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Bose 901 Series V Speaker Review!

krabapple

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#21
I had a pair of Type IVs for years..even hung them from the ceiling at one point. They were fun but a pain to move.

Back in long ago Internet days there was an audiophile who made a pretty good case for Bose...or Bose-like -- setups. He had a bunch of them arrayed around a room. Also reportedly his Bose-style speakers outperformed other speakers in a well-designed shoot out. I forget his name now...though I think his last name started with Em..something?

I don't get why you toed yours in though....it's not what Bose recommends....

Btw I knew a guy who preferred to listen to his turned around (i.e., the array and rocket ports facing forward). It takes all kinds.
 
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hardisj

hardisj

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Thread Starter #22
I had a pair of Type IVs for years..even hung them from the ceiling at one point. They were fun but a pain to move.

Back in long ago Internet days there was an audiophile who made a pretty good case for Bose...or Bose-like -- setups. He had a bunch of them arrayed around a room. Also reportedly his Bose-style speakers outperformed other speakers in a well-designed shoot out. I forget his name now...though I think his last name started with Em..something?

I don't get why you toed yours in though....it's not what Bose recommends....

Btw I knew a guy who preferred to listen to his turned around (i.e., the array and rocket ports facing forward). It takes all kinds.
I listened to them in various configurations. Toed in. Out. Against the walls. Not against the walls. In my HT. In my living room. My living room is a wall of built in bookshelves and I don’t want people seeing my family photos (that’s too creepy for me) and I wasn’t about to take everything down just to take a photo.

Didn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme. Just changed the soundstage a bit but mostly the result was always crappy tonality, high distortion and crazy big soundstage. :)

But with Dirac Live... that was better.
 

jhaider

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#25
This review was of the most interesting reviews I've read in a long time. Thanks!

The big surprise to me was the midrange distortion well pass audible thresholds. I thought the reputation of these things was you may not like how they sound but they can put out a lot of sound. Nine 4.5" drivers is more cone area than a typical hifi bookshelf speaker, and there's a PA speaker that's basically a 901 flipped around.

FYI here's a replacement driver.
 

MattHooper

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#26
hardisj

That was another terrific review! And of an iconic speaker no less.

A friend I used to visit in NYC had Bose 901s in his apartment. They were quite fun to encounter. And they sounded much like your subjective review described! And also the quote from J. Gordon Holt also characterizes their sound, the positives and their faults, quite well.

And this to me, yet again, perhaps ironically given the wonderful technical details in your review, re-enforces some of the value of subjective reports. It takes a heck of a lot of devotion and interest and technical chops to get to where you have in testing and interpreting all those measurements and graphs. Most consumers and even audiophiles will never reach the point of being able to just look at all the measurements, and truly know precisely what the speaker will actually sound. Which is why any interpretation that accompanies the graphs helps, so thanks for all your work.

And yet, when I wanted to know what the speaker *actually sounded like* - how do all those deviations and weird measurements translate in to an actual sound character? - I found that in your subjective report. That's where a careful listener experienced in evaluating many different speakers, listened to sound, and reported what it sounds like to a human being. And, again, your description converges beautifully with what I heard, what J. Gordon Holt described, and what many others I've read have reported.

Cheers!
 

pierre

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#28
Great review. I parsed the files and generated the scores. First one is a disaster, second one is too bright, last is the best but still not great.

I used VirtuixCAD to spit out the files in to a more user friendly format and uploaded the zipped files to DropBox. I have attached 3 links below. The name of the zip file tells you what the data is from.

Speaker only. No EQ in-line.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/igf613r05tnztxi/Bose 901 Series V (No EQ).7z?dl=0
{'nbd_on_axis': 1.44, 'nbd_listening_window': 1.29, 'nbd_sound_power': 0.87, 'nbd_pred_in_room': 0.77, 'sm_pred_in_room': 0.75, 'sm_sound_power': 0.71, 'pref_score_wsub': 3.0, 'aad_on_axis': 5.36, 'lfx_hz': 35, 'lfq': 2.84, 'pref_score': 1.9}

Estimated In-Room Response_large.png


Ratings: {'nbd_on_axis': 1.43, 'nbd_listening_window': 1.24, 'nbd_sound_power': 0.66, 'nbd_pred_in_room': 0.6, 'sm_pred_in_room': 0.01, 'sm_sound_power': 0.0, 'pref_score_wsub': 1.7, 'aad_on_axis': 3.23, 'lfx_hz': 31, 'lfq': 2.84, 'pref_score': 0.9}

Estimated In-Room Response_large.png


Bass 2 - Treble Min, Midbass Flat (best of the bunch that aligns with the target curve but not what sounded the best)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/dl6huo8mzfeaq7m/Bose 901 Series V (Bass 2 - Treble Min, Midbass Flat).7z?dl=0
[/QUOTE]

{'nbd_on_axis': 1.44, 'nbd_listening_window': 1.21, 'nbd_sound_power': 0.66, 'nbd_pred_in_room': 0.6, 'sm_pred_in_room': 0.77, 'sm_sound_power': 0.69, 'pref_score_wsub': 3.5, 'aad_on_axis': 3.22, 'lfx_hz': 29, 'lfq': 2.84, 'pref_score': 2.8}

Estimated In-Room Response_large.png
 

Cahudson42

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#29
Now I really, really would like to see the Magnepan LRS' with their front and back radiators! :)
 

DSJR

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#30
Here in the UK, the 901 was only taken seriously in the 70's I recall. HiFi Choice did tech tests on them in the early 80's and back then, the price was a huge nail in the review coffin (a grand or more) in addition to the odd and lumpy measurements (I've just scan read the 'Choice review). Not sure how you could successfully measure these using traditional methods, but a huge effort here and I wonder if a dsp eq box would be a feature in future versions (I've no idea what the current issue production is doing)

Thing is, some people absolutely worship the entire 'omni-directional' concept and *absolutely nothing else will do* once they're hooked on it. I just found 901's too coloured and 'odd' sounding and adding the playback room acoustics heavily to the reproduced recorded atmosphere just doesn't cut it for me in longer term listening, although I had some funky fun with a set of Allison 6 derived speakers a few years back and when one channel went off, you couldn't tell from the listening seat.

