Got the Bose 901's today... Review?

madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
edited December 2003 in 2 Channel Audio
Well, I can't write a review after one day. I have already learned a few things about them though. I first hooked them up in my boss's office when they came in. It is a 9 X 12 foot room (approximately). Without the external crossover it sounded like crap. Once we hooked that up the sound was good. The most interesting aspect was the low bass. My boss kept saying it sounded like we had a good sub hooked up. I tried to make out a soundstage but it seemed almost non-existant. Keep in mind this was a very quick setup with a cheap amp and no effort put into speaker placement. One thing that really hit me was that the kick-drum sounded (and felt) real. This is not normally the case with most speakers I have tried.

Now at home. I hooked them up to my Jolida 302 amp with Mullard preamp tubes and dark blue Telsa el-34's. I set the speakers on top of my 1.2's just to get a feeling of what the sound would be like. This time I got a decent sound stage but the sub type bass was gone. The midrange was nice but not great. The first LP I played was some older ZZ Top. It sounded OK but nothing special. Later I put on some Fleetwood Mac and they really strutted their stuff.

These are very strange speakers. Their sound is very dependent upon the room. It will take some time to set them up properly. Next I put on some AC DC. They really seemed to like that. I found myself enjoying the music more than normal. The detail seemed less but they had an extreme amount of presence. I'm guessing at this point but I think they will be a pleasant addition to the system for those songs which are great but not mixed really well. I think given enough tweaking that they may really enhance my listening on certain music. I am finding myself disappointed on stuff the SDA's do well but other stuff that is not enjoyable on the SDA's seems to be, well, enjoyable.

It is very strange, in my opinion, why many audiophiles are so against these particular speakers. They really seem to have a lot to offer when it comes to certain music. As I said, I'm just getting started but so far I am enjoying them. Believe me, the SDA's are not and will not be for sale but they certainly don't do justice to some of the lesser material I own. More later...
madmax
Vinyl, the final frontier...

Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
Post edited by madmax on

Comments

  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,083
    edited November 2003
    I owned 901 series VI for 11 years and loved them. They made CD's sound very "analog." They require HUGE power though, to really appreciate. I had 2 amps bridged for 600watts/rms.

    901's do have incredible bass, provided you've got enough amp to drive them. Since their upper frequency response is limited to about 17kHz, they have a "soothing" affect on harsh CD's.

    I know people LOVE to bash Bose 901's--but most who do, never owned them. Are they over priced? Oh hell yes.

    The secret is proper set-up. After 11yrs w/901's I found the best setup is to have a preamp with a "processor loop." Hooking the EQ between the pre and amp is awful. Set your bass and treble knobs on your pre to "flat" and leave the 901 EQ bass flat, adjust the treble to your liking. place the speakers at least 6' apart, and 9" from the back wall (from the apex of the back of the speaker).
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: PSB Imagine T2
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Originally posted by steveinaz
    Hooking the EQ between the pre and amp is awful. ... and 9" from the back wall (from the apex of the back of the speaker).

    I had mine set up between preamp and amp. I'll try something different. Did you mean 9" from the wall or "at least" 9" from the wall?

    madmax

    Quotes: "I never had or heard the 901's but from my experience they are the worst speakers ever made... (How does someone even write something like thst?)
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited November 2003
    Congrats madmax. I hear the 901 is Bose's best speakers. They're the wide bookshelfs that use your room acoustics right?

    About those blue JJ's...I didn't know they made EL-34 in blue. I always thought it was the E34L. If it's E34L, did you increase bias? They have 20% more headroom and higher plate voltage than regular EL-34.

    Maurice
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    These are not the sky blue Teslas you may be familiar with. From what I understand they are of a different league. Whew, watch the dust!
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited November 2003
    max,
    Nice on the 901's... Spent some time with a friend's originals in college almost three decades ago. You're right about the set up difficulty. In those old play days found that the back wall's construction and "clutter" in the sound stage were key.

