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Bose 901 or other "design" speakers

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
What is the general opinion of a set of older Bose 901 speakers:

Suitability for general use, light home theater but mostly listening to music? I need to get somewhat smaller speakers and I really dig the design of these. They have 9 drivers each, most of which fire backward, creating a pseudo sound stage by using the slight delay from the difference in travel time for the forward and rearward sound to hit the listener's ear.

I seem to remember other speakers from the same era that were designed to look cool as well, and maybe there are newer ones I could consider too. I am especially attracted to the old 901 because I can get a set in good shape for about 2-300 bucks with the equalizer. It's pretty hard to find a well regarded, good looking solid bookshelf or smallish speaker for that little, although it seems like everyone's going to the little 5.1 setups now. I haven't looked into home audio stuff in a really long time, and I don't care to pay for the best of anything.
post #2 of 31
They are really terrible, but if you have a chance to listen to them, try them --- you may like them despite how bad they are.

post #3 of 31
Maybe not good-looking to some people but "a well regarded, solid bookshelf or smallish speaker for that little". And it sounds very nice.

Ascend CBM-170SE bookshelf

If looks are more important something like this could work:

Orb Audio

Bose is the Kenneth Cole of the audiofile community. And you probably don't need the equalizer. You may wish to look at new/pre-owned 2-channel receiver instead. Some other brands that make inexpensive bookshelfs: Athena, Mission, Energy, Axiom, Paradigm, Mirage, Wharfdale.
post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I know about Bose now, but from what I've read, the 901s are pretty well respected, except from a group that hates them for whatever reason. Chances are, I would like the sound. I am not interested in "audiophile"-ness as I absolutely cannot justify spending money on it. I have extremely good hearing, but I know that I still can't tell much difference between a reasonably good entry-level system and the "best" system that an "audiophile" could put together. Anyway, it's rare that I would just sit around and listen to a piece of music while doing nothing else, so they probably aren't a good choice for that. Also, my room is not set up like they are supposed to be set up. So I will be looking at bookshelf speakers for the most part. The Orb speakers look really cool, but are out of my price range and I'd rather get a plain old two channel full range system rather than involving a subwoofer. Thanks for the tip on the Ascends though - too bad they are so ugly.

I'm actually tempted to get some MDF, some teak and some acoustic cloth, and tear apart a pair of good but ugly bookshelf speakers and make something better looking to put the guts into. Probably more of a project than I'm looking to get into, though.
post #5 of 31
you will probably just mess up the accoustics of the box and turn good but ugly into crap but handsome
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Yeah yeah...

Well, it looks like I found a good temporary solution, since I don't really want to spend $2-300 on speakers right now.

These are on sale at Best Buy for $40 right now, and they supposedly sound pretty great, and actually look quite good:

In any case, they will beat my trashed KLHs (not good ones) and fit in my space a lot better. If I want to mess with it, I could buy some teak veneer and slap it on there, and make stands for a more design-ish look.
post #7 of 31
you'd probably won't get good sound quality from those 901's- a true legend imo, since paper cones get brittle over time. but for aesthetic purposes, those could work with a set of wood-finished amps, perhaps a technics mk2 turntables, on some 80ish looking beige-carpetted room.
post #8 of 31
Here's a good looking speaker (but a bit more than $300):
Sonus Faber:

Not a Bose fan myself. Additionally, the rubber surrounds on the woofers of a speaker that old are probably shot, meaning you'll be replacing 18 drivers.

How about these at $325:
Someone else is selling a pair on Audiogon for $275. Leave the grills off and show off your cook Kevlar drivers!

Or a nice pair of Epos at $400 o/b/o?
post #9 of 31
I don't much about the 901s, but I wouldn't touch the 601s. I have a pair and hate them. My Polk Audio bookshelfs sound 10x better.
post #10 of 31
Last time I heard the 901's I was into Metallica, and Jason Newstead had just signed on. I loved the sound, but for that vintage you'll likely be re-coning the speakers - and with 18 drivers between the two, that is a labor of love (and $$$).

I have a set of Boston A60's from the 80's that I still love. Yes, I re-coned them and they are good for music and movies (after adding a sub). An older set similar to these (any good mfg would do - Klipsch, JBL, Polk, etc) can probably be had for little $$, and the refurb wouldn't kill you. If you're already comfortable with building cases, you wouldn't be fazed by this.
post #11 of 31
I haven't heard them, but another popular vintage speaker is the Dynaco A-25, which can be found for not too much. If the drivers are shot you can get them retrofit with new ones. The grail for some people is the Klipschorn, although it's maybe a scotche too big for your application:
post #12 of 31
JBL L112's might be a good choice from that era. I enjoy ours (not these exact ones in the pic):
post #13 of 31
Originally Posted by Mr. Checks
Here's a good looking speaker (but a bit more than $300):
Sonus Faber:

Sonus Faber Guarneri Mementos are in my future. I'd love to have the Stradivari homage, but at 40k it's a little out of my league. It's quite possibly the most beautiful loudspeaker ever made. I'm dying to audition it one of these days.

J, Bose is crap. It has a bum rep in audio circles for a reason. Things might have been different in the 70s but it's like the Armani of sound, actually, not even, I'd say they're roughly analagous to Boss ;p

Anyway, for 300 bucks you could get a pair of paradigm mini-monitors or maybe even Monitor 5s that would blow those speakers away. Forget about the number of drivers or size of the speaker, it's almost irrelevant. B&W has similar offerings, although my preference is paradigm at that price-point. Don't go for the cheap 5.1 setups, they're absolute crap.

You should seriously think about going to a good audio store and listening to their good stuff so that you can establish a frame of reference for what great sound really is. I'm not saying you should spend tons of money, but $300 can get you a very good speaker these days, assuming you do your research.

In terms of bang-for-buck, you're better off getting a good 2-way speaker than anything else.
post #14 of 31
I like my JBL J2060 bookshelf speakers...
post #15 of 31
How old are they and what series are they? They look like they're Series I or II so they're from the mid-late 1970's. Series I were originally less than $500 30 years ago and the IIs were about $650 new. For $2-300 check ebay or on line to see what they're selling for now. Go out and see if comparably priced speakers sound as good or better.. The surrounds and other flexible material in speakers sometimes wear out over time. Whatever you do, don't get your mind tricked into thinking you're buying $1,000 speakers for $200 if they're an old technology and really not worth the price.

I sold these speakers during grad school years ago and never liked them very much. Proper placement was a PITA. IIRC they had an expansive sound that was exciting in the beginning but after a while there was something lacking. A lot of people liked them so it's really a matter of taste.

Say what you will about audiophile snootiness, but listening to a pair of high-end speakers that have tight 3-D imaging and great dynamics is a breathtaking experience.
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