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View Full Version : Bose Speakers: Not All You Thought They Were?

Jason Dunn
03-18-2004, 12:31 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html' target='_blank'>http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html</a><br /><br /></div>"Popularity. Popularity of a name brand doesn't equate to quality. Bose mystique feeds off of its well-targeted audience: the ignorant, ill-informed, mass-market consumers who search for simplified hifi audio solutions in "all-in-one" chain stores such as Walmart, Best Buy, Sam's Club, Price Costco, Sears, Montgomery Wards, etc. A Bose speaker, when put up against the in-store competition of Technics, Cerwin Vega, Pioneer, Kenwood, and Sony speakers, may indeed sound like a better buy. Since these Japanese mega-icons are established corporate monsters, the buyer will feel confident knowing that he or she made a thorough comparison with other household brand names. The truth is that generally the companies that make the best electronics, tend to make the worst speakers. Their mass-production business models of cheap labor, overseas assembly, nonexistant QA, and focus on bottom line spending leaves little room for the integral psychoacoustic research required for designing an outstanding speaker. <br /><br />I would estimate that the vast majority of current Bose owners are the victims of miseducation or a complete lack of audio education, and a false belief that they own the best speakers on the market. A small minority will buy Bose for the actual sound quality knowing full well that they are paying more for a badge than for performance. The size factor by itself should be a non-issue since Polk, Gallo, and others have already made smaller speakers than Bose for less the price and equally big sound. A simple way to test this theory is to see just how familiar a Bose owner is with the real industry leading brands, like Klipsch, Paradigm, Definitive Technology, and B&amp;W. "What's that? I've never heard of that no-name brand."<br /><br />Audio newbies often throw out the "But I heard that Bose is good!" defense, to which I respond "From who?" Was it a sound engineer, electrical engineer, materials scientist, studio engineer, sound producer, recording professional, musician, Mark Levinson? Ray Dolby? George Lucas? Anyone credible? Or was it your neighbor with the GoldStar walkman, Teac boom box, Funai mini-system, and Sylvania receiver? Perhaps the ubiquitous Bose Ads that they find in completely irrelevant magazines such as Popular Science, Times, Playboy, GQ, People, Astronomy, etc, had some sort of subliminal effect against the better of their judgment? But that's just conjecture..."<br /><br />This article was rather eye-opening. I admit it, I was one of those people who thought that anything with the Bose label on it was automatically high quality. They have impressive-sounding demo stations at big stores, and a big marketing machine that cranks out a lot of brand recognition. The sheer cost of Bose speakers made me shun then, but after reading this article, even if I had the money I probably wouldn't get them. ;-) I've always been a big fan of Klipsch speakers myself, although I hear Polk Audio is also an excellent brand. This article is worth a read if you're into serious audio, and I'd also be interested in hearing any counter-points to the author since this beyond my scope of knowledge.<br /><br />And if you're looking for 5.1 alternatives to Bose speakers, the author has <a href="http://www.intellexual.net/speaker5.html">yet another article to assist you.</a> Although I have to admit I'm a little dubious about someone who <a href="http://www.intellexual.net/images/5.jpg">puts a mirror behind their computer</a>...is watching yourself do email really that important? :lol:

Gary Sheynkman
03-18-2004, 01:15 AM
yeah, this article is definatly an eye opener 8O --that was my expression when I first read it :lol:

Personally I am a fan of Mission speakers but love the crisp sound of the klipsch..... mmmm there will be a day :wink:

03-18-2004, 02:25 AM
I admit it, I was one of those people who thought that anything with the Bose label on it was automatically high quality.

Ditto. :oops:

Now I know better! :D


03-18-2004, 03:29 AM
Always thought Bose were the best as well. Several years ago I was in the market for speakers and ended up buying the Klipsch Forte, just because I thought it sounded more accurate, and have been happy with them ever since. I'm no musician or musical expert, BTW, it was just my uneducated opinion.

Doubt I'd ever buy Polk though. Bought some Polk car speakers and they didn't hold up.

