The Bose 901 speaker

The Bose 901 loudspeaker is perhaps one of the most famous speakers in the world. What does Paul think about its performance and along the way we get treated to another story. Have a question you’d like Paul to answer? Go to http://www.psaudio.com/ask-paul/

Comments

skip campbell says:

if you had the equalizer it was fantastic !

Anders Hammer says:

A friend of mine who owned a stereo store told me of all the Bose speakers the 501 was the best sounding. I didn’t care for it. Someone once called me and asked me to listen to his Bose wave radio he just spent $900 on and I told him he could do better. I ended up selling him a much better sounding Rotel receiver with B&W speakers and a Rotel CDplayer for $1000. I worked at a stereo store then. He was happy.

Grant Richards says:

As a former stereo salesman and currently a low-volt contractor (Voice, data, audio, video) I’ve learned that it’s OK for people to buy what they like regardless of how much I dislike it. Back in the early ’80s I sold speakers from Altec, AR, Advent, Cerwin Vega, Pioneer, etc. At the time, the Advent was the most accurate speaker we sold. The Cerwin Vegas were the least accurate. A lot of young people came in and bought the Cerwin Vegas. It didn’t take me long to figure out that many customers don’t want accurate sound. They want loud or they want cheap or they just have different tastes. The Cerwin Vegas were more efficient so they didn’t need as big an amp. Being a salesman, my job wasn’t to talk them out buying what I liked, it was to sell them what they wanted. I’m not a Bose fan but some of their commercial gear is OK. Expensive and non-standard, but OK.

Larry May says:

Bud !

John Deich says:

The 601’s were a much better speaker.

Tim Fuller says:

Disclosure: I sold them. Full disclosure: Yuppie dreck. #hoboheretic Enjoy.

Doodle Master says:

What’s a brick wall got to do with being married or not?

Sven Schwingel says:

No BOSE for me. I’m a diehard two channel high-power amplifier and floorstanding speaker kind of guy. You’d actually be amazed at the value and sound quality you can get for a fraction of a BOSE pricetag just by taking some time for reasearch and listening tests.

wooo weee says:

I’ve read about how much trouble they are to restore, rotted out suspensions which wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many speakers.

Bruce B says:

I’ve only heard one set of 901’s that I could tolerate at higher SPL levels, and it’s been a long time ago. I have heard many Bose speakers through the years and this was the ONLY better than average experience I ever had with them. I recall a lot of people were impressed by the “un-blowable” marketing, the owner of this system included. They were driven by a couple of huge Denon mono blocks and had a separate subwoofer & amp. Like others have said, Bose speakers always sounded like shit to me, impossible to set up ( shitty products usually are) and way overpriced. I have to mention that this system was in a fairly large room and the music got lost at lower listening levels. I was blown away by this system but I never expected this experience to be repeated, maybe he was lucky or perhaps they were modified. He did a lot of mods to very expensive brand new equipment that used to give me a pucker factor of 11.

Ant T says:

Fair comments, we had a set of early 901s’ when I was a kid and they were in a big room, they could fill the space well and I remember them playing big orchestral stuff fondly, Dad liked classical music and he put in a bit of effort to set them up and they did the job better than most of the common gear around at the time. yep it did sound like you were in a hall with the music around you.
They could go loud enough to make your ears bleed and your description of why they need a big amplifier explains why they seemed to be able to take as much power as you could feed them.
I remember they could be fatiguing with some music, harsh highs and funny I reckon based on my listening now I wouldn’t like them for that reason; and because I prefer an accurate sound stage which they didn’t do.

Roger VANLEEUWEN says:

I get very go low end on my 901’s. If it setup right.

