Bose- How can anyone honestly *NOT* hear how bad they are?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian Harnish, Mar 1, 2002.

  1. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    Tonight, I decided to head on over to a certain major retail chain (hint: BB is the abbreviation) to compare some speakers. I compared the following: Sony, Cerwin-Vega, Yamaha, JBL, and Bose (I have a morbid curiosity and wanted to see how crappy Bose really is). Okay, so I demoed Yamaha, then JBL (these brands sounded the best), Sony, then Cerwin-Vega.
    Then came Bose. I was STUNNED by what came out of those speakers. I mean...these were $299.99/pair and they sounded like...well...sorry for the language...but they sounded like $hit! Practically no midrange. The sound was harsh and the speakers contained no bass (keep in mind these were floorstanding models I listened to). Even the JBLs and Yamahas contained bass and midrange (and, of course, sounded 100x better than the Bose). For roughly $419.99, you can get a pair of JBL floorstanders that, when put against the $299.99 Bose floorstanders, are 100 times better than Bose (when the JBLs should cost $500.00 MORE).
    After demoing the above speakers, I'm still going with my Paradigm Reference Studio 40s that I decided on before. They are, without question, the best speakers I have listened to yet.
    Gah...my tax refund can't come soon enough!
    EDIT: Title is in reference to those individuals that have been unfortunate enough to fall victim to the Bose marketing machine. [​IMG]
     
  2. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

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    I can think of a few reasons.

    First, people can never perform A/B comparisons of Bose speakers to other products because the Bose speakers are almost always tucked away in a separate room. It's easy going when you have no competition.

    Second, I don't think most people know what to listen for when auditioning speakers. Face it, not everyone has a trained ear. Not everyone can pick up the subtle (or not so subtle) ways that a Bose system lacks compared to other speakers in the same price range (or less). Most people are simply impressed by the amount of sound coming out of those little cube speakers.

    Finally, people like the Bose speakers because of their size and simplicity. I know many people who still have problems programming a VCR. I dare not imagine what horrible things might happen if they tried to hook up my own surround sound system. If Bose has done one thing well, it's make a surround sound system that even Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel can assemble and use. For many people, that's worth the price they pay.
     
  3. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

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    Well, Bose certainly aren't the best but I'd say they perform equally well if not outperform the other crap you compared them to. Bose is all about size. Lets try to keep that in mind when we want to talk about how Bose sounds like crap compared to brand X. If I'm not mistaken those other speakers were 2-3 times larger with probably double the number of driver in them.
     
  4. Brian Shannon

    Brian Shannon Stunt Coordinator

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    In all fairness, alot of people cannot "hear" the difference. Possibly because they do not have good hearing, possibly because they do not know what to listen for.

    I have had high end audio since before I was married more than 20 years ago. To this day my wife still says she cannot hear the difference between speakers and components.

    If I take the time to point them out and explain what to listen for even she admits a difference.

    Bose caters more to the idea that form is much more important than function.
     
  5. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    I didn't know Bose even made $300 floorstanding speakers. Most of their stuff is, let's say, $100-300 quality at $1200+ prices.
    As for why people don't notice how bad Bose sounds, here's some reasons:
    • Bose speakers are always separated from other speakers in the store to make direct comparisons impossible.
    • Some people don't care about sound quality, they want tiny speakers that don't dominate a room. Bose excels at this.
    • People associate certain brand names with quality. The uneducated thinks that Bose makes top of the line speakers.
    • Demonstrations are rigged - they use music and movies that happen to sound good on the Bose, to the untrained ear. Try listening to your favorite CD on the Bose speakers before buying, if the store even lets you...
    • Crappy speakers tend to sound better on movies than with music, which is why the Bose demo booths usually have some action scene queued up. If they have music, it's music that just happens to sound "good" on the Bose.
    • People tend to associate "louder" or overly boosted bass and treble with "better sounding". This is why the Acoustimass systems have a boost at 80 hz and at 7000 hz. The average Joe thinks this sounds great in the store, but anyone who appreciates good audio will realize that this results in boomy one-notey bass and harsh treble.
    Need I go on?? [​IMG]
     
  6. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I actually thought that the Cerwin Vega's at BB sound the worst of everything they have there. I can't put my finger on it, but those things just sound BAD. I can't say the same thing for their 15" subwoofer. It actually sounds halfway decent.

    I'm not impressed with ANY speaker they have there. If I was forced to buy speakers from BB, I guess I would go with Yamaha.
     
