Bose 901


I spent a weekend away listening to these .

What a Moronic review.


http://noaudiophile.com/Bose_901/

ishkabibil
Kudos for attempting to EQ what would be extremely difficult speakers to EQ at all, given the nature of the deliberate time smear in them.
Back in the 60/70's, my audiophile cousin had a pair of Bose 901s. We were both new to the hobby, but I did enjoy hearing how the speakers spread the sound to give the impression of much bigger speakers. The EQ box was obviously a contributing factor.
I have installed many pairs of these ( the 901 came in series 1 thru 6 throughout it's time ) in my early days of audio, and owned a pair, connected to a modified GAS Ampzilla amplifier. I suspended them from the ceiling, in all cases ( inverted, as the connections faced upwards and the holes for the eye hooks were pre-drilled). Based on the listeners seating distance from them, and the room size, determined how far we hung them from the rear wall. I was invited to a BOSE presentation for members in the industry ( at a forgotten hotel in Manhattan ), and during this presentation, they took a pair of bare electrical wire ( similar to what you would find on a coffee maker ) with an ac plug on one end, connected and plugged the 901’s into the ac outlet. They left the 901’s plugged in for 1 minute, with a sound, I will never forget. Afterwards, they connected them back up to the Crown amp they had on hand, playing music, and they played fine. This was to demonstrate, the durability of the voice coils, the drivers, and, the use of no crossovers. Passed ! Anyway, as no speaker is perfect, I have to say, they did do some amazing things, particularly, their power output, and their huge stage presentation. With a flat, bare wall behind them, they were fun. Enjoy ! MrD.
Bose 901: the first speaker so inefficient they had to invent a 350 watt amp to drive it.
I agree it is a moronic review.How are they ever going to sound any good with that sort of placement?They need to be a placed against a long wall away from corners  with nothing in between them and distance out from the wall is critical.If you position them properly they actually image OK.In absolute terms they are not very good but they have their strengths and should be enjoyed for what they do well which is scale,dynamics and the ability to make quite poor recordings sound enjoyable.In that regard they are like the ultimate anti-audiophile speaker.

they could rattle windows with a 55 wpc realistic receiver driving them. properly set up bass was killer but probably didn’t get much above 7k on the top end. fun speakers when you consider the competition at the price was Cerwyn vega and other huge boxes, not true hi end speakers they had a place.
I wonder whether Danny Richie could squeeze some life out of them
@millercarbon............

Were they successful?
Sure @tweak1, by selling them and putting the proceeds into a GR Research loudspeaker kit. ;-)
My dad had 901's for a while, connected to a Marantz receiver. This was before the days that sound-staging became such a critical issue for stereo nuts, and the spacious sound that emanated from them was revelatory for this teen-aged audiophile.  It didn't hurt that the rig could really blast.
In the early 80's while stationed in Germany, I purchased a pair of original 901's with the EQ and chrome stands.  At the time, my system consisted of a Pioneer SPEC-4 power amp, SoundCraftsman SP-4001 EQ/pre amp, Technics SL-1600MK2 TT, Pioneer PL-1000 TT, dbx3bx range expander, dbx224 noise reduction unit, Teac X-10R R2R, and Rodec mixer.  I thought the 901's sounded great, especially when playing my R2R.  

As a side note, I still have all of my 80's gear, except the 901's and Pioneer TT.  I gave the 901's, EQ, and stands; a modern receiver; and a Raspberry PI DAC to my goddaughter as a birthday present.  My current Tannoy speakers blow them away, but back in the 80's and 90's, I was in stereo heaven.
The 901's certainly didn't need 350 watts to drive them. I always thought Bose is overpriced/mediocre equipment. Still do. Years ago, just being curious, I purchased a used pair of Series 3 with stands and EQ. I discovered that the foam surrounds were completely deteriorated and replaced them with new surrounds. I just wanted to see how good these speakers were since their retail price (new) was so high at the time.
For a short time I listened to the speakers with my 12 band EQ connected. I thought the dinky little Bose EQ couldn't come close to my much superior EQ. One day I connected the Bose EQ and the difference was night and day. The Bose EQ is a VERY important part of the 901 sound and using them without it is a waste of time. Of course, taking these speakers seriously is a waste of time. Equipment far superior to Bose at a fraction of their cost is plentiful.


