question about BOSE reputation


I have never listened to a BOSE system but I have heard that many audiophiles "hate" this brand. Is this brand really that bad for the money? The other day I saw in the Bose web page a home theater system, the Lifestyle 50, which retails for $3700. I was wondering if there are a lot of options better than Bose for much less money. For example, do you guys think that I can go better with a Denon receiver and some not too expensive speakers from...B&W or Infinity for example? If so, which would be the least expensive Denon A/V receiver and B&W or Infinity speakers to beat away that $3700 Bose system? How much would that system be? Your comments and suggestions will be highly appreciated. Thanks. Jair
jair2fdc
Bose was (long long ago) an 'up and coming' high end'ee sort of company. Then they quickly sold out to mass market hype and B.S. in a major way. They are all marketing and only a small value for the money. Other companies have done the same... but many of them do eventually redeem themselves with a good product or two (Infinity comes to mind... and Marantz went to hell and came back) But Bose seems doomed to create mountains of Low-Fi crap with a blizzard of Gee-wiz advertizing. They represent the absolute in bull-sh*t to most High-End'ers
I've never heard that specific system but I'd be willing to bet a week's paycheck that you could come up with many better alternatives for the same money. I'll compare retail to retail even though Bose doesn't discount and almost every other line does, but you could buy the AVR-3801 ($1200), a series of five speakers from the PSB line with some floor-standers up front($800-ish), the matching center ($300-ish) and some small bookshelf speakers for the rear ($250). You have almost enough left to buy the Sony DVP-S9000ES ($1500), a cadillac of a DVD player with SACD capability and superb CD performance. Other speaker lines could be swapped in at the same prices, depending on taste (B&W, NHT, Infinity, Boston Accoustics).

Again, these are list prices - you could buy all of this for less than the retail prices quoted brand new, and you'll be hard-pressed to find the Bose system discounted (much) from the retail price you quote, so this is more than a fair comparison. Do some work, potentially buy used for at least part, and you can do WAY better. In any case, if you bought the system I outlined and a/b'd it with the Bose system, there's no question in my mind that you'd greatly favor the system above. -Kirk

My wife once demanded that we do something about those big speakers in the living room. At the time I was using a 20 year old system with Tandberg separates and B&W DM-14 speakers. Since she loves her music,I went down to the local electronics "boutique" and got their best Bose Lifestyle system and hooked it up. She loved the look. I turned it on and she made me take it back the very same day. No surprise. All looks and no sound. Fortunately I had already spoiled her with good sound, and later when I upgraded to a huge Amp and BIG speakers, I did not hear a word of complaint! Sometimes she says I am manipulative, but that's another story.
Wholeheartly agree with Khomas' above post. I think for $3700.00, you can purchase a FAR better system, especially if you are willing to purchase used equipment. Just by your questions and comments, I would like to offer the following advice and comments: Trying to build a system from scratch requires a little homework on your part ... what do I listen to? what percentage of the time would I expect to listen to music from my HT system? what are my listening/home theatre room dimensions and sonic characteristics, and how much power do I need? what features (component inputs, video switching, etc.) do I need? what upgrade paths in video/dvd or cd reproduction might I expect in next couple of years? A book that might help is Robert Harley's "The Complete Guide to High-End Audio"; $30.00 that is wisely spent. Before you go and start putting equipment together, do your homework, and then get out there to listen (and look) at equipment. Put together a short list. The questions on mixing and matching components can then be answered by the golden ears found here.
I recently bought a 27" tv for my basement. For fun, I then got a Technics surround sound receiver for $180 and a set of Cambridge Soundworks speakers for around $150. I plugged in a Radio Shack cd3400. This set up sounds as good or better to me than the Bose lifestyle systems that I have heard. No, the above will not make me rethink the thousands I have spent on high end stuff (like comparing a hot dog to filet mignon), but I think it helps confirm what Bose is worth.
I've never heard that specific system but I'd be willing to bet a week's paycheck that you could come up with many better alternatives for the same money. I'll compare retail to retail even though Bose doesn't discount and almost every other line does, but you could buy the AVR-3801 ($1200), a series of five speakers from the PSB line with some floor-standers up front($800-ish), the matching center ($300-ish) and some small bookshelf speakers for the rear ($250). You have almost enough left to buy the Sony DVP-S9000ES ($1500), a cadillac of a DVD player with SACD capability and superb CD performance. Other speaker lines could be swapped in at the same prices, depending on taste (B&W, NHT, Infinity, Boston Accoustics).

