Bose 901...really

The good book says that there is a time and place for everything. Even Bose 901s?

I am building a pool house addition to my house, 36 X 26 with a cathedral ceiling about 24 ft. The entire interior is hard surface wood, glass, and concrete, so it will be very reverberant. I want to install a set of multichannel speakers. For the fronts, I am all set, with NHT1259 woofers in a 3 cu ft wall cavity, along with three Dynaudio monitors, mounted on the wall. (I have all this on hand). The rear wall includes a very large set of windows. They say that if the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. Why not use that expanse of glass and wood as a reflector for Bose 901s? I have a hunch it would work quite well. And the darned things a cheap as speakers go these days.
Yikes. A highly reverberant room can be very tiresome and fatiguing. I can't even read comfortably while teh kids are playing in most pool environments ( the noise is just too much ) The problem with traditional sound absorption (lots of wooden surfaces) is that the moist environment quickly causes rot....maintenance issues will be high - it is already a good idea to disconnect this building from the main house.

California redwood works better than most woods including cedar but I am not sure you can buy this anymore (maybe second hand from a building being torn down?) Of course you can treat cheaper wood extensively but who wants to breathe all that stuff in!

The most pleasant sounding pool environments I have heard are with a tarpaulin tent like roof...this allows the reverberant field to escape out the roof rather than being reflected back in.
you have good speakers in place why not use Dynaudio or nht instead for a better match?
Shadorne...Based on similar pools I have visited, humidity will not be a problem. This is a small exercise pool, 8X20. The building is well ventilated, and has AC for dehumidification. And it is a pool house, not an audio room, so the sound will be whatever it will be.

The Bose idea occured to me precisely because the room will be so reverberant. These speakers are based on reflected sound, and might be just the ticket. Does Bose offer a home trial period?
If you get the Bose 901s, get the version used for outdoor concerts, which should mitigate against any humidity problems. They should work fine in those conditions and the equilizer does give you some control over the brightness caused by the glass surfaces. Not sure about what the price might be for used outdoor 901s.
BTW, I have found the 901s to be excellent rear channel speakers for home theatre, due exactly to their 'direct/reflecting' properties and healthy bass.

Salut, Bob P.
I would find a good used pair of the Bose 901 on Ebay or here on Audiogon and give them a try. Why not? If they don't sound right in your pool room, you can always re-sell for minimal loss. Then again, they might be just the ticket for a fun time in the pool with good sounds.
As you said, it's not a room for reference sound. The Bose speakers have a great sound for parties. Your guests will love them.
Well, I owned a pair years ago...not really a bad idea you have. Member Inpepinnovations may have a good idea also...aren't those called 801"s?

The rugged professional Bose speakers are 802. They look a bit like the 901, but are really a different design, and cost just a bit more than half what the 901 costs.
Since the speakers are designed to take advantage of reflected sound, there is a logic in your proposition.

However, it's Bose's logic that I can't quite rationalize. Bose are suggesting, correctly in my view, that you hear a lot of reflected sound as well as direct sound, hence their direct/reflecting speakers. So far, this seems logical.

However, if you record stereo using a traditional recording method, a pair of microphones in Blumlein configuration for example, then you are capturing reflected sound in the original recording, as well as the direct sound. So since you have already captured reflected sound in the orginal recording, what is the logic of reflecting it again with the speaker? It seems that it would just put you another step away from the original music, with more opportunity to mess things up in some way.

On the other hand, it's not a high fidelity situation anyways, so why not have some fun. Give it a try and tell us how it turns out.
The 802 is used without the single driver on the front, and with all 8 drivers facing the listener (turned around from the reflecting home version).
These have had some popularity, I can remember hearing them from time to time and they are ok for some applications but not completely full range. Check out the inside spread of the album Little Feat "Waiting for Columbus" shows a set of Bose 802's used for stage monitors in the rear.
Well, I ordered a pair.

Markphd...Exactly. It's for fun, not audiophile listening.

That said, I must admit that I have heard some Bose 901 setups that really were good. I think that they require a large room with high ceiling, and an uncluttered front wall for them to bounce their sound off. This is exactly what I have.

In spite of all the reflected sound they can image quite well. I believe that this is because the single front driver sound arrives at the listener earlier than the reflected sound, and time-of-arrival is very important in the sensing of sound location.

The owner's manual, which you can download, goes into detail about how to hang them from the ceiling. I never saw an owner's manual mention this option. Hanging speakers is a controversial topic among audiophiles, but the ones who say it's a lousy idea have never tried it. I intend to set up that way.

