Blame It On the Lampcord Department

I just received this email that I thought I'd share with you:


I've worked in this industry for over 45 years. I have an MSEE and a reasonably good ear. Many of my live recordings have become released products.

Back in the 70s we were a Bose dealer. We took the line on to appease the rep firm that also rep'd lines we wanted to carry. We lost the line after poor sales but the final straw was due to me telling a customer (A Bose dealer spy!) that we would never recommend the 901s be used with a 25 watt/ch receiver. They needed at least 100 watts/ch to get the most out of them.

The few we sold went out the door with either the McIntosh 2105 or Marantz 240/250 amps.

The letter from Dr. Bose told us that the line was being pulled due to our insistence that the speakers needed that much power.

Fast forward a few years to the CE Show Vegas where I handed Dr. Bose that letter and a copy of their ad stating that the "NEW BOSE AMPLIFIER WITH 250 WATTS PER CHANNEL WAS THE RIGHT CHOICE TO POWER THE 901 SPEAKERS".

Shortly after that I had a friend at a local Tee shirt company make up a few shirts that said "Friends don't let Friends buy Bose" . That was a big hit here in L.A.

Years later in testing one of the Bose micro cube with sub systems I determined that the woofer (I refuse to call it a sub) was handling frequencies beyond 1KHz. It had to, of course, as one would not really expect a 1.75" driver to handle much below 300 - 400 Hz. When placed off center, as in a corner, you could easily hear the very obvious shift of image.

—Alan R. Kanter

Chemguy's picture

It was almost 30 years ago that I purchased my pair of Bose 401 speakers. I thought they looked really cool and sounded very nice in the show room. What can I say, I was young and naïve...

After some years, being not very pleased with the mid range or higher frequency response, I removed the tweeter and went to a local speaker shop that only sold speaker components. The gentleman at the store took me to a wall that displayed over 50 tweeters and asked me to find mine on the wall. I found mine right away, top left-hand corner which denoted the least expensive tweeter he had in stock. I wasn't totally shocked, but perhaps a bit crestfallen that these semi expensive speakers were made from very cheap material.
The gentleman at the store gave me his opinion; Bose were box stuffers, which meant to say that Bose designed a speaker box and stuffed it with inferior quality materials. There wasn't even a crossover in the cabinet for the tweeters and the drivers!

I kept the cabinets, installed Titanium-domed tweeters, new drivers and crossover, and those speakers were vastly improved for another $200. I still have them today acting as the backup to the backup system in the spare room.
I have encouraged many to avoid Bose at all costs. They are box stuffers that continue to do things on the cheap.

pjwenzel's picture

Back in the 70's I to had 4 Bose 901's. I was using a Phase Linear 200 with a McIntosh C26 pre amp and a Thornes TD126 TT. I thought this was the greatest system I ever had the 200 WPC from the amp could really produce a big SPL in my apartment. I also worked in an audio store in the Chicago suburbs. These and JBL L100 were some of the best speakers we sold. I ended up with speaker fatigue from the 901's after a short period of time, but enjoyed them while I had them. Bose produce speakers with smoke and mirrors on the inside but they are still in business. Still love my audio and video to this day, and try to do the best I can with what I got.

Cam08529's picture

There was a pair of those 901s hanging from the living room ceiling of my college pad in the late 70s. My roommates and I thought they sounded great but there was beer, halter topped girls and other things that shifted our perceptions. Twenty years later I stumbled upon a high end audio store in Tulsa in search of new speakers. The owner asked me how much I wanted to spend and I said no more than $1k. He asked why & I said that's what a pair on 901s cost, they were the best so why spend more? Rather than berate me, he demoed Snells, Vandersteens and Thiels in that price range. I had never heard of any of those brands and was shocked that they all sounded better than the 901s. I ultimately stretched the budget a bit and got Thiel 1.5s. Next thing I know, I am reading Sterephile and moving up the signal chain with amps preamps and digital source components. In the magazine there was this guy that wrote about the virtues on vinyl. I thought that was a bit over the top but after reading his articles for several years, I took another plunge & bought a VPI Scout. The 1.5s and the Scout have been upgraded some time ago but they provided many hours of enjoyment.
Thank you Dr. Bose, K-Labs Audio (sadly long gone) and of course Mikey.