    With nearly 90% of the output aimed rearward for reflection, the stiffness of the rear wall is important. The dorm rooms were heavy plaster, reflecting everything... very ideal. Also the wall the speakers were on was clear of everything excepting the speakers. Also had the original pedestals, which in addition to being attractive allow the sound to flow under the 901's.

    Otherwise set-up was pretty much what steve described above, i.e., about 6" from the rear wall on about 7' centers split.
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited November 2003
    Sweet looking tubes madmax! How do they sound compared to current stuff like the JJ E34L, EH, Svets?

    Maurice
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,488
    edited November 2003
    Max - Did you buy those tubes at "Spencers", along with a whoopie cusion and incense??? :D

    They look like black light bulbs.....freaking awesome!
    CTC BBQ Amplifier, Sonic Frontiers Line3 Pre-Amplifier and Wadia 581 SACD player. Speakers? Always changing but for now, Mission Argonauts I picked up for $50 bucks, mint.
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited November 2003
    Yeah they look very cool. I'm sure they're worth big bucks today just like any other Tesla tubes.

    Maurice
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    I looked for the writeup on those tubes but couldn't find it. I won an auction for $150 and had seen them go previously for $225. Mine were used so I took the chance. I do like the sound. Very smooth with nothing sticking out. Much better than the Svetlana's they replaced. They have the loose bass which some don't like though. To me they sound better than the tigher ones. Yes, they are cool looking but they are so dark you can only see them light up in the dark. They exceeded my expectations which were quite high at the time. I only use that amp when trying the best of the best speakers out there... :D
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • organorgan Posts: 5,022
    edited November 2003
    That's a great deal. I think they're very rare. I've never seen them anywhere until you posted the pic.
    The loose bass is cool. I enjoy it when listening to softer stuff. For some reason, if I use "loose" sounding tubes on both my pre and amp, the sound just knocks me out. I fall asleep or feel very sleepy for some reason. I'm enjoying the tightness in the EH 6CA7 fat bottles I'm using right now. I still think the Svets are more romantic sounding but EH sounds very tight and clean. More detail too.

    Maurice
    CD Player: Original CD-A8T
    Receiver: Harman/Kardon HK3390
    Speakers: Polk Audio RT1000p
    "I would rather have a cup of tone than an ocean of power" **Dr. Harvey Rosenberg**
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,083
    edited November 2003
    Originally posted by madmax
    I had mine set up between preamp and amp. I'll try something different. Did you mean 9" from the wall or "at least" 9" from the wall?

    9" minimum. You begin to lose the spacious effects if you get them too close to the wall. Please don't do what I've seen some boneheads do, and turn the speakers backwards; it completely ruins the surround effect.

    The reason to avoid connecting between the pre and amp is that signal overload in the EQ can result--not to mention S/N Ratio suffers in this setup. It's best to drive the EQ with a standard line-level voltage. You can also used a tape deck connection, then select it on your "record-out" knob if you have one. This results in the same thing as a processor loop, it's just a little less flexible.

    You can try either leaving your Bose EQ settings flat, and using your preamps EQ or vice-versa. Usually preamps will have a quieter better quality bass/treble circuit, so I would leave the Bose EQ flat, and use the preamps treble knob to your liking. You won't need the bass adjusted....trust me. Try Creed "Say I" at about 200 watts, you'll see what I mean.

    Setup properly, the Bose 901 VI is the least fatiguing speaker I've ever listened to. They make the crapiest CD's sound good, and will have you listening all day long. The louder you crank them, the better they sound. But have:

    a) at least 350 watts/rms @ 8ohms available power
    b) at least 14" from the side-walls
    c) have the speakers at least 8' apart, larger the room, the better

