Bose 901 Floorstanding Speakers

901

multi-drive speaker with equalizer

User Reviews (185)

Showing 1-10 of 185  
Dwight DeLarge   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 06, 2008]
Strength:

Extraordinary for concert and acoutic music. Very good for home theater.
Ease of listing, no coloration or stress (on ears) after long periods of play.
Can match or exceed any size, or priced speaker for sound clarity and three dimensional sound stage.

Weakness:

Absolutely none.

I joined the Navy in 1970, and was station on the U.S.S. Piedmont which in turn was deployed on a West-Pac to Yokoska Japan. I first heard the the Bose 901
series two, (dark brown grill, walnut top, and black metal pedestals) and could not believe the remarkable sound that emulated from these small (for the time) speakers. I lke my father before me, have a passion for music, but also for sophisticated electronics. Speakers such as AR's, Whardale and Boston Acoutic were speakers I had become accustomed too, and heard as I grew up. I thought that i had just about heard it all unitl I saw a demonstation of the Bose-901's.
I could not afford the $2000 dollar price tag ($US) tag, so I only could one day dream of owning a pair of these fine speakers. It would be 11 year's later, and a store by the name of WALL-TO-Wall, goiing out of business sale that allowed me to perchase my dream speakers. The sale price of $999.00 for the (901's series VI )speakers, walnut, with sand grills, active equilizer and matching sand colored metal pedestals. I have owned these speakers for over 25 years and could not be happier with the beauty of craftmenship, small and unobtrusive size and spacious magnificant sound.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Markmaz   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 02, 2008]
Strength:

Huge sound, incredible power handling. Natural, "easy" sound. Decent bass with moderate power, great bass with massive power, blends nicely with subwoofer, great "wow" factor when watching action movies.

Weakness:

Fuzzy soundstage that actually sounds nice when you get used to it.

901 series VI.
Coveting these speakers since I was a kid when I read about Bose's research on the theoretical pulsating sphere (which has considered to be the ultimate in sound reproduction) and the 901 that resulted from this research, I jumped at the chance to purchase a used pair about 11 years ago. Since then, these speakers have been powered by many different amps and even sat idle for years because my living spaces at the time were not suitable. Now, that I have my own house, they are again used, this time with a vintage 90W channel Onkyo reciever also powering a passive Paradigm subwoofer (which sounds great with the series VI active equalizer, by the way). I use this system as my "old school" surround sound, for watching TV, movies or listening to music. Although I refuse to get a modern surround sound system, it might be because I love the way these speakers sound in this use. They present a nice big comfy sound that seems to just emanate from the wall, flowing toward me like a big river, with an ethereal soundstage. Surround-sound is almost gimicky compared to the natural way the 901's work (and sound). Not totally adverse to modern times, I am planning on purchasing a flat-screen HDTV, soon. However, the 901's will stay.

My very favorite setup that these speakers have been part of, is one that I had during my days renting a house with a couple of friends. I had purchased a used DJ amp: QSC putting out about 300 watts/channel. My housemate, purchased the very same amp. Bridging the amp resullting in 1000 watts into one channel, thus using two amps gave 1000 watts per channel. We hooked up the 901s and the results were staggering! Although no other speakers were part of this setup (no subwoofers), the sound was prodigious and the speakers NEVER showed any signs of distress! The music was incredibly tight and loud. The bass was surprisingly deep and loud with impact that felt like a punch to the chest. I vividly remember playing a track of AC/DC's '74 Jailbreak for a friend of mine who actually jumped and flinched in surprise at the very first seconds of the song which started out solely with electic guitar. Those first strums filled the entire room like a rock concert. Listening to that setup was like going to the very best sounding rock concert that you could ever imagine. It really was larger than I ever expected and I have NEVER experienced a sound like that again (including actual rock concerts, which sound like garbage in comparison).

However, that setup was waaay too loud and would never pass muster with the wife...

