Thursday, February 24, 2011

BOSE 901 Update.

I can tell you after an hour of listening that these are not junk, and deserve serious attention and evaluation. My original (series 1) 901s are very well built, with excellent plywood cabinet construction. They pass the knuckle test solidly. All 18 drivers are good, with no deterioration in the original treated cloth surrounds, and are well sealed with putty. Eight 5 inch drivers per side generate a lot of internal air pressure, and the cabinets are up to the stress. There are no crossover caps to deteriorate, because there are no crossovers!

The speakers are not intended to be used without a purpose built equalizer box, which I do not have. I obtained frequency response curves for the series 1 equalizer easily on the internet (including the curve from the BOSE Corporation's patent), and set the curve and saved it as a custom equalization setting in itunes for my initial listening. The curve is extreme, up 12 db at 30 hz, so a powerful amp is a necessity, and the Adcom GFA-1, at 200 watts/channel, fills the bill nicely.

The sound? I listened for a few minutes without the eqaulizer, and as expected, it sounded all wrong, ok in the mids, totally weak everywhere else, just what you'd imagine from looking at the eq curve. With the correct equalization, it sounds tonally right. It's a big, beefy presentation, with good bass and clear tonality, but also different from just about anything else I've ever heard. That's not surprising, considering that 8 of the 9 drivers in each speaker are aimed backwards. I need to experiment with placement, because there is a slight reverberation (duh), that makes the sound seam huge, but is also the main reason it sounds unlike anything else. I understand why many love it, and also why some can't stand it.

The many different ways that so many talented engineering minds have attacked speaker design (planar, dynamic, full range, transmission line, sealed, ported, infinite baffle and numerous hybrids to name some), are what make this obsession of ours so much fun. Never mind the overpriced crap the the Bose Corporation has produced. This was a ear opening design when it was introduced in 1968, and it still is.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you please briefly explain why (or rather what) Bose has come out with that is "overpriced crap"? Note: I'm not looking for the obvious "to increase profits argument". I am curious as to how and more importantly why the company has lost their focus. Change of company leadership? Have other speaker companies simply surpassed them? etc...

bloggerfreak said...

Bose 901 speakers are really good. Read how to install bose 901 equalizer

Blirving said...

Just about everything they have sold since the seventies EXCEPT the 901 and the 501. The Acousti-mass series is especially crappy - cheap drivers, cheap cabinetry, high priced and mediocre sound. Somewhere in the eighties, Bose kind of split into three divisions. One made over-hyped high-profile high-margin products for a mass market, to be sold through high-volume big-box stores. Another made speakers for the professional/sound reinforcement market. And then there were the higher-quality "serious" products like the one that made them famous, the 901. Bose 901's properly set up sound very impressive, especially with classical music. But it's amazing to me how many people base their opinion about the 901 upon hearing a pair without the equalizer installed! These are the folks who coined the slogan, "No highs, no lows, must be Bose." Dr. Bose based the 901 design on acoustical theory that remains controversial, but properly set up, they sound tight and well-balanced, and their construction is top-shelf.

Anonymous said...

The "crap" comment is just plain not true. EVERY company produces some very lousy products, including Sony and any other big name out there.

The 701's are absolutely gorgeous, and do not present the critical placement issues that the 901's involve. Nor do they need the equalizer, which presents connection problems since not everyone's amp easily connects such a thing these days. (The 901's otherwise remain one of the most incredible-sounding speakers, under the right circumstances, ever built, no matter what the detractors say.)

Bose's noise-cancelling headphones are among the best on the market, even their little earbud NC version.