To start with the fact i always kept my hands off Bose because of the critics in most of the reviews that can be found. As i could buy a bose 601 series III set for about 50 euro's from someone, who even warned me not to buy them, i gave it a go.
At home i plugged them in on my small amp, 105 w channel, started a cd and walked towards another room. When it started to play i had to turn arround because i was truely amazed, quite shocked honestly, by the warm sound and detail that was blown through the room. I sat down and enjoyed it for a bit, with a big grin all over my face.
Next thing was to hook it up on my main amp which values about 250 w channel and they seemed to 'open' even more with a fabulous high tone, classic mid and a bass level that fits it all.
I owned, and listened, a lot of speakers but this discovery got me almost emotional.
Since that day they stand where i set them up, awaiting compagnon from another set i hope to purchase soon.
Probably the lack of a decent amp or the later Bose generations make some people haters.
The 601 III concept was way ahead for it's era, it handles all kinds of music but is very sensitive to the quality of recordings as the sounds seperately are very detailed.
If you see them for sale, buy magic!
Thanks for reading
purchased a pair of bose 601 series three new back in 1986. here i am sitting here today 6/19/2012 listening to the these 26 year old speakers and they sound just as good as the day i bought them. no foam rot, nothing. matter of fact, they look brand new. not a scratch on either speaker. i listen to these speakers thru all sony es components. this review is short and sweet, just as sweet as these speakers still sound today. thank you for your time.
After reading the entire 84 reviews on these speakers, here is what I have to say...
I have been collecting speakers for over 30 years, so I personally know and have experienced with my own ears:
1.) Many different brands (Klipsch, KEF, a/d/s/, Polk Audio, Carver, Altec Lansing, JBL, EPI, Velodyne, Bose, Definitive Technologies, Cerwin Vega, Infinity, McIntosh, Mirage, B&W, Pioneer, Sansui, DCM, Fisher, Motorola, Magnavox)
2.) Many different types (paper/polypropylene/pulp fiber/kevlar/Stifflite cones, titanium/silk dome/horn/ribbon tweeters, Alnico/ferrite/samarium cobalt magnets, ported/bass reflex/passive radiator enclosures, electrostatic, tube powered)
3.) Many different types of music played through all of the above:
60's-70's classic rock- Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones
80's heavy metal- Metallica, Def Leppard, Quiet Riot
Classical music- Enrico Caruso, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, Phantom of the Opera
Jazz music- Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz
80's dance music- Trinere, Shannon, Will to Power
Relaxation music- Enya, Yanni, John Tesh
60's rock- (too numerous to list!)
4.) Many different types of relatively high-end equipment [not Krell, Mark Levinson, etc... but "normal-everyday-guy" high-end stuff] used on them (Denon HDCD/receivers, Yamaha pre-amps/Class A amps, Carver amps/cd, Harmon Kardon amps, Pioneer & Sansui old school receivers, Sony SACD/Bluray)
The Bose technology in the 601 Series III's from the mid-80's was good, really good. I've heard almost every different type of loudspeaker design out there & these specific speakers sound great at what they do, play life-like music as if you were there.
Some "anti-Bose" guys like to use the old sayings,"All highs. No lows. It must be Bose!" or "No highs. No lows. It must be Bose!". Trust me, that is USUALLY TRUE when it comes to the newer stuff from Bose, especially the over-priced Acoustimass systems, which basically consist of 2" tiny "upper-midrange" cubes [made out of paper & NOT capable of ANY real midbass nor highs much over 10,000-12,000hz] & midwoofers [that cannot go anywhere near 20hz-30hz] in a fancily-ported, female-frendly box, NOT "real" tweeters, midranges, & woofers, like most guys are used to when considering buying good speakers.
Admittedly, the those systems do fit into a few certain niches:
1.) Guys who are whipped by their women into getting "cute" speakers that sound okay yet cannot be seen easily
2.) Wealthy people who want to spend money on a name, only to compete with their friends by saying they spent $3,000 on a new Bose system.
We have to admit:
They DO sound better than using the speakers in your tv.