I had a pair of the more conventional 501’s but lusted after the 901’s.
We’ve come a long way baby!
The Series I (“9 Rave Reviews!!”) were just getting the Bose propaganda machine warmed up.  Series II are the ones to look for. They had the drivers custom made, not off the shelf as in S I.  Yes they needed power because of the steep bass boost.  To make them more commercially viable Series III brought in the use of injection molded plastic cabinets and vented loading, and entirely different EQ shape. They were no longer remotely interesting and have remained so, IMO. 
@millercarbon............

Were they successful?


So you really don’t know then? Okay.

The Bose 901 was introduced in 1968. Back then we didn’t have anything like the standards we do today. Nowadays when someone says however many watts we know (or being audiophiles at any rate we should know) it means not instantaneous peak watts but continuous RMS watts and not only that but it was measured after a prescribed warm up period and not only that but had to be able to put out the measured watts for an extended period of time. All this we take for granted today.

None of this we had back in the 60’s. What we had back then was all kinds of power claims, which if measured at all were mere brief pulses, whatever they could do to get a big number, because then as now the average audiophool was easily misled by numbers.

I’m spending all this time painting a picture because today we look at something like a 6 watt triode like its nothing when back in the 50’s and 60’s that was big, big power. Serious power. Even today, with K-horns it will blow your mind.

Bose however did not have Paul Klipsch. They had whoever it was thought it would be a good idea to throw sound up against a wall and see what sticks, er I mean bounces back. They had just about the most inefficient loudspeaker ever made. And yes I know about the German robot thing, that’s why I said just about.

So Bose had this hopelessly inefficient speaker and it was all they had and so in order to make the 901 not quite so hopelessly lame they made this awesome 350 WPC amp and went on tour around the country, which is where I came in. Because one day the traveling Bose show made it all the way to Puyallup High in Puyallup, Washington and we got out of class and had our little minds blown by this guy playing music in our concert hall and it was really good and really loud. For back then anyway. Nothing back then rates today, except maybe the girls, but even they are hotter now too so nevermind.

Now Bose may have been dumb enough to make speakers bounce sound off walls but the guy they sent on the road was smart enough to know to point the 8 out into the audience. And to put the amp on stage. Which me and my audio pal Doug then drove to Tacoma to see close up. 350 watts! Per channel!

Silly idea. Dumbest thing you can do, make a speaker so inefficient. Second dumbest, make an amp that powerful. But yeah. They did.

Were they successful? Well, do you see them making that amp today? Hard even to find any record of it. So after all that I would be inclined to say, no. But at least now you know where I was coming from.

Thought they sounded good.
would I buy them, no, but they were a descent speaker.
i have my bose 901 series 2 that i bought back in the good old days. back then they were advertized as 'cadillac quality' in a volkswagon' space! they were said to need at least 100 watts per chanel because the 'eq' demanded 'power'!!! today bose is called ' no highs ,no lows must be bose'! that may be true but i still have my 4 901's series 2 powered by a mcintosh 600 watt per chanell amp that makes these speakers 'scream'!!!
The most hilarious experience ever in my shop when I tried them.  We laughed so hard I still remember it.

Successful?  Sure, at marketing and taking out really "cool" ads.  These were the days of Hugh Hefner's TV show where pipes, smoking jackets, jazz on the stereo, and scantily-clad ladies discussing Heidegger and the politics of sex were successful, too.

It was a period in time where the company, which continues its ways, presented itself as based on total science--I think they had guys in white coats in some of their print ads--to cover the ridiculous products they tried to sell.

Never has there been a worse-sounding speaker MASQUERADING as a great scientific achievement.  Well, I take that back.  Some of today's charlatans charge infinitely more for their hoo-doo, and they get it just like bose did back then. 

Evidently, some of their stuff is once again popular for some reason.  I would not waste any of my time seeking to hear anything they made back then or today. 

But hey, have at it if you wish.  The world is a big place full of many people.

