Bose 901's in an acoustically treated room?

Curious - has anyone tried the 901's in an acoustically treated room?  If so, your thoughts?

I've thought about trying out my 901's in my music room, but since it's got a bunch of GIK acoustic treatment throughout, I've never done it.  I think the Bose needs a more reflective set of walls behind and to the sides.  

But I think I'm going to give it a try soon and just wanted to see if anyone else has done the same (and are willing to admit to it publicly). 



Are you hypothesizing that the main deficiencies of Bose are their acoustic environment? In other words, get the right room and they'll be the equal of supposedly better speakers?

Good luck on that one.

BOSE has never lived down its reputation, and its well-travelled parody limerick: 

”No highs, no lows,…it must be BOSE”.

If you have Series I or II, worth a try. Any of the other series are not very good or worth any effort. 

i have 4 bose 901 seies 2 hanging from my ceiling! i have a mcintosh mc602 powering them. i'm not an audiofile but to me they sound dam good at a high listening level!!

I think properly set up the Bose spealers can sound rather nice.  As good as higher end speakers?  Possibly.

I was curious to see if anyone plopped down a pair of 901's in an acoustically treated room as the majority of their sound is aimed at the front (behind the speakers) wall.

I've got a bunch of gear in my listening room right now so maybe sometime this weekend I'll move stuff around to see how they sound.  My corner treatment will have to stay but I can remove the 244's centered on the front wall if needed.  And also the 244's in the first reflection point.


The perceived spectral balance of the Bose 901 is dominated by the spectral balance of the reflected sound, and IF the acoustic treatments in the room absorb the short wavelengths (high frequencies) moreso than they absorb the longer wavelengths, THEN the perceived spectral balance will be degraded accordingly.

To put it another way, if you go with acoustic treatments, I would suggest using products which deliberately PRESERVE the spectral balance of the reflected energy.


Regarding the 901’s: you cannot get good bass out of  9 small 3inch drivers no matter how many watts you pump into them! They are strictly midrange speakers!

The 501 was a much better speaker because it had a front-firing 10inch woofer and two of the 3inch rear-firing at left and right angles. I listened to them and was impressed! Good bass and a nice airy upper range.

+1 jasonbourne52 - I completely agree with both posts! I personally wouldn’t waste  my time setting up the 901’s in a treated room, you’re going to have even less high frequencies.

Regarding the 901’s: you cannot get good bass out of  9 small 3inch drivers no matter how many watts you pump into them! They are strictly midrange speakers!

I agree!

The "no bass" comments surprise me.  Back in the day, four 901's (one in each corner of a ceiling) were used in some clubs for dance music.  They produce plenty of bass, IMO.

I wonder if the treatment reduces the higher frequencies just boosting the treble on the EQ would counter it enough.  Hmm.

Will find out sooner or later.

I heard them a/b'd against the Large Advents I was auditioning back in the late 70's. yes, the Bose sounded you more with music at high volumes. But on normal listening levels the Original Large Advents sound a lot better.

Now some clarification to the surrounding with music. It did so because of the room reflections so it wasn't an accurate sound stage. it was more akin to Quadraphonic sound with sound bouncing around. but instead of 4 speakers it would do so with 2.

The 901's sold well because they looked futuristic on their pedestal stands - not because of their SQ. They didn't look like all those boring box speakers of the late 60's!

back in the 70's, the 901's were advertised as 'cadillac quality in a volkswagon space!! 

Funny. I’m not sure when it comes to speakers that Volkswagen quality in a Cadillac space wouldn’t be better……..

that is against bose' specifications for use of its d/r speakers, the room  must have a "live" acoustic meaning a minimum of absorptive furniture or treatments. that is the whole idea behind their d/r speakers. you defeat their purpose otherwise. 

Yeah, 901s' preferred an uncluttered wall to affront.....*S*
Carefully placed near a corner, and you'd get enough bass... but it'd put a grin on some to stick a sub into that.....👀😆

Had a pair of S.2's driven by a Marantz 2270, could wind it up until the dial lights  pulsed with bass line....not smart even then, but still funny.

A  PacStereo employ at the time mentioned running a pair with 1KW a side.
It was difficult to stay in the room, apparently....

They just ate it up, waiting on seconds...😎


back in the 70's, the 901's were advertised as 'cadillac quality in a volkswagon space!! 

Not in the US. Here, they were marketed as premium products that were the product of Dr. Bose and "Better sound through research."

Decades ago when J Gordon Holt was chief cook and bottle washer at Stereophile he reviewed the then-new Bose 901.  Bose claimed their research showed that 89% of the sounds in a concert hall were reflected, with only 11% direct to the listener.  That was the basis for their design with 8 speakers reflecting off the front wall and only one firing directly at the listener, each channel.

