Opinions on the Bose 901

A friend of mine just gave me an old pair of Bose 901 Series IV. All the foam surrounds have crumbled, but the cabinets and the EQ are in decent shape. A foam surround kit plus the dust caps is less than $90 USD at ( www.partsexpress.com ).

I am pretty much set with my Swans M1 near field system--it rocks, especially after adding a 3000W ONEAC 220V isolation transformer. I am looking at using the Bose as HT speakers or as a background music system--I like to have music all over while I cook...

I am seeking unbiased opinions as to how I could use these speakers in a 2 channel HT setup:

The Series IV has a third contact between the (+)and the (-)(is it a ground?) which was used with the Bose Receiver's "spatial control". It allowed changing how much energy was sent towards the inside or outside reflecting surfaces--it was like a fader control, but from inside to outside.

If I use them for HT, I could use a homemade preamp that would allow such control and the 901's could become a "virtual center channel" by shifting the energy balance towards the area between the speakers. I think this could offer a neat movie viewing effect in the absense of a Pro Logic, THX, DTS, 5.1, 7.1, 10.2 or a 15.3 decoder.

A false gypsum wall could be constructed for having my 27" Sony WEGA flush and provide a good reflective surface for the 901's.

I will appreciate any constructive input.


This may get ugly
I would assume these would be great for surr.-- mounted up high. I had the original 901 back in the early 70's.I could lay on the floor and listen to the sound coming from all over the place within the room. I mean isn't that what dipoles do? At 90bucks you could do a whole lot worse.
The bose are truely an interesting design meant to create a mix of direct and reflected sound before the days of digital time delays. Unequalized, they have a haystack response as you would expect from the size of the driver, relatively flat from about 150-1kHz. Very substantial EQ is used which translates to a requirement for power at loud listening levels (200W/ch). You might give them a try as rear speakers in an HT system since they should really spread the sound around the room. In this application, you might even try them unequalized just to see what happens. Have fun.
Did anyone here ever get to play with the "spatial control" slider in a Bose receiver? Seems to me that no one else knows...

Someone in AA posted that he recones them for $150. Not bad.

Hello Psyc> My only experience with the 901's was an a/b test done back in 1979 against large original Advents (which I bought). The 901's seemed to have a fuller sound at high volumes but were no match for the Advents at a normal listening volume. BTW my normal listening volume is generally higher than the typical persons so I'm saying you really had to crank the 901's to best the Advents. They may do ok for you especially in HT mode and if you crank them. Then again you might recone them and try them. If you don't like them sell them on Ebay probably at a good profit since everyone knows that great sound and Bose are synonymous
Art, I think you don't get it about the 901's. This is what Bose has posted about the 901's on their website: "Only live sounds better." Anyone seconds that? Show of hands, please!

If they only knew I don't want to use them for music listening! Just for HT "splash" effects...

Although, I've read in other forums that some guys have mounted JBL Pro Audio compression horns atop the 901's...My Proton dual mono amp and some ASL $99.00 10W tube monoblocks, an el cheapo pro audio electronic x-over and a self powered sub and we've got a party! A LOUD PARTY! It would sound decent, I'm sure.
OK, 1st, doing the surrounds on these is a lot harder than it looks, in my opinion. I do a fair amount of surrounds, I say the larger ones are easier to do, far easier. I am currently doing a set of 901's for a guy that got "frustrated" and made a mess on the first few. If you decide to do this, write me and I will share with you my caveats.
The spatial control I have played with on the reciever, I am regretfully old enough to have used them new, and I am trying to restore a dead one at the moment. Diffuses the sound stage for lack of a better word,making it broader, and if there is anything a Bose does not need, its to have its sound stage broadened or diffused. Bose used to make a statement about how music would sound "larger than life". Thats all fine and good, but I never wanted it quite that large. I kinda think of the Bose as the 1st unintentional surround sound receiver. They are beautiful pieces though.
I think in a HT situation 901's could actually be pretty good, especially for the ambient noises of day to day living that also gets portrayed, their broad spread of sound could actually make a movie quite involving.
I think it might be fun to give it a try in the situation your describing
Thanks a lot, Jvia. I concur with you that 901's could be very involving for HT. Also, the Series IV are the prettiest of all. One of my speakers and front grille is somewhat discolored from the sun--I wonder if the cloth could be obtained through Bose or somewhere...