Michael Fremer's picture
Loved reading that! Thanks...
sgoertemiller's picture

My story is almost identical to your (even the Scout) except I ended up with the Snells.

recordhead's picture

And I own a pair of 301s!!! Looking forward to upgrading my entire system nest year.

khenegar's picture

Went to a friends house many years ago that had them hanging from the ceiling he was using a grado cartridge and we were enjoying brownies and we were in heaven. Can't remember the rest of his system but at that time I didn't care!

soundman45's picture

In the history of consumer Hi-Fi, this company has got to be one of the most maligned and for good reason. From an engineering perspective I get what Mr. Bose was trying to achieve, but it just never worked that well. It did have it's time though.

audiof001's picture

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Roy Allison. Decades ago I had a pair of Allison 3 speakers. I kept blowing the tweeters with my 40wpc amp, so I was in contact with Allison Acoustics often. One day I pulled the 3's out of the corners of the room and placed them in the center away from the back wall, with tiptoes under the front tilting them back. The speakers sounded sooooo much better - imaged with some soundstage for the first time - that I called Allison Acoustics and Roy answered or was put on the line. He yelled at me, clearly upset that I had questioned his design theory.

Not long after this I sold the speakers but demoed them to the buyer in the room's center, not back in the corners as Roy designed. I began visiting Stereo Exchange in NYC and remember a pair of (Infinity?) speakers that did nearly the same thing I stumbled upon - same shape and concept - It made me smile. My next pair of speakers were Spica TC-50's. It's good to question authority, even that of a man so highly regarded.

davidrmoran's picture

Well, all you're saying is that you preferred sound closer to you (more direct, less reflected, different quality of reflection also, all producing a sharper presentation), and with some notching in the lower midrange below middle C, which to some ears does create a leaner, thinner, seemingly clearer sound. No magic to it. You did not question any authority; you just went your own way, which is cool. Why anyone would do this with something designed *not* for it is pretty puzzling.

As for being yelled at, which is rather hard to imagine with this designer under any circumstance, maybe it was because you were getting free new tweeters (a fantastic, unequaled design, of course) from playing program too loud but without enough power?

audiof001's picture

Nope, not free... paid of every set I blew - I think it was $35 a tweeter. It took a while to realize that my amp was under-powering the lll's. They did sound far better out in the room than in the corners, and imaged for the first time when taken out of the corners.

davidrmoran's picture

Sorry to have presumed; apologies.
I already explained the sound changes and the dynamic behind them.
If you liked them, cool, but don't go thinking 'better'. Just different.
And my question remains, Why buy something purpose-designed and then use it otherwise? Why not get Spica-type tower or whatever in the first place?

audiof001's picture

Different, yes. In a very good way. I wasn't making much money at the time and didn't discover Spica's until after this experiment with the Allison 3's. My experiment provided a noticeable improvement in clarity and overall imaging to the Allison design. I wouldn't have shared the results if they weren't significant and, yes, he yelled at me over the phone - one of the very reasons I moved away from the Allison line (I had both the 3's and the 4's). Find a pair of Allison 3's and try it for yourself.

davidrmoran's picture

You are not understanding my points, but no matter; you liked what you got and have gone in a different direction. All good, all cool. Your sound and presentation results entirely predictable for just the reasons I described, and significant only for those who think these variable are not understood. With the personal yelling you had a unique-in-audio-history experience; cherish that too. Not sure what would make you think I do not know the Allison models very well. Did you move on from the Fours as well?

liguorid42's picture

For imaging, the thinking is that early reflections, like from the walls near speakers, confuse the ear's sense of direction. Late reflections are more easily distinguished from the source. Hence, the speakers away from the walls sounded better to you than the placement Allison designed them for, even though you completely screwed up his designed frequency response.