    I recommend a pre-amp with a processor loop (ADCOM comes to mind).
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: PSB Imagine T2
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    I have a Soundcraftsmen preamp which I will try. It has a tape loop. I will move it from the tube setup as well. The tubes do a reasonable low power job but really these are "fun" speakers, not for critical listening. I have any number of solid state amps which would be able to drive them to their limit. One of the corners got smashed in shipment so right now it is laying in my office at work until FedEx gets there to check out rather than being played with.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • gasmangasman Posts: 7
    edited November 2003
    Hey just thought I would put in my 2 cents here.. Been a Bose speaker owner for a long time.. My first pair were 601's series II, with the "free space array" tweeters, and 2-8" woofers. Still have them, and a second pair.. for the money they are still one of my favorites. Open sound, direct/reflecting technology, and decent smoothness from a 2 way speaker, plus they didn't require the outboard equilizer that the 901's need. BUT since the 901's were Bose's flagship, I did buy a pair of them, the series V, and believe me, I have put these speakers thru their paces over the last,. hmmm 20 years or so. Placement on the 901's, like any speaker really change their sound, and I have to agree with the earlier poster that 9" from the back, and at least 8" from any corner, with the speakers separated as far apart as possible is the best setup. I have had these speakers on the original stands, and also on top of my entertainment center, and the stand position is definately the best. As far as power is concerned, I have been putting 200 watts @ 8 ohms into them for the entire time that I have owned them, and they still sound as good as the day I brought them home.. to me their durability is pretty amazing. Every now and then I hear of people having foam rot on the drivers, but I have checked mine just recently, and they still look and feel as good as new. -- As you know Max, I also just got a pair of the SDA SRS's from ebay and am now playing around with them to get the most desired position/ sound and have found they do come from a "different" world as far as comparing them to my Bose speakers. I think you will enjoy the 901's for what they are, a speaker that is durable, unique in its soundstaging, high power handling capability, and very easy to listen to at either high or low volume levels.
    Mike
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    Hi Gassman,
    Good comments. Right now I am still waiting on a fedex claim because of one of the corners. I will hook them up to some powerful SS amps after I complete the claim nightmare. What I heard so far does not compare to the SDA's but it is different non the less. A fun thing to play with for sure though...
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,083
    edited November 2003
    The strange thing about 901's is they begin to grow on you. At first, the sound is a little different from what you're used to--but it becomes very addictive the more you listen. You begin to realize that its a speaker you can listen to all day.
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: PSB Imagine T2
  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 818
    edited November 2003
    I have some 901 series III I totally rebuilt; changed the surrounds to cloth and refinished the walnut cabinets. Great for my office, I have tunes all day long.
    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,083
    edited November 2003
    CHECK OUT THE SAE EQUIPMENT! Man that brings back memories. I used to have the SAE tape deck that slid open like a drawer, it was cool. I also had the preamp. Cool stuff, I wonder what ever happened to SAE?
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: PSB Imagine T2
  • WardswebWardsweb Posts: 818
    edited November 2003
    SAE closed their doors for business back in 1994. There is a big secondary market for their stuff. That's how I got into the whole vintage thing.
    Living room:Maplenoll turntable, Clearaudio Champion II turntable, Sonic Euphoria pre, EAR 834P phono pre, Shanling CD-T1500 sacd, Auralic Altair DAC/server, PS Audio Quintessence power, ASL AQ1006 845 DT MKII mono block amplifers, DIY Altec/JBL speakers
    Sun room: Roksan Radius 5 turntable, Lounge phono pre, DIY Class A 6H30 linestage, DIY 2A3 amp, Krell CDP, JBL C50 Olympus speakers with custom Smith horns, Klipsch Cornwall III
    Den: Onkyo TX-NR929 receiver, Oppo BDP-103 player, Panamax M5400-PM power, SST Ampzilla 2000 mono blocks, Behringer EP 4000 sub amp, Electrovoice DX-38 active, Klipsch Jubilee speakers, Martin Logan Cinema center, JBL SAT2 surrounds, Danley DTS-10 sub
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited November 2003
    WW,
    I saw your SAE/Bose setup at AK while researching my purchase. Nice setup!
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • gidrahgidrah Posts: 3,031
    edited November 2003
    I want that amp!
    Make it Funky! :)
  • Gary RobertsonGary Robertson Posts: 201
    edited November 2003
    They are quite good speakers-"a little finiky"-lots of expiermentation-i remember them in high school when i was a senior in 1974 they had brown ones and pukey green--the first company (to my knowledge) to create reflecting speakers (big thing in the 70's0
    System #2
    Yamaha cdc-755,(20 bit DAC )
    Yamaha KX W382 cassette deck,
    ADCOM GFA-545-II.ampfilier,,
    ADCOM GFP-450 Preamp ,,BBE audio Restoration System (ARS)--Monster--M850I Innerconects and Monster 14 gauge speaker cable and the Fabulous POLK RT-7's with a Velodyne 12/15 subwoofer system ....she rocks.........
    .............................
    System #1:
    Meridian 508-24 cd.(20 bit DAC)
    Adcom -Gfp 750 preamp,
    Bryston 14b-sst amplifier,
    Martin Logan Prodigy Electrostatc speakers.and Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II innerconnects (rca) with Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun speaker cable.
    ............................. "Jazz is democracy in music".
    .............................
  • stevecramer2stevecramer2 Posts: 34
    edited December 2003
    Hi guys, I'll like to jump in here on the Bose and the 901 in particular.

