Times, I was sadly mistaken or some such words.

But I knew what really was going on: not enough respect paid towards “the B word.” I was out at The Times and not getting back in. My JBL friend was correct.

When I bought my Saab 9-3 Turbo-X back in 2008 (Bose still in business, Saab out? Feh!) I was disgusted to find it was fitted with a “premium” Bose sound system. Not surprisingly it sucks. The drivers have thimble-sized magnets. I don’t care how brilliant they are at Bose ( in advertising, branding, trademarking and litigating), you cannot get dynamic sound from drivers with thimble-sized magnet structures.

How exactly does it sound. As we say around here “No highs, no lows, must be Bose”.

So, you’ll pardon my speaking ill of the dead, but when Dr. Bose said "I never went into business to make money," I say “bullshit!”

Everything that company ever did and ls likely to ever do was and will be all about making money and very little about making good sound.

So to read an obit like the one appearing in today’s New York Times is particularly galling but hardly surprising. Even in death Dr. Bose had it all figured out.

Nonetheless, I say, “Rest in peace, Dr. Amar Bose,” the entire marketing and promo clueless high performance audio industry can learn decades worth of lessons from what you’ve accomplished.

That said, the obit headline calling Dr. Bose a “Devotee of Sound,” is just more BMB.

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Comments
maelob's picture
Mr. Bose

Totally agree with your points, but you mentioned something that hit the nail in the head ” the entire marketing and promo clueless high performance audio industry can learn decades worth of lessons from what you’ve accomplished.

When the industry is going to learn how to market stuff?- Ask the average Joe what is the best audio company in the world? Off course you know the answer.  LOL and dont get me started with Monster LOL

ProPeople's picture
Bose Products

I'd been around for 25 years in music industry.

I wondered in spite of many people bashing bose, why many people are still buying bose products? Was it because of the their marketing or the sound it produce?

For example: Acoustimass 10 Home Theater Speaker System

Marketing - All products need to have a good marketing in order for people to buy it. If Bose raked huge revenues because of their marketing style, then BOSE IS THE REAL WINNER! after all this is business anyway. If other brands said have a better sound quality than Boses then its time for them to wake up and do marketing strategy. What's the point of making high end products when no or few people are buying it? It's the principal duty of every person in this world to do business to earn money in order to survive. Let's do business!

Price - the common rule is that if the price is high then don't buy it, you can buy other brands at half price with more quality sound (as many comments found in the internet says). Bose has been around for so long now, and so to those bose bashers have told many people that bose products are overprice. In spite of this, but why many people still buying and looking for it? One Best Buy store salesman have once said that in the store he keep introducing new high end sound system products to consumers at lower price than Bose, but these consumers are still looking for Bose. Why? Maybe because of marketing?

Sound - Acoustimass speakers really have inferior sound quality? Until now I haven't found any speaker system with exact same size of bose cubes that sounds more better. I mean you need to compare it with product of same size, otherwise comparison is not fair or constructive. For information, it was bose who first created the smallest size surround speaker system (is there others? who? what brand?)with a big sound, other brands seemed to follow after. I can say Bose system is more balance and natural sound (also many others say, others says opposite) at any level. I understand you can buy many high end speaker system with nice specs and outputs out there, then after combining all of these to form a surround system, can it produce a balance and natural sound on time? I don't think so, you must do a lot of tweakings and adjustments to get your desired output. You will end up always taking time to do adjustments/tweakings everytime you switch from music to movies, games etc.. I believe bose analyzed the dynamics in a typical houses, clubs, restaurants, bars, etc. in mind to come up with a speaker system that is less hassle to the user in terms of space, sound quality and less or no need to do sound adjustments. This what we call ingenuity.

Oh just now I know, Bose had a contract with US Military and NASA to supply bose products for their use?...Do you think these 2 well-knowned US agencies also fooled by Bose?