I've been a 'stat lover for most of my 40+ years of audiophilia. So I'm used to positioning well away from the back walls. But even before I got my 'stats (Acoustats, then 2 different Martin Logan models) I preferred my KLH 23's or large Advents--both of which were marketed as "large bookshelf speakers" when they were--away from the walls and on stands with the tweeters near ear level,even though I probably completely screwed up the frequency response Henry Kloss designed. But as we know, frequency response isn't everything.

As for the Bose 901's, they are rife with early, middle and late reflections by design. They incorporate one good audio principle: a bunch of tweeters on a common baffle can move about as much air as a single woofer. This in turn sort of eliminates the need for a crossover, which is always a compromise. I say "sort of" because he still fudged the frequency response with a 741-based equalizer (the resonant frequency of the 9 drivers in a small enclosure is way too high to be useful), the reason you needed lots of power to drive them. Aside from the crossoverless design they were a mess, as Gordon Holt pointed out while other reviewers were raving about them. The peaky dispersion this phased array of tweeters created was papered over by bouncing most of the sound off the back wall.

A story I once heard from an MIT engineering student and audiophile: Dr. Bose believed the human ear could not detect phase anomalies. To prove it he designed a demo that switched a phase-altering all pass filter in and out of the circuit. Purportedly he was the only person who could not hear the effect.

avanti1960's picture

I own and really enjoy the Bose Companion 20 computer speakers. Smooth balanced sound, really good imaging and outstanding construction / user interface.
They have cornered the market on smooth, inoffensive sound.

kenkirk's picture

That is what I have to say when I crank up my Bose Soundlink Bluetooth speaker by the pool for one of my audio buddies. They look at it and say Bose??I say:" I know, I know I hate Bose. But these dam things just sounded better than any other portable bluetooth speakers and they travel great! " Then I tell them I have looked hard at getting the Bose emblem off of them but it will leave a spot. So I just shake my head and sigh... times change. Dr Bose is dead. New blood is trickling in I guess. I love that dam speaker. :)


ps, I don't like the latest Bose Soundlink as much as the older model.

Michael Fremer's picture
The Riva Turbo
kenkirk's picture

The specs look superior to the Soundlink. It might be my go to speaker for around the pool, etc. But looks a little bulky to throw into the suitcase for vacations. Thanks for the heads up. I had not seen this one yet!


Trevor_Bartram's picture

I agree about portability, the Soundlink is small enough to hold in one hand, that is important when being carried from the house to the pool frequently. Being portable freed me from boomboxes placed 30-40ft away at the nearest AC outlet and sound levels that occasionally annoyed neighbors. What I don't like is the lack of tone controls (I wrote to Bose and told them so) but that has only been a problem a couple of times. If Riva came out with something the same size as the Soundlink I would definitely investigate it.
Another problem with early the Soundlink is the NiMh batteries self discharge very quickly, I have remember to charge it BEFORE I go out to the pool, not AFTER the batteries have discharged but, hey, it was a gift from my wife so I'm not going to complain too loudly!!!

JohnnyB53's picture

Dr. Bose was sort of onto something with the dispersion pattern of the 901s, but he overdid it with the 11% forward, 89% rearward dispersion ratio. He did all his measuring at Boston's Symphony Hall, one of the most reverberant concert venues in the world. Mirage's more comprehensive and extended research revealed an average ratio of 60% to the front, 40% to the rear. What's amazing is how little they did to correct and improve that design. With all the recent advances in full-range drivers from Audient, Serene, Fox, and others, Bose's 4-1/2" "full range" driver is a lumbering dinosaur. They could have become a leader in crossoverless speaker technology but they chose to use their market share and advertising budget to bully the market instead.