The Bose are intended for Rear channels. However, I will be able to compare them with some well regarded Dynaudio monitors with subwoofers at the front. Anyone want to make a bet?
During the late 80s I was stationed in Greece where the houses/apartments were usually concrete walls. I had a pair hanging in a large room. The ceiling was parobably ten feet high and the speakers were more than six feet off the floor. Was I listening to audiophile accuracy? Hell no. Was the place rocking? You bet.
I had a Sansui B2101 200 watt amp pushing them. I remember listening to Pink Floyd as loud as I could stand it. Thanks for the memories.
Given my luck with lottery tickets, I don't know whether I'm much of a betting man. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Bose will do very well indeed against the Dynaudio. I think that the Dynaudios are meant to be in a more traditional setting. Your setting seems to be playing up to the Bose's strengths. It's been a long, long time since I heard 901's so I don't really remember. However, I have certainly read many reports that the 901's are good speakers. Just because Bose don't work the high end of the market doesn't mean they're not capable. As an analogy, that downscale car company, Fiat, do pretty well with their upscale brand...what's it's called?...Ferrari is it?
Eldartford, I will not take that bet, because I feel that the Bose will do fine in the environment that you are describing. If you run full bass to the rear speakers (Bose, I presume) you will be surprised at the amount that these can render.
I still use the 901s in my 'B' system and they run flat to 30 Hz easily and the equaliser is quite usefull, which you will see (hear) when you start setting up your system in that highly reflective surfaced room. They are also quite sensitive, so power will not be a problem. I run mine off a Dynaco ST-70.
Salut, Bob P.
Thanks to all who offered encouragement. I suspect that there is a Bose in the past for a lot of audiophiles although some are afraid to admit it! I will report back when the building is complete and the speakers are up and playing.
Well, I'll admit it! I have owned a bunch of speakers
(Hi end up to Wisdom 75's) and 20 years ago had two
pair of 901's.
About 2 years ago, I got the ole bug for another pair
of 901's because I personally like them, went to a Bose
store...mind you this was even in the middle of my
maniac high end buying spree...and listened to them, and
if it were not for the fact they were "completely" out
of stock that day, I would have went home with a pair.
They are fun!

Long live BOSE!!!!! ;o)
the 901 is still an enigma, just like the klipsch kornerhorn. for big rock and classical, it hangs in with most new designs, and ironically many music lovers dig it. for better or worse its going to outlive most hi end brands too.
I have owned all sorts of speakers and I hate to admit it,but the Bose 901s are certainly one of the better ones.

From an audiophiles perspective they cannot be taken seriously but that does not mean they can't be immensely enjoyable.

They certainly can sound horrible in the wrong positioning or room-but if you have the right space for them nothing I have heard does orchestral music as well.Many great audiophile speakers sound pathetic on orchestral whereas the 901s come much closer to the vastness of the sound you get at the real thing.Music that can sound great on audiophile speakers however can sound a mess on the 901s-and this of course is where they cop criticism.

They are what they are and you need to enjoy them for their strengths.
Well, I finally got the room to the point where it was worthwhile to hook up the 901s and give them a try. I am driving them with an Adcom 5503 amp that I fished out of a closet. The speakers, which are on the Bose stands, are set up on the 26 foot end wall, about 6 feet from the end and side walls. Between the speakers is a very large window unit...about 11 ft wide, 7 ft high, with a circle window above it all. I had intended to use the 901s for surround, but at the moment, and perhaps for ever, they are Fronts.

With the right kind of music the results are very good. One recording, ARTS 47605-6, "New Years Concert in Vienna"(lots of Strauss) is spectacular. Huge sound field. Several other Orchestral and organ recordings were also tried with good results. A solo piano recording was just OK. Imaging is not as bad as one might expect from these speakers, and would probably be better if they were not so far apart. I need to try a whole bunch more recordings.

I would not recommend 901s for the typical living room, or even the typical dedicated music room, but if you have a small gym, or a pool house like me, the 901s are made to order.
Who among us has a 'typical' living room or listening room? I knew that the 901s would do well in your 'special' environment. As for imaging, especially for solo instrument, you need to orient the speakers with 'opposite' toe-in, i.e. the inner four speakers relecting more to the center.

Salut, Bob P.
More interesting findings about the Bose 901s.

I hooked up a Behringer DEQ2496 equalizer to see how they were doing. This equalization was in addition to the Bose equalizer supplied with the speakers. The frequency response was aweful! It was a big hump, with the peak at about 630 Hz. 10 dB down at 5K. 15 dB down at 10K. 25 dB down around 18K. On the low end, serious roll off started around 100 Hz. 12 dB down at 40 Hz. This was surprising to me because they really were sounding quite good in my pool room environment.

