Bose 901 Series IV Floorstanding Speakers

901 Series IV

(1980-1983)

User Reviews (56)

Showing 1-10 of 56  
winbat   AudioPhile [Mar 22, 2008]
Strength:

Bass below audible levels, coherent sound all the way up the spectrum, no crossover to confuse things, size, great looks on pedestals, easy to listen at high levels, they produce little or no fatigue, no need for a sub woofer, relatively cheap due to bad undeserved press, extreme reserves power, can play louder than any speaker I know and yet sound live, very high wow factor.

Weakness:

Need correct and good working equalizer, room must lend itself to setup, EQ should be adjusted first for volume level and then next to recording quality, need minimum 75 watts per channel amplifier for it to sound good.

Let me chime in here and say that I neither work/ed for Bose and I am not a Bose basher--nor do I have a pair selling on eBay.

I bought the 901s used. They sounded terrible in the sellers, he had a 30 watt amp hooked up. They sounded much better with my 125 watt system. To make a long story short, the EQ needed to have the capacitors replaced. Once this happened, the speakers came alive. But their real impact did not come until I got them off the stools on to their pedestals and place correctly with no junk arround them. I thought my Cerwins had bass, these things knocked off the socks even off the JBL sub I had (it is gone). Then I thought, good on bass, weak elsewhere? Not a chance. These speakers reproduce every frequency with an amazing ease, clarity, and speed. Sure, they must be EQ'd correctly per the volume and per the CD that is playing. If you are not willing to fiddle, then these are not for you. But they totally surpass my other very high end stuff that I will leave nameless. I am glad I did not give up on them, they are bit more work than your box speaker, but then again, they do not sound like boxes when setup correctly. After hearing these at their optimal setup, I would not even trade them or sell them for a new set. Once you hear them for yourself, you become a believer.

Similar Products Used: Nothing similar in design of performance.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Npei   AudioPhile [Jan 25, 2007]
Strength:

When properly placed and EQ'd, the 901's are capable of compelling imaging. The speakers will disappear, just as they should.
Effortless dynamics, and a remarkably extended bass. Only the music remains.
Fast, involving, transparent.

Weakness:

The speaker has, in my opinion, been the butt of more vitriol and uninformed malice than any other piece of Audio equipment in the history of the hobby. Everyone has an opinion, apparently especially those who appear unable to read a manual! Very sad. To all the bashers, I would politely say you're welcome to hear them at my house. Friends of mine who count themselves knowledgeable and critical have consistently praised these humble-looking transducers, and not just to be polite!
Again, CORRECT PLACEMENT is absolutely essential, as is CORRECT EQ! This may be too much effort for some folks: if so maybe they should look elsewhere.
As this design radiates a great deal of energy to the rear, it's not a plug-and-play design: the stereo image can easily become too diffuse if the speakers are not properly placed. Complex room interactions can result in sound-smearing, and this must be taken seriously.
Bose perhaps gloss over this difficulty: these speakers MUST be placed carefully - sometimes a difference of a couple of inches is crucial.
Perhaps the most confusing, mis-reviewed, speaker of all time.
IF, and only IF you are prepared to put in a little time, these speakers fully justify a 5 Star rating.