Michael Fremer's picture
I can Say Quite Clearly

Bose speakers measure poorly and sound worse. Putting a crappy 2" speaker in a small plastic case may be your idea of innovation but it's not mine. I don't know what products Bose supplied to the the military. The company does have good engineers in house but what they produce for consumers in terms of sonics is pure crap. Always has been and continues to be. I have a Bose system in my car, unfortunately. It is crap. "Balanced and natural"? You say you have been around the music industry from 25 years? In what capacity? You still obviously haven't heard good sound if you think what Bose produces is good sound. Cambridge Soundworks made little cubes that cost half what the Acoustimass system cost and sounds twice as good.

ProPeople's picture
Bose Producst

Bear in mind, no consumers buy or even borrow measuring equipments just to check the output of speakers system that they’re going to buy. Either they read the specification at the back of the speaker cabinet, or they audition it by listening to music or movies. But most of the time consumers do it by listening. Now this consumers still preferred the Bose, I said 95% preferred bose but many of this 95% will not buy because they actually cannot afford the price. They may save money and buy later. Where is the sound worse here? It’s maybe true the measurement of bose acoustimass do not give good results but when you listen to music why it is so very pleasing to ears? We tried the Paradigm speakers to play Hotel California of Eagles, yes it sound very nice but only in limited spot, it lacks spaciousness as compared to Bose where you can actually hear pleasing sounds virtually in all spot.

Bose crappy plastic cases whatever? – ok let’s say its really crappy plastic, but why it sounds better than those you said high end speaker cabinet? Do not think about measuring equipments and again I must remind to compare it with other brands of same size. My friend’s parents still using 1985’s Bose901 until now for music listening and says they love it, of course outside body now looks so old, many dirts, stains, etc. but overall still intact. Of course by now, bose competitors will build very nice cabinets in order to compete and compensate the claims of bose system.
Mostly bose supplied noise cancelling headphones to US military & NASA astronauts, you see but it is still bose. They also installed specially made bose loudspeakers inside their various command centers. The renowned catholic Basilica in Rome and world’s largest Mosque in Saudi Arabia had installed Bose speaker System.

Oh, now you said bose have a good engineers in house…., their sonics is not crap because many consumers bought it and it is still sustainable at this time. I tell you, you go to any store who sells used electronics home theater products. You will find bose speakers are still expensive compare to other used speakers, but many people are still buying it in spite of its price. The result you will seldom find now used bose speakers in any electronic store because it is easily sold out. These people crave for the sounds of bose… and yet you say the sonics is crap?
Your bose system in car is crap? Benz, audi, volvo, etc. installed bose system and not any consumers did not complain. And now, Ferrari installed bose system in their currently new model cars, do you think Ferrari manufacturer is crap also?
Yes Bose speaker is balance and natural at virtually any level. I am keyboardist in a band for 8 years, then the rest I work in recording music and movies producing HD music, movie sountracks mastering, live concert recording, etc. In a recording studio we have use many high end speakers to hear samples during recording processes. But after a record finished, we bring it to our audition lounge area to listen, we have many high end speakers that bears specific technical details such as definitve tech, klf, paradigm, jbl, yamaha, etc. and of course the controversial bose acoustimass surround system that has no technical details. All of the speakers we tested gave different personalities, our concerned here is how the recorded sound produce not the speakers we are using. We always and usually used bose acoustimass in the last listening sessions because of its spaciousness and natural sounding wherein people can walk anyware within the big room, say go to open pantry to make cofee, etc. without losing the detail of the music while listening.
It was Cambridge Soundworks (before acquired by Creative Labs) who first replicate the idea of small cubes home theater speaker system created by Bose (other followed later). Yes, being maker of high quality speaker system, cambridge abled to copied the small cubes (but bose still have smaller in size) and produced at first pleasing sounds and with price lower than bose. But when you turn the knob into different volume levels, that’s where you feel and hear the differences between the two. Bose still dispersed with more balance and natural sounds at different levels. Of course the competitor will have to lower his price to make consumer buy for it, only to realize later the consumer may think he’d better buy bose beforehand.