Again, these are list prices - you could buy all of this for less than the retail prices quoted brand new, and you'll be hard-pressed to find the Bose system discounted (much) from the retail price you quote, so this is more than a fair comparison. Do some work, potentially buy used for at least part, and you can do WAY better. In any case, if you bought the system I outlined and a/b'd it with the Bose system, there's no question in my mind that you'd greatly favor the system above. -Kirk

Bose and B&O have a similar nitch market. Small, good looking, easy to use = very high WAF factor. Both at one time were approaching high fi (not necessarily high end), but both decided on this market. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you are looking for best sound for your $$, that's not what either of these companies are about. While I won't mention names I have spoken with one of the higher ups at Bose who is very upfront that this is the market they want. They are not looking to sound the best, or be the best value (based on sound quality). They are looking to capture the market that has the disposable $$ to spend on easy to use, easy to set up, and good looking equipment. Sounds very profitable to me.
A friend lent me his Bose lifestyle 25 system.It sucked huge.This was 2 years ago and at the time i had a 20 year old kenwood integrated with 20 year old Klipcsh hersey speakers.It killed the bose so bad it was not even close.
All excellent posts. Bose has capitalized on the fact that while most people like music, the vast majority of them don't care about serious listening and prefer something that blends in or is virtually invisible in their living space and delivers something that resembles their tunes. As a system for background music it works; if you are a serious listener it will disappoint, and can easily be bettered for far less money.
If your main concern is tiny speakers, you may want to take a look at the Gallo Micro system. The speakers are round balls the size of an orange and the powered subwoofer is also quite small. Much better sound than the Bose systems that I have heard and a lot less money. They offer different mounting options (floor stands, wall brackets and/or simple rings that the balls can be placed on) and color options as well.
Jair, as you've noticed from the thread above, you've not gotten many specific recommendations other than avoid BOSE like the plague. This is good advice.

Regarding your specific questions, most here are probably not that familiar with specific models that you are interested in as there is definitely an anti-home-theatre bias in this forum. I'm afraid that I am guilty of this bias as well.

While I cannot give specific guidance on individual models, I can identigy some other reputable, high-value brands that you'll want to take a look at. Denon makes good gear and you should also consider HT receivers made by Onkyo and Yamaha, brands I would consider relatively comparable. With respect to receivers, you probably are not going to be able to discern much if any difference between these three brands. Ultimately, your choice should boil down to power (buy all you can afford), features, and price.

Regarding speaker packages, KEF and Mission make some very reasonable, both in terms of cost and musicality, HT speaker packages. Remember that the choice of speakers will influence the final sound of your system more than any other component, so listen to as many competing brands as you possibly can.

Finally, be very skeptical about expensive cables and interconnects. I guarantee that you'll be pressured to buy such novelties. The plain ugly truth is that in a HT setup at the price point you are considering, these trinkets will make no sonic difference whatever, but they'll make a hell of a difference in the profit margin for the retailer that cons you in to buying them. Good luck and caveat emptor.
I agree with all of the above posts. I decided early on to keep seperate audio and home theatre systems. I really don't care much for television or movies, but my wife and kids do so I put together a decent system for them. Gallo Micro and MPS150 subwoofer speakers, NAD T760 receiver, Toshiba SD 1600 DVD player, DirectTV. Used bulk Monster 16 gauge wire with bananas, Monster interconnects. This system is hardly considered high-end HT, but compared to the Bose set up, it sounds better and is just as visually appealing. I went to a Bose store and heard their systems, they do some demo thing to impress you. Hurt my ears, I found the Bose system similar in sound to most Japanese rack systems. So, threw together my HT from used stuff here on Audiogon, spent half what I would have had I gone the Bose route, and the family likes it plenty. Jeff
Jeff, it's ok, tell the truth, you have like nine systems and must resort to naming them like children to keep track. Too modest. I really have to say, Kthomas has given very good advice. I second a line like PSB, and recommend you check into the the guy on ebay selling complete psb HT systems at a substantial discount to retail.

