Bose 901 VI flat?

I purchased a pair of Bose 901 VI speakers recently and a new Sony STRDH190 receiver.  I have wanted these speakers for years and finally got them.  Problem is, they sound flat and weaker than expected.  I adjusted the bass and treble to my liking but that only helped a little.  I have the Bose EQ that came with the speakers but i'm not using it due to new receiver technology.  Am i doing something wrong? I know these are great speakers with a great history.  


Those speakers can’t come close to good without the EQ. If you can stick it in a tape loop you’ll be much better off.

If you use Roon exclusively though you can approximate the correct curves using the DSP correction that's built in. Probably can do this with other software too.

It doesn't look like my new receiver has a tape loop.  Sorry, this may sound dumb but i do have an older dual tape deck i could add, would that help?


You need the EQ either in a tape loop, or if your receiver has pre out/amp in, you can use that. The 901s are designed to be used with the EQ.

Let me be the bad guy. I'm a well experienced Bose 901 guy. The Series VI are not that great even with the best equipment. With a 100 wpc mass market receiver, you are not even going to get sound as satisfying as a bluetooth boom box. Listen, this is where I started out but I had the much better Series I. I later tried the Series VI and I had to dump them. What you are hearing is what they are.

Sell the 901s and buy the Klipsch R600 towers or 800s if you can stretch. You'll then have something decent enough and your receiver will run them just fine. Whatever you do don't put any money into trying to get the Bose working better.

@russ69 is giving you excellent advice. Take it. Don't live with a mistake and spend more money trying to fix it.

Man I don't think I ever heard the Bose 901 sound good, maybe passable in some situations but if there was ever a mediocre speaker that was one. 

Thanks for backing me up guys but I wanted to say for the OP to use the Bose equalizer first, it won’t cost anything and you’ll have something to listen to. You can hook it up between your source and receiver as a test. 

That's right, USE the equalizer and see if you like it. If so, great, and find a way to implement the equalize. If you don't like it, cut bait and look for something else

They only sound "decent" with the Bose EQ- in your case probably in the tape loop. I think the EQ adds up to 18 db of gain in both bass and really have to use it.

I have to weigh in.  I had 901 vi’s with 100 wpc and they were a disappointment and I sold them.  I now have them again, but now in a large and difficult room, with a 10” Martin Logan sub, powered by 650 wpc mono’s.  They are astonishing in that room.  As good as anything I’ve ever owned and my go-to system.  

Nobody is more surprised than me.  In the right situation, they are more than they were ever cracked up to be.  From my experience, they need lots of power first.  Next, a sub to round out the low end.  Last, the right room.  

You must run the equalizer, which is old enough now to need re-capping.  The drivers on these are bulletproof and will last a very long time.  I’m so impressed with these, KEF Ref 5’s are being sold and I’m eyeing my new La Scala’s too.

The 901 Series VI was never much for bass imho.

They sound absolutely great though as mid/highs with anything lower than ~500 hz is removed from their signal.

Though I AM a bit of an uncouth barbarian.... I use the heck out of a separate eq also, just leave the bose eq centered and adjust tone control with either receiver bass/treble (mid if it has it) or separate eq.

Don’t forget placement either, big difference depending on where they are placed.

Sorry to hear this Jon.  Bose 901s were revolutionary in the 70s. They have traded on that momentum ever sense. I had a dealer buddy who used to say "No highs, no lows...must be Bose."

If you are looking for big rock sound the new big Cerwin Vegas may be an an answer. Give them a listen. 

Your Hi Fi journey has begun. Enjoy the ride! 

As I remember  the eq and speaker placement are critical to enjoying these classics.


YIf you finally got your dream speakers keep them!

i’d get rid of the Sony receiver. Not being able to use the Bose EQ is a deal breaker. The onboard “toys” destroy definition and and crush dynamic range. The 901s don’t stand a chance to sound like ... 901s.

See if you can get your hands on a good “old school” receiver or separates and give them a good listen before you give up on your dream.