For really big sound that sounds natural and is unfatiguing, I wholly recommend the 901's. They are very enjoyable as my "surround sound system".

My secondary system consists of an Audio Refinement Integrated Amp, vintage DBX DX-5 CD player and NHT SB-1 speakers. This system sounds totally different, with accurate imaging and soundstage. By comparison, I can understand how audiophiles can disregard the 901's, but its almost apples to oranges. The sound that 901's provide is unique enough to be in a class of their own. They may be better or worse than "normal" speakers to the listener, depending on what they are expecting.

Similar Products Used: Really nothing else like it, for better or worse...
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Fleemer   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 15, 2008]
Strength:

Even, strong sound that packs a punch without boominess. All frequencies are smooth with powerful lows and sparkling highs. Not tinny or distorted. I'm using an old Kenwood 120wpc receiver, Model 11 III. I couldn't put the volume at 3 unless I want my neighbors calling 911. I'm convinced that a bad experience with these speakers is the result of today's low end electronics that have flooded the market. Maybe the new 901's have been improved to sound better with the crappy equipment that's out there but I don't know for sure. I tried mine with my new NAD 5.1 system and they lacked something in the low end for sure. My Bose 501's sound great with the NAD and a sub. The 901 with NAD needed the sub too - they were good but not great. This told me that for true great stereo sound you need a stereo amp or receiver and keep the 5.1 surround system hooked up to a sub. In other words, match the equipment carefully by design. To get great sound today using NAD - I'd need the top of the line model I think to equal the sound I get from my Kenwood. What can I say, they knew how to make good quality equipment back then and built it to last a lifetime.

Weakness:

None that I can say. A bad setup will most likely give you weaknesses. Make sure you have a good quality amp. You have to pay big bucks today to get the quality that was just expensive back in the '70's. These speakers will disappoint with a mid-range 5.1 receiver that's common. You need some quality since you have quality speakers. HIgh end NAD or McIntosh would probably fit the bill with the 901's.

Here's my debt to Bose paid in full. I say that because I bought my Bose 901's series II from somebody who didn't want them anymore and well, Bose doesn't benefit from that too much. Hopefully, my review will help fix that. I don't know how Bose has gotten a bad name in some circles with speakers like the 901's. I first heard them at a friend's house when I was 16. He put Van Halen down on the turntable and with his Kenwood amp, proceeded to knock me out of the room with the first 30 seconds of the first cut. I've never forgotten that. I was amazed. Since that time, I've heard demos of hundreds of speakers. I could never afford the Bose speakers I wanted. Never had the right room size either for the 901's. I've owned some good speakers (I thought) but then was never completely satisfied with the sound. Fast forward to today. I found some mint condition 901's some guy was selling because he didn't do much listening anymore. I took a chance that they were in good shape and that leap of faith paid off big time. Here it is, 30 years later and Van Halen never sounded so good. They still have it. Ironically, I think I got the same model and series as my friend had. Cosmetically, they are perfect and obviously built to last. These speakers do require a good sized room and proper placement. If you're not getting bass from them, you don't have them set up right. I can do side by side comparisons with my subwoofered system playing the same source and well, the subwoofer just makes things boomy. The 901's require no subwoofer, receiver does not have loudness on. Bass control is up 3 notches because I'm in a basement. If I was upstairs, I know controls would be flat or only up 1 notch. These speakers are amazing. If you turn the lights down low, or close your eyes, you can imagine the band right there in the room and the volume doesn't even have to be loud. You could listen for days without getting tired of the sound. I'm impressed with everything in my collection and I'm playing old lp's again, something I haven't done in years. Usually you buy speakers and they sound good for a while (like the old Steve Martin routine) and then they sound like #%@#. It's been a few months now and I'm as excited today about them as I was the day I bought them. In the brochure, they say they are quite probably the finest loudspeaker out there for the money. I agree - it's not bragging. The absence of a crossover network seems to be noticeable and the sound is smooth as silk. No listener fatigue. My ears don't ring later. Nothing harsh. It's all rich and smooth. I wish I could go back 30 years and get back the time lost messing with other systems. It turned out for the best however and well, it's a treat no matter what. They say they've made improvements in the Bose speakers over the years and I can't testify to that - I do recommend that folks buy the old stuff since it was the best stuff. If you can't achieve great sound with these speakers, you've made a bad choice in some component, haven't the right setup or don't know good sound when you hear it. Nobody really knows how music should sound since there are so many variables althought they claim they know. All you can know is whether or not, you feel the speakers sound good and live up to your expectations. These speakers are keepers and I don't see shopping for anything else as long as they keep giving me what I've heard so far. As someone already said, a company doensn't stay in business for 40 years unless they have something to offer that's great. No marketing scheme can keep you going that long. You hear most from people when they aren't happy. The happy satisfied customers usually don't say a thing...but here I am - sharing, happy and satisfied with my purchase and I hope you will be too.