Lee Yuan Sheng
03-18-2004, 03:39 AM

Another fun read. :lol:

Gary Sheynkman
03-18-2004, 04:11 AM

Another fun read. :lol:

That article was credible up until this passage
2. Other Speaker Brands


Suppose that, for some reason, you either decide not to purchase Bose speakers, or you wish to compare Bose with other speakers. What other speakers should you consider? A complete answer to this question is outside the scope of this FAQ --- consult the "Good Sound for Cheap FAQ." But as a short answer, some brands names worth considering include PSB, Paradigm, Thiel, Mirage, Definitive Technology, B&W, Radio Shack LX5 (designed by Linaeum), Magnepan, RDL, KEF, NHT, Signet, Infinity, Spica, Energy, Quad, Martin-Logan, Celestion, Vandersteen, Apogee, Acarian Alon, and dozens of others. This is not to say that everyone loves all of these brands --- some people love them, some people hate them, and you should listen for yourself --- but most people on the audio newsgroups would rate most of these brands above Bose. Some brands names generally considered worse than, equal to, or at least not consistently superior to Bose include Polk, Technics, Klipsch, Sony, JBL, Kenwood, KLH, Pioneer, Cerwin-Vega, Advent, DCM, and dozens of others. Of course, again, opinions vary (Klipsch, in particular, has some strong proponents). Given the long list of worse speakers on the market, its actually rather surprising that only Bose receives such criticism on the audio newsgroups. Boston Acoustics and AR have and apparently still produce some excellent budget speakers but, unfortunately, many mediocre speakers as well.

Klipsch, Polk, Pioneer (at least in automobiles) are not superior to Bose!?? is he on crack?! :evil:

Granted that Polk and Pioneer dont even touch the high end Paradigm systems but to reduce Klipsch to Bose??

The promedia line of speakers couple with an Audigy 2 (with the external break out box :wink: ) will sound better than the TOTL Bose system if tweaked the right way :wink:

03-18-2004, 05:23 AM
I don't have Bose speakers, though like many here, I always just assumed they were good because of the reputation. Of course, I don't have the expertise to really evaluate the validity of this guy's argument. But I have to say, he has a very classic ultra-extremist style of writing that makes me question what he says. Although he certainly seems to make his case, he's clearly not impartial and I would no more know whether I can trust him than I would the Bose rep in an outlet store. What he has done, though, is planted that doubt in my mind, so sometime when I am in the market, I'll take the time to research whatever I buy carefully and not assume it's good just because of a familiar brand name.

Paul Martin
03-18-2004, 04:05 PM
Looking at his pics, I saw a pair of Sony V900 headphones. These are the ones I use daily for my on-air work. Love 'em!


03-18-2004, 04:32 PM
The only thing impressive with Bose is their Marketing efforts. More of their cash flow goes into Sales and Marketing by far then R&D (I've seen that stat a few years ago, I wish I find the source). Since the average consumer gravitates to brand recognition in a commodity when their shopping for a product, Bose knows that if they make their brand a household name then most people will think of them first.

Also, the way Bose sells their products (IMO) is misleading. They demonstrate a "large sound out of tiny speakers". A huge wall of sound does not equate to accurate quality sound. I challenge anyone to do a side by side comparison of Bose's Accutimas to a Klipsch system. Yes, the Bose will surprise you filling the room with sound out of those tiny speakers but that's about all.... The Klipsch (or any other comparable high end speaker) will present detail and accuracy to the music that Bose can't match. The soundstage will be three-dimensional, acoustic instruments will be very discernable....The Bose will give you a loud sound. Don't believe me? Listen yourself, it's very ear-opening...

Steven Hughes
03-18-2004, 08:22 PM

Another fun read. :lol:

Klipsch, Polk, Pioneer (at least in automobiles) are not superior to Bose!?? is he on crack?! :evil:

Granted that Polk and Pioneer dont even touch the high end Paradigm systems but to reduce Klipsch to Bose??