Another perspective, and PLEASE take this seriously! I'm not interested in anything but highest quality music reproduction - as a professional, and classically trained musician, this is mandatory for me.
I've owned literally 100's of pieces of audio gear, some extremely expensive and esoteric examples. All great fun, but especially when it comes to choosing speakers, I have long known that, like pianos, say, they all sound different. Yes, in spite of all attempting to do the same thing, they all have a distinct sonic "footprint". In my experience, there will never be a "perfect" loudspeaker for all listeners, as tastes, budget, and ears are all different.
To write an objective review is an impossibility: by definition I will use my own biases, as does EVERYONE. Having been exposed to so much live music over the years may give me a slight advantage, who knows?
To all those silly people who indulge in Bose-bashing, let me say 'NONSENSE'! To those who like to indulge in the childish 'No highs no lows must be Bose' refrain, again nonsense! Unless my ears and testing equipment are lying to me, these speakers, PROPERLY EQUALIZED and PROPERLY LOCATED, are nothing short of astonishing, In terms of bass, their ability to produce fundamentals at 30Hz and below, with clean accuracy is simply marvelous. Unless you really need to feel a 15Hz fundamental, there will NEVER be a need for an outboard Subwoofer. Never. Period. For a smallish speaker, this is remarkable. Highs are equally well tended to, and with careful EQ and placement, your pets will be bothered even when you're not!
My listening tastes run the gamut from organ music at realistic volumes (I am an organist, and I know what to listen for), to techno and just about everything in between. These rather remarkable speakers will take anything that's dealt to them, bearing in mind the need for decent amplification - anything less than 50 Watts will run into problems if you enjoy realistic listening levels. Even massed vocals, one of the most severe tests, and the downfall of many speakers, are handled with ease and transparency.
Much has been written on the use of paper cones, and the necessity of using an Equalizer. For the former, I don't care what the materials used are, as long as the sounds are correct. Any criticism on this basis is simply puerile; the final sound is all that matters. I must admit I don't care for the fact that the foam surrounds will probably perish after 15 years or so, but since replacements are so easily available this isn't too much of an issue. (Try refurbishing the single speaker from an Ohm Walsh in comparison!!) The equalizer is another issue. Whilst on principle I don't like to introduce more electronics into the chain than necessary, this little box earns its keep, hands down. Listening without any equalization is an unpleasant experience, to say the least. (Bose bashers and others please note). I have experimented extensively with using second-party equalization, and I will go on record as saying that if you have the patience and the tools, you are not limited to the Bose equalizer. I am listening as I write to a thrilling version of Also Spracht Zarathustra, at neighbour-threatening levels, using a second-party equalizer - simply marvelous!
In sum, and you might think surprisingly, these are a very difficult speaker to recommend unequivocally. If the user is not prepared to take a very active part in careful placement and equalization, perhaps they're best left alone. I am utterly convinced that it is these facts alone that have contributed to so much of the nay-saying associated with the 901's.
Not for everyone, but definitely for me!

Similar Products Used: Nothing I know is similar.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
poobear   AudioPhile [Oct 20, 2006]
Strength:

Ability toplay loud, not clear but loud

Weakness:

No bass. Highly recommend the use of a subwoofer if yuo are thinking about a set.

I use to sell bose products. However, after spending years in the audio business and owning a pair of 901's for a short period of time I can honestly say the speakers had to go. Other than having the capacity to play extremely loud I thought the speakers sounded just awful. Because everything about these speakers sounded unnatural especially the bass and the highs. Of course like everyone else that’s been overseas in the military you either had a set of bose , jbl, or klipsch. And I will say that the bose 901's was by far the worst in that bunch. Especially for the amount of money you spent on them. For those who think the 901's are the greatest things since slice bread I highly recommend you listen to a pair of snell loudspeakers, and if you want something closer to home listen to a good pair of JBl's not the cheap ones.

Customer Service

Great

Similar Products Used: Snell, JBL XPL-200, Magnapan,
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
2
Maddmaster   AudioPhile [Jun 08, 2006]
Strength:

Spacious sound. Power handling capability.

Weakness:

Active EQ limits configuration unless using separates. Not designed to use as mains in a home theater setup but will work OK with alot of effort.

I have used 901's since 1982. Are there other speakers I like, sure there are. I do however still like the 901's and still using them today. I have to agree they do restrict you when building a surround sound or home theater system because of the Active EQ, but that's only if you are using a Receiver and happen to be using a tape monitor loop. If you are using separates there's not a problem. I even use them in my home theater setup which is posted on http://community.webshots.com/user/maddmaster

I have found the same as others have said about these speakers. If they are not setup exactly to manufactures spec's (distance measurements) they will sound like crap. Many people really do not the space in their rooms to set these up to spec. There will still be those that don't like the sound quality, but that may be caused by they're looking for an overly bright sounding speaker. The 901's give a spacious nice sound quality. The EQ can be adjusted to make changes to me your taste. Another important note is power handling. Bose recommends a minimum os 10 wpc. Maybe so but you will never hear what these speakers are capable of with a low wattage system. They are power eaters. I use an old Carver Power Amp (M1.5) which is rated 300 wpc rms and they can eat it for lunch. The do get loud before that happens, but it's as if the 901's are saying give me more, more power. I used to sell them retail. I had been told about their ability to handle large amounts of power so I decided to test test that theory. I connected disconnected speaker wires from the board and plugged them directly into a 120V 20A wall outlet. All I can say is WOW, what a rush (scared the S__T out of me). Talk about loud and moving air. I do not recommend you try this and I don't plan on doing it again either. The speaker took it and never blinked. When reconnected it to the receiver it continued performing just like right out of the box.