Rudy's picture

Yes, the 901s were designed for 1 driver forward, 8 facing rear, but guess what? When I have seen these doing commercial sound reinforcement duties, they were always facing the eight drivers forward instead of to the rear. These were done up in the typical vinyl cladding that PA speakers have, so I don't know if they came from Bose that way (does anyone know if they ever had a pro sound division or product line?), or if this was done after the fact.

My uncle had some 301s in his den system, tucked away on top of some bookcases. I can't way they were really bad, as they served their purpose and had decent full-range sound. But accurate or audiophile sound? No. But that wasn't his goal. He just wanted to listen to his music, and the radio, and ran them through a decent receiver that was never stressed much. Of course, his coolness factor was increased due to having one of those old tubed Grundig AM/FM/SW radios in the kitchen (with the pushbutton "keys" to change the frequency band). I remember picking up Romania once; sounded like polka played on speed. :D

Vinylghost's picture

Sometime back in the 80's I had the pleasure of walking into a local audio store and picking the "best" equipment they had. Mind you, it was brands like JVC, Pioneer and Sony. After choosing to go with a JVC receiver, cassette deck (still works great) and turntable, I'd decided to purchase Bose speakers. Why not? I'd seen them in Stereo Review and High Fidelity. I hadn't yet read Stereophile. That would come later.

Because of my budget the Bose 901's were the only "top shelf" items I couldn't quite afford. No problem, I went with the Bose 601 Series II.

I was a teenager and loved music. And I loved my stereo system. It was the best I knew of for several years. Over the coming years I upgraded to better equipment and periodicals. Even enjoyed reading Michael Fremer's contributions from time to time. Crazy ole' Liberal that he is.

Bose bashing seemed to be a common sport. So common that I started to think how could I be enjoying my 601's. Finally there were higher end stores to check out. The next pair of speakers for me were the Carver Amazing Loudspeakers (ribbons yada yada...). So yes I heard it for myself that the Meridian, NHT and Carvers sounded better. And I was finally free of the Bose speakers.

One thing positive I'll say about the Bose speakers I had. You could clearly hear "stereo everywhere". Seems like they used that line or something similar in their advertising. At least on that, they were telling the truth.

my new username's picture

The Peaches Records and Tapes location nearest me at several pairs of 901s hanging from the ceiling, run by a huge Phase Linear being fed from a nice Dual/Marantz front end. For those lucky enough to shop at one before all the profits got snorted (literally), you know Peaches favored huge buildings/converted grocery stores; they were our version of Tower Records in that way.

Best record store sound I experienced, but not something I'd want at home.

Years later during a stint at Circuit City Express (nee Impulse) we sold the excreable 301s, which I couldn't believe were still being offered. All those years of available Advents, Bostons, Paradigms (and more!) ... society had not advanced at all.

labjr's picture

Growing up in Massachusetts, there was Bose everywhere when I was in high school. I couldn't really afford them so I had speakers made by another local company, Advent.

I have several friends who worked at Bose in the 70's. Wasn't a bad place to work. My buddy's wife worked for them as a mechanical engineer in the late 90's. One of the finest engineers I know still works for them doing acoustic design.

Looking back from the perspective of a modern high end audio enthusiast isn't really fair. Wasn't the very best and still isn't but they're great at marketing. And they're still in business and still employing Americans. More we can say about virtually every other hi-fi or other high tech manufacturer that existed in the MA or USA back in the day.

BTW I've worked on a fair number of Bose products over the years. They seemed like very solidly built products. More so than most other audio equipment I've serviced. A lot of proprietary parts inside. However, their service department is pretty reasonable for replacement parts and modules last time I needed anything.