The promedia line of speakers couple with an Audigy 2 (with the external break out box :wink: ) will sound better than the TOTL Bose system if tweaked the right way :wink:

I agree with you stock Bose auto speakers are better than those from Klipsch, Polk, Pioneer,etc... but then again most stock headunits and speakers aren't as good as an aftermarket system. Sometimes a simple adding of an amp and replacing the stock speakers with slightly better ones makes a world of difference. :D

Audiophiles have debated what speakers are best for a while(check out www.audioreviews.com to see what I mean), basically the consumer has to hear the difference for themselves since each person "hears" things separately and the acoustics of a room has a lot to do with your resulting sound performance, unless you have a full home theatre with Sound deflectors and calibrated speaker positions for maximum effect of the sweet spot you can miss alot(a great receiver like the Pioneer VSXD812 or VSXD812 has Acoustic Calibration built-in). Sometimes adding a pre-amp or amplifier (for real high end tube amps can cost as much as a luxury car yeah around $30K for some custom hand built ones) can make a world of difference.

I have toured the BOSE plant and have a few friends that work there, but the sound from BOSE never seemed to ME to be great, except in their testing labs, they got some real cool new speaker designs coming out that are really revolutionary like a directional disc that focuses sound in particular area as soon as you step out of range a step or 2 you can't hear it... really cool...

Personally I was most impressed with Paradigm speakers and actually swung by their plant/store in Canada to pick up a few when I was in the area to get what I wanted and saved some money, buying direct. I am pleased with them and in my opinon sound better than my older B&Ws and Bang Os (which just look so cool...)

It is a personal thing...but consumers should be aware that a salesman is 90% more likely to try to sell you the most expensive setup they can to up their commission, there are the rare 10% that actually try to pair the best setup for the customer, like recomending bringing in your favorite CD or DVD so you have a reference and will even let you test drive them in your room you wish to set them up.

If you are looking for great cheap used speakers & equipment be sure to check out www.audiogon.com

Also the same goes for Televisions, most floor models aren't calibrated for "ideal" home viewing and usually have the blues peaked out to give an illusion that the television emits a "bright' picture...many people are fooled when they set it up out of the box or properly set it up that the picture is different than the showroom model...

Just be an informed consumer before heading out to the store...read,test,read, test, until you find what you are looking for. :D

Doug Johnson
03-18-2004, 10:58 PM
I have been trying to tell friends that Bose aren't very good for a very long time, but their marketing has obviously been more persuasive than me. A few have given in and bought them anyway.

In any case, the best value I have found for speakers is from Defintive Technology. They are kind of a relative unknown.

I had been using primarily Infinity's for a long time until I listened to some DefTech's (BP10B's) at my local Ultimate Electronics store, and to my ears (which I have spent years training) sounded much better than anything else in the room. Klipsch were too harsh, Martin Logan's too directional, KEF's somewhat muddy... the DefTech's were by far the best I heard, and they were a fraction of the price of most... I took home a complete 5.1 setup for just under $2000: 15" 500W sub, 2 bipolar towers, center channel, and 2 dipole surrounds. It sounds AMAZING!

Bottom line is, you will NEVER get that kind of sound out of any Bose, even if you spend the more money.

If you have never heard any bipolar (not dipole -- big difference!) see if you can find some a local retailer. The imaging is simply amazing!

Check out DefTech's bipolar speakers...

(No, I don't work for them, I'm just a very satisfied customer.)

Gary Sheynkman
03-19-2004, 06:35 AM
I agree about B&O...the most amazing LOOKING systems out there. :wink:

Suhit Gupta
03-19-2004, 02:06 PM
Bose speakers definitely still have their name, i.e. the typical Best Buy consumers that we always refer to still go for that Bose name. I wonder when and/or why did Bose speakers become not so good...

Anyways, in defense of Bose, I recently listened to their Acoustic Wave Radio (part of their Acoustic WaveŽ music system) and it did play a really good filling sound. I was quite impressed until I heard about the price tag. 8O See more pricing here (http://www.bose.com/controller;jsessionid=AavovoJn8WoKXhELPDPoysVM6dV6y3EBAUHZBmut1RgeOaU2p1LG!641185217?event=VIEW_PRODUCT_PAGE_EVENT&product=wave_subcategory&linksource=centernav_img_wavesystems&pageName=/index_2.jsp).


Gary Sheynkman
03-25-2004, 12:52 AM
I wonder when and/or why did Bose speakers become not so good...

it is not a question of WHEN or WHY. Bose may have stacked well against home sterio systems 15 years ago, but now they are just obsolete in both design and price