My boss did a lot of small venue PA work for his family get-togethers and he bought some 802's? to use for this purpose. I think he turned 'em back to front to give a good spread of 'direct' sound and they sounded excellent for this purpose and didn't need to be screwed up into massive distortion.
 

Juhazi

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#31
Thank you Erin, again excellent work with measurements and review, as expected!

To me 901 looks like a bad dipole backwards! Angled baffle might be the reason why 180deg response is way better than 0deg, and also major reason for all those peaks and dips - interferences from adjacent drivers.

The description of how they sound sounds like dipoles too! Front-wall (behind the speakers) is in big role creating this 6D soundfield. Better dipoles are closer to 3D...

617, may I suggest that you take eg. Linkwitz LX521 as role model for you endeavour! I used Gradient 1.3 and my avatar shows my speaker's normalized horizontal dispersion.
 

SIY

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#32
Heh, so as I'm reading this, I kept wondering, "What would happen if he used Dirac Live to correct some of the problems?" And suddenly... there you were!
 

anmpr1

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#33
Look, this speaker isn’t a speaker you buy for accuracy. This is the speaker you buy because you’re looking for something different. I honestly was enamored with what they do. It was so wildly different than anything I’ve heard before...
Great review. The 901, for better or worse, was one of a select 'standard' in the minds of most 'average' hi-fi fans in the '70s. They were also fairly expensive, and the first generation required a lot of power, more than the typical audiophile probably had on hand (20 to 40 watts per channel was considered decent power, 60 watts per channel was 'high power' for a domestic environment back then). Room placement was, in many set ups, all over the place. But owners were happy, regardless. In fact, if potential buyers were unhappy it was because they couldn't afford them.

Your subjective response to the loudspeaker was essentially that of a lot of consumers back then. Other popular speakers by comparison (such as the AR3a) came off as sonically closed down, recessed, and frankly boxy. I think that few people really like 'boxy' sound, and that was the magic of these speakers in the mass market. The other popular loudspeaker from that era, the JBL 4311/L100, was not as boxy or closed in sounding, but had its own sonic peculiarities that assailed many listeners negatively, as it did others positively.

Again, I appreciate your efforts on this 'classic' from the 1970s.
 
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hardisj

hardisj

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Thread Starter #35
Well, would ya' look at that...

This is the replacement driver's FR. One can only assume the response is no worse than the original speaker. And, though I can't view my own data at work, by memory, this seems to line up with the frequency issues I measured of the speaker. This is one ugly response.

 
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#36
Bose 901s. A mate bought a pair in 1973? ish and at the the time I thought they were sensational. He had an AR turntable, a Luxman amp (valve??). They needed to be placed a certain distance from the sidewalls and back wall as they were supposed to give most of their sound from reflections of the back and sides (The old Dr. Amar??) . The amp back then had less controls than the one shown. They needed to be played loud. "Live with me" from Get Yer Ya Yas Out by the Stones was mind blowing. The sound stage was at least 1.8x the width of the room.
In my memory they were pretty impressive, I have seen them being used as part of the PA for bands, I think they were rated at 300 W and it took a bit to get them moving.
Prior to that we had similar stuff, turntables with Shure catridges, Grace arms, Rotel amps and SEAS speakers that I built boxes for, 17 y.os think they know everything.
 

tuga

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#37
I listened to them in various configurations. Toed in. Out. Against the walls. Not against the walls. In my HT. In my living room. My living room is a wall of built in bookshelves and I don’t want people seeing my family photos (that’s too creepy for me) and I wasn’t about to take everything down just to take a photo.
Blur?
 

anmpr1

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#38
Another positive non-sonic aspect of 901s was their form factor. They were fairly small for the big sound they produced, which made their WAF fairly large in the scheme of things! :)
 
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hardisj

hardisj

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Thread Starter #39
Man, I ain't about to spend time blurring that many pictures. The front wall is at least 20 feet long and all but maybe 4.5 feet is bookshelf from 3 feet to about 9 feet high with everything my wife could put on them. :D


Of course, if people keep refusing to effing read and instead make knee-jerk comments about the setup in the upstairs room then I may have to. Or just take the pictures of my listening space down. I have to keep replying "did you read the review?". :rolleyes:
 
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hardisj

hardisj

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Thread Starter #40
Another positive non-sonic aspect of 901s was their form factor. They were fairly small for the big sound they produced, which made their WAF fairly large in the scheme of things! :)
Glad you mentioned this.

I meant to bring this up in the review... maybe I'll throw it in the YouTube version... but the thing I like is they are designed specifically to be placed near the front wall which gives you more of your living space back, rather than using a conventional speaker that is 3+ feet away from the wall. To people with a small area, that's a big deal. But, still... the tonality of these speakers needs a jackhammer and a chisel to get it reasonable.
 
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