Steve Edwards's picture

But Richard Vandersteen has been and still is employing Americans since 1977

Rekkid's picture

Back in the mid 80's I went to a coworkers party and unbeknownst to me he had a pretty decent system including the 901's on stands exactly as pictured. Having heard of Bose and being a budding audiophile at the time I was anxious to have a good listen to them. He sat me down and put on some Led Zeppelin and within about a minute it was clear that they were wired out of phase! I kindly mentioned it to him and asked if I could wire them correctly and show him the difference. His response was "sure go ahead". I did so and had him listen again to the correct phasing. His response? "I can't hear a difference but if you say they're correct then OK". I just shook my head and asked for more volume and of course another cold one!! I'll say this, they sounded better the more the beer kept flowing!

DigitalIsDead's picture

My dad had a pair of 901s which ended up being loaned to me for a very short period of time. I didn't have great equipment but not bad for college kid who loved music and bought the best I could afford. Frankly, the 901s really didn't sound better than most of the very average speakers I and my friends had... I was expecting so much more...flash forward 25 years and my Sonus Fabers would utterly destroy them.

Mark UK's picture

Once upon a time we were at a big country show. The local TV company were there and had a raised 'dancing' stage(like a boxing ring :).

On two opposites sides there was a Bose 901, with it's flat front facing inwards. It was outdoors so they shouldn't work at all.


But I never got round to drive the 35 miles to the big Bose shop to try them myself.

Bu I have been temptd to very often.

YOU can figure it out. I can't, that's for sure.

Rudy's picture

I wrote this in a reply earlier in this discussion, but I have also seen Bose 901s with the eight drivers facing out to an audience. I can't recall what they sounded like, but the angles of the drivers made sense for wider sound coverage. I am curious to find out if they at one time had a professional sound division, or models. (Klipsch did at one point, as many others did over the years.)

Rudy's picture

The speaker you saw was most likely the Bose 802, which is a sound-reinforcement model with the eight speakers pointing out towards the audience, and no ninth speaker. They also came with an equalizer to add the missing frequencies, and (if I'm reading it correctly) notch out a cabinet resonance. The most recent model is the Panaray 802 Series IV, which no longer has the "jet ports" that some earlier 802s had.

TommyTunes's picture

That blew my mind. At the start if the Quad era I attended a demonstration of a Mac system hooked to four 901's playing Quad Moody Blues Reel tapes. As an 18 year old I was blown away. Still one of the most impressive demo's I ever attended.

Victor's picture

I bought a set of these thinking I would get good detail when transcribing music. They are so bad, I literally cannot hear certain notes. I would play the same tracks coming from an iPad speaker (!) and could hear the notes. What could be worse than a speaker that cannot produce the actual notes from a recording??

dimsengah's picture

The very first speakers I ever bought-in 1973-were the Bose 501's. I don't remember much about them except they were squat, square and end table high. I thought I was so sophisticated even though I knew 'squat' about audio. I don't remember them being bad though I don't remember them being good. I knew at some point I goofed.

storym's picture

Bought Bose 501 for$600 at Sounds Great in Greece,NY in 1986. Later heard moderately priced Paradigms that destroyed them and was hooked. Now own VPI Scout, buying vinyl.

storym's picture

Also thanks Mikey for your review of MF mvinyl pre amp which I also own.

EMichaels's picture

Back in the 70s the Bose 901s were the hot speaker to get. I had the 901 Series II driven with a Phase Linear 400. They were difficult to setup in my living room for the best sound and I wound up hanging them on chains from the ceiling much like the way hanging plants were done back then. I thought at the time the sound was great until I finally traded them in for a pair of Polk RTA-12s. I believe they were designed by Mathew Polk and Sandy Gross. I never bought Bose speakers again. I guess from that point on I was a Sandy Gross fan in that my speakers over the years have been Polks' then Definitive Technology and now Golden Ear Triton 1s. By the way the Bose 1801 250W per channel amp was very unstable and had many problems. I believe they did modify it after too many of the original models would blow outputs and speakers out as well.

