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Bose 901 or other "design" speakers

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by j, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. SGladwell

    SGladwell Senior member

    Messages:
    1,257
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    It seems that you've already bought something pretty smart, so this thread should probably just die. But about 901's I wouldn't go so far as to call them "well respected." After all, Consumer Reports published a bad review on them and Bose took them to court for it. But if you ever want to try 901's out for yourself, make sure to bring something featuring simple spoken word. Preferably of a friend. It'll be well nigh unintelligible on the 901s, thanks to their idiotic (audio) design. If you like the (industrial) design and just want sound everywhere that's something else entirely. Also, contrary to what our "audiophile" friend who thinks there are sonic differences between slugs of copper believes, rubber surrounds last quite a while. Practically indefinitely, in fact. The problem on old Boses, as well as good vintage speakers like Tannoy Golds and some Altecs/JBLs, is that the foam surrounds rot after 10-15 years. Those $40 Best Buy speakers look 20x nicer than the price would suggest, and sound pretty decent so long as you don't expect real-world dynamics. When they were on sale for $35 a pair briefly last month a friend of mine bought 4 pairs for his living room, and I helped him set up a small HT for a friend using seven of them, a cheap Pioneer receiver, and a clapboard sub from Wal-Mart of all places. Total cost of about $500, and I've heard plenty of very expensive audio salon HT demo rooms that sounded worse. The only tweak was to plug the ports, compensating for their on-the-wall positioning. If you're an I-P stickler everything about them from the driver to the cabinet shape announces loudly to the world that they're a pirated KEF design. They probably don't sound much worse than the Paradigms and Sonus Fabers and other pipsqueak speakers discussed. Actually, they're probably better because they're coaxes. They don't have the annoying problems in the midrange that all speakers with separate dome tweeters do, because the tweeter is restricted by the woofer. It really doesn't matter if you spend $40 or $40k on a little speaker, because no small cone and dome speaker - none - is ever going to exceed "not too bad" anyway. If you want something "design-y," decent, and not too expensive for your next step maybe try vintage Martin-Logan Aerius-i's or new Magnepan MMGs. Or better yet, Quad ESL-63 US models with either the Gradient dipole subs or a DIY copy of them. All of those speakers make placement demands you may be unwilling to live with, though. On another note, Sonus Faber seems to get a lot of love around here. I wonder, though, have you guys heard them or just seen them. When I was in grad school, I happened upon the most beautiful pint-sized speakers I'd ever seen at the annual Harvard flea market that year. They had this incredibly well-finished gleaming walnut cabinet, with the drive-units set in pebblegrain leather. And the stands were works of art themselves. I looked at them, flipped over a tag to see the asking price, and claimed them unheard. They were, as you may have guessed by now, Sonus Fabers. Electa Amators, to be specific. And they sounded...nothing like they looked. And certainly not good enough to justify the ~$5k the first owner probably paid for them before ditching them. Mushy and indistinct down low, cloudy in the midrange, an odd combination of piercingly shrill on axis and dull off, and instant overload on any dynamic peaks in well-recorded music thanks to the slight cone area and what I later learned is a low-order crossover. In my current house I used them until recently, but not anywhere near my main system. They were in the corners of my sunroom, actually. They were recently replaced with a pair of much better speakers, modified vintage Martin-Logan Monolith III's. (See the thrift thread for more info.)
     
  2. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Senior member

    Messages:
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    Jan 29, 2003
    Location:
    NYC/Brooklyn
    Wow, until you said that, I couldn't quite figure out the resemblance. I actually owned KEF 55.2 (2.5-way) towers with the Uni-Q system. It's an exact copy. Good for dispersion.
     
  3. SGladwell

    SGladwell Senior member

    Messages:
    1,257
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    Wow, until you said that, I couldn't quite figure out the resemblance. I actually owned KEF 55.2 (2.5-way) towers with the Uni-Q system. It's an exact copy. Good for dispersion.

    To wit:

    KEF iQ3:
    [​IMG]

    BB Insignia
    [​IMG]

    Note the rounded cabinet, and obviously the Uni-Q alike.
     
  4. j

    j Senior member Admin

    Messages:
    14,914
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Good call. I am going to plug the ports or stuff them with a lot of polyfill as these are quite boomy in the bass. I'm not sure if it's resonance from the thin cabinet (slotted MDF to make the curve) or just an overlarge port, but in any case I want them to be tighter. But overall I'm pretty pleased with how they sound.
     
  5. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

    Messages:
    1,279
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    Here
    It seems that you've already bought something pretty smart, so this thread should probably just die. But about 901's I wouldn't go so far as to call them "well respected." After all, Consumer Reports published a bad review on them and Bose took them to court for it. But if you ever want to try 901's out for yourself, make sure to bring something featuring simple spoken word. Preferably of a friend. It'll be well nigh unintelligible on the 901s, thanks to their idiotic (audio) design. If you like the (industrial) design and just want sound everywhere that's something else entirely.