  7. Rich Dunmore

    Rich Dunmore Extra

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    I had Acoustimass 10's for four years and thought they were great sounding speakers for home theater. Last fall on a whim, I went to a high-end audio store and listend to the Paradigm Reference speakers and was blown away. I immediately sold my Bose speakers and went out and bought the Paradigm Reference. It has increased my enjoyment of watching movies 10 fold. The only good thing I can say about Bose is they hold their value well. I bought the Acoustimass speakders four years ago for $900 and sold them for $700. Not bad.

    Brian, you are going to be extremely pleased once you get the Reference speakers as part of your system. The only bad thing is you are going to want to start upgrading everything else!!!
     
  8. Ray R

    Ray R Stunt Coordinator

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    I would like to add one more reason why many people think Bose speakers sound great. Bose is all about money and business and smart businessmen they are. People can be split into two groups; those who really have no experience with audio equipment other that boom boxes and car stereos and the other group is made up of everyone else.

    As a business person, you want to have the largest customer base possible. Well the first group of people I mentioned is the larger of the two groups. Better yet, most speaker manufacturers focus almost all their efforts in the second group of people. This means almost no competition.

    Everything about Bose marketing is geared towards people who know vurtually nothing about audio equipment. A stand alone display of Bose speakers shows a complete system. A wall full of speakers is too intimidating to this customer group. A/B testing would also be intimidating because they aren't sure what they should be listening for. All they know is that the Bose speakers sound better than what they recall their FM car radio sounded like on the way to the store.

    Another issue about Bose has been their lack of published specs. This group has little concern for specs. and surely wants to avoid buyers remorse which could happen months down the road when they start comparing speaker specs.

    Lastly, without proof, I'm going to make the accusation that the Bose sound has been fine tuned to appeal to this group. I would find it hard to believe that Bose has not done a lot of research into psychoacoustics and have focused on sound qualities that the untrained ear would find pleasing.

    People like Bose because they design and market their speakers for a specific group of people and who can deny that they don't do a very good job at it.
     
  9. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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  10. Andy Anderson

    Andy Anderson Second Unit

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  11. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Yeah.
    I've heard that in their video demonstrations they show a confused guy displaying the rear of either an Onkyo or Denon to contrast it with the "simplicity" of the Bose component. I don't know, but this image somehow brings to mind the ape man in 2001 playing with the monkey bone to learn to hunt. The demo would've really had impact if they had Thus Spake Zarathustra playing as background music.[​IMG]
    Reg
     
  12. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Like Cletus the slack-jawwed yokel.

    Brandy, sara, katelin, maury, laury, brandon, burnadette, ......

    Hey maw...looks like we're eating tonight!

    OK, enough simpsons. Just too darn funny.

    Nice post RayR. You really hit the nail on the head there.
     
  13. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Harley-Davidson is in many ways the Bose of the Motorcycle world.
     
  14. Tom Tubbiola

    Tom Tubbiola Stunt Coordinator

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    I think Bose should revive the old Samsonite commercial theme and have a gorilla toss around a bose receiver a few times. [​IMG]
     
  15. Todd Christ

    Todd Christ Stunt Coordinator

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    are you talking about the Acoustimass stuff - or their better quality 901's?
     
  16. Calvin S

    Calvin S Agent

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    When I was in Tweeter about a week ago to test out receivers, the saleman was demoing one of the Bose systems to a customer using their Bass demo disk (I think U-571). UGGGGGGGHHHHH. Through the whole demo, I was wondering where the sound was -- the depth charges sounded like depth pops. I finally sarcastically asked (my wife told me later I was a little mean) to hear it again with some real speakers. Even without comparing it to anything else, it was obvious the sound just wasn't there.
     
  17. Andy Anderson

    Andy Anderson Second Unit

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  18. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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  19. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    Well, I started the thread about Bose' suspicious practices of using high-end electronics to demo their speakers while implying that they were using their own receiver. That aside, here is my personal review of the Bose Acoustimass speakers. This is based on my experience demoing them in store last weekend, and having listening to them for many hours at a friend's house 6 months ago. Some of you may be surprised.

    Let's first consider the Bose speakers for HT applications only. Bose speakers are all dipoles, as you all should be aware (note: Bose calls them "direct/reflecting" meaning one cube is pointed at the wall and the other into the listening area. This is supposed to provide the accuracy of directs and the diffusion of dipoles. However, to me they just sound like dipoles.) This means they provide a wide sound disperson, and good surround envelopment. This is true not just for Bose of course, but for any set of dipolar speakers. Based upon personal observation, I believe that the maximum level of envelopment can be achieved by using dipoles as surrounds only. Using dipoles for fronts and center is overkill in this regard and unnecessary unless they are using in a 3.1 channel system with no surrounds, like the Bose 3-2-1 system. Since I prefer the diffusion of at least using dipoles for surrounds, the aspect of surround envelopement on the Bose system rates as a positive. They do indeed "fill the room" with sound, as any set of dipoles will.