So I ran the automatic equalization process in the Behringer, and the result was even more surprising.
Perfectly flat from 30 Hz to 15 KHz. Like a different speaker.

Since the Bose 901 comes with its unique equalizer one wonders why they left the frequency response so bad. Most likely Bose engineers found out that the average guy likes that midrange emphasis. I did observe that when playing some music with a lot of bass really loud there was some obvious overload of the speakers. I will probably roll off the bass a bit to avoid this problem. The break around 100 Hz would play well into use of a subwoofer.

All in all I find these speakers near-ideal for the environment I am using them in.
Eldartford, I think that your results reflect (excuse the pun)more your room than the overall response of the Bose. In my secondary system where I use the Bose 901s, I did not find the 630 peak nor the severe rool-off in the highs. I did find, however, a +6 db peak at 40 Hz and about a 6db/octave rolloff in the highs starting at about 8000 Hz.

My room is a typical 14 by 12 room with 10 ft ceiling, not the very 'special' room that you are running the Bose 901s. The larger the room, I think, the more the highs will be rolled off.

I am a bit surprised, however, at your comment on the loud bass. What makes you think that the bass is 'overloaded'?


Bob P.
Inpepinnovations...The nature of these speakers (reflected sound) would surely make them more affected by the room than most speakers. The response that I observed (without the extra equalization) was a very broard "hump" across the entire audio range (like a Gaussian distribution curve) and had very little in the way of localized peaks and notches. My microphone position was at least 20 feet away from the speakers. I would try it again close mic'd, but how would you do that with these reflected sound speakers?

The bass overload (distortion) was due to the signal driving the speakers. The Bose equalizer boosts the bass, and I was adding another 15dB to get the flat response. The power amp I used for this test is good for 250 watts, so I doubt that it was the problem.
Eldartford, perhaps you are overloading the input to the pre-amp? can you increase the gain on your power amp so that you can reduce the signal necessary to drive the amp. Then the Bose equalizer need not output so much and you can reduce the output from the additional equalizer. But I am sure that you have thought of this and are worried about the noise that might be introduced by this solution.

Also, close mic readings are not want you want anyway. At any rate you seem to have 'tamed' that broad boost with the extra equaliser. Now you just ned to work on the Bose eualizer overloading distortion problem.

Salut, Bob p.
Inpepinnovations...The Bose equalizer comes before the Behringer, so the Bose doesn't have to put out anything extra. And the Behringer has LEDs indicating its input level, which, if anything, is a bit low. (The Behringer has balanced output to the amp).

I guess the 901's can play loud, or have extended bass, but not both at the same time. Hey, what can you expect from a bunch of 4" speakers.
I listened to 901s extensively in the 70s and 80s (mostly discos but some friend's houses, too.) They had no bass and very shelved down highs. The two discos that used them had supertweeters and subwoofers also and used the Boses pretty much for midrange. When I've heard them at houses they've always sounded shouty and veiled at the same time. Phasey, too.

I'd go to your local Guitar Center and check out some pro speakers, both studio and reinforcement types.
I too listened to Bose 901s in the 70s and 80s. I thought they sounded crap every time. The only thing that made them notable to start with was they used to advertise the speaker had an unlimited power rating. So as a teenager in the 70s we all kind of ooh'ed and ah'ed about it. "They must be good if they can take unlimited power!" Also their direct reflecting advertising made them a little intriguing. "What do they know that other manufacturers don't?" The thing is I've heard a lot of Bose equipment over the decades and none have ever sound good. Shows what good marketing can do for a company.
That's all that Bose ever had going for it: marketing hype. The whole concept is a lie. As a Sound tech: I'm familiar with a lot of music venues. Everyone that I've ever been to that sounded worth a nickel had sound treatment behind and along the sides of the platform/sound stage. Usually a series of curtains to absorb the side reflections/resonances. Same overhead to reduce or eliminate ceiling reflections. At a rock concert: if the rear and side walls weren't treated- you'd hear more of the stage monitors(out of phase) than you would of the mains. In the Bose ads going back to the 80's, the huge red arrows that represented reflected sound were supposed to be what you heard at a live concert. If the venue had that much reflected sound: it would be an ACOUSTIC NIGHTMARE(like the old Orlando Sports Stadium, UGH)!! McIntosh used to(maybe they still do) test almost every mainline manufacturer's speakers in their audio lab every year. Bose was consistantly the top producer of intermodulation distortion(the most noticable/irritating kind)in those test reports. The concept of causing a 5 1/4" driver to reproduce everything from 20 to 20kHz with an active EQ is flawed to begin with. It can't help but generate IM! Thanks for letting me vent.
Rodman99999 and Wireless200 have expressed the official audiophile opinion. I would most of the time agree. But, my swimming pool room is an unusual environment, and, on a hunch, I decided to give the 901s a try. I don't regret it.