    Also, contrary to what our "audiophile" friend who thinks there are sonic differences between slugs of copper believes, rubber surrounds last quite a while. Practically indefinitely, in fact. The problem on old Boses, as well as good vintage speakers like Tannoy Golds and some Altecs/JBLs, is that the foam surrounds rot after 10-15 years.

    Those $40 Best Buy speakers look 20x nicer than the price would suggest, and sound pretty decent so long as you don't expect real-world dynamics. When they were on sale for $35 a pair briefly last month a friend of mine bought 4 pairs for his living room, and I helped him set up a small HT for a friend using seven of them, a cheap Pioneer receiver, and a clapboard sub from Wal-Mart of all places. Total cost of about $500, and I've heard plenty of very expensive audio salon HT demo rooms that sounded worse. The only tweak was to plug the ports, compensating for their on-the-wall positioning.

    If you're an I-P stickler everything about them from the driver to the cabinet shape announces loudly to the world that they're a pirated KEF design. They probably don't sound much worse than the Paradigms and Sonus Fabers and other pipsqueak speakers discussed. Actually, they're probably better because they're coaxes. They don't have the annoying problems in the midrange that all speakers with separate dome tweeters do, because the tweeter is restricted by the woofer. It really doesn't matter if you spend $40 or $40k on a little speaker, because no small cone and dome speaker - none - is ever going to exceed "not too bad" anyway.

    If you want something "design-y," decent, and not too expensive for your next step maybe try vintage Martin-Logan Aerius-i's or new Magnepan MMGs. Or better yet, Quad ESL-63 US models with either the Gradient dipole subs or a DIY copy of them. All of those speakers make placement demands you may be unwilling to live with, though.

    On another note, Sonus Faber seems to get a lot of love around here. I wonder, though, have you guys heard them or just seen them. When I was in grad school, I happened upon the most beautiful pint-sized speakers I'd ever seen at the annual Harvard flea market that year. They had this incredibly well-finished gleaming walnut cabinet, with the drive-units set in pebblegrain leather. And the stands were works of art themselves. I looked at them, flipped over a tag to see the asking price, and claimed them unheard. They were, as you may have guessed by now, Sonus Fabers. Electa Amators, to be specific. And they sounded...nothing like they looked. And certainly not good enough to justify the ~$5k the first owner probably paid for them before ditching them. Mushy and indistinct down low, cloudy in the midrange, an odd combination of piercingly shrill on axis and dull off, and instant overload on any dynamic peaks in well-recorded music thanks to the slight cone area and what I later learned is a low-order crossover. In my current house I used them until recently, but not anywhere near my main system. They were in the corners of my sunroom, actually. They were recently replaced with a pair of much better speakers, modified vintage Martin-Logan Monolith III's. (See the thrift thread for more info.)



    Do you have lots of friends?
     
  6. A Y

    A Y Senior member

    Messages:
    5,592
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2006
    Location:
    Southern California
    j,

    Another cause of boominess is placement. If you can, try the speakers in different locations around the room and see what you like. Another thought is to put the speakers in your listening location and walk around the room --- the spot where bass sounds best is a good place for your speaker. This works only for bass, not higher frequencies.

    Plugging ports is tricky and has many compromises, one of which is that you'll reduce the lowest frequencies that the speaker can play. But it's an easy tweak to try out and undo if you don't like it.

    --Andre
     
  7. SGladwell

    SGladwell Senior member

    Messages:
    1,257
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2006
    Good call. I am going to plug the ports or stuff them with a lot of polyfill as these are quite boomy in the bass. I'm not sure if it's resonance from the thin cabinet (slotted MDF to make the curve) or just an overlarge port, but in any case I want them to be tighter. But overall I'm pretty pleased with how they sound.

    To see if the boominess can be fixed quickly and dirtily, try just stuffing a rolled-up pair of tube socks in each port. With vented boxes I don't think polyfill is a great idea, but you could try lining the walls of the cabinet with eggcrate foam like the big boys do.
     
  8. bob

    bob Senior member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Have a pair of last years sonus faber grand pianos. Excellent speakers. Got them on discount too. If you'r on an entry level budget you might want to try checking out the audiophile forums and get some second hand speakers. Sonus fabers are a safe bet. Definately much better value for money.

    I think boominess can be solved by placement. You shouldnt place your speakers too close to any walls, especially on rear ported models.
     
  9. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

    Messages:
    5,663
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
  10. JayMcDenim

    JayMcDenim Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Anything by B&W, seriouusly check out this brand. The only speak I'll buy. They have these new onwalls that are so cute and when I hear a side by side comparison with the little bose I was amazed at how terrible the bose sounded, truly awful in comparison.
     
  11. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

    Messages:
    21,170
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Anything by B&W, seriouusly check out this brand. The only speak I'll buy. They have these new onwalls that are so cute and when I hear a side by side comparison with the little bose I was amazed at how terrible the bose sounded, truly awful in comparison.

    i dont think bose speakers sound good to begin with.
     

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