Rudy's picture

It's funny you mention the unstable Bose amps. Some of those early Phase Linear amps were called Flame Linear, for self-explanatory reasons. ;)

AL447's picture

I blame it on Stereo Review magazine and that Hirsch guy: My first system (thank-u Army federal Credit union) had the 901 (first series), SAE electronics, with a Revox tape deck and a Thorens TD-125/Rabco SL8E/Shure V15 front end.

"Blame It On The Lampcord" is pre-zactly ex-cisely correct. However it wasn't just my 1971 system that was wired that way: I think that was also the wiring in my brain. After I'd owned that system for a year, I heard a familiar LP on a Dynaco/AR (Turntable and speakers) system, and though I was really impressed with what I heard, I still plodded along with the 901s.

Worse yet, after the local heroin addict chose my house to do his Christmas shopping I was left without the SAE amps and the 901 equalizer (apparently the addict had better taste in speakers) I bought a second set of 901s, stacked them atop the original 901s and jumpered the pairs together. Wow -- or not -- I now had twice the murk, bloat, and grunge, yet still had no Eureka moment.

Though I moved 'way up the ladder in terms of cables, my system did not otherwise change for 20 years -- the years when I actually had >14kHz hearing, but also in retrospect had <14 IQ points. Over the next 25 years I made big changes, and things got a lot better, but I still remember the quirks of the 901s, and they were not merely sonic:
1. Those speaker terminals: ARE YOU KIDDIN' ME? Dinky, flimsy, cheap, and not meant for anything but zipcord.
2. The Bose Active Equalizer: Ever look inside? Don't think Alps, Vishay, Darlington, or Sollen; think "hardware store".

So, OK, for a while I was changed into a newt, but I got better.

Hansonics's picture

I started working for Pacific Stereo in Glendale, California in November of 1978. When I moved to our Pasadena store I was surprised to find a pair of 901s hanging (via links of chain) from the ceiling of our "High end" room. I was a neophyte at the time and asked what that was all about. My manager Mike Jaffe proceeded to crank up an E. Power Biggs pipe organ "test" recording through a Phase Linear preamp and maybe a PL 600 or a Soundcraftsmen power amp, either of which were at least 250 WPC. I was amazed to see the 901s actually start to sway back and forth from the sheer movement of air caused by this gargantuan display of power! We sold many pairs of 901s using this method, but none of us felt too strongly about the sound quality we were hearing. Our "high end" speakers were primarily Altec Lansing Voice of the Theaters, JBL L-300s, Klipsch Cornwalls and Infinity Servostatics, so the 901s with their odd complement of nine midrange drivers (two facing forward and seven facing rearwards) with a rudimentary eq box were not taken very seriously, in spite of our success selling them. Over the years the joke among hi-fi salesman was "No highs, no lows, must be Bose!"

BillK's picture

I've got to say their QC-15 noise reducing headphones have been one of the best purchases for air travel I've ever made.

GabrielS's picture

Was always curious about these speakers. Heard many comments on them from bad to good but never auditioned a pair. Saw a pair of series iv's advertised on Ebay with a low starting bid so I thought I'd take a chance and see if I could obtain them at a cheap price. I won the pair including the metal stands for $100 plus shipping. They were in need of some cosmetic work and all the foam surrounds had disintegrated. After re-foaming the 18 little speakers (9 per cabinet) and some cabinet refinishing they were ready for auditioning using a Bose equalizer specifically for use with my series model. Without the equalizer turned on they sounded terrible, boomy with no real definition in the higher registers. Turning on the eq improved the sound substantially but the boost levels had to be extreme in order to have any sort of highs and midrange. Those little woofers were pouring their little hearts out, thumping away, as I increased the volume. Behind each of the speakers are two jet shaped ports where you could easily feel the air being moved during bass passages, kind of neat I thought. My conclusion to their overall big deal! I'm keeping them in my collection anyway more for posterity than any sonic attributes they might posses.