For serious listening I can relax with my Maggies.
I was curious to see if the Bose equalizer could be completely replaced by the Behringer DEQ2496 (instead of using both in series). Answer is definitely YES, although the Bose user manual says otherwise.

First set the Parametric function to 502 Hz / 6 oct / -14 dB. This compensates most of the speaker's frequency response problem.

Then do the usual Automatic equalization process. This tweeks things up and takes care of room effects.

The overall sonic result is significantly improved over using the Bose electronics. Perhaps much of the inferior sound of these speakers derives from the electronics rather than the speakers proper.
>> For serious listening I can relax with my Maggies.

You have the right attitude. I also recently bought a pair of good used 901s because I wanted something to listen to loud head-banging rock with. Do I think they are great speakers? No. Would I do any really serious listening with them? Hell no. Are they LOUD? Yup. Fun? Yup. Are they worth what I paid for them? Absolutely.
I am thinking of using them for a while at my two rear channels in a home theatre.
Bose 901s can be EQ'd using any graphic Equalizer with enough boost at both ends of the spectrum. The DEQ 2496 just does so automatically and in the digital domain, plus compensating for the curve of the room(which the Bose EQ does not). It won't do anything for the intermodulation distortion that results, or the fact that the speakers can't possibly creat an accurate image. That not an opinion- it's estabished fact, based on measurable data(the IM) and over 30 years of experience with the design(mine and a multitude of others), using live music as a reference. I WILL grant that using the Behringer and eliminating the Bose piece would probably make the system somewhat more listenable.
Rodman99999...I have been surprised, and you would be also, by the excellent imaging and soundstage created by MY Bose901s in MY room. The wall behind them is 26 ft wide with a cathedral ceiling going up to about 24 ft, and with a wide and tall window in the center. The walls and ceiling are all cedar wood. Talk about reflective!! But the 901s, set out about 6 or 7 ft from the wall, and about 14 ft apart, really like this environment. I bet that few audiophiles who are so critical of the 901s have heard them in such an environment. I did long ago (brick wall in a warehouse) and that's what gave me the courage to try them in my new room.

IM distortion is very anoying to me, but I don't hear any unusual amount from these speakers. I find that it mostly occurs with vocals, and the microphone used to record the voice is usually the source.
Hi Eldartford- I envy you for your soundroom. If I had a room that big, I'd be torn between using it as a listening room, or rebuilding my cars/bike in there(too many loves, not enough room). I've a number of recordings that were done personally, and if anything Bose makes/made could reproduce the original acoustic with ANY semblance of accuracy/reality: You're right- I WOULD be very surprised! Their very method of operation and design preclude that possibility. If you have succeeded in actually reproducing a realistic recording venue, and proper imaging of the instruments within it with those speakers- Your next move should be a trip to Vegas, Monte Carlo and Atlantic City while your luck lasts. You wouldn't be interesting in selling that listening room, would you?
Rodman99999...Actually I would like to build an airplane in the room, but the wife sez "NO!".

What is it about the "method of operation and design" that puts you off. Are you really familiar with Prof Bose original concept for the 901s? I think it was quite creative.

My result isn't luck, but rather is the synergy of an unusual room and an unusual speaker.
Good old Amar's first concoction was the "2601" and had that many speakers(26, or was it 28?) arrayed on the surface of what looked like 2 segments(eighths) of a huge grapefruit that sat in the corners of the room. Of course, the speakers were the same midrange size as he settled on for the 901. I'm not aware of a professional array type that they build outside of the 801s. Shaped the same, but lacking the single driver on what is the front of the 901. For portability, the 801s are hard to beat. I've used them in several venues(small), usually just for speach. They don't project very far(compared to a horn system, and lack any real bottom end.
Eldartford- I missed that last sentence. Hey- If it works, and you're happy: don't change it!! Just build your airplane around it. Maybe if you keep it in the corners, your wife won't notice? Tell her it's an acoustic treatment to eliminate spurious trepidary bi-peds. That gets 'em every time.
Rodman99999...When I was at MIT Prof Bose had a huge multidriver speaker hung from the ceiling in the music library. It was mono. (That gives you an idea how long ago it was). At the time his interest was in multiple small drivers instead of one big one. Perhaps he was before his time, because today it's hard to find an audiophile speaker with a 12" or 15" woofer, and 6" woofers are multiplying like cup holders in cars. But his creative idea was to push the resonant frequency UP, instead of down, as all other designers do, so as to operate below resonance where rolloff behavior is smooth and predictable, and therefore correctable by electronic means.
My original 901s were the II version - acoustic suspension with the resonance pushed up to 200 Hz. The equalizer compensated and the boost at 20 HZ was about 40db. They sounded very good and bass was flat to 30 Hz, but I did need to drive it with a HK Citation 16 and the meters showed 200 watts on peak pipe organ music.