Similar Products Used: Bose 501
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Fleemer   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 15, 2008]
Strength:

Even, strong sound that packs a punch without boominess. All frequencies are smooth with powerful lows and sparkling highs. Not tinny or distorted. I'm using an old Kenwood 120wpc receiver, Model 11 III. I couldn't put the volume at 3 unless I want my neighbors calling 911. I'm convinced that a bad experience with these speakers is the result of today's low end electronics that have flooded the market. Maybe the new 901's have been improved to sound better with the crappy equipment that's out there but I don't know for sure. I tried mine with my new NAD 5.1 system and they lacked something in the low end for sure. My Bose 501's sound great with the NAD and a sub. The 901 with NAD needed the sub too - they were good but not great. This told me that for true great stereo sound you need a stereo amp or receiver and keep the 5.1 surround system hooked up to a sub. In other words, match the equipment carefully by design. To get great sound today using NAD - I'd need the top of the line model I think to equal the sound I get from my Kenwood. What can I say, they knew how to make good quality equipment back then and built it to last a lifetime.

Weakness:

None that I can say. A bad setup will most likely give you weaknesses. Make sure you have a good quality amp. You have to pay big bucks today to get the quality that was just expensive back in the '70's. These speakers will dissapoint with a mid-range 5.1 receiver that's common. You need some quality since you have quality speakers.

Here's my debt to Bose paid in full. I say that because I bought my Bose 901's series II from somebody who didn't want them anymore and well, Bose doesn't benefit from that too much. Hopefully, my review will help fix that. I don't know how Bose has gotten a bad name in some circles with speakers like the 901's. I first heard them at a friend's house when I was 16. He put Van Halen down on the turntable and with his Kenwood amp, proceeded to knock me out of the room with the first 30 seconds of the first cut. I've never forgotten that. I was amazed. Since that time, I've heard demos of hundreds of speakers. I could never afford the Bose speakers I wanted. Never had the right room size either for the 901's. I've owned some good speakers (I thought) but then was never completely satisfied with the sound. Fast forward to today. I found some mint condition 901's some guy was selling because he didn't do much listening anymore. I took a chance that they were in good shape and that leap of faith paid off big time. Here it is, 30 years later and Van Halen never sounded so good. They still have it. Ironically, I think I got the same model and series as my friend had. Cosmetically, they are perfect and obviously built to last. These speakers do require a good sized room and proper placement. If you're not getting bass from them, you don't have them set up right. I can do side by side comparisons with my subwoofered system playing the same source and well, the subwoofer just makes things boomy. The 901's require no subwoofer, receiver does not have loudness on. Bass control is up 3 notches because I'm in a basement. If I was upstairs, I know controls would be flat or only up 1 notch. These speakers are amazing. If you turn the lights down low, or close your eyes, you can imagine the band right there in the room and the volume doesn't even have to be loud. I'm impressed with everything in my collection and I'm playing old lp's again, something I haven't done in years. Usually you buy speakers and they sound good for a while (like the old Steve Martin routine) and then they sound like #%@#. It's been a few months now and I'm as excited today about them as I was the day I bought them. In the brochure, they say they are quite probably the finest loudspeaker out there for the money. I agree - it's not bragging. The absence of a crossover network seems to be noticeable and the sound is smooth as silk. No listener fatigue. My ears don't ring later. Nothing harsh. It's all rich and smooth. I wish I could go back 30 years and get back the time lost messing with other systems. It turned out for the best however and well, it's a treat no matter what. They say they've made improvements in the Bose speakers over the years and I can't testify to that - I do recommend that folks buy the old stuff since it was the best stuff. If you can't achieve great sound with these speakers, you've made a bad choice in some component, haven't the right setup or don't know good sound when you hear it. Nobody really knows how music should sound since there are so many variables althought they claim they know. All you can know is whether or not, you feel the speakers sound good and live up to your expectations. These speakers are keepers and I don't see shopping for anything else as long as they keep giving me what I've heard so far. As someone already said, a company doensn't stay in business for 40 years unless they have something to offer that's great. No marketing scheme can keep you going that long. You hear most from people when they aren't happy. The happy satisfied customers usually don't say a thing...but here I am - sharing, happy and satisfied with my purchase and I hope you will be too.