Rudy's picture

Funny you mention the extreme EQ: that is exactly how their car systems work. Dirt cheap paper cone drivers (without even a whizzer cone, IIRC), fed by power amps from some severe EQ to "flatten" their response. Had those in an Acura for a while, and that thing always sounded just plain weird when turned up. The only clever part was the 8" subwoofer mounted on the rear deck--they had developed a flat, pancake-style woofer that took up no trunk space whatsoever. I'm not sure how much power it could ever handle, but it's a moot point now since we lost that car in the floods last summer. I was not far away from replacing the head unit and speakers before that happened.

The "marketing" is what really works for Bose. Some noted the Bose system and were in awe of it; I told 'em it was total schidt. ;) In reality it did its job, but certainly was no great audio experience. Barely a step up from a base model radio/CD unit with cheap $3 Pioneer speakers on all corners.

klatuu's picture

I too was a Bose dealer in the early 80's. One of my clients was Dimitri Nabokov, a basso for the Palm Beach Opera Society. He listened to a variety of speakers, from DCM, JBL, Infinity, Polk and BES. He felt that the 601 S2 sounded more like him on stage than any of the others. Ya just never know.

GabrielS's picture

Was he that bad?

klatuu's picture

No, just shows how peoples experience colors their perception. If you had never heard live music, Bose would probably suffice, as you would have no point of reference.
I had a conversation with Roy Halee once and asked him how he got the natural sound of the Simon and Garfunkle recordings, and he replied that he listened to the masters on his home system,, at that time Infinity Betas and ARC gear to see what they would sound like in the real world rather than studio monitors.

J. S. Bach's picture

Just read this comment and nearly choked on my soda! Thank you for the morning up-lift.

M3 lover's picture

Piling on Bose is so much fun I just had to join the party.

Back in the early '70s some kid in the neighborhood decided stealing my Advent speakers and Marantz receiver was easier than looking for a job. I'd read Julian (every product sounds wonderful) Hirsch's review in Stereo Review so when a pair of 901s showed up in the local thrift paper for about a third of their price new (and possibly by the same kid who liberated my Advents) I bought them as replacements.

I'm not sure now, I might have kept them for 2-3 months. But very quickly I missed the clarity and musicality of the Advents and was frustrated that Joan Baez seemed to be the same size as the New York Philharmonic. So I sold them for what I paid and bought another pair of Advents.

About that time I discovered Stereophile and read J Gordon's review of the 901s, with quite a different finding than Mr. Hirsch's. Gordon mentioned the 11%/89% direct/reflected sound principle and then pointed out that nearly all current recordings already had some reverberation in the mix, making the Bose approach redundant. As I recall now he didn't find anything too likable about them.

So while a couple of experiences showed the 901s to be fair as party music speakers, with lots of people drinking, dancing, and demanding loud playback, for normal musical enjoyment they were a major failure for me. My exposure to Bose products since then has been limited but the little I've heard suggests one can find better for less money. But the Bose Corporation seems to spend far more on marketing than research so their general popularity is understandable. Just not for me.

GabrielS's picture

I believe my stacked Advents will clean the clock of the 901's. Presently the 901's are in the same room as my ESS AMT 1's, the Ess supersedes them by a long shot...and I picked those up at a local thrift shop for only $25 the pair complete with working Heil tweeters! Other speakers I own will also beat the pants off the 901's such as my Snell Type A's, Paradigm Studio Monitors and even my DCM Time Windows. Again, all purchased at local thrift stores for a song with some minor refurbishment. I keep those Bose more for reasons of being a novelty and that people refer to them perched on their metal stands as 'George Jetson Speakers' (remember the Jetson's on Saturday's cartoon lineup back in the 60's?).

jllaudio's picture

I have had a pair of 901VI's gathering dust for over 30 years. I tried to get my wife interested in them, but after the 1st 35 years of marriage she doesn't feel she has to enjoy all the things I do or did.

