Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1   Report Post  
New Account
Posts: n/a
Default Bose 901 Review

No Highs, No Lows, must be Bose has remained true
since 1968. No imaging either. Great to demonstrate
doppler effect though.

Bose did keep after Consumer Reports in the courts all
the way to the Supreme Court for 14 years a bad review.

For some reason they did not go after J. Gordon Holt for
his not so flattering review in Stereophile.

"Peter Sammon" wrote in message

In 1968, I took an old Philco record player and turned it into my first
hifi record player by installing a Shure M3D stereo magnetic phono
cartridge and then adding a preamp and low powered amp and sealing the
entire deal by building these gigantic enclosures for a pair of Jensen
cone 8" speakers that cost a grand total of $20/Pr. This was my
introduction to stereo hifi and a new audionut had been born!

This was also the year that the now famous Bose 901 DIRECT/REFLECTING
speaker system graced the audio world with a courageous unorthodox
Had it not been for Dr. Amar Bose and this speaker, who would have caused
so many speaker designers to even give stereo imaging the slightest

Believe it or not, I wasn't even aware of the design at that time. In
it wasn't until 1972 when I was stationed in Alaska for the USAF that I
took to picking up a few stereo magazines including CONSUMER GUIDE and
STEREO REVIEW and then ventured into the local hifi shop in Fairbanks
my first encounter with the 901 took place.

When the salesman put on an album by a band called Chase, The 901's that
were suspended from the ceiling immediately shook the room and the
was awesome! Stereo everywhere yet I could distinctly identify each
trumpet, guitar, percussion and voices with better separation than I had
ever experienced! The amplifier driving the speakers at the time was none
other than Bob Carver's creation...the Phase Linear 700. The love affair
had begun and I purchased my first set of Bose 901's.

In 1983 I upgraded to SERIES V and just recently to SERIES VI...the
of this review. It is a solidly well built speaker system throughout!

The Bose 901 SERIES VI features a 21" x 12" x 13" cabinet with curved
fronts and two angled panels in the rear. The two angled panels each
contain four 4 1/2" drivers while one single driver is placed toward the
center of the front panel.

Thus the reason for the model #...9 drivers total with 1 in front. The
design is appropriately designated as direct/reflecting with 89% of the
sound projected from the rear and the remaining 11% coming out of the
front. This proportion was the finding of Dr. Bose's MIT team when
various halls where LIVE PERFORMANCES were featured.

The impedence is a solid 8 ohms across the musical spectrum and should
prove to be a most stable load for whatever amplifier one chooses but
choose wisely as this speaker is extremely picky about what drives it and
I'm not referring to just power alone! It is quite conceivable that a
50 watt amp could sound better with the 901's than a competitive 200 watt

The small drivers themselves boast heavy magnets and high quality voice
coils as they must move an enormous amount of air. The multi chambered
ACOUSTIC MATRIX enclosure vents the speaker in a most unusual way with
speeds exceeding 60 mph! Three ports or jets protrude through the rear of
the 901 enclosure.

Because of the use of small full range drivers, an active equalizer which
is absolutely essential to the system is used in place of the normal
CROSSOVERS that introduce distortion no matter how well engineered. The
EQ simply smooths out any bumps or irregularities in the system's power

FREQUENCY RESPONSE specs are not ever offered by Bose because one of the
founding principles was that they offer little or no value to the
audiophile! Bose simply observed that great specs certainly did not
coincide with equally great performance.

The OWNER'S MANUAL is quite extensive and written in several languages.
also gives special instructions for mounting the 901's on pedestals or
hanging them from ceilings.

The speakers are rated to handle amplifiers of 10 to 450 watts of clean
power but do not induce amplifier clipping as this will kill any speaker
regardless of the rating or how well it is made! DYNAMIC RANGE is rated
106db...well above the 90db capability of the best digital sources!

The two finishes that are available are black ash and light walnut. I
the light walnut for mine with dark brown indestructible grills that are
absolutely seductive looking!
Optional PS6 pedestals are available. Pedestals are also offered by
and you could save some money but make sure they support your 901's
properly. Two foot high end tables offer a sturdy and childproof support
the speakers also.