They DO give one the 5.1/6.1/7.1 sensation, better clarity & bass response than tv speakers, & are very inobtrusive compared to larger floorstanders.
Do they sound better than high-quality, larger floorstanders or even good bookshelves... not even close!! Especially in 2-channel critical listening!
Now, take the "old-school" Bose 601 Series III's:
They ARE a floorstander, yet have a relatively small footprint. They DO surround you in stereo music via their "direct-reflecting" technology (ie. tweeters/mids firing in specific directions to reflect off of the surrounding walls). They DO sound better than any old or new Bose speakers out there, including the almighty 901's! They DO have (2) real 8" woofers, one on the front lower panel that is only a woofer & one on the upper angled panel that is a mid-woofer & woofer. They Do have multiple 3" tweeter/midranges (2 double-cubes in each speaker) also called "twiddlers" by Bose. This is where Bose got the idea of their infamous "double cubes" mounted to the walls, by removing them from the 601 III's, putting them in cute little plastic boxes, relocating them around the room & then, unfortunately, using smaller "wanna-be-woofers" in a single box in a corner. The 601 III's DO perform better than their predecessors, the 601 I's & II's, due to their better designed, rear-firing, slotted bass port. Instead of using a round port on the top, which interfered with the twiddlers sound & made a "chuffing" noise when driven hard, the slot port utilized the wall behind the speakers as bass reinforcement, like a sounding board. It improved the bass response dramatically & eliminated the chuffing noise. They also look more modern.
Now, some say that the paper twiddlers don't go that high, but most people cannot hear above what they play anyways. They play more in a realistic range of human hearing. What in real music instruments (or even in nature) produces sounds in those extreme ranges anyways?! They also were not built or necessarily intended to be used with "booty" music that has EXTREMELY LOW, artificial bass. They were designed back in the mid 80's when 60's-70's classic rock was popular & 80's rock/dance music was emerging, which did not have near as much artificial bass like the newer stuff. Also, synthesizers have been used more & more to artificially replace real highs/lows that instruments played. These speakers were more designed for actual live music which is performed by artists, not artificial, computer-generated music. They can play that stuff well, but weren't necessarily designed for it. The 601's III's go deep in the bass region & play the mids/highs very naturally. There really isn't a need to go much higher than what they do already... ie. you are not "missing" anything super critical. Some guys say that the tweeters are cheap because they are paper & not titanium or whatever. Most "old-school" speakers have paper cones (like my JBL L100's) & I believe that Bose utilized them due to a more life-like, smoother tonal quality instead of a harsher, crispier tone, to make them sound more natural.
Either way, the 601 Series III's will put a smile on your face when you listen to them. Anywhere you stand/sit in the room will sound like your are in stereo, not matter which way you face. I traded a set of Bose 501 Series IV's to a guy awhile back & when he set them up in his place, his whole great room sounded fantastic! 501 IV's have a 10" woofer & a single 3" double-cube in each, about 1/2 of what the 601 III's have in them! They sit lower on the floor, making their imaging good, but not as good as the 601 III's because the 501 IV's tweeters are firing lower down, around knee level, not at ear level when seated, like the 601 III's.
The 601 Series III's are a great speaker, even when compared to the other speakers I own, over 100! Certain speakers are better at certain types of music than others. My a/d/s/ L1290's, Carver AL-III's, Polk SDA1's & Polk Monitor 10's are so smooth when listening to jazz. My JBL L96, L100 Century's, L110's slam when you play rock through them. My Altec 604c's... well, they are unlike anything you've ever heard. My Cerwin Vega RE38's bass hits so hard when playing club music that it makes your liver vibrate! Certain speakers need lots of power to sound good while some need much less higher quality power to sound great.
It's very simple... first, get some good, clean, low distortion gear for your front end (ie. the pre-amp/receiver, amp [solid state, tube, or hybrid], cd player, interconnects, speaker cables, etc...), acoustically treat the room to reduce unwanted sound reflections, use a room EQ if at all possible, & then test out different speakers with the music you prefer. Buy what you think sounds good to you based on the type of music to which you listen. If you think one set of speakers will sound great on all kinds of music, think again, unless you plan on spending HUGE money, enough to buy a new car or even a house! If you think that one set of speakers will sound really good on most all music, & you come across the Bose 601 Series III's, then don't feel reluctant to grab them... they sound wonderful!