I am old enough to have played with them Bose receivers, while working at Stereo Warehouse, but I was 20 years old at the time. I would have a "spatial control" built not to diffuse the sound more, but rather to concentrate it towards the area between the speakers. This would create a "virtual center channel", where sound would appear to emanate from the TV screen, yet still allowing a very wide L to R soundstage.

I am also thinking of designing my own stands...
I don't know that I would be using them for the front channels, you of course will do what you want, but I think the would be far better as sides or rears to give you that illusion of being surrounded. I have difficulty with the idea of 901's being able to give you a strong center channel, its just not what they were designed to do. Good luck though.
*bites his tongue, hard*
Jvia, that's where the spatial control comes into play! And that's why I'm excited they're series IV. The new ones don't have that option...

I can always try by using a corner and trying the gypsum wall trick there...there would be more sound reflecting from the center, w/out having to use a spatial control.

Hey, got to give me credit for being creative...
I grew up with a Father that was heavily into audio and as such, i spent a lot of my personal free time as a teenager hanging out at Musicraft, Pacific Stereo, Playback, Schaak Electronics, etc...

As such, yes, i remember the Bose receivers distinctly. Only the 100 wpc model had the spatial control, the smaller receiver didn't have it. The reason for this is that the 100 wpc model was really four 50 wpc amps tied together. The smaller receiver ( think it was 40 wpc ) did not have this type of internal construction, so they couldn't offer that type of feature.

All the spatializer did was to divide how much signal was fed to the inner panel vs the outer panel by swinging the amount of signal between the two 50 wpc amps driving that speaker. In effect, it was a balance control for each individual speaker. You could emphasize the two outer panels for greater width or the two inner panels for a more central image. This could probably be duplicated, but i would have to think that it would not be worth the effort.

I think that most "audiophiles" are embarrassed to say that they've owned Bose, let alone admit it publicly. THAT is why you haven't gotten very many responses. My thoughts are that if you haven't owned Bose, you are either way ahead of the learning curve or you've missed part of your "audiophile education" somewhere along the way. Personally, i would prefer learning first hand and exposure to skipping lessons and having to guess. Like anything else in this world though, to each their own.

As to trying to do a "homebrew spatializer", i would not bother. I think that most folks would use these as surrounds in an HT system, as they are best suited for that. If you were to use them as mains, i would turn them around so that you had 89% direct radiation and 11% reflected. This would not only aid in a smoother frequency response due to the lack of reflections, it should also improve apparent transient response and clarity. After all, what better to try and reproduce the multitude of spoken word passages that are found in movies than a multitude of direct radiating midrange drivers ???? This would also minimize beaming since the panels are splayed, making for a wider sweet spot and better audibility for those not sitting "front and center". You could always play with adding a tweeter and / or subs to fill things out, should you feel the need. Sean
OK, confession time for me and the Bose 901's.

When I was a kid and didn't know much about audio I traveled to a local high end dealer to purchase a stereo system consisting of a Thorens turntable with Ortofon cartridge, a Macintosh amp and preamp and Bose 901's.

In my youthful exuberance, I purchased the turntable and Mac gear and auditioned the Bose 901 for almost eight minutes before selecting another speaker!
Are you really, really sure you should be describing the person who gave them to you as a FRIEND?
Well Sean, I agree Bose *is* part of the learning curve. Although I never owned Bose, my high school had one hell of a Bose fever. There was this girl in my HS class whose father was the Bose factory manager (they were made in PR at the time). Needless to say, Bose speakers were prolific in my HS...

I had been thinking that using a compression horn on top would be the most efficient use of the speaker--biamped with a couple of $99 ASL monoblocks...you say that would offer excellent dialogue and soundstage (and I add SLAM!).