The bottom of each 901 speaker reveals a circular cutaway that surrounds
the two heavy duty knurled nut speaker terminals that hold speaker wire
like no other arrangement I know of. It is very secure and should make
a lifetime of good connection to quality OFC speaker wire. This wire is
available from Kimber Kable and AR but for my money MIRASONIC.COM has the
best stuff at super low prices that can truly make an audible difference.
There is no substitute for controlled well defined bass and clear mids
highs. Good wire can accomplish that! It's been proven.

After patching the 901 EQ into my TAPE MONITOR circuit on my humble
Parasound integrated amplifier with the supplied patch chords and then
carefully setting up the speakers in my living room I was able to listen
my vast collection of CD's into the wee hours of the morning night after
night as I simply could not get enough of the beautiful sound the
project! A new TAPE MONITOR is provided on the EQ to replace your old
Adjust the MID BASS and MID TREBLE slider controls moderately for room
source compensation.



SERIES I and II...ACOUSTIC SUSPENSION design from 1968-1976
SERIES III and IV...ACOUSTIC MATRIX design from 1976-1983
SERIES V and VI...ACOUSTIC MATRIX design from 1983-Present day

Do not deviate from these guidelines as 901's are available in used
condition over the internet. Undoubtedly as you read this review, someone
is selling a SERIES IV 901 with a SERIES VI EQ or a SERIES II EQ with a
SERIES III speaker and will result in total dissatisfaction with the
product on the buyer's end.

Also beware of the phony 901 look alike LDL 749 speakers that were
manufactured from 1970 to 1974 without EQ's but did not equal the 901
quality sound. I almost purchased one of these systems back then but
thankfully did not but beware as they can easily be peddled as 901's.
do resemble the Bose to a great degree. I think someone from the original
Bose/MIT group jumped ship to make these imposters.

As for the subject of speaker placement I can only suggest that you
experiment a bit and rid yourself of any normal distance you would keep
between conventional LEFT and RIGHT STEREO speakers as the 901 is
but conventional itself! I really do believe that the LOVE and HATE stems
from the fact that the 901 sound can change drastically in the lower
frequencies when not setup properly! Alas, I have found the 901's to
best on 18" high pedestals and out 18" from the REAR wall along the SHORT
wall of my listening room as compared to the LONGER wall. I think this is
better than hanging the speakers from the ceiling where the bass tends to
get lost. Experiment...experiment...this is the key!

Because of the angled rear panels, the "middle sound" will be quite
and stable eliminating the typical "sweet spot" rules. You can separate
these speakers miles apart from each other and in fact should do so
reason to get great stereo separation!

By doing so, you'll not only widen the fantastic soundstage but also
eliminate any possibility of losing left and right channel detail. Don't
worry, you will not have a "hole in the middle" effect. This way also
you to move the 901's closer to the adjacent walls. Just keep the wall
behind the speakers relatively free of drapes and teddy bears.

Hanging the 901's from ceilings more than ten feet from the ground is not
recommended as the sound may get obscured a bit and imaging along with
bass lost. In other words, if you have a ceiling like the Sistine Chapel,
forget it!

The sound of the 901 SERIES VI is really special and downright seductive!
Regardless of the many genres of music that have been played thru my
the SOUNDSTAGING is such that never have I experienced a wider higher
portrayal of various performances with equally impressive depth! You can
literally point to every instrument in the orchestra or follow a soloist
he or she moves about the stage in front of you [e.g. Tony Clarke-"The
Entertainer" as he as he moves to and fro banging his's
really something to behold!]

The break-in period for the 901-VI went very nicely with the drivers
seated after six months. Be careful not to push them too hard at first
do not introduce amplifier clipping. By the way, this break-in period
applies to owners of older 901 models that have had their foam surrounds
replaced [Simply Speakers on EBAY has a wondertful kit for under $50].

I love it when people say that the 901's can't go deep. Just checkout the
opening low pedal note in the movie "2001-A Space Oddysey" and see if it
doesn't rattle every window and loose floor board in the house! Or
Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" at the four minute mark. Just MIDRANGE
speakers, huh? No, what's happening is that the ACOUSTIC MATRIX enclosure
is moving huge amounts of air! That's what gives you bass...not just the
physical size of the driver. Why do you think many top notch speaker
systems like Win Burhoe's SILENT SPEAKERS or the Spendors use such small
drivers and are still able to produce such deep notes? It's because the
cabinets have special sophisticated chambers that create significant air
speeds. Also the drivers have powerful motors in their voice coil and
magnet assemblies.