The switche to a more 'efficient' vented model was a step backward in my opinion.

Bob P.
But none of those current speaker designs are trying to reproduce everything from 20Hz to 20kHz with that same one driver. The laws of physics just don't allow it without distortion. Perhaps one day the 901 will be produced with a cone than acts as a perfect piston while reproducing all those octaves at the same time. But then- It still won't really matter to me, save perhaps on an academic level. BUT- If they're the wind beneath(and faster air above) your wings: fly with them!! Just don't get too close to the Sun. Some guy named Icarus established that doesn't work very well either.
Rodman99999...But, those little woofers ARE trying to reproduce everything down to 20 Hz, unless you use a filter to electronicly roll off the signal around 40 Hz. They beat their little hearts out trying, without much audible result, but with adverse effect on important higher frequencies. That's why subwoofers have become so popular. They replace what speaker system manufacturers left out.
I don't think I've read any ratings on those smallish woofer systems that claim much below 40-50hz. Nothing in what I consider the bottom octave. And you are absolutely right on two counts: they still beat their hearts out trying, and that's why subs have become so popular. The small woofers in large arrays are a different story. I've not suffered bass-envy since 1981. I built a pair of 8' (1/4 the wavelength of what I wanted),tapered, folded, damped, transmission lines and filled them with the 10" driver that Milo Nestorovic used in his bass system. I needed something that could blend with my Acoustat Model IIIs(had to be fast, and they still work great with my Maggies). The 16hz pedal notes(32ft stop) on the Crystal Clear direct to disk recording of Virgil Fox playing Toccata and Fugue in D minor on the Grand Ruffatti have cracked the ceilings of two of my listening rooms. Expensive, but- Ya gotta love it!
Rodman99999...A ten inch driver is large enough to be useful especially if you have a line array of them.
Rodman, I have exactly the same recording and experienced the same sensation with my 901-II and the HK citation 16 setup. 16 small speakers in array can move a fair amount of air without needing extensive excursions in the voice coils. Granted I played back at 93db peaks and my room wasn't the largest, but it was capable of bass to 20 Hz. The 901-VI that I have in my #2 system do not seem to have that same capability, however, which is probably due to the 'vent' design as opposed to the sealed or acoustic suspension of the 901-II design.

If carefully installed and under the right conditions, the Bose 901s are not as bad as audiophiles would have others believe.
Inpepinnovations..."If carefully installed and under the right conditions, the Bose 901s are not as bad as audiophiles would have others believe".

Exactly. That's why I took the trouble to begin this thread.
While the Bose 901-VI fit the bill in my number 2 system (driven by Crown D-150 amp), my number 1 system has Totem Mani 2 speakers driven by (egads) a Nakamichi 600 power amp.
Talk about not being wed or influenced by 'only one way to get good sound' thinking! Ultimately, it is the sound that counts and not what 'audiophiles' think about 'too cheap to be good' solutions.

Bob P.
I never had a particular problem with the bass on the 901s. It was more the mids and highs - every pair I ever heard sounded like they had a blanket over them. They had a dull sound with no detail whatsoever. I thought it was because they had sacrificed so that they could take higher power without blowing the tweeters.
It's been my experience, and my point in this discourse, that they have never sounded like live music by any stretch of the imagination. That(live music) is my reference, and will always remain so. I'm much more a sound technician/engineer than an "audiophile". The pedal notes that I referred to are not so much audible, as they are felt in the gut. When I said, "cracked my ceilings," I was being quite literal.
Having experienced the nirvana of really efficien speakers, I know that the 901s are in many ways, lacking.

That being said, I have to point out that I was using a pair of 901s when first I joined the club here at Audiogon and the first improvement to my system was a pair of better---not really high-end---interconnects.

The 901s responded with much better listening. They were at least sensitive enough that this tweak did matter.