Is It Wise to Invest in a Bose Speaker?
Bose is a popular brand for producing top quality and sleek audio systems, right from wireless speakers to portable Public Address (PA) systems. Regardless of whether you wish to enjoy music at home or while traveling, you are bound to find a good Bose speaker fulfilling your need.
Whether you need a set of speakers to improvise the movie watching experience or enjoy favorite albums through an MP3 player, the speaker cable and speaker collection from Bose will never fall short.
For a premium sound in all directions in any setting, these speakers are in the wish list of many sound surround fans. However, despite giving clear and crisp sound, the brand is blamed for its high price for smaller models than those of other brands, by some audiophiles.
So, this guide is committed to giving an in-depth, high quality review of Bose as well as of each type of Bose speaker. This will help you decide whether a Bose speaker is worth the money or not.
It is true that while some people do not like Bose products, some really tend to like and recommend them. Most of the times, you will find that the former group is the one who are quite serious about the audio equipment, while the latter are generic consumers.
The fact is that most Bose speakers are easy to use and compact. They usually belong to the category of lifestyle speakers with not so good frequency response at the high end. Well, this limitation or con is actually a plus point for non-critical consumers, as they prefer it.
Interpretation 1: Well, this does not mean that a speaker system from Bose sounds bad. It is just that there is a possibility of improving it.
- Another fact is that a Bose speaker performing in a club is not the same as a Bose speaker performing in a living room. Those who have been using these products conclude that Bose speakers are good at having a system that sounds good everywhere in a building, noisy place, or in an apartment without triggering any dead spots. This has a high commercial value.
Interpretation 2: Bose speakers are reliable for listening to media in a non-domestic setting.
- Just like several other speaker manufacturers, even this brand has designed its main speakers within the context of a design concept (901s). It has come up with the Direct/Reflecting concept that renders a mix of reflected and direct sound in your home, just as in a live concert.
- Here, the design goal is to make the sound reach to different rooms via a compact efficient speaker. This actually works! There are people who create their own speakers, which are equivalent to those of Bose but are more affordable. However, these are ideal for indoor use, not for outdoor parties where their Direct/Reflected effect is gone.
- Considering this point, it is justifiable to keep a high price for some better Bose speakers. One can argue that with the same amount of money, one can buy better speakers. However, this usually happens with some compromises, such as letting go of compact size and no dead spot performance.
In short, you should look at a speaker within its context of design concept. For example, you may choose a really huge Klipsh speaker or a full range horn speaker from JBL for listening to music at home. However, there is full possibility of disapproval from your wife, mother, or aunt, even if they perform well within the design context.
Several small studios also perform within their design concept. Several modern tower speakers are in use but their configuration is just not right for audio-music speakers. A majority of premium speakers today are tower speakers, as they fit within the consumer requirements as well as the essential modern design concept.
It is true that the tower models are not the best in terms of design, but they tend to fulfill a modern requirement. So, it is not the ‘best’ that you need to look for. The best speaker is the one that fits fine, when assessed by basic factors such as size, money, room, listening type, and listeners in the targeted place.
Interpretation 3: Bose speakers work great within the context of their design concept. The Bose speaker prices seem high but it is for the innovative technology in demand, which is useful for those who need it.
- Many people consider marketing from the brand as luxury hype. However, there is something hidden in its core. However, through smart marketing, Bose is keen enough to invest money in research. Now, this is something that very few people know. The brand re-invests its profits into research for coming up with new inventions, instead of unethical practices. The founder, Dr. Amar Bose, has invested majority of his shares into MIT. This is one part justifying a luxurious price tag on some of Bose products.
- Another complaint is “Why pay $$$$$ for just a 5-inch Bose subwoofer? For the same price, I can get the same product of 12 inches from JBL.” Well, the brand treats speaker size just secondary to human experience. What is more to realize is that these Bose products offer similar or even better response from their compact sizes without using bigger drivers.