I owned a few pairs of them just couldn't stand them Bose no highs no lows.

I'll stick with my JBL 4311s and my L150s


"I owned a few pairs of them just couldn't stand them Bose no highs no lows."

A few pairs? You must be a slow learner.

I bought a pair for a hundred bucks at a flea market where a parrot chewed up one of the grills I think the other pairs given to me I just bought them to resell them I only listen to them to test them. A fast learner who's made a lot of money in the audio business

@jwillox he just signed up.

This is the place where B&O and Bose and Beat questions go to die

(and nothing wrong with it, it's like asking the difference between breast and fly on swimswam)

     I had a pair of series II from new into the 90's when the Bose 500 watt "arc welder" Amp shorted for the second time and took out 1 amp channel and all 9 drivers on that side.  Sorry but back in the day the bass was way bigger than roomy's L100s, probably not as accurate/tight.

  I now use the remaining one as the rear surround in a 7.1 HT.  I use the Atmos level amp to simulate the EQ with the room pretty well spreading the ok sound on the back wall.  One of the pedestals support my stand alone reference headphone system.  Agreed they need a lot of omph!

I have sold HiFi since 1973. Whenever a Bose 901 owner asks me about electronics to drive them, the first thing I stress is that modern AV receivers generally cannot be used due to their lacking a tape monitor. You must have a tape loop or processor loop or “game over”!  A fallback is to put the EQ between preamp and amp, but very few AVRs allow for that either. So the OP needs to find some suitable amp, and it’s not going to be anything like his Sony. Even used, it’s likely to cost quite a bit more. A really vintage receiver would also need recapping. The cheapest modern solution is a Wiim Pro front end as preamp and a used beefy power amp with the EQ in between. 

Everyone stressing the importance of using the Bose dedicated EQ is right on. I bought a used pair years ago which came with the EQ. Since I already had a very good 10 band EQ I thought it would be better than the Bose. Like you say...They sounded "flat".

I also read that the speaker foam surrounds deteriorate with age and, upon removing the grills, found that was the case. Bought a kit and replaced the surrounds. Still no improvement. For the heck of it I hooked up the Bose EQ. Sound was much better but still "flat". The speakers just don't match up to a lot of others for much less that the cost of the 901's.


Bose sounding flat? I agree that’s the case. I’ve tried multiple high power vintage receivers and they are incredibly dull and lifeless. I thought that maybe the Eq was bad and was going to buy another one but after reading this the speakers must not be my cup of tea.

I own 1968 Series 1's. Even if the OP has Series 6's which don't I have experience with. Just get a minDSP from Amazon for $125 (100% money back) and dial in the curve for the Series 5 or 6. If the OP likes what he hears. Awesome !

I run Klipsch Cornwall IV's with a 500WPC GaN FET Amplifier and swap in the 901's on occasion for fun. They are great Speakers for what they do. No, you can't hear the fart of a Nat like I can with the CW4's. But I still enjoy what they. No foam rot either cause the Series 1's and 2's (which I also own) are cloth doped surrounds. If the OP's Series 6's are the V2 with the "rolly" surrounds. Foam rot shouldn't be a problem.

To parrot others, you must use the Bose EQ.  I purchased a used pair of Series 1 901s in 1972 because the owner said they sounded flat.  He wasn’t using the EQ.  At the time, I used a Pioneer SPEC-4 power amp, SoundCraftsman Pre Amp/EQ, and dbx 3bx range expander to tweak the music. I enjoyed that combination until about 2018 when I gave it all away to my goddaughter.  

I thoroughly enjoyed the 901s.

Very important to use the equalizers......make sure the V-shape faces the wall..the flat facing the listener. Position them 3 or 4 feet away from the front wall.

All responses to use the dedicated Bose EQ are primary. Also, to incorporate the EQ into the existing electronics is the first step. Since these speakers aren't capable of critical music listening to average ears, everyone has their own priority as to what they want.