    Second for HT, the Bose speakers emphasize (or are forward within) portions of the frequency spectrum that give it a detailed sound. Therefore, the Bose speakers do fairly well at reproducing movie sound effects, at least in the mid to high frequency ranges.

    Third, the base module in their system does not reproduce the entire bottom octave. You definitely miss the deep, low frequency stuff below 30 hz. Furthermore, the base, though forward and "loud," is noticeably inaccurate in the mid base range to the point where it sometimes sounds good for reproducing sound effects in that range, and other times not. The base element rates as a negative for HT.

    Fourth, the Bose speakers produce very inaccurate sound. This is due to two factors. First, they are not at all flat on the frequency spectrum. Second, because they are dipoles, the sound is bouncing off of surfaces and suffering from resulting inaccuracy. These inaccuracies produce extremely *inconsistent* results when listening to music. This is why movies which contain lots of music can leave a careful listener wincing in certain portions where the Bose sound appears to bear little relationship to what is enamated from the source. This is the downside of the tradeoff that Bose makes for the great dipole dispersion, and is an unfortunate choice, because it is unnecessary in the front soundstage. This is a negative for HT, but only for certain portions of certain movies.

    Overall, grading on a system where "C" is *truly* average, I give the Bose the following HT marks:

    Overall HT quality: C+ (a little above average)

    With a decent subwoofer, say the Hsu VTF-2 replacing the

    Bose base module: B

    Overall value rating: D+ (because it delivers C+ quality for B prices)

    If you had an option of saving $400 by not purchasing the base module, and buying the Hsu VTF-2 instead, the value rating moves to: C (average)

    If you throw in aesthetics as a consideration, the value ratings can move up or down, depending on how you value that aspect. The above ratings are for sonics only.

    As a point of reference, I rate my own Paradigm Reference system as follows:

    HT quality: B+

    Value: B

    FOR MUSIC, I'll keep this brief, because my opinion is outlined above. These are inaccurate speakers that are non-flat in their FR, and dipoles are not the best for music listening. The results are not always bad, just VERY inconsistent. They might sound great for a song or part of a song, or for a whole album, than all the sudden sound terrible. I have even heard some extremely strange sonic artifacts at times while listening to music through these speakers. My own Paradigm Reference setup ranges from "great" to "good" for music, with the very ocassional "average" thrown in. The Bose ranges from "good" to "awful."

    These speakers are particularly poor in the lower mid-band, e.g. male vocals and some instruments. This is so because the cubes only go down to 290 hz, and the "base module" must pick up the slack from there. Those paper bass drivers are simply not going to handle mid range sound properly.

    Quality: D+

    Value: D- (D+ sound at a B price)

    As a point of Reference, I rated an Aiwa bookshelf system I demoed in a store as a "D-" for music, so even for music, the Bose are not the worst I ever heard. The difference there is between *inconsistent* and consistently *bad*.

    The bottom line, if you like their esthetics/ergonomics, and esthetics are important to you, Bose speakers could be a rational option for HT applications only, most particularly with a better base unit. Beyond those specific parameters, I would obviously steer clear. However, I do find them slightly superior at least for HT purposes to most (not all) HTB packages in the $300-$500 range, if for no other reason just simply by virtue of the dipolar sound.
     
  20. Chuck_C

    Chuck_C Stunt Coordinator

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    quote:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Harley-Davidson is in many ways the Bose of the Motorcycle world.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That was my thoughts exactly as I was reading this thread.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The new V-Rod is SWEET though!

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes and No. It's very interesting but I was very disappointed when I saw and sat on it a few weeks ago at the Chicago bike show. It's a lot smaller than I thought it would be. Basically a stripped down cruiser that they are trying to turn into a sportsbike. Neither fish nor foul. I thought it would be much, much better after all the hype and espically the hour program about it on the Discovery channel. For instance, the welding was very rough and sloppy on the frame. You can get a real sportsbike for 1/3 of what this thing will cost you to get it home.

    H-D are the best marketers I have ever seen. Bar none. When you can get a H-D tatoo out of a vending machine, you know you have it locked up.
     

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