- Now, this philosophy is something that should be appreciated. To do so, let’s take a real life scenario – just compare the popular SoundLink mini speaker and some other Bluetooth speaker. The small system from Bose is likely to stun you with its Bass but there is no need to appreciate only because of that one pro.
- It is wiser to dig inside the speaker and find out how long the research took to come up with big-benefits-in-a-small-package. Well, this can be measured from the fact that the only competent system at present is JBL Charge 2+. This one can come up after two versions (Charge, Charge 2), which indicates research iterations required to compete with Bose.
However, Bose did not go through these iterations, as its approach to design is research-based. In reality, it takes much time and money to create even something similar to or smaller than the SoundLink Mini product.
Interpretation 4: The high price tag is just not for the brand name, but it is for fruitful research.
- The popularity of Bose is due to the fact that its products do what they are supposed to do well. At the same time, they are infamous, because they do not do what they are not supposed to do well.
- In simple words, they do well in those scenarios for which they are designed, and not in those for which they are not made. Bose products are not poor. They perform well within a design concept that is beneficial for some.
So, Bose speakers are not meant for all people and for all the time. Rather, they are for a few people and for some occasions, just as any other speaker.
Interpretation 5: If you love or prefer what you hear and are willing to pay the price, a compact Bose speaker is for you! Yes, this opinion differs from one user to another.
- For some, such a speaker is just not what they want, as they are interested in factors for which the Bose speakers do not perform well. Just come down to what you want and for what purpose you want. Do also keep in mind that you can choose from a variety of speakers, right from very cheap 5.1 speakers to costly stereo systems.
- Many users complain that Bose products do not come with technical specifications. This is the result of Bose’s philosophy that sounds good as well as weird. According to the founder Dr. Amar Bose, it is the human experience, and not the specified technical specifications, that best measures the audio systems.
This is why no technical specifications are published on products, including the Wattage and Frequency response. Well, this is enough to displease the audiophiles.
Types of Bose Speakers
Since more than 50 years, Bose is giving quality audio products that can be used with several media devices. When it comes to speakers, the brand offers them in a variety of styles, each upholding the reputation of quality sound without intolerable lows and highs.
The biggest benefit of introducing these styles is that you can choose a speaker for any media playing device or vehicle such as a car, computer, and smartphone. At the same time, you also get different types, each varying in size, form, portability level, technical components, and more.
Considering your requirements and budget, you can choose the right type and then the right speaker model. This will include how you will use a speaker and to which devices you will connect it.
A wireless speaker is for those whose main source of music is a Bluetooth-enabled or portable device such as laptop, tablet, or a smartphone. Such devices require a more flexible speaker than other a radio or traditional TV.
Bose offers many wireless speakers, which are available in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth variations. All of them are light and portable, which enable you to carry them wherever and whenever you like, even at night in outdoors.
While the SoundLink and SoundTouch are two popular categories, the SoundTouch uplifts itself in terms of usability, as it uniquely offers a small remote control for browsing through the system without using any mobile app. There are buttons to connect to your favorite albums or stations.
Further, all Bose wireless speakers have a small mini jack allowing you to connect to portable devices, while a USB port makes you access your desktop computer. In this way, this range of speakers is more accessible by mobile users, Android users, and even Apple-centric fans who do not mind discontinuing with AirPlay.
This means that you cannot stream directly from an iOS device. You need to use the SoundTouch app, which allows setting up Internet radio stations by allocating them to the preset buttons. The free services such as Google Play Music and Spotify will not work with this app, which means you need premium versions for the best experience.
For a Bose portable system, a workaround is to stream from a streaming app via Bluetooth. Well, this means no logging in via the speaker’s controller app, making you stream on just a single speaker at a time. Another limitation is that while you can multiple speakers to a controller, you cannot choose which to use.
Bose SoundLinks are more portable and come with rechargeable lithium battery lasting between 7 and 14 hours within a limited wireless range. A Bose Bluetooth speaker in this category does not run on your home’s wireless network, as they support only Bluetooth. You can expect big sound and clarity at any time with better bass performance than in other wireless speakers.
