That's it, I've traded my whole kit for a Bose Lifestyle 35

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by PaulDA, Apr 18, 2004.

  1. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    [​IMG]

    Just kidding. Yesterday, my wife, daughter and I went to the outlets in Aurora, Ohio (to grab up a few items before we move back to Canada in a couple of weeks). While my wife was shoe shopping, I decided to visit the Bose factory outlet on site. My initial reason was to see if they carried any other equipment (I'm looking for a DVD player), as I saw someone come out with an Onkyo receiver.

    I did a quick check around and found nothing that interested me. As I was about to leave, a woman asked if I wanted to sit through a demo in their theatre room. I had some time to kill and, to be honest, I'd not listened to a (presumably) properly set up and calibrated Bose system in isolation (only some crappy set ups in Best Buy and Future Shop, where half the time things weren't even plugged in).

    You'd have to have been there to properly appreciate what I'm about to describe, but I'll do my best.

    The room was about 20'x15'x9'. There were four rows of chairs facing a white, painted panel of plywood/melamine (the screen). In the left front corner was a potted plant. Right next to the plant was a pedestal about four feet in height, with a standard bookshelf-sized speaker box draped with a black cloth. This was about 1 1/2' towards the centre from the left wall. In the right front corner was the same set up, minus the potted plant. In the centre, beneath the "screen", was a table with a similar sized box lying horizontally and draped with the same black cloth. To the left of this box was what appeared to be a DVD player stacked on a receiver. On each side wall, about a foot below the ceiling and five feet out from the back wall, was mounted a Bose "split-cube" satellite speaker.

    For this particular demo, I was alone, so I picked the seat that was as close to the centre of the room as possible. The lights were dim. Curious about the receiver/DVD unit on the table, I got up and went to examine it. It was a fake shell, the kind you see in furniture stores on display. Fair enough.

    The woman walks in, and begins to recite a prepared text. I tried not to laugh (and mostly succeeded, though I may have let out a small chuckle). I could see if the room had lots of people that the prepared text would be the way to go, but I was alone. She could have been a bit less robotic in her manner (but I digress--I wish I could remember her text, but suffice it to say it was as insipid as you might imagine). As she finished up, she went to the fake shell and PRESSED THE POWER BUTTON TO TURN IT ON (despite the fact she'd seen me examine it closely already and no one else was in the room). On her way out to start the presentation she told me she'd be back with a surprise.

    The presentation was a slide-show set to dialogue and music. Cheesy pictures of incredibly complex equipment setups coupled with others of a clumsy fool who knocked off his stand mounted speaker while chasing his dog were juxtaposed with others that showed a nice neat layout of living room that had sound without any apparent source. As part of the narration, the narrator actually said "Life-like sound should be heard, not seen." Various sounds and pieces of music were played over the system. Halfway into the presentation, a couple and their teenaged daughter came into the room.

    When the demo was almost finished, the woman came back with the "surprise". She went to the front, pushed each box into the pedestal, revealing the tiny sats (did the same with the centre). She then removed the fake shell from over the Bose amp/dvd unit. TA-DA!!! She explained that the tiny sats were the finest in available speaker technology and the bass module was like having a subwoofer, and more (more what, she didn't specify).

    We were then taken to another display with a widescreen Phillips TV, where we were shown the difference between the TV sound and the system sound. At that point, she asked if there were any questions. I thought I'd try something polite so I asked what the power output of the receiver/DVD unit was, intending to follow up with "Will the unit work with my speakers?". Her answer was Bose doesn't reveal specs of any kind to anyone, preferring that buyers judge by what they hear. I considered, for a moment, being a real shit-disturber, but found I had no real energy to waste on someone who'd fail to understand anything I would say. Sadly, I watched the others go to the cash with credit card in hand.

    For what it's worth, the sound of the system was not horrible. It wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible. I would equate it with my old Denon AVR1600, cheap Sony DVD/VCR combo and Harman Kardon HKTS6 sat/sub system (total RETAIL value~1000$US). However, for the Lifestyle 35 (the top of the line, according to the saleswoman) the factory outlet price was 2700$US (who knows what full retail in a regular store would be[​IMG] ).