Similar Products Used: Bose 501's for home theatre - great stuff, new surrounds.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ostal1985   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 14, 2008]
Strength:

look up:)

Weakness:

weak bass( you need powered subwoofer)

very good product....musical scene is very wide....incredible power .....naturality....interesting styling...

Similar Products Used: Bose 601,Nordmende 100,Audio research,Bose 301,Bose 100,omni audio
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
ryan   Casual Listener [Aug 16, 2007]
Strength:

The most natural sound reproduction

Weakness:

none

I must say, the controversy surrounding these speakers is astounding. First off let me start by stating I have recently graduated from one of the best music schools in the country with a bachelor's degree in music performance. I have always been interested in the Bose 901 because its concept reflects that of the results of Dr. Bose's research conducted at the concert hall. Dr. Bose wanted to emulate the ambience of the concert hall in a speaker system that could be used at home. How did he achieve this? Well, 11% of the sound directly impacted the listener in the concert hall (one driver in front) while 80% reached the listener indirectly. Being a classically trained musician these speakers naturally appealed to me. I recently saw some Bose 901 series II speakers posted on ebay from a local merchant so I jumped at the opportunity to hear these famous speakers there is soooo much talk about. I must tell you, the experience excited me so much, I am beginning my search for the iconic Bose 901's. The voices sounded very natural, the strings rich, the brass and winds true in timrbe, a solid but tight bass, as well as crisp clean highs. These speakers seam like the perfect fit for the classical enthusiest. Probably the most difficult instrument to reproduce on a speaker and retain it's orginal tonal quality is the French Horn. I must say, the famous horn solo in the opening of Richard Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel never sounded better! My expererience with the Series II left me puzzled to as why there is so much controversy over these speakers. Are people more concerned about the equipment and not the sound? Is it because Bose is not trendy to the true audiophile? Is is because the artificial lows found in hip-hop music are not reproduced to the defening levels required!!! I feel this might be one of the biggest complaints about the 901's. People want more Bass. Well, the speakers were designed at with the concert hall in mind. Orchestras play in concert halls and rap artists typically don't. Buy speakers that will give you the best result for your musical taste. If you listen to hip-hop, these may not be the speakers for you. Yes it is a bit silly you have to run the speakers through an equalizer to compensate for the 9 full-range (mid-range) drivers. However fs you want true realistic sound that comes from acoustical sources, these are the speakers for you! Now I only had a brief encounter with these speakers and I am sold, I reccommend you listen to them with your ears to see if you agree with my impression.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
mansfield   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 09, 2007]
Strength:

Musical and with little fatigue.
Excellent for listening "out of the sweet spot" and in large rooms that will be occupied by many others.
Small and appear to have high WAF.
Great value, especially used.
Compact yet capable of high spl levels.
Can be hung from the ceiling (for those with little cone pokers)
A great speaker for those that just what to get lost in the music, without regard to all the clinical, over analyzation and concern for every minor aspect of the equipments operation.