Cheers--and still laughing!
Ahhhhhh, the no highs no lows, Bose.  Always thought they would make the worlds best midrange speaker, add a Heil tweeter and subwoofer to complete the system.  However, in 1978 or so a friend and I went to an old fashioned audio salon in Tempe AZ.  It was a free Bose 901 demo.  The sound room was dead quiet, carpets, drapes, thick cloth couches and comfortable chairs.  All of the electronics were Mcintosh, big macs not small watt amps.  Number one cheat, a reel to reel playing at 15 or 30 ips.  And as MC mentioned the 8 drivers were facing the listeners-not the wall.  The soundstage was huge.  I had never heard Mick and bros Sympathy for the Devil sound this good, sounds popping out of everywhere, it was a great demo.  The sound lacked cymbal sheen/timbre. 

 I had to replace my then ESS Heil AMT4 10inch driver, went downtown Phoenix AZ to the local recon shop.  The owner suggested a pair of used Bose 10inch woofs, instead of repairing the cheap, cheap ESS woof.  He also explained crossovers in detail, especially the air chokes, showed me a huge 25lb copper choke.  3 hours later I left with a pair of Bose 10s.  They were way better than the stock woofs.  You never know til you try.
I remember watching a TV show a few years back - I think it was one of those CSI ones. Anyway, in the living room of a house were a pair of 901's installed backwards with the eight speakers firing into the room! I had to laugh at the obvious gaff but there were no visible wires, so what difference did it really make?
A buddy of mine had a pair back in the '70's. We used to play a game by turning on his system, then blindfolding ourselves and see who could find a speaker in the dark. 

Back in the late 80's while stationed in Germany, I went to a party in Shape, Belgium where the DJ was blasting a pair of 901's that sounded like crap because he was using an EQ other than the Bose EQ.  I asked him why; he said he did not need it and completely dismissed my suggestion that he get one.  Many people made that same mistake, and then complained about the 901 SQ; other's have one and still complain :-).  

For "critical" listening, I'd position my 901's facing and parallel to the back walls about 36" from the both the back and side walls.  The music filled the room and sounded great!  When partying, I'd turn the speakers around and blast away.  I got that idea from a friend who owned a club where he had a pair of Bose 802's sitting on the high stands.  The 802 speakers are designed to face the listener.  They were being pushed by a professional grade Peavy 500 wpc power amp and Peavy mixer, and this huge base speaker.  On the dance floor, the sound was awesome.  Loud enough to party to, but at a volume where you could have a conversation at the tables and bar area.

As i noted earlier in this thread, "... back in the 80's and 90's, I was in stereo heaven" with my 901's.  
I purchased the 901s in 1976.  They were my first good speakers.  I really liked them but the equalizer was confusing and I felt like I had to play them very loud to get all the music I wanted. They did look spiffy though. 
I worked for a high end store in the 70's and the owner decided to try out the Bose lineup. Our showroom was not a favorable place for the 901s. There was a large window in the front of the store that ended up being where we put these things. They still sounded terrible, just not as terrible. I thought the 301 was the only decent sounding speaker in the line. We also sold Sonab for awhile. They were much better than the Bose and appealed to the person who was looking for a different design.
Although I never cared for their sound, I couldn't get over how many people would turn them around and face the multi driver side towards the listening position. Totally defeated the direct/reflect sound concept.
The monster Bose power amp MC refered to was 250 WPC, not 350 (that was the Fizzle Linear at 350), and it featured a distortion curve that rose steadily above the upper midrange, no doubt due to minimal open-loop bandwidth limitations on the output transistors.  But with no actual tweeters...who cares!  But it was a beast.  After Series III came out they stopped making it.
I think there are more satisfied listeners overall of 901s than higher end audio listeners..
There are more satisfied drinkers of Bud than higher end craft ales.
There are more satisfied wearers of Timex than Rolex. 
See if you can spot the pattern.
Exactly. 

Who is winning that one?
Can you say, "Lowest Common Denominator"? 

I knew that you could.
"It was a dark and stormy night..."

No, actually in broad daylight, I bought a new pair of 901-s2's.*S*

Already owned a 2270 Marantz (👍 edcyn) and an AR tt with a Stanton cart....wanted a pair of speakers that didn't need a forklift or major muscle to move about.
I was in my 'nomadic era' at the time...by preference, rather than being one step ahead of the authorities, be they uniformed or female...
No, they weren't 'high end', but they could fill any space large or small.