Most likely I'll go for the $150 refoaming.

Albertporter, you're not the only one--in my circle of HS audio guys, Yamaha's w/ beryllium drivers were the preferred loudspeakers, not Bose...
This is not a Bose bashing thread--I'm serious about what I've posted. What Sean proposes does make a lot of sense. I have read about it elsewhere. Bolting a JBL compression horn on top and adding a sub would yield both a very nice HT and background music system.
Psychicanimal, that's alot of work to go through for a piece of crap with crumbling foam...Hmmm, let's see, for a greater measure of marginal utility you could go out into a field with a shot gun and...
Keep bashing the 901's...
Psychicanimal, I once owned a pair of 901s and, while I wouldn't choose them today, I enjoyed them immensely at the time. Anyone remember when all the craze was to hang them from the ceiling on chains?

Anyway, I should think they will work quite well as surrounds, provided that your room is big enough. God knows they'll do anything dynamically that the HT tracks demand of them. Bose usta make a big thing of advertising that they had "unlimited" power handling capability.

Let me second what Jvia had to say, though: Replacing the surrounds is a bitch.

Let us know how it turns out.

Thanks for coming out of the closet, Bishopwill!

I am not into video as heavily as you are (nor have the resources)--I just want decent 2 channel sound for my 27" Sony WEGA. The Bose firing in direct mode will do just fine. I was given a series VI EQ w/my series IV speakers; I read that some people are using it with the series IV for better results.

We all go through phases--Bose is one of them. That's what Sean was pointing out. You should have seen my high school!

As for the project, there's a place in Oregon that does the surrounds for $150 and I can just send them the drivers...

I think it's going to be decent--and I plan to design my own stands (no chains).
Well at least with no chains there won't be any weak "links" in the system.
Albert, i just read your earlier post about "back when i was a kid". I didn't think they had electronics back when "you were a kid" : ) Sean ( still wet behind the ears )
Albert, we're dyin here. (GRIN)
You are so right. At least there is not a room full of drunks sitting at tables staring at us.
Psychic: I think that Doug (Sedond) came up with a better use for them. He uses them for bedside tables (guess that he also has the original stands). That said, if you can repair them for $150 they should be fun to play around with (this is a hobby afterall:-). I'm certain that you will also try them as main speakers (how could you resist)? I currently have a pair of Realistic/Japan single driver speakers (from the 50's) that I am playing around with. These were only $5 though as I am a cheap date.
In the early 80s I owned a pair of Bose 901s (I think they were IIIs) and they were great. They went loud, were unbreakable and made your typical rock record sound real ballsy. Tonal truthfulness, soundstaging, imaging, low level dynamics, transparency, etc. - look someplace else. But if all you want to do is blast rock and roll, then the 901s are a credible speaker. I can imagine where they would work wonders as rear effects speaker in an HT setup.
The total cost of build of materials for Bose 901's is less than $200.00. If Bose sold these at a reasonable mark-up, I'd say something nice about them. Since Bose's only agenda is to take as much money from unsuspecting people as they can, I have nothing nice to say about this company, period!

Why did I even post on this thread? Becuase anyone who supports Bose in anyway propenciates the business concept of trying to screw as many people as they can, making as much money as possible, with lies, mis-information and splashy ad campaigns.
Dekay: Sedond e-mailed me the pictures of his 901 nighttables. Maybe they'll end with me! I am really leaning towards using the 901's as main speakers in 2 channel HT, with the 8 drivers firing directly. Just like Sean posted. They would also serve as background music speakers. WHY NOT?
Psychic: Doug told me about his "side" tables quite some time ago and it's a story that has proved impossible to forget. I also have some old Janszen speakers (with electrostatic tweeters) that a local record dealer gave me. I figured that I might rebuild the power supplies (for safety reasons) @ some point and give them to my Godson or perhaps just screw around with the tweeter modules on my own. They are butt ugly, have no grills and have the thumpiest bass that I ever recall hearing (but they are unique).