Weakness:

Need good quality, high power amplifer for the best performance.
The equalizer is a bit cheezy.
Missing the sparkle of a good tweeter.
Somewhat room depend for good response.

Like some many other reviewers, I must admit to liking the 901 even though Im not suppose too. I remember listening to a pair in the early 70s, powered by Phase Linear 400s and being astounded at the output of these little, unconventional speakers. I was in my teens and just starting to acquire true hifi equipment. My mentors- friends dads were into "real" hifi and so I went the audiophile route and purchased JBLs, Marantz etc and have been "upgrading" ever since. Now, years later and tiring of the whole audiophile equipment game, Ive become a music lover and not an equipment chaser. So after seeing a pair of pristine 901 Series Twos for sale, I thought I would give them an honest chance. I purchased a well regarded QSC pro amp with 200wpc and gave them a try. Well, I was quite shocked that they sounded as good as they did! I listened to Jazz, Rock, Bluegrass and some Ambient/Trance stuff. All sounded musical and very enjoyable. The bite and punch they have is similar to my horns, but without the "in your face" type of radiation. . I think that the reflected sound really helps to eliminate some of the fatigue that higher decible listen can produce. They also have that big sound that planars have. Another excellent attribute is that they dont have a sweet spot as such. Because of the reflected sound, being off-axis of the speakers doesnt diminish the balance and the frequency response too much. It changes, but doesnt degrade like most speakers. So for multi-listeners, they are great.
If set up correctly and fed plenty of clean power, they are truly a musical speaker. I tried five other amps and found that tight, solid bass reproduction with clean midrange really requires adequate power. And for the Series II, I would say 100wpc minimum. I wont say they are as accurate or as detailed as most of my other speakers, but they are an easy listen and have a spatial presentation that gives them a presence that is unlike any other speaker Ive owned.
Im planning on replacing all the old caps in the eq and upgrading all the switches and connectors. I think that should have a very positive effect on its operation and sound. I will not be selling all my other speakers just yet, but I will be spending alot of my time with these.

Similar Products Used: Magnapan
Altec/JBL
Fostex
Quad
A/D/S
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Paul Alleyne   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 15, 2006]
Strength:

Look different
Articulate highs and mid range

This review is for the Bose 901 series IV. I purchase a set of them off of ebay as a fixer up project as they required new surrounds. Replaced the surrounds with cloth version and hooked everything up including the correct 901 active EQ. The amp used to drive them is a Carver A500x which is rated at 250 watts per channel RMS into 8 ohms. The speakers sound excellent. Bass response was great up until 125 watts per channel at which point the speakers started to emit some bottoming out sounds when producing very deep base notes. To be fair I am not sure if this is a limitation in the speaker or if it is just age and the fact that they had new surrounds that were not rubber and hence the cone movement may have been altered. I have since started using a 100 watt amp with a subwoofer out and purchased a Anthena 10'' Powered sub unit. This in combination with the 901s is fantastic as the speakers are now only handling the high and mid notes and the sub woofer is filling the room with lots of clean bass.
All in all I would have to say that the 901's are good speakers. Some day I hope to hear a new pair and see what they can do.

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Art64   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 25, 2006]
Strength:

Excellent mid range. Wide dynamic range. When positioned backwards with the 8 drivers facing the listener, it provides a very wide dispersed sound filling up the room nicely. Almost no hot spots or dead spots. Sounds big.