Michael Fremer's picture
You have GOT to be Joking

Most people buy BOSE because of the marketing.

Their stuff sounds like crap. The 901s are among the worst sounding "hi-fi" speakers. Bouncing the sound produced by 8 cheap 4" drivers (originally CTS from Paducah, KY) has nothing to do with 'concert hall' sound. Those drivers produce no high frequencies. It's physically impossible. And massing 9 of them in a box doesn't magically add high frequencies. Their minimal excursion guarantees smothered bass too. And the inefficiency of that system, with its active EQ requires massive amounts of power to get any sound out of them.

I'm glad you know people who still listen to them but they don't know what they are missing.

the Acoustimass is a terrible sounding sonic blight: the satellites cannot blend with the fart box. If that's what you like, fine. Everyone is entitled to his or her tastes but people also eat Pizza Hut and Papa John's pizza when real pizza parlors are in the same area so there's no accounting for taste.

As for Bose noise canceling head phones: yes they cancel noise well but the music that's left is laughably terrible. 

I love watching people parading around airplanes proudly showing off their Bose noise canceling headphones.

Poor folks

ProPeople's picture
Rich Folks

Haha, now you said there’s no arguing, different people have different taste, ok good that’s it. So those US Military, NASA, St. Peters Basilica in Rome , Al Haram Mosque in Saudi Arabia, Benz, Ferrari, Rover, Audi, Starbucks, famous bars & clubs, restz.. etc. have a bad taste of sounds? Hahaha, you are more laughable here!.. LOL… Look at the sales of Bose, it never go down ever since and sustainably increasing than your venerable high end speakers you may have now and so to other brands.

Bose alone outsold the entire high-end audio industry....in that regards, they are indeed the best! Like McDonalds? Since McDonalds sells the most hamburgers of anybody, they must make the best hamburgers. Right?

Now, new brands of high end sound systems come out on the market, and even sony, LG, Samsung etc now manufacturing high end sound systems too,, what will happen on sales to other high end speaker systems now!.. they will plunge its sales more below because they have to share with the new brands that comeout new in the market. But Bose maintained its sales standing in the world market. This is the real Accounting you need consider Michael.

Other thing that may connect to Bose – many people around the world hates USA, they even burn flags of the US in the public. Irony, look at the person burning the US flag, he is wearing Levis and tucked iPhone in the pocket. The main thing here is that the products have been tested for so many years already. That’s why when the product have given or exceeded the need or expectation of the consumers, there’s no more obstacle in owning it whether it came from where, right also?

Michael Fremer's picture
Sales Does Not Equal Quality

Now you're rambling. Sales have nothing to do with quality. Bose has good sales, poor sound quality. But worse, their margins are grotesquely high. They build cheap and overcharge. That people buy the stuff means nothing other than their good marketing and smart branding. I have never disputed that.

ProPeople's picture
Hahaha, Bose already in us for 40 years

How come u say that? Sales has nothing to do with quality? Hahaha so very laughable,... Sales of bose will not so huge if the quality is not present, right? And its expensive as you say, but people keep on buying.  There's only 1 reason for this because of quality.  Quality comes first before marketing, otherwise few people will buy. Michael ur the one rambling, how come you cannot equate quality and marketing?. Bose already around for 40 years!

dat56's picture
A little harsh, Mikey!

First of all, let me say I truly enjoy your work and furthermore, I respect your opinion on things audio, but...the man just passed away.  Is this the proper time to rake him over the coals?  I think not.  Poor form, imo.

That said, many people that have heard and/or owned lots of "audiophile" products, still like some of the Bose designs.  The 901 for example:  OK, it wasn't your cup of tea.  Fair enough, but it has certainly been around long enough to warrant a bit of respect.  I think whether a person likes it or hates it depends as much as anything upon what they think a loudspeaker should sound like.  If they think it should sound more or less like every other speaker they've heard, they probably won't like it.  If they think a speaker should sound more like live music and less like a music box, then they may just like it a lot.  Of course, that's just my humble opinion, fwiw.