...and the small part was attractive at the time....

I remember at a Pacific Stereo in SoCal, a salesguy had a pair playing, rather loud (it seemed)....hooked up to a Phase Linear amp.....

In between cuts...."That's impressive...."

He grinned, and turned it up from 5 to 9....turned it to 4 after a couple of minutes....

*L* "901's are power-hungry....You can throw a kilowatt at them, and they want More...." and back to 9....😜

Good....I can't destroy them. *L*

Lived happily together until I moved on to a pair of Infinity WTLC towers....*S*

But, in the interval....I made the pilot lights of that 2270 dim with the bass line.....and broke neither.

...and a Good Time was had by All. ;)
....the AR lived on a block of foam, BTW....*G*

Hey I too was stationed in Germany in the Army 1980-1982 and bought 901, series 4, and loved them. I had pioneer integrated system, and Technics SL 1,600 mkII Turntable, and a teac cassette player. Many Army buddies were surprised how good my Bose speakers were. Unfortunately at a party someone knocked over one of those flimsy stands and the stand broke! Good news as the speaker was ok. When I got home I mounted them from the ceiling with chains,  and measured the correct spacing and distance. Again for more then 10 years they still sounded great, I finally sold them and moved on to B&W 801,s and today I have Wilson Watt Puppy series 8. 
@stretch, the bose 901 stands were not 'flimsy'!!! i have the seies 2 901's and their stands were pretty sturdy!!!
@crusty croot, the bose power amp was rated at 200 watts per chanel into 8 ohms and 400 watts into 4 ohms! with 4 901's it was called 'the super bose system'!!!
Bought my 2 pair of 901s in 1974 from a Pacific Stereo salesman  that got a special deal on them and the amp. He only wanted the amp so he sold me the 2 pair for less than a single pair at the time. First speakers I ever owned and paired them with Phase Linear 400 amp. I too suspended them from the ceiling two in the front and two on the sides. To me at that time, my 19 yr old self thought they were great. We put Rick Wakeman’s Journey to The Center of the Earth on the turntable and you were immersed in that world.

Sold one pair, gave one pair to my brother. The 901s came back to me after my brother passed and I still have them boxed up. Kept the Phase Linear to drive Dahlquist DQ-10s and still have it today.  Just a couple of years ago one channel started having issues, so it’s going to be rebuilt. Say what you will about the PL but 40+ years without a problem is pretty good run.

Point being the 901s were my gateway drug into better speakers, and everyone sure loved coming over to listen to them.
The first time I ever heard hi end audio was in college when a senior on our floor had a pair of Bose 501s.  Later I heard the 901s; I thought the 501s were much better, before I knew anything about hifi. 
The 901's were so terrible that Bose reps pulled their products from dealers who set up demos to compare them too decent speakers.  I saw this happen when B&W came out with the DM 14 to specifically target the 901.  For $100 more than the 901, the B&W had good, accurate bass, a bigger, more accurate midrange sound (although a bit slower than 3 way B&W's with a dedicated midrange), and an really good tweeter.  The frequency response was within a half decibel of flat from 80 cps to 19000, and was down only 3db at 65 cps.  Although I ran no tone controls on my 4 that were powered by a Phase Linear 400, when I sold a pair to a pal who was given an old Marantz 125 wpc receiver,  I realized that a some bass boost was a good thing.  There is a reason Bose quit selling through good audio stores:  The 901 was very famous and made just about anything sound good when compared to it.  They were great for making a lot of noise, but not so good for most music.
I will bet the B&Ws over time only played certain genres better and were more fatiguing.....A smart Demo is not set on whole buy the seller....the buyer often unaware due to inexperience falls in to the trap.  To call the 901s terrible?  Really?
I had three formative hifi experiences in the late 70s and early 80s, my early teens in the suburbs of St. Paul.  In chronological order, hearing 901s at the house of one of my parent's friends - I couldn't believe music could sound so big, like I was in a concert hall!  Second was the stereo system in the office of my junior high school band teacher - cool blue meters and big speakers in the corners of the office - I didn't know then what I know now, and I could be totally wrong, but I like to think McIntosh and Klipsch?  Sounded so real.  More importantly he introduced me (us) to jazz.  And his daughter, but that's another story, let's just call it music + girls = heartache + mix tapes.  Thirdly buying my first low end music reproduction system - Pioneer receiver, Advent speakers, Technics turntable, at a little strip mall store in the Twin Cities called Sound of Music (they morphed into something much different over the years, also another story), off the sale/discount/used rack.  I loved it of course but that's when I started wondering why my stereo sounded like this and their stereos sounded so much better?
@thosbAdvent.........low end?