With all things, technology changes and the 901's as much as I have loved them have really fallen into the vintage class. I plan to replace them soon. I was going to replace them about 15 yrs ago but Bose offered be a deal I could not refuse. My series IV driver cones were coming a part. When I called Bose to order a few new drivers they offered me a trade up to the series VI for just under $500, EQ included.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Audio ole timer   AudioPhile [Nov 11, 2004]
Strength:

Accurate reproduction, small size as compared to some of the behemoths out there, sound good at a low level also. Try the Super Bose system, sounds great!Two in front, one along either side of you, speakers hooked in parallel.

Weakness:

If you like it very loud, be sure to have at least 250-300 watts ch. Foam surrounds were a bummer!

Well, here goes. Thought I would jump in here and put my 2 cents in about the Magnificent sounding Bose 901 series 1(original) through series V. I have been into audio since I was seven. I've had so much stuff, built so much stuff, auditioned so much stuff it's unbelievable! First things first! How the so called audiophiles can put this and other fine speakers down is just Wrong! Everyone hears things in their own way and I respect the different opinions of all the reviews here, as long as they are fair and objective. The Bose 901 does a very good job of reproducing music. No, I don't it's the best at any price. I don't think any speaker is. All of them have flaws. I auditioned the B & W Nautilus and it sounded very good, but not perfect, I've owned Mcintosh Xrt-20's, Klipschorns, B & O, Carver Amazings, Magneplanars and several other fine speakers. All sounded good, all had flaws. Drove to Memphis once to hear the Legacy Focus and Whisper. Very dissapointing! The Bose 901, when set up properly and USING the equalizer can provide a really nice audio experience. Having at least 250 watts a channel is better, good clean equipment to push them will be rewarding. In the 70's the Super Bose System was introduced, this consisted of 4 901's hooked in parallel along with the Bose 1801 power amplifier. This produced 400 watts a side at a 4 ohm load, thus each speaker was getting 200 watts. It sounded very good, but with the efficiency of the early 901's lacking because of the 18 db boost of the EQ,, this was not enought power. With the Ported design, efficiency is better. As for the cheap paper cones, there is a reason for this. If you can't figure it out, then maybe you are not a true audiophile after all. If you notice, the paper is very thin, it needs to be this way. Because of the extreme bass boost, the enertia of the cone has to be controlled, thus reducing overshoot. Same principle that makes Lowther such a fine speaker. The 901 produce accurate bass if set up properly, a lot of other speakers introduce bass on the heavy side. The highs are adequate. You can only hear 17khz or so anyway. If you are in the market for some speakers, listen to a pair properly set up, and let your ears camp out with your favorite music. After all, listening to music is personal and tuned to one's own taste, not a track race of opinions. Kudos, Amar Bose, you did alright! Happiness to all! Audio ole timer.

Similar Products Used: None, they are in a class all alone. Not perfect, but very good!
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
bacon   Audio Enthusiast [May 07, 2004]
Strength:

Excellent all round performance for all music, very versatile

Weakness:

I can't come up with any, a very fine speaker

Listen to a lot of speakers to pick the right one for you. Altec, Kilpsh, Fostek, Infinity R.W. Oliver Dayton Wright. I listen to all of them, (really liked the Kilpsch La Scala) I picked the 901's, don't even consider your own equalizer unless you are advanced, use the Bose equalizer. I have hung them from the ceiling, used stands, played socials/dances they work great. Not the best in the world, but in their price range among the finest. It's nice to have an opinion; however anyone who SLAMS what Bose does has an agenda, or some other drum to bang. You have to audition your speakers, spend the time before you spend the money. You might not chose the 901's as I did, but they are not crap as some would have you believe and deserve to be in any audition. Have fun, enjoy the shopping, it really is a personal choice. I've enjoyed my 901's for 25 years now, they have never let me down.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
deweyclark   Audio Enthusiast [Apr 12, 2004]
Strength:

They looked nice especially with the chrome stands. Unlimited power capability.

Weakness:

Mine had too much hiss. Iwish I knew what caused it, but I gave up on the equalizer after having it looked at twice.

I bought these speakers in Feb 1979 for $610.00 a pair. That was a great deal considering they were going for $1,400 in the states. With the equalizer on, they definitely had a good range. The only thing I did not like was the hiss. I had my equalizer checked out to see if it was the problem or not. I also bought the chrome stands for $55 a pair. These speakers could handle unlimited wattage. If you blew a driver, they would replace it for free. The wind blew thru these speakers at up to 60 MPH - I know because I had a poster behing the one and would watch it move. The reason I bought them, was a guy I knew in the service in Montana had the 901 series III speakers. His speakers sounded great. That is why I was disappointed in mine with the hiss no matter what source I listened too [radio, cassette, lp's]. I sold them after about a year or so of ownership.