TheFsandt says:

Dear Paul
I enjoyed you video of the Bose 901 and I have to tell you that I still have them for several years without getting borred of them.
Every day I am surprised of their delicate sound and performance.
And believe me, formerly I build with many succes a pair ofTransmission Lines ( Like the Rogers Monitors), which I had also for many years. But allways there is the WAF (Wife’s acceptance factor) and my TL’s had to go. In stead of them I bought 11 years ago a pair of 2nd hand 901’s serie IV.
And nowadays I am very competent with those old timers. BTW, I am 63 now and my hearing is also on the return, so that could be the reason why those 901 still play satisfactory for me. But they play all kind of music very well. Only what is needed is the place where to put them, but once placed in a proper way, they never disapointed me. I only had to refoam the speakers once.
And ofcourse there are pro’s and cons about the Bose 901 direct reflecting system, but with all respect, some audiophils forget to listen to the music, they listen only technically. Sit back and enjoy…
Kind regards,
Frank from the Netherlands

Frank Winkhorst says:

BAA: Beer augmented audio.

The Rolling Troll says:

Short answer; It’s the least bad Bose did, but it’s not worth whatever people pay for it these days. And they somehow gave Bose an image it didn’t deserve of making really good sounding speakers.
They also may be the only brand who made inefficient full range units :D.
the 901 are pleasant to listen to, but easily outperformed by affordable (sub-250 dollar) modern speakers.

Love the story. Typical Bose buyers, eh? 😉

room-ten-oh-nine ! says:

A friend of mine, that came into a was of money, asked me to help him put together a system for him. I took him to all my equipment haunts. We shopped around for a good starter system for him. I got him an Adcom amp GFA555 and matching GFP preamp. Linn Sondek turntable and Nakamici tape deck. But he didn’t want to spend the money on the speakers I suggested, either ARs or Mission. He wanted to go to this electronic expo they had. This salesman shows him those damn 901s. I said NOOOOO! The sales dude brushed me off. Had these speakers in an empty room with a sweet spot for a chair. My friend ended up getting TWO pairs! Then had to buy a second GFA 555! We took them to his house, set them up and moved around for a week. Never did sound worth a damn. He ended up using them as night stands, and buying a pair of Mission 770 Freedoms.

karlsonkab51 says:

here’s outdoor graphs of my 901 Series I (no eq) plus graph of the EQ box alone. At first I sat the 901 on a barrel in the middle of my yard then took ~ on axis of the front driver – then rotated the speaker so the 8 driver array faced the mic. Then moved the speaker near my house wall to get something more like what would happen in a room with the speaker’s rear within 20 inches of a rear wall. Its a pleasant enough speaker. At least Series I had cloth surrounds ;^)

http://i.imgur.com/aI4I8rh.gif
http://i.imgur.com/qM1gMHd.gif
http://i.imgur.com/PFr89H5.gif

Lonnie Dobbins III says:

I never liked BOSE products. Besides I was making my own speaker cabinets. Sitll do.

5argeTech / says:

the Bose 201 direct reflecting were the best ones they made! Pair them with a good Sub-woofer and you got a Fantastic 2.1 system…..

UltraNuggz says:

And in comes Dolby Atmos reflecting speakers, the same shammed selling scheme.

Steven Dallman says:

We used some 801’s for PA back in the day. I still have the equalizer. I ran the eq through a real time analyzer to see what it was doing a few years ago, and the result was a shallow smile, with a gentle curve up at the very low end and high end…no more than a 6dB increase. Just a rather gentle push in the low bass and treble. Nothing esoteric, extreme or complicated.

Truc Do says:

i watched lots of video from your channel ,this one is my favourite -)))))

Frank Winkhorst says:

The Bozo 901.

Joe Duke says:

I almost bought Bose 901 in the 70’s because the hype of ambient reflections… horrible, I ended up with ESS AMT HEIL Transformer towers, quad Amplified… I still run them, they’re amazing. Bose had a better name, ESS the far superior product.

Jaime says:

First listened to the 901 in an audio shop in Buckhead, Atlantain 1977. I just nodded – god – awful speakers. Then I went to another room with Audionics from Oregon electronics, Thorens turntable and Harbeth speakers and damnnnnn, good sound!

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