The hate for the 901’s has to come from people that never heard them. Coarse I could talk smack about almost every speaker I’ve heard at a show like ces or axpona. Those of us that owned them and took the time to set them up know. 
After spending as much money on hifi as my house cost I can say the 901vI was a bargain and easily the smartest money I spent on this hobby.
@steve59Bless your heart...You make total sense... A humble and informed reply.
100 percent correct solid gold bro.

Not to be intentionally contrary, but the $500 I spent in 1971 on a pair of 901’s was the biggest waste of money in my hi-fi life. It didn’t take me long to start hating them, and replaced them soon with a pair of 1001’s from a new company named Infinity. The 1001 was only $139/ea, and was a far superior loudspeaker.

In ’71 I had yet to discover the little underground mag named Stereophile (that transpired the following year), so hadn’t seen Gordon Holt’s panning of the 901 in the mag. Only accurate review of the speaker at the time.

The basic premise of the 901 is fatally flawed: to imitate the ratio of direct vs. reflected sound in concert halls. That idea ignores the fact that recordings made in those halls contain both direct and reflected sound---there is no way for the listener to separate the two. To then duplicate that ratio via the loudspeaker is to double the effect.

And what of recordings NOT made in halls? 89% reflected sound in studio recordings? They sound RIDICULOUS on the 901!

For me, the 901 Bose was a worthwhile way station on the path to high-end.
Interesting review. I could certainly quibble about placement, but he seemed to not have other options. Also, the point of measuring outdoors, what is in effect a quasi-omni-directional design, seems questionable. I do admire and respect the reviewers efforts, if not all his conclusions.
I had a pair of Series IV 901’s in the 70’s. In 2009 I bought a pair of Series VI’s, which I still have, and use in my main two-channel rig. Yes, the 901 is not a perfect design and I would never claim such. But boy, oh boy can they deliver the raw power and scale of live music into a room! I think that considering all the trade-offs and compromises inherent in loudspeaker design, most of us "weight" distinct parameters of sound reproduction differently. If dynamics, scale and space are high on your list, it’s hard to beat the 901’s for the money. True, there’s nothing like them (for better and worse), but man are they a lot of fun to crank! I listened to my remaster copy of Van Halen’s first album this morning. I have the 901’s on 26" stands, 15" out from a short wall in a 15 x 22 x 9 room, and crossed over at 80 Hz to a pair of Velodyne 12" subs sitting in the corners behind the speakers. Cranked up, not to "11", but to around 95dB peaks, the sound is awesome. Visceral and enveloping, just like live music. They may be relics from a bygone era (so am I) but I still love’em.
And I dont even own a pair.  I was able to spend a whole weekend in a house that had them...I listened to CD....Btooth and played all styles.  It was a total joy.  They played anything I thru at them effortlessly with Panache.
Guess it depends on what you’re expecting. The first track on ‘momentary lapse of reason’ the bass line during the rowboat had the furniture in my apartment vibrating! It took speakers matched with components many times the cost to get the bass those puny 4 1/2” drivers put out. Van Halen, bring it. Sure I wasn’t going to focus on the decay of cymbals or listen for the spit traveling down the neck of a sax, but I could enjoy every cd in the rack with those crummy things which at the time was 90% better than the ‘hi end’  speakers I repeatedly replaced them with. One of the few speakers that sounded at home like they did in the store. NOT FOR audiophiles.
Steve59.....

You got ears bro..
Their strength is they play anything.
Too say they are terrible.  I will never understand.