In Holt's review he said this was redundant since nearly all recordings were made including reflected sounds to begin with.  He did not rate them highly.

Personally I feel qualified to offer an opinion since I actually owned a pair for a short time, unlike some who criticize them.  The first couple of days they seemed impressive with their open, spacious sound field.  But I quickly tired of them.  Every recording, from solo performer to full symphony orchestra was presented the same way.  Somehow it didn't sound natural for say Joan Baez and guitar to be spread across the front of the room.

artemus mentioned Advents, that's what I returned to, eventually having Double Advents.  So much better to me.


... when J Gordon Holt was chief cook and bottle washer at Stereophile he reviewed the then-new Bose 901 ... He did not rate them highly.

That is not true. You can read the review for yourself here.

The review concluded:

"If we were to judge the 901 in terms of the best sound available, then, we would say that it produces a more realistic semblance of natural ambience than any other speaker system, but we would characterize it as unexceptional in all other respects. It is ideal for rock enthusiasts to whom sheer sonic impact is of paramount importance, and for classical listeners who want the next best thing to ambient stereo without the cost and the bother of rear-channel add-ons. However, we doubt that the 901 will appeal to perfectionists who have developed a taste for subtleties of detail and timbre."

cleeds, thanks for digging out that review.  Anyone with interest in the 901s should find it worthwhile reading.

And while it may be more complementary than my memory recalled, Holt did express several reservations.  But first I would note that review was from 1971.  Perspectives on speaker spacious sound have certainly evolved since then.  Particularly with influence by HP in TAS for specific soundstaging.

Regarding Holt's opinions, here are a few quotes:

"But we were less impressed by some other qualities of the 901"

"Thus, some 901 installations will have deep, tight, and quite well-defined bass, while others (in the majority) will exhibit uncontrolled bass resonances"

"It is our feeling, though, that Dr. Bose is either oversimplifying his explanation of what the 901 does or has drawn some dubious conclusions from his basic premise"

"This tremendous gain in spatial effect is not, however, achieved without some sacrifices.   .   .   .   to create such monstrosities as 2'-wide singers and 8' guitars."

"What is, we feel, a more serious shortcoming of the 901 principle is that it subjects the direct sounds in a recording to the same reflective process that enhances the recorded spatial material."

" .   .   .   but we would characterize it as unexceptional in all other respects."

And that is why I remembered the review overall as not rating the 901s highly.

Thanks for the link to Holt’s review.  I read that years ago and had pretty much forgotten about it.

How nice that he actually took the time to give it an in-depth review rather than just dismissing it outright as many do nowadays.  In the end what I got out of it is it does some things well and others not so well.  Pretty much like any other speaker out there.

Years ago I had a pair of the Series VI in a small apartment living room driven by the Aleph 3 and the Rogue 66 preamp.  Listening to George Winston’s solo piano record was an awesome experience.  I have not heard a solo piano sound as good as that rig did in that room since.


We, who know and appreciate the 901s, love to hear discussions like this. The fact is that all speakers benefit from room treatments as all rooms are different. And that includes the 901s. Although most of the sound is reflected, it's even more critical to be careful with the placement of diffusion and absorptive materials. To say that the reflective nature of the 901 is redundant since recorded sounds were reflected anyway shows just how little some people know about recording; as it's a fact that all recorded sounds are tightly controlled during the recording process. When I hear my 901s using a test disc for stereo separation, voices recorded in the left channel, the right channel and the center are all clearly defined within the space that a normal human being would occupy. Stereo separation and placement within a sound stage are all well defined. And speaking of bass, it appears that detractors who complain about no low bass are talking about wavelengths beyond the range of human hearing. When I hear an upright bass, I can hear the strings vibrating against the board. It sounds like an upright bass. You'd have to spend a prohibitive amount of money to get better sound than the Bose 901s in a properly treated room. Room treatments for Bose 901? Yes, absolutely. 

The 901 owners that i have crossed always reported that they sound better when the back is turned toward the listener... Go figure.

Any speaker will sound better in an acoustically treated room. Including the Bose 901s. Most of the sound from 901s comes reflected from the 16 4"Inch rear projecting drivers, but we don’t want sound, even sound that is primarily reflected to be endlessly reflected from the services of a room. With proper treatments, for example, the wall behind the speakers could be made to disappear, with the perception of sound extending beyond the rear wall. I’ve done it myself and my 901s sound great. Don’t fall for that "No highs, No lows" crap.