As for Bose, I find they aren't ordinarily worth talking about, other than how cute they are. The sound is riduculous I think, but can see where people might think it sounds good (I guess). I won't say more because they will try and sue my butt like they do everyone else.

Am gonna disagree with Doc up there, don't think there is a bias against HT operating in the forum any more than there are feelings on everything one way or another. I generally find good help is available on any subject.

Further, though the advice to watch the snake sellin cables is good (they really do try and git you on this), don't be discouraged from trying cables overall. I have found that some of the biggest bang for the buck improvements I have made to my system has come from cable upgrades; differences resolvable even at your price point. You don't need to go crazy, but definitely consider them.
I think the Bose system is an HT system with CD/Tuner built-in. Se let's see... All Brand New.. 2 Pairs of B&W DM302 at $250 each; a CC-3 Center $180; with a HSU VTF-2 Sub $500. That's $1180... Add a Stan Warren modified Pioneer DVD player $500. Onkyo TXDS595 HT Receiver (75 watts X 5) $500.
(Now up to $2180.) Now we need MIT T2 speaker cables X 5, interconnets for the DVD Player, Digital and video cables $600. 2 pair of B&W speaker stands $160. Monster HTS2000 power strip $150. Total is $3090. That leaves you $600 to buy lots of CDs and DVDs. Happy Listening.
Other than the sound of Bose, there is one thing that nobody talks about when speaking of Bose and that's how unflexible and upgradeable their systems are. What I mean is this. I was talking to a person at my job about a movie on DVD and I mentioned that I have the same movie but on DTS and that it sounded awesome!! The person said that his system is only Dolby Digital and they were going to call Bose about upgrading to DTS or even seeing if it was available for that matter. Anyway, it turns out that in order for this person who just spent $3,000 for their system to get DTS they had to buy a new Bass Module which had a DTS decoder inside of it. I said WHAT!!! You have to buy a new Bass Module in order to experience DTS!!??!! It seems that Bose doesn't want you to integrate your system with any other system so they fix it so that if you want to upgrade to another standard offered by the industry you have to pay them once again and the module had the cost of $500.00 to go with it. Now if you feel you want more flexibility you have to either do one of two things and that's pay Bose again for the upgrade or start all over and pay for another system other than Bose. So it seems in short that you pay a hefty fee to get in with Bose and you will pay a hefty fine to get out and change teams. Robbery!!!!!
Sugarbrie, careful, don't go listing yer gear, you'll git slammed! Laying out your HT set up is bound to draw criticism. We should all know by now we shouldn't be mentioning audio/video gear here, it brings out the worst in some of us. *g*
no highs....nolows....must be bose.
Jeff, Its not my HT System. The poster asked for a system under $3700 that blows the Bose away. I did it with lots of extras and $600 to spare.
No matter what separates you get, you won't get anything worse than Bose. For a budget like you have I would go for what you can get a good deal on, and spend the most on speakers.
OR, if you want separates, try a Parasound processor, their intro model is like $800. You can then get a 5 channel amp like the 200 watt x 5 Anthem MCA 5 for $999 (discounted but that's the going price). You can then get a 5 speakers and a subwoofer for the remaining 3700 - 1800= 1900 right? Go with what fits, I suggest something like Polk (not the tiny ones), Infinity, Paradigm etc...