Weakness:

Thundering bass, like in movie theaters, is impossible with these speakers, although it will produce low notes. Recommend the use of subwoofers to augment bass. Powered subwoofers would be ideal. Heavy cloth muffles high frequency sounds--recommend replacing with a screen or completely removing the rear cover. Very hard to set up as it uses its surroundings to radiate the sound, even carpeted floors will reduce its efficiency. Use of Active Equalizer makes it impractical to connect regular speakers to tha same amp that drives the 901's. However, subwoofer may be connected to the same amp as the subwoofer system blocks out the damaging high frequencies the Active Equalizer produces. Connecting regular speaker systems with the 901 can burn out the tweeters. Pricey.

I bought this Bose 901 Series V back in the mid 80's when I was still in the military. Back then this speaker technology was one of the cutting edge. Compared to today's technology where audio reproduction and playback became intelligent or digitized, it became apparent that the 901's Direct Reflecting Technology has passed its prime. I still have the 901 and still using them, however, differently than what it was originally designed to be used. First thing I did was remove the back cloth. The heavy cloth horribly muffles the mid-highs and the high frequencies. Instead, I replaced them with nylon screen. Same material that is used in screen doors and windows. Made a big difference in sound. Crisp highs are free to radiate now. Next I turned the speakers backwards. That's right-the 8 drivers are now facing forward toward the listener. And then I added a Cerwin Vega subwoofer to augment the bass. The result: better sounding sound SYSTEM. The 901's wide dynamic range and good mid range reproduction with 8 wide dispersing drivers fills the room with great sounding music. The subwoofer provides the low thundering bass that you can set loud without overdriving your 901's. The highs dispersed wide across the room. With this set up, the 901 is louder. It doesn't rely on reflective walls to deliver its sound. Although the 8 drivers still produces a direct/reflecting effect as the sound hit the side walls of the room, the result is overwhelming. It sounds big, all round--almost no dead spots. Directivity of sound is still present ;you can tell what sounds are coming from the left or right speaker. Its almost like you 're listening in your headphones. You're all engulf in sounds but with almost no hot spots where the sound comes on louder. The fun part is the thundering bass. 10" or bigger subwoofer will complement the big mid range sound of the 901. If you feel your 901 is garbage, before you toss it, try this mod. Use the active equalizer still. Experiment with its placement---wide or narrow. Don't use it in too small of a room. I set mine up in a 15ft x 20ft with an 7 ft ceiling, carpeted wood floor, walls are drywall. Use a heavy gauge good quality speaker wire so you can take advantage of the 901's dynamic range. I thought about selling this speakers this holiday season, but nah.

Similar Products Used: Altec Lansing PA speakers
JBL PA speakers
Klipsch Promedia for computer
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
zimblish   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 10, 2006]
Strength:

Spacious sound ,clear natural sound ,plenty of bass when set up proper,clear highs

Weakness:

Setup

I purchased these speakers because I've always heard of them,I've had other speakers such as PIONEER,SANSUI,JBL,and KLIPSCH .The 901's series 6 gives me a natural sound,that no other speaker has given me, it's very spacious in sound ,the sound is okay ,the sound is clear enough for me to enjoy,there's no such thing as a perfect speaker it depends on the person an their taste,more than a few really dislike this speaker just because of. You need some decent power to amplify these speaker,to make them sound the way they should,I have the Denon DRA -685 Receiver,100 watts high current,plenty of power for these speakers,I really don't play over 30 watts from this amp,A true 30 watts is pretty loud,What a lot of people don't understand with Bose you're paying the hefty price of new technology,and design.There's a lot speaker companies out there suggesting to you why you should purchase their speaker,and why their speaker is the best,Bose never said that their 901'S is the best speaker ever maid,they said that's it's the best speaker that they have made for their company. This 901"s has been around since the late 60"s, still selling to this present day,this speaker have stood the test of time,not many manufactors can say that.If you're intrested in hearing how this speaker sound ,make sure that you listen to this speaker in the proper setup.Please don't audition this speaker @ a Bose outlet store?Over all the speaker (SOUND) pretty good to my ears.

Customer Service

They worked well with me

Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 185  

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