But, my intent is not to become engaged in another online Bose bash.  Just to offer another perspective.  Making money is not a crime in the USA, as of yet, and to the best of my knowledge, Bose never tried to cheat anyone.  They offer a product and say "this is the price".  I find no fault in that.  They have some of the best customer service going and some of the best consumer electronics resale values, too. Many people find their products to be highly desireable for many reasons, including subjective sound quality.  And if more people would get off their audiophile high horse, listen to live music and think about how it sounds, and then listen with an open mind to many speakers, not just Bose, they might agree.  But many can't seem to get past the "B" word.

Michael Fremer's picture
A Little Harsh?

I was set off by the obituary that was just like all things Bose: a large part bullshit. No objectivity whatsoever. I suspect the writer was as much a legit obit writer as Rich Warren is an "audio critic."

The obit smelled of the same stink that's followed the Bose organization since its founding: a lot of hype, very little performance.

An honest assessment of the man's life and career would have at least mentioned the controversies surrounding his company. Most competent obit do that. This one didn't. I bet it was a planned "plant."

In what I wrote I tried to explain why this is "personal" for me.

Finally, when I kick the bucket I have no problem if Tom Port and some of my other detractors write similar things... I'll be dead. So I could give a shit!

 

 

 

 

 

Bromo33333's picture
I read a number of obits -

Some are fawning, some are "just the facts ma'am" - it doesn't matter.

Common decency and courtesy will mean you don't kick the family when they are down.  I must come form a region of the country or of an age where people were civil and respectful in a time of grieving.

I feel you were out of line with that diatribe.  But it is your blog - and I only hope it didn't hurt anyone close to him that had nothing to do with your issues.

 

Just like you said - you are not in a position to hurt Amar since he's gone - the only ones you can kick and hurt are the survivros.

 

And for the record, I am with you that Saab going under was a tragedy of large proportions.  I loved the 9-5 Aero I had once upon a time.  I am now in a Volvo, and while good, it isn't the same.

Michael Fremer's picture
Kicking the Family When It's Down

I understand your point but to reiterate: I am certain that the obituary was a "paid assignment" to the writer, paid for by the Bose Corporation or family and "supplied" to The New York Times for publication.

Everything about it "smells" like it and that is just plain wrong. In fact, I sent a complaint to the paper's Public editor. A dispassionate obituary would never have prompted to write anything here about Amar Bose's passing.

Unfortunately, that obit triggered a reaction that I needed to express in words and put on the site.

ProPeople's picture
From Michael: The obit

From Michael: The obit writer claims the Bose Corporation "..became synonymous with high quality audio systems..." and that "His speakers, though expensive, earned a reputation for bringing concert-hall quality audio into the home." Really? Answer: YES

linuxguru's picture
Spot on, and the Bose spin doctors are still at work...

Mike, thanks for calling a spade a spade. BTW, the spin doctors at Bose corporate communications are still hard at work - several posts on a Bose obit/tribute thread at the user forums of Indian audio-video website hifivision.com linked back to your article to debunk the Bose myth.

Somehow, the entire thread "disappeared" yesterday after several days of heated debate. It should be noted that Bose pays for sponsored ad placements in the user forums, so I wouldn't be surprised if they exerted pressure to get the moderators to delete the thread - it would have been too obvious if only the negative comments vanished.

ProPeople's picture
Marketing?

Most people buy BOSE because of the marketing.

What happened to you Michael?

100% of people will not go to Bose store and say to salesman ….“ Because you have a good marketing of this bose speaker I will buy it” no sense!, you think for 1000USD of acoustimass system, common people will buy it just because of good advertising??? Of course not! He need to listen to the sound first…100% even the rich people will not buy immediately without listening to it! Chances are he may come to the store and buy outright without testing, but it’s because he heard it already before, eitheir from his friend’s house, in the club, bars etc.. But even so I believe he will still need to listen to it again to make sure that everything is ok..