    The two pair I owned were not very good speakers at all. The first set was taken back to the store because I was sure they were broken.

    But no, they both sounded awful. I guess I don't like reflected sounds. No high's to my ears, muddy mid's and they need a bucket loads power besides. I tried many different setup's and nothing really made any diff. I couldn't make those 9 little speakers sing!

    And that damn reflected noise is impossible to use in an apartment. 10 minutes after setting up the folks next door were pounding on my front door.

    As most Bose speaker still use this reflected sound setup, I've never look at Bose again.

    Stephen
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,083
    edited December 2003
    Stephen-you got that right.
    Apartment dwellers/condo owners better look somewhere else. 901's will raise havoc with the neighbors.
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: PSB Imagine T2
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited December 2003
    sc2,

    What series did you own?
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • madmaxmadmax Posts: 12,438
    edited December 2003
    Sometimes it's good to put things in perspective. The bose reflected sound may annoy the neighbors. I'll admit that is probably true. What really annoys the neighbors is 10,000 watts with 4 18" subs. I've been that route. All of a sudden the reflective sound seems pretty reasonable to the neighbors. This is sad, and I am truely sorry and have been a little more contained the past few years but when I used to run a really wild system I think I was the major factor when the neighbors sold there home and moved to another area. I turned it off at 8:00 PM religiously but I guess given the sheer magnitude of sound I am still to blame. Live and learn... Luckily for the new neighbors I turned over a new leaf. Now I scare them only now and then.
    madmax
    Vinyl, the final frontier...

    Avantgarde horns, 300b tubes, thats the kinda crap I want... :D
  • stevecramer2stevecramer2 Posts: 34
    edited December 2003
    Tour2ma - - I believe they were the series III Bose 901's with the equalizer of course and the chrome stands.

    I had an early set of their 501's too. I was a sucker for there looks I guess. Again the reflective design is a taste/sound one must let grow on you, it just didn’t with me. I still have a set of 101's in storage BTW.

    I've had the large Advent's (liked) and a wonderful pair of ESS monitors (I loved). The other great speakers in my life were the Dynaco A50’s with the A25’s as the back in a stereo setup, wife hated the size of the A50’s though.

    But I keep coming back to Polk...must be a virus!

    Stephen
  • Tour2maTour2ma Old School Posts: 10,176
    edited December 2003
    sc2,

    Suspected they might have been later series. I'd heard they went downhill after series II. There was even a big split between series I and II fans as to which ws better.

    I remember the ESS. They used the Heil air motion trans-something-or-other if I recall (sorta) correctly.
    More later,
    Tour...
    Vox Copuli
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner
  • stevecramer2stevecramer2 Posts: 34
    edited December 2003
    Yes, they had the Heil air-motion device and I’m not sure of the proper name either.

    They cost me something like $1400. with shipping at the time. I’m dating myself a little here but it must have been around 1978 when I first got them.

    The Bose series fans all believe their speakers may be the best of the bunch. Now that a discussion I have no interest in! (-:

    SC2
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