All other systems seem to be fat sounding in the bass...even the biggest
most expensive ones! Forget about subwoofering the 901 as it is not
necessary in the right room! Put your wallet away and be happy with the
fact that you own a fantastic 40Hz gut puncher!

Telarc's CD of "Carmina Burana" is so dynamic with the voices and
bringing forth massive but clear emotional sound thru the 901's. Midrange
and high notes are crystal clear thru the speakers when they are truly
present. That brings me to another point...that the 901's only reproduce
what's in the recording itself and very little of anything else! BUT YOU

The EQ is silent with no perceived extraneous noise. The only noise that
will be revealed is amplifier hiss or such sound in an analog mastered
recording. Some digital recordings even have modulation noise and you
recognize such flawed CD's immediately!

The speaker has an uncanny ability to reveal eveything! Beware as this is
certainly a double edged sword for the Bose. I have one CD of Barry
Greatest Hits that on the song..."You're The First, The Last, My
Everything" where this older recording used a poor microphone for Barry's
voice that can sound downright harsh! Yet the orchestra behind him is
nicely portrayed. You will certainly stay up late the first night
out all of your library to see what's good and what isn't.

I'm not kidding when I tell you that the 901 can distinguish between a
MIC or a bad one. You can even hear "poof!" sounds from microphones that
were not properly screened and windproofed! Just listen to a variety of
radio broadcasts or checkout the "Buddy Holly Collection" CD of
recordings and listen for yourself.

That is how revealing the 901 is. I dare say that many of you will not
the speaker because of this very fact. The quality of your amplifier and
player will also be unveiled for whatever it is. Use good quality power
the 901 likes heaps of it! Yes, it can play quite loudly but sounds
wonderful at a whisper.

That high current Onkyo/Integra stereo only receiver should be wonderful
with the 901's! I'm not so sure about some other massed produced brands.
Certainly super audiophile expensive MONO BLOCKS will be at their best

If you listen to JAZZ 88 in the Newark, NJ area you will hear non smeared
percussion and wonderful vocalists with plenty of plucked basses and
sweet highs all naturally portrayed thru the 901's. The cymbals are so
natural! TRANSIENT RESPONSE is exemplary! I love the fact that I can hear
kickdrum change tone or every subtlety and overtone on various recorded
music. The simple striking of a trianglular bell can raise the hairs on

Accuracy of musical timbre is important and with the Bose you get plenty
it. You haven't heard the Beatles until you've heard "Sgt Peppers" played
thru the Bose 901! There is a rather nice CD entitled "Atmospheres-Celtic
Voices" featuring ambient waterfall sounds along with various seductive
strings, tom toms, woodwinds and basses. This Irish music CD is worth
seeking out as it reveals changes in the stringed bass's tones and
subtleties that can be a very useful tool for speaker evaluation! You can
probably pick it up for around $8 or less! The 901 sounds wonderful with
this recording!

But don't just take my word for it...listen for yourself! You may or may
not agree. That is how controversial this speaker is! Speaker auditioning
should be fun and pleasant so don't let snotty proprietors and extremely
opinionated sales people stand in your way. Some of the hatred stems from
the fact that Bose seems to pursuit competitors in court quite often and
also even went after a negative reviewer...and that's not right. We are
free to print how we feel about a product and should have no fear of

But as a maker of great speakers I think Bose does very well indeed and
their customer support is unbelievable! I have had some nice chats with
both Bose field and customer service reps.

Look, my feeling is that a truly great speaker can involve you in the
performance so well as to summon all your emotions as I have felt many
tears in my eyes when listening to beautiful music thru the speakers.
Telarc's "Rite Of Spring" has a tympani gut puncher at around the ten
minute mark that can make your heart jump out and if you hold a tissue
one of the 901's ports it will fly out of your hand! Yet the orchestra
sounds so sweet as to make you cry or stand up and exclaim...BRAVO!
does on CBS MASTERWORKS' "Nutcracker" w/Michael Tilson Thomas conducting
the New Phiharmonia Orch.

There are many bigger more expensive models costing well over $5000 a
but I don't really consider some of these Gigantors to be appropriate for
the average listening room. We don't have auditoriums for listening areas
do we?