Now it is really time to tell all those existing high end speakers manufacturers to somehow look into their marketing strategy to push their products in the market not just in one place but worldwide. In this way their supposedly very accurate sounding cabinets will finally appreciated by most people if not all.

ProPeople's picture
You're right dat56 absolutely!

If you cannot afford don't buy it, it simply like that mikey! Just look for other brand u said which have better sound at half price.  But bose will continue its big revenues, unless they close the company.

Trace's picture
Bose

Lot a whole lot of grey area here !

Billf's picture
RIP

Come on, Mikey. The guy just died. I'm no fan of Bose products, but do we really need a diatribe about how lousy they are just now? Proportion.

Consider taking "almost" out of the first sentence of your post, retaining that sentence and deleting the rest.
Don't be a knucklehead!

Michael Fremer's picture
Knucklehead?

A more traditional obit would not have set me off and there would have been no diatribe, regardless of my personal feelings. But that obit "smelled" of a Bose commissioned and paid for obit fobbed off to The New York Times that read more like a commercial and it fit into the larger pattern and picture that I have about Bose.

That's what set me off. And I don't take back a word nor do I question the timing. I respect your right to disagree.

ravenacustic's picture
Dr Bose

While Dr Bose might be an easy man to criticize, can we be less critical of Sony and Philips for having brought us "perfect sound forever"?

i think HL Mencken got it right. 

WELquest's picture
Very Grey

Yes, there are lots of contrary views for this or most any subject. Lots to praise and lots to condemn. As a counterpoint to public dispays of adoration or uncritical politeness, I very much appreciate Michael's wider view, necessarily including blatant examples of a kind of abuse of the public trust, and outright theivery in having intimidated the world's loudspeaker designers into no longer using transmission-line or labyrinth loading.

Giving people what they want is noble, even selling deep fried Twinkies can be defended, but the 901 speaker doesn't fit to any of the defenses I use to explain other inferior products. It was a successul phase-distortion generator and an absolutely awful speaker ... but then again, there are today many suucessful audio products on the market that are objectively (good methodology applied to listening) inferior to other products at 1/10th the price ... but nary a consumer in any category ventures forth on a mission to learn what products are actually worth. A price is chosen and then maybe some comparisons with other products at the same price.

In addition to Aesthetix, Octave, Vandersteen and such, I own a lot of Bose: QC-15 headphones, multiple MIE2i buds, 3 Wave Radio/Music Systems, 2 big Acoustic Waves, a SoundDock and the astonishing new SoundLink Mini. I'm in the industry and buy most gear on accomodation, but I paid retail for these Bose pieces because that's the game, and they are worth it to me. I also have the Bose audio system in my Audi A8 not because it came free with the car, but because it's better than the much more expensive B&O system.

Bose is an extremely clever company, which has made some garbage in the past, and might well again. It has been a very bad citizen along the way ... but the only things that makes Bose different in this regard to many other companies is that they are more clever, and much more successful.

It is our mistake for finding Bose's claims of concert hall sound from a radio any more of a stretch than the average high-end audio ad. That's like the audiophiles who moan that there shouldn't be any $50K amps, etc., because they give the audio world a bad image, while of course $5K amps are somehow a totally friendly concept to "normal" people.

Why do we read exaggerated ad claims by Bose and complain, yet accept equally ludicrious claims in high-end audio? Exaggerated claims are like the speed of light, the same whether you're traveling in the low-end or high-end worlds.

As for Sony's "Perfect Forever," our mistake as an industry was to actually believe the Sony claim. We disagreed with the "Perfect" part, and totally bought into the "Forever" part. CD/Redbook audio is not likely to ever fully beat what can be heard from an LP, but a fair number of remastered CDs are today better than the vinyl version that was available in 1983. In the what's-possible-and-available world, CDs aren't the Garbage Forever that we bought into in 1983.