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot. The second system she showed us was the 28 (I believe). Though she would not reveal the specs, she told me the receiver/DVD unit is the same in all the Lifestyle systems. The advantage of the 35 is SMALLER [​IMG] sats, with "crisper, cleaner sound". They were certainly smaller. As for crisp and clean, about as much as my HKTS6s, I guess.

    A couple of additional points. Bose claims (through her anyway) that you can only get surround from a non-surround source through a Bose system (someone should alert DTS and Dolby) and Bose has the only automatic room calibration system on the market (I guess Yamaha, Denon, Pioneer and others should stop making silly claims).

    All in all, a revealing look at the marketing machine that is Bose. If anyone has a friend or relative who is contemplating a Bose system, and they live near one of these factory outlet stores, I'd suggest going with them and then showing them something else (just don't let them go in there alone, they'll walk out poorer). I'd bet any HTIB over 500-600$US would easily match or outperform the 2700$US[​IMG] Lifestyle 35.
     
  2. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    I've sat through the bose demo at Nebraska Furniture Mart. It's even more fantastic. They actually have gotten shells of full sized 901 speakers that they mount on hinges in front of the sattelite speakers and the center channel is behind some kind of wicker dealy that might be a bill sorter or something. So when you walk in, you dont see the little black cubes mounted in back and in the front it looks like you only have two large speakers. About 3/4 of the way through (after your amazed by the sound any way, even from these large speakers) someone comes in and opens the 901s so you can see that they are just shells and you see the cubes and shows the center channel speakers. spotlights come on and show the rear speakers that you didnt see, and a faux wicker basket is removed from the "bass" module. There were audible gasps when they did this, I kid you not. It sounds like their script is a bit out of date. They didnt have the auto-calibration yet when I saw the show, but they did have the "only RF remote control that works through walls" on the market (which wasnt true at that time either). Ah bose...
     
  3. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    She did mention that, I forgot.
     
  4. Bill Mullin

    Bill Mullin Stunt Coordinator

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    Back in the late 80's/early 90's, before I got interested in home theater, I purchased 3 Bose satellites and their bass module, then set up my TV/receiver for stereo sound. At the time I thought the sound was great and well worth the $700 I had paid! A few years went by and I decided to go with DD 5.1 sound, so I got JBL Studio Series speakers and an Energy subwoofer (which I've subsequently replaced with a pair of SVS 16-46PC+'s. I put the Bose speakers in the closet, and a couple of years ago decided to sell them on eBay. I was amazed when they sold for $550!

    I guess my point was that as a HT novice who didn't know any better, Bose were a good choice for me. And since the bottom line cost to me was around $150, I definitely got my money's worth. Had I known better I certainly could have done better for less money, but I have no regrets!

    - Bill
     
  5. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    My main beef with them, both before and after yesterday, is that the cost is outrageous for the quality. I also don't appreciate being told that specs are not to be allowed to interfere with my ears in making a decision. It smacks too much of the high priest telling the flock that they needn't bother with things they don't understand.

    Bill, I'm glad you recouped most of your cost, but I feel sorry for those who don't.
     
  6. Mike_J_Potter

    Mike_J_Potter Second Unit

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    Just wondering would they allow you to use your own reference DVDs or Cds to demo the system with?? Seems like it would too easy for them to "select" material that only showed the strong points of the system, and make it difficult to compare to another system since your not using the same material.
     
  7. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    I always used to be amazed by the Bose systems I see in FutureShop! Until I started auditioning systems and learning more about HT, I actually thought Bose was the best! Little did I know back then, and I am glad I informed myself and didn't end up dishing out $3500 for a system that is probably inferior to my previously-owned $700 Kenwood HTiB!

    $3500 CDN has allowed me to get an awesome set of JBL Studio Series speakers, a wonderful Yamaha receiver, and an impressive HSU sub! Let's see a Bose system top that [​IMG]
     
  8. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    Paul,
    I also went into one of those Bose shops a couple months back just to kill time and sat in their "back room". I asked the same question as you when it was over, "how many watts does the system have?". The guy told me that they generally don't advertise the watts but he said he thought it was something like 250 watts or so. I thought to myself "I just wonder what 250 watts would do those paper cones". Anyway, I went on to ask him about the source of the material since the Bose control unit had "Tape" illuminated I asked him was that a tape we were listening to and he said not actually. It was tied into the computer so that the sound and lights could work simulateneously. I had read somewhere that they used computers to enhance the sound in these rooms. Anyway, I agree with you that the sound was fair, something like an HTiB would be, however I am sure that the music was specially recorded to enhance the frequency of their speakers.