NoBigWoop's picture

A couple of commenters have asked about whether or not a pro/sound-reinforcement version of the 901 ever existed. It did, and I had occasion to experience it in use in 1975. It was being used by an acoustic duo called Peace River who were touring the Northeast US at that time. The shape was similar to the regular 901, but with a flat rather than curved face, and, yes, reversed, so the angled side faced forward (I wonder if it still had the single driver on the other face -- I doubt it). Construction appeared to be similar to other pro speakers/monitors -- thick MDF board covered with black vinyl, metal corner protectors, with the BOSE name plastered in white across the front, and a removable front cover to protect the drivers between gigs. They had bottom fixtures which enabled the use of tall professional speaker stands which got them well up in the air. This group drove them with a Bose amp that was similarly constructed inside a strong pro wood-with-black-vinyl case. I was able to pull up a pic of those speakers today by googling "Bose 901 Pro" and scrolling down through multiple pages of Images. You'll know them when you see them. I remember them sounding pretty good -- better than my Peavys anyway!

Rudy's picture

Yes, I was asking about the pro speakers, as I had seen them a few times. And, they were usually on those tall speakers stands, above the crowd. I wonder if those needed the EQ box as well. I didn't see a 901 PRO on eBay, but did see the similarly shaped 802.

NoBigWoop's picture

Following up on my post of a few minutes ago...
Googling "Bose 901 PA" and viewing Images provides more hits.
It appears that Bose offered at least a couple of different 901-ish PA/sound-reinforcement systems.

NoBigWoop's picture

Referring again to my previous posts (yesterday, 9/19/15):
The amp I mentioned appears to be the Bose 1802 Professional Power Amplifier. Google that to pull up some images. It was a rack-mount unit; the one I saw was mounted in a sturdy road-carry case. It must have been designed to go with the "backward-facing" Bose 901-ish PA speakers, whose actual model number appears to be 800. Google "Bose 800 PA Speakers" for more pics of those. I can only imagine the brainstorming (with chemical assistance, perhaps) that led to the release of that design. I wonder what Amar thought of those.
PS: Good article on him in 7/15/13 PopSci, free online.

Kent T's picture

A speaker I auditioned at home 6 times, with the amplifier needed to properly drive them. Never did they impress me at 9, 10, 12, and 13 years old. The Dynaco A 25 loudspeakers, the Dynakit Stereo 70, the Dynakit PAS-3x, the AR XA, and the HH ScottKit stayed every time. And the Advents in my other system partnered with various gear stayed. And 55 year old me still uses them. Which says something about the Bose 901 loudspeaker. My young trained ear found a lot wrong, and still hears the same shortcomings even at 55 years old. Being born preemie and multiply physically challenged means I can see through BS easily. And my ears still tell me if it sounds good today. Michael, we need to do some reviews for cartridges for Cerebral Palsied Stereophiles. Enjoy your commentary. P.S. Best station wagon I ever drove (but never owned) was a SAAB.

jahnghalt's picture

I would have loved to meet Dr. Bose and hand him that letter and amplifer ad.

My own Bose story involves Bose 301's. These were a fine improvement over the nasty "3-ways" I got as part of a receiver and turntable system in the summer of 1974. I later advertized them for sale at $150 along with a phono pickup for $50 (probably a lo-miles Shure M95ED - now that we're indulging in nostalgia.)

Coming home my mom handed me $50 - she'd sold the 301's to some disreputable liar.

So it goes.

Within a few years I'd spent outrageous money on the likes of (more nostalgia) Hafler DH-101, Rogers LS3/5a, Audionics CC2, Technics SL-1100A, Grace 707, Battery-powered Marcof Head Amp and Fidelity Research FR1-Mk3F (about $1,800 then - $7k-$8k in 2020 dollars)

All this while attending a private engineering college. I can (and did) quite forgive dear old mom for her "mistake".