Had a friend who had a very large house and entertained often. Had a large room that he used for entertaining guests at parties and such. In that room he had a pair of 901s suspended from the ceiling with chains. Purpose was to provide background music for his guests. Worked well for that. Of course he had his serious system elsewhere.

All this stuff is complex and the end game is what suits the user. Some like  what they have and others always want to constantly improve  theirs no matter how good it already is. Kinda like a hobby.



There was something that attached you to these speakers at some point. Only YOU know what that is. We service vintage audio gear and have had many 901s and/or associated gear come into our shop. Typically the owners are VERY happy with their 901s. If I were to offer to substitute a highly regarded "audiophile" speaker worth many times to price of their 901s, I’d get flatly rejected.

I agree with @stringreen ’s suggestion about property set up. It would also be good to know what sources you are listening to.

The description of "flat" sound can mean a lot of things. In my world "flat" would mean "lifeless". The best "audiophile description" I could offer would be a lack of dynamic contrast. We want the percussion to sound "live" when the drumsticks meets the sheepskins, the lead guitar to be pushed forward, and the vocals to be up close and personal. There are many elements in the music chain that can squish dynamics. Having a high watts amp/receiver is helpful, but "loud" is just "loud" if dynamics are compressed. Modern low-priced receivers don’t have alot going for them in this department. They force all the signals thru DSP processing (even when you are listening "flat") and "chip amps" designed for low cost are not noted for their musicality. So, I’d start with a good totally analog receiver/amp. The more power the better, but I’d inject that the right 50wpc receiver will sound better than the wrong 100wpc receiver. Your sources, cabling, etc also matter.

Only then will you know if the sound of 901s is still appealing to you.

Wow! I have never received so much help and advice from any forum ever!  This has been so helpful (every response).  So i sent the new receiver back to amazon and went on the search for and old receiver capable of not only pushing these speakers properly but also having a tape monitor loop to utilize the bose eq.  I found an old Sony HP-318 that had tape loop connections.  What a difference!  I'm sure i don't have the ears you guys have but im now very happy with my setup.  Many, many thanks.  jonathan

@russ69 +1

OP I hate to burst your bubble (again), but...I've owned them. Brand new back in the early 80's around the time Hitachi launched one of the first CD players and Dire Straights released one of the first DDD CDs, Brothers in Arms. They were really expensive.

901s are designed to work with the EQ period. But it's weak "science". The bass is "fake" for lack of a better term.

BOSE is a very good marketing company. 



Wow! I have never received so much help and advice from any forum ever! This has been so helpful ... i don’t have the ears you guys have but im now very happy with my setup

Ignore those who don’t like your speakers. You’re happy and that’s what counts!

jonicurn - glad you found a way to connect the EQ. Ours we suspended on shelves hanging from the ceiling - they need to be ear-height if I recall and a certain/ideal distance from the rear wall given most of the energy comes from the rear speakers and ports. 

They would swing on their own listening to the 1812 with cannon. 


Happy to be on this little journey with you.  It looks like you're reach a good point.  

If you discover you've got another $300-$500 to spend on your system, there are many on this forum that can offer good advice on how to get even more from your 901s.


If you can hang them from the ceiling 2x2x2' in from the corners you'll get amazing room support for the bass. I loved mine with an sta 235b realistic receiver driving them.

Ok guys, new issue.  Thought about upgrading from the Sony HP 318 since in works but is in pretty rough shape so I came upon a Technics SA-AX720 reciever and wanted to give it a try with my Bose 901s (w EQ).  I looked at the back and and saw Tape Rec out and Play in jacks so i bought it but this didn't work.  So I'm assuming this is not the Tape Monitor Loop i need.  Am i right in thinking it must say "Tape Monitor" or "Pre and Main" not just Tape (rec out) and (play in)?  

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I looked at the back and and saw Tape Rec out and Play in jacks so i bought it but this didn't work.

That should work. You'll need to engage the front panel "tape monitor" switch to get the EQ in the loop.