Similar Products Used: Pioneer CS922A. Polk Audio RT-5000.
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
5
malamati   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 02, 2004]
Strength:

Amazing ability to hit those highs and lows at almost ANY power level you care to put into them in a normal home environment. Nice stereo separation, even listening in an adjacent room, for Gawd's sake!

Weakness:

Marginal ability to tailor the mid-range bass and treble through the Bose equalizer.

Bose 901 / V You'll read lots of love-'em, hate-'em about these speakers. Both views are right-on, so the only possible way you can really assess these speakers is to audition them yourself, preferably in your own environment, with the electronics that will drive them and the spatial locale in which they would live. My opinion? For $1000+, I might keep looking. For $380, including the equalizer, I can't imagine ANYTHING that would sound as open, transparent, adjustable, and as capable of absorbing mass power, as these speakers. I set 'em up in a very unconventional configuation (one corner-fired at the end of my rectangular listening space; the other nearly in the middle of the opposite wall), adjust the balance on my Patton-tank receiver, and love the separation and bright, all-the-power-you-want capability of these little speakers. As I said, you will hear bad-mouthing about Bose 901s from plenty of enthusiasts. I would just ask them, how many multiples of $400 did they have to pay to sneer at these speakers? For the price I paid, they are incredible transducers, and I'm very happy with them.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
soundmaster   AudioPhile [Jul 02, 2003]
Strength:

None...absolutely none

Weakness:

"weakness" is a very powerful word.

Way back in the 1980's I purchased B&W Matrix speakers primarily because I had auditioned Bose 901's earlier that week. I don't know what the deal is with Bose and the refecting speakers but I do know that they sound very unnatural and compressed. I guess the unnaturalness is advertized as "DIRECT/REFLECTING" and to uncompress the sound you need the equalizer. There is no useful bass or treble and the midrange is unfocused. This speaker sounds particularly bad with revealing gear such as Mark Levinson. Don't bother with placement and other excuses from the Bose league- this thing just does not perform! I compared 1971 Bose 901's with my Martix and everyone easily noticed the difference. Listed with your ears and not what the salesman tells you!

Similar Products Used: None like this. My setup is Mark Levinson transport, Mark Levinson converter, Mark Levinson pre amp, Mark Levinson monoblock power amps
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
steve fotheringham   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 20, 2003]
Strength:

Big sound,Big sound stage,Powerful bass and crisp top end with a Big amp. Clean sound with small amps(50- 70)

Weakness:

Needs good set up, room placement etc.

If you like clean crisp full sound you will love these speakers. These speakers are good with any amp! But they are not party speakers. What i mean is, they are HIFI speakers. Alot of people just want a pair of speakers that they turn up so they can feel the bass. There isn't anything wrong with that! I love to turn up the dial' till all i can here is music and pounding bass. You can do this with all the 901's, But you need a big amp. These speakers need amps,watts to deliver the sound they are capable of. If you use 100 watts rated into 8ohms and i mean a amp that will double it into a 4ohms(200 watts) your on your way. I have used a few amps with these speakers,Yamaha,nad,denon,rotel,harmon/kardon and pioneer. Any amp works well for normal audio levels,But you need the 901 eq. Without the (eq) they sound as if you put a blanket on them. So many people buy them without the (eq) and think they sound like rubbish, they do! You also need to set them up.They need to be 4 feet apart or more, 8 inches to 14 inches from the back wall and 18 to 36 inches from the side walls. If you have anything in the middle you will need to be 18 inches away from it as well. A few inches makes a big change just like a subwoofer.901's can produce impressive amounts of bass if placed right, and given lots of WATTS! I use two nads in bridged mode, they run 360 rms each and peak at around 600 watts. So as you can see i like it loud playing van halen etc. They will go without breaking down until the amp starts to go into clipping. There are not to many speakers that will do that. Those same speakers with an amp that is only 100 watts rms will not sound anything like it. 901's are not sensitive speakers they are rated around 93,the hiher the rateing the more they need power, sensitive speakers are rated around 87 ,at 87 they sound much louder with small amps. But they dont have whats called high end. 901's will sound like there breaking down as would any non sensitive speaker,but it's the amp going into clipping. The speaker is just playing the distorted signal.

Similar Products Used: M&K,B&W,Jamo,JBL.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
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