Well the 901's have served me well in some of my rooms over the past
years and can sound great in rooms big or small if the acoustics are
correct for them. If your listening room is smaller than average and full
of curtains then look elsewhere for your special transducer. In larger
rooms with solid walls or undraped windows the Bose 901 SERIES VI will be
at its best! The fact that their current price is still within reason for
such great performance at $1500 is a credit to Bose. The USA engineered
speaker is now being crafted in Canada which lays claim to such fine
outfits like Mirage, PSB and Paradigm.

Although the system is not always setup properly in malls and generally
available through high end dealers, don't let that fact stop you from
seeking the speaker out. My advice is to find someone locally who owns a
SERIES III thru VI system and ask for an audition in the home where they
reside. There is simply no substitute for auditioning the 901's in an
actual home! You can also go online at BOSE.COM to place an order and use
12 month payment plan that makes it so much easier on your pocketbook.

A Special Note To 901 Owners And Perspective Buyers:
Do not be discouraged or put off by those who feel this speaker system is
overrated or hyped up. Trust your own ears! No amount of poetic flowery
descriptive double talk can truly make a given speaker system sound
Neither can impressive manufacturer's specifications! Listen for

Compare the speakers to the best of the best like the B&W NAUTILUS 801's
and 802's but also the biggest most expensive Tannoys, Martin Logans,
Definitives, JBL's, Allisons, Bostons, Polks, Legacy's or any other brand
you can think of as I have and see if you agree with my findings. Isn't
most interesting that some of these lovely sounding models cost up to ten
times the price of the 901 or more! I did compare my Bose to these
speakers! While I did so, the high end salesman tried to tell me what was
wrong with them [like most of us audiophiles he was very opinionated]! I
simply smiled as my 901's outperformed these great speakers on every
CD used for this audition!

What a great audition but the salesman knew he had lost his battle! Who
needs someone telling us what we should be hearing while auditioning
speakers or any piece of audio gear? It is our decision. We know what to
listen for! Just beware of this little trick when you decide to bring a
system into a high end store. They don't like Bose!

This silliness began in 1971 when J Gordon Holt gave the original Bose
a somewhat negative review. He did however bring up some good points but
was off the mark on the 901's sounding "fat" in the bass as they are
anything but that! However, the battle lines were drawn. This review
sparked the "Love/Hate" of the Bose 901 speaker system and you can link
the entire review from my profile page. Just so you have an idea of where
Mr. Holt is at...he loves the sound of the B&W 801. I thought that this
rather ironic as this model [although great] has been tagged by myself
others as a bit overwhelming and "fat sounding" in the bass acoustics like it or not will affect various
speaker models more than we sometimes are willing to admit!

With the proper amplifier and room your reaction may very well be like
this..."I may be living in a different world from everyone else but if
so...DO NOT wake me up! I'm having too much fun listening to music the
it was meant to be heard with this heavenly speaker!" With the wrong amp
and improper room you will probably feel that you've been ripped off and
Bose is full of nothing but hype.

I recommend the speakers highly with the condition that you fully
them in the right situation but be aware of the fact that many of you
find yourselves wondering why you even bothered to give the beasts a
listen! For those of you in this situation I highly recommend the
Vandersteen 1C speakers at a slightly lower price. The Vandersteens are
wonderful sounding in just about any room you can think of and are
available at fine high end stores like John Rutan's Audio Connection of
Verona, NJ [see the link on my profile page].

Bose states that the 901-VI was engineered by passionate music lovers.
fact is so highly obvious once you give the speaker a listen in an
appropriate setup [and the Bose Store may very well not be the best!]. It
seems like no other speaker system delivers powerful accuracy quite like
this one!

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules

Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Bose 901 Review William Sommerwerck General 149 January 8th 05 05:49 PM
The Art of Bose Bashing and Amar's Supposed Descent into Mediocrity Wylie Williams General 3 September 27th 04 03:16 AM
The Art of Bose Bashing and Amar's Supposed Descent into Mediocrity Robby Marketplace 0 August 22nd 04 07:13 AM
Bose 901 Review William Sommerwerck Vacuum Tubes 5 February 8th 04 03:35 AM
Bose 901 Review Mark Vacuum Tubes 2 February 6th 04 02:20 AM

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:44 AM.

Powered by: vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2023, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2023
The comments are property of their posters.

About Us

"It's about Audio and hi-fi"