So - Bose. There are people who want to definitively label everything in life, but that's tough to do over a very long time and many products.
I am now on my second set of Bose 601 Series 1. I had a love/hate relationship with Bose after I sold my Klipsch LaScalas (used for DJ'ing) in 1977 and picked these up when I got out of the business the first time. I got good coin for those LaScalas and had a very healthy speaker budget for my next purchase. I listened to every speaker in every shop in town, and everything I heard was less than the LaScalas when it came to detail. Now the bass in the LaScalas was pitiful and boomy, but I was addicted to the clarity of them. In the last shop, I tried a number of their best speakers and they were all yawners. I could hear detail in them all, and there were various sweet spots in each, but none gave me any Wow. Finally, in great confidence, the owner/salesman listened to my comments and said he knew what I wanted. Wisely, he neglected to tell me which speaker was next, I just heard the sound.
My girffriend at the time turned back on to me so I wouldn't see her face. She guessed immediately that whatever we were hearing was bloody expensive. That wasn't true, it was the 601's and they won hands down over all other product in the store - including the 901's (which I really don't like at all). The difference wasn't a subtle thing - the showroom suddenly filled with warm, deep, sparkling sound.
For the next couple of years, with the 601's in my home, I'd bring home other decent speakers because I felt something was lacking in my 601's. But every time I a/b'ed a new speaker, the 601's just overshadowed them completely. It's tough to explain - you think you're missing some level of detail but it's just not true. Keep in mind, I was used to the LaScalas which are very detail oriented.
Finally I really embraced these 601's and never looked back for about 20 years. Until the foam rot hit my woofers. I gave those 601's away and went with a PSB home theatre solution. Since then, I've changed out numerous speakers and was never really satisfied with anything.
I finally just picked up a reconditioned set of 601 Series 1, and they are glorious. So listenable - not fatiguing. They look old, but I could care less. It's all about the sound.
I've now had my fill of using subwoofers, towers, centers, surrounds and various encoding algorithms (Pro Logic, DTX, etc.). I'm tired of constantly fiddling with my sub so it sounds right at all volumes. The complexity (and I'm no techno-slouch) is vexing. I just want clean, generous sound.
And I want it pretty much everywhere in the room. I'm not a fan of sweet spots - moving around is a good thing. To me, the old 601's are the only ones that offer this. I just wish Bose hadn't used the same number on these new units.
Am I a Bose fan boy? No. I don't like the Acoustimass line. I do like their PAS line for professional work (I'm just retiring from DJ'ing). Never liked 901's. I very much like the 301's, and the 601's of old. The Wave Radio - it's alright for what it is, but I think it's very overpriced and over-hyped.
To the Bose haters - listen carefully to these older products. They very much did get it right! Are they the ultimate speaker for everyone - of course not. But neither should they be dismissed in an I-need-to-profess-coolness condemnation. Some experience listeners with decent ears find them to be an emotionally involving speaker - that says something.
To those who appreciate the 301's and 601's, I just want to say I get it. I understand. And that it's a shame we have defend our Bose choice among pre-judgers. Mostly, I want to tell you to never let these gems go because it is so hard to get a good set, and they are getting more and more scarce.
And if you really want to be convinced - play Elton John's, 'Tonight', from the Live in Australia album. Turn it up. Up a bit more. Now, tell me these things aren't fantastic. You won't be able to do it.
I have a pair of Bose 601 which I believe are the covetted series One from 1978 which some claim are the best Bose 601s ever made. I have refoamed them with Bose brand foams and they sound better than my Kenwoods which are almost twice the size. I am looking to sell them if I am offered the right price. There is some cabinet damage which is repairable and it does not affect the sound in any way. I live on Long Island not far from Queens. email me paulgolf 4949 at aol dat calm