On the other hand, a Bose wireless speaker in the SoundTouch category comes with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support and presets to set your favorite tracks, which are then heard in multiple rooms of your home. Consider Wi-Fi if you wish to have a better sound quality transmission and security.
- Ideal for: Simplifying the way to enjoy music streaming through a mini speaker and any mobile device
Bose offers several home-theater speaker systems, such as sound bars, 5 speaker systems, 2.1 speakers, 5.1 speakers, and 7.1 surround sound speakers (two more rear speakers). A 2.1-channel system has two front speakers and a Bose subwoofer, while a 5.1-channel system has five compact speakers, a subwoofer for deeper bass, and a receiver to decipher multi-channel digital-audio tracks.
These sound systems from Bose are ideal for watching movies on a TV with a better balanced sound surround and better voices than other home theatre packages. What you will really like is the virtual sound surround from CineMate models that actually no other system can beat, at present.
The home theater speakers are designed to be central speaker systems for your radio or TV setup. You will find different categories such as Bose Acoustimass and CineMate.
The former line provides surround sound in home, with 6 to 10 speakers; while the CineMate line has models connecting directly to the TV without mounting the speakers, unlike a surround sound system. This makes the line ideal for those staying on rent or often need to change homes.
These models are appealing with its minimalistic designs, especially those of its surround speakers. If you are thinking to convert a particular section in your home into a home theater, a Bose lifestyle system is only worthy in case your priorities are aesthetics, ease of use, and durability over real performance.
Although a Bose sound system for this purpose is certainly good, it is not remarkable. Yet, it attracts average music fans willing for an exceptional sound without doing or learning much setup. Moreover, Bose is one of those handful acoustic brands providing Home Theatre in Box (HTBI) models, which is also appealing.
- Ideal for: Normal consumers willing to enjoy just a few movies, amazing virtual surround, and superb bass without bothering about the price. Still, a tip: Listen yourself and choose!
Well, this collection has a variety of categories, such as Bose computer speakers, in-wall speakers, and outdoor speakers. These options appeal to those who listen to too many music tracks from non-wireless players such as computers and play games on them.
Although computers have built-in speakers, they fall short in meeting the requirements. From Bose, you can expect an affordable speaker booster for improving your experience. For example, the Companion Series III is a convenient plug-n-play upgrade.
For some more dollars, the Companion 20 is a reliable two-piece speaker, delivering deep and full sound across the room. You can even plug in a phone or tablet.
Bose computers speakers use a wired input interface and are small to fit on a desk or shelf. Many of these stereo models offer volume controls and a remote control. You can pair them in an entertainment theater. The 301 and 901 Direct/Reflecting (flagship) models are improved products to give a feeling of live concert.
For a really minimalist solution, you can choose a speaker fitting directly into your ceiling or wall without jutting out. The Virtually Invisible 791 speakers are in-ceiling models, whereas the 191 speakers are in-wall ones. Installing them is easier but some help is inevitable.
Are you planning to go out and enjoy a picnic day? Regardless of the weather or season, Bose outdoor speakers are reliable. For such a purpose, consider the 251 Environmental speakers, which you can even mount to a wall. For installing in the ground, the FreeSpace 51 speakers are just ideal.
- Ideal for: Those who wish to improve the existing music system like a traditional stereo system.
You might not choose a Bose wireless speaker system or any other wireless system because it usually offers a bit flatter audio quality and battery hassles. So, in short, you wish to come out of all wireless hassles without compromising sound quality. Well, this is where the docking speakers of Bose come into play.
The Bose SoundDock models are designed for use with iOS devices, as they fit into the Apple’s dock connector. Nevertheless, they have an auxiliary input through which you can connect other devices via their headphone jack.
These speakers are stationary or portable and are designed for taking them anywhere through a carry handle and foldable dock. They offer a remote control and that some models come with a rechargeable battery.
In case your Apple device has the Lightning connector, the SoundDock Series III is ideal, as previous models have a 30-pin dock connector. Using the docks is easy, as you only need to place an apt Apple device into the dock. Once placed, that dock shall automatically charge the device and trigger the playback.