Bose might have displayed near-evil along the way, but it is much more than that.

Thanks Michael for adding balance and additional truths to the discourse.

Michael Fremer's picture
Bose Versus B&O

I'm surprised that you find the Bose Audi system superior to B&O's. I heard a prototype of the B & O system during a visit to the factory a few years ago and though it sounded very, very good.

It was co-designed by a guy named Manny LaCarrubba who was quoted in a TAS interview as saying (and I'm paraphrasing) "...Michael Fremer has single-handedly set the cause of good sound back decades".

Why? For advocating vinyl. So clearly I don't hold irrational grudges. That B&O system sounded really good and I have trouble believing the Bose sounded better given what the Bose system in my car sounds like!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture
Belief Systems

Manny La Carrubba has strong belief systems, to put it mildly. When I attempted to conduct a blind power cable test at mi casa for the Bay Area Audiophile Society, I asked Manny to help with protocol. The test parameters he constructed, which included hanging a huge piece of treble extension destroying green felt over the components (so that participants couldn't see which cables we were using at the time), made it near=impossible to hear obvious differences in the power cables. Manny then went on to proclaim that the test proved that all power cables sound alike. How interesting that a speaker designer can acknowledge neither the differences in sound between good vinyl and good digital, nor between power cables. 

Paul Boudreau's picture
The Power Of Marketing

I've never listened to any Bose equipment and so have nothing useful to say about its sound quality.  I do know something about the power of marketing, though.  Over the years I've spoken to many people whose knowledge of audio & audio gear approaches zero but who nevertheless knew the name Bose (usually in the context of "I need a new xxx, what should I get?).

iyke's picture
It's all about marketing

I always thought that Bose speakers were overated, but the world is filled with examples of Brands who's position in the marketplace have nothing to do with how good their products are, and Bose is in that category. Sometimes people are buying for quality, they are just buying because of how successful the marketing appeals to them. In my view, Bose success is largely based on the fact that their marketing allowed People to feel like audiophiles without actually being one. They tapped into the laziness in all of us; here, you too can be an audiophile, just buy one rectangular box and you will have the world's most sophisticated sound system in your...who wouldn't fall for that? There's one born every minute....don't believe me? Check out what happened in that Florida courthouse last night.

Michael Fremer's picture
I agree

I agree.

370lbgorilla's picture
Pretty classless Mikey

While his family and friends mourn his passing, you take this as an opportunity to further whatever agenda you may have against Bose.   

Allen

Michael Fremer's picture
Mourning....

I believe the obituary was a paid assignment by Bose, planted in the newspaper as a legitimate obit. It is Bose, not I, who are furthering an agenda. Had the obit read like a legitimate one, and less like an advertisement, I'd have not written anything.

recoil's picture
I get it

You believe the obit was a paid assignment by Bose. You have made that clear.

That doesn't make how you handled the obit right. I still feel it was in very poor taste whether what you say is right or not.

I am not a big fan of Bose products myself having sold them for years and feeling that there was much better product for the money available. 

I am not saying that what you said is inacurate or untrue, that isn't the point. Whether Bose paid for this obit or not doesn't make what you have written here right after his death any more appropriate.

I respect your knowledge and I respect your opinion on audio. I also enjoy your writing style but I believe this flat out was in bad taste. Just because someone else jumps off a bridge doesn't mean you should too.

Michael Fremer's picture
"Bad Taste"

I accept your criticism. Perhaps it was. Even had I thought that while writing it, I'd have posted it anyway. Do you think it's in "bad taste" when an obit writer includes the less positive aspects of a newly deceased person's life? Because good obits regularly do that.

It would not have at all been extraordinary had the obit writer countered Dr. Bos's contention that he didn't go into business to make money with his notorious appetite for litigation.