    On the way out of the store I stopped to ask them about their 601 floor standing speakers. I asked the simple question that anyone interested in speakers might ask, "What is the wattage rating and frequency response"? His reply, "Bose doesn't advertise that but I think it will handle 150 watts, I will have to look it up. I said that is OK don't waste your time. They also carried Onkyo receivers and CD players so at least there was something worth the price there.


    I'll probably go back again sometime when I need another good laugh.
     
  9. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    The thing with the acoustimass system is that you HAVE to go through that bass module. It has the crossover in it for the sats. I'm sure those little sat cubes can take 100+ watts each after the bass module (I refuse to call it a sub) filters the sound. In fact, I know you can use a regular dolby digital receiver as long as you hook it up correctly. As far as power handling for the regular speakers, they are no different from any other speaker with similar sized drivers and you can probably power them off any receiver within reason. Its not power handling or frequency response that would give me any pause. I doubt the 601s or large floor-standers (901s say) have any worse specs than any mid-fi speaker. Its the bizare "technology" that they use to get "room filling" sound that gets me. Direct reflecting technology, tweeters mounted at weird angles or rear mounted, use of many small drivers instead of larger ones (I thought I heard one time that the 901s use a whole series of 4" full range drivers. Why not use a 8" woofer (or two 6.5") and a tweeter? Its these types of totally counterintuitive uses of technology that turns me off.
     
  10. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    I just saved a co-worker from Bose. He was going to buy one of their sets because they would nicely fit in his bedroom. I convinced him to move his current system to his bedroom and go with a good sounding system instead of Bose.

    Now he is getting this one, for much less:

    Polk RTi70 * 2
    Polk CSi30
    Polk R30 * 2
    SVS 20-39PCi

    I am so proud of myself. [​IMG]
     
  11. Danny Beck

    Danny Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    I know it's not "cool" to like Bose on these forums but I can't help but say that my Dad has always been a big Bose guy, and from what i've seen of Bose they make quality products.

    He bought one of those Acoustic wave radios and that sucker has run like a champ for years now without any problems. It offers huge sound for the tiny size and it feels like a very well built piece of electroics. It also get amazing reception without an external antenna.

    I've also demoed the Bose systems in stores and i've got to be honest, they sound pretty damn good to me.


    I just don't understand the hatred for Bose on these boards. It's the exact same story with Monster cables. They make quality products and yet people on these boards will tell you they are crap!

    Dan
     
  12. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Dan,

    I think that many people's problem with Bose, and Monster (certainly mine w/Bose) is the cost issue. I found the Lifestyle 35 to roughly equal the performance of my old setup (described in my initial post). The problem wasn't so much the sound, it was decent. The problem was that it cost almost three times as much as my old system. It isn't worth that much. Especially when you consider that my old receiver had 5.1 inputs for multichannel audio, I was free to add a prog scan DVD if I wanted, and my speakers (I still have them for a secondary system) can disappear into the decor just as effectively as the Bose (even if they aren't as "pretty"). The aesthetic neatness of the Bose isn't worth three times the money to me.

    The second issue, also alluded to in greater detail in my posts above, is the attitude that specs are unimportant and only the "high priests" of Bose, not a mere mortal like me, can have access. I would never buy any audio equipment based on specs alone, but they are important to know for matching different equipment. I have heard a number of Bose speakers over the years, and some of them were pretty good, but you have to go back to the late 70s/early 80s to find cost/performance balance.

    As for the Bose radio, I've heard it and it is impressive. However, Cambridge Soundworks was selling a Kloss designed radio a few years ago that was just as good at half the price. Again, cost/performance.