- Ideal for: The owners of Apple devices
These are ultra-compact tabletop system with great sound and bass. The Bose Wave collection is just the most reliable! They are highly versatile, as they come with a built in FM radio, a CD player, and accessories for playing MP3s via Wi-Fi or docks from a portable device and accessing online radio stations. For listening privately, a headphone jack is also added.
While you get a remote control, its buttonless form in the form of credit card for proper control is a plus. The well-labeled remote is simple to use. You can store only six FM stations and six AM stations. A dexterous clock radio allows stirring a CD or a radio station.
Unlike the docks for iOS devices, some of these speakers come with a mini jack to connect to any other playback device such as a DVD player. No matter which CD/radio speaker you choose, you enjoy rich and full bass and excellent sound even though the unit is small.
The credit goes to the waveguide technology, which allows a small speaker to give richer outputs, regardless of the music volume. The technology also allows the vibrations from both the front and rear of the speaker to contribute to output with actual clarity, more depth, and theater-like experience.
This is in contrast with a traditional speaker in which the vibrations generated at the front are only converted into audible sound waves. The rear side is usually covered or shut off.
On the flip side, these systems of Bose do not offer treble and bass controls. Further, you cannot choose a particular track and that only one disk can be played at a time.
- Ideal for: Listening from a CD and radio within a single system
A traditional Public Address (PA) system is too big and complex for a simple and fast setup. Any band that has such a PA is aware of the march, which involves packing the mics and stands to loading and unloading all the stuff from a truck and testing the system. To simplify this drill with convenience, Bose is offering portable PA systems for all professional musicians.
Now, you need not concentrate on the setup or gear but only on music. The brand’s portable line array systems are flexible enough to fulfill different requirements of musicians. For example, you will find systems that are designed for delivering the sound up to 100, 300, or even 500 listeners.
Most of these systems come with a power stand, high quality loudspeaker, and a bass module. They are easy to carry and set up, as they are light in weight. A few systems are effective as a monitor, if positioned on the stage and behind the speaker, as they make you feel what the audience shall listen to.
You can expect a crisp and clean sound with much detail as well as presence. The natural clarity is truly commendable in the midrange. There are audio presets as well, but the clarity and sound is fantastic without tweaking them.
- Ideal for: A solo performer, singer, DJ, and gig player at small venues and events such as restaurants, coffee houses, seminars, and business workshops (not for a full band)
Factors to Consider while Choosing a Bose Speaker
- Purpose: You need to first know for what purpose you will use a Bose speaker. For this, you need to know your listening habits:
- Music Listener: A pair of speakers
- Passive Music Listener: An in-wall or bookshelf speaker, a small subwoofer for more bass and extra low end
- Active Music Listener: A small floor-standing speaker, multiple drivers for full-sounding music experience without consuming more floor space
If you just wish to hook up the sound of TV or computer, a soundbar or having it with a wireless subwoofer combination is great. You might also need a speaker that has multipurpose usage such as the Bose computer speaker.
- Room Size: A closed small room with walls on sides is not ideal for a large speaker, as such a speaker needs much space and load bass to end up with an unclear sound. Similarly, a big open room is unsuitable for a small speaker.
- Placement: Knowing where to place the speakers allows finding out the number of speakers that you can sensibly include in your system. For example, a 7.1 speaker system is not ideal if furniture such as the couch or chair is against a wall. In that case, go for a 5.1 system.
- Clarity: This should be ensured for performance if you are a listener and even announcements if you are a musician.
- Sound: Reviewing this factor includes considering sound volume, clarity, bass, and treble.
- Ease of Use: the speaker you choose should easy to setup and control, or connect to devices.
- Compatibility: The speakers that you choose should connect to devices of your choice.
Bose is not for all and not all of us are going to prefer Bose. However, Bose is not going to disappoint those who know the efforts to deliver latest technology through the products. If you choose to buy a Bose speaker, you can surely expect clear sound in all directions evenly at the chosen volume. However, you need to choose one as per your requirements and budget.