    If simplicity of use and set up, and aesthetics are more important than sound quality, then Bose is a winner. If sound is equally important to the other criteria, then Bose quickly loses its lustre. And if sound quality far outweighs other considerations, then the cost/performance rating for Bose is, IMO, terrible.

    As for Monster, I use their basic XP 16ga speaker cable and it's fine. It's a bit more than the Radio Shack stuff, but I like the softer rubber insulation, easier to work with. I'm willing to pay the difference because, while high in percentage, it's low in total cost. Their banana plugs, however, are too expensive compared to the Radio Shack equivalent, IMO.
     
  13. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I set up my friend's system this weekend, using some ancient 601 towers hooked to a fairly high quality Yamaha receiver, and I was actually surprised at how good it sounded in his large room. Highs were definitely lacking for music, but for movies, these things put out respectable bass as mains and they were clear.

    My father also has the wave radio that he got a few years ago, and I have to say that it sounds quite good for it's size, but not price. For the same price, I put together a very nice little 2ch system that easily has more detail and soundstage.
     
  14. John Pine

    John Pine Supporting Actor

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    Saved my Mom from a Bose system last year. She saw it at Sam's and was impressed. Fortunately, I hooked her up with a Yamaha RX-V630 and a JBL SCS system for much less money. After I calibrated it, even I was a little surprised how good it sounded!
     
  15. terence

    terence Supporting Actor

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    You should be, great job![​IMG]

    In our HTF communty it should be our duty to help those who lack the understanding of Bose (real speakers), and if they still like Bose..........so be it.

    Just my opinon, I welcome yours.
     
  16. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    A few years ago a fellow HTF member attended a similar "Road Show" setup in the back of a chain stereo store. It did sound fairly good. The back room was fixed up with black-fabric panels to delineate the demo area.

    During the confusion as people were leaving/milling around at the end, this member went through a gap in the panels near the front of the room. He found a travel-rack with some fairly high-powered audio-processing equipment (equalizers, amps, etc.) It was dim, but he thought one of the box's said "Krell". A salesman showed up then and told him he could not be back there and hustled him out.

    (This is the P.T.N.A.M.B.I.C. principle: PuT No Attention to the Machine BehInd the Curtin.)

    Next time you see a Bose demo, ask to trace the speaker wires from the cubes to the reciever to make sure there is no 'extra' equipment. Or offer to buy the system if they sell you EVERYTHING involved in the demo (since the believe how it sounds should be your criteria).
     
  17. Mike SJ

    Mike SJ Supporting Actor

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    ...
     
  18. Kenneth Harden

    Kenneth Harden Screenwriter

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    I work at Best Buy and get to play with the Blose stuff.

    It has OK mids/highs, and OK bass (psudo-bass), but it's the midrange punch you miss. My guess it 150-500 Hz. is pretty weak, and that could ruin music quite easily. I believe the sats stop at 220 Hz. and the sub stops at about 150, and there is a hole. Also, because there is no overlap, and the roll off from the sub and sats, the gap is bigger. Just not a 'clean' way to do things. At Best Buy, you can hear the Acoustamass 10 and 15 system hooked up to a receiver and listen to the demo CD's on a non-tweaked receiver (same setup as the other demo systems) - very tinny and overly bright, and flat bass. I then have people listen to the JBL E30's or Klipsch SB-2's and they hear the difference!

    I steer people clear of Bose that want my advice, and I have sold a Klipsch Quintet + KSW 12 + Pioneer receiver + Pioneer DVD player instead of a Bose Acoustamess system, and I am danm proud of that!

    The demo's have a lot of 'hissing', 'crashing', 'breaking (glass)', etc., but you won't hear a bass guitar solo in those demo's! Also, the speakers are a few feet from your head.
     
  19. Steven_E_S

    Steven_E_S Auditioning

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    Well I fell into the Bose wave radio thing a very long time ago. 10 yrs +-. I was never happy with the sound. I had expected much better. I should have sent it back when i had the chance but was too lazy then. OTOH it has worked flawlessly over the years and I still use it as a alarm clock. Have to admit it's a very expensive alarm clock at that.
    Steve
     
  20. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    As much as we think Bose and Monster have shady business practices, they can't hold a candle compared to Harley-Davidson for consumer brainwashing and product loyalty.
     

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