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Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

Bose L-1

julienaruff

Is the Bose L-1 system suitable for bands? If so what size club?
January 16, 2012 @12:00am
TimmyP1955

I've mixed on a system comprised of a pair of L1MII a number of times, in a number of rooms.
Is setup quick and simple? Yes.
Can it sound good? Yes.
Does the sound change less with distance than "normal" speakers? No.
Is it better than a similarly priced "normal" system? It's not as good, let alone better. Especially if the musical genre "requires" a lot of kick.
At the price, I can't think of any reason to recommend it for any application.
January 16, 2012 @06:21am
JeffBarnett

Is the Bose L-1 system suitable for bands? If so what size club?

Thought I'd chime in here. This question is way too vague to answer. Yes, it's totally suitable for some bands in some venues. Small ones, for sure. Larger bands can have good results using multiple systems. One of the best and most compelling audio gear demonstrations I've ever been a part of was a 5-piece band playing through 5 L1 systems in a room that seated around 250. It sounded very impressive, and it was the by far the best I've heard anybody sound in that room.
So yes, small band in a small club with no sound guy, an L-1 can be great. Mid-sized band in a small club, multiple L1s can be equally great.
January 16, 2012 @02:11pm
JeffBarnett

Sorry Timmy,
I have to take issue with your post on a couple of points...
I've mixed on a system comprised of a pair of L1MII a number of times, in a number of rooms.

Not that you can't do this, but this isn't really the intended use of the system. The L1 was engineered for do-it-yourself musicians who don't have a front of house engineer. The fact that you mixed on a pair of them tells me that you aren't the person this system was designed for, and there is a very good chance that there is a better system for your application at the same (or lower price). Sort of like saying a Ford Taurus isn't a good car because you tried to tow a boat with it and tore up the transmission. Not what it was designed for.
Is setup quick and simple? Yes.
Can it sound good? Yes.
Does the sound change less with distance than "normal" speakers? No.

Depends on what you are calling a "normal" speaker. The whole idea of Bose L1s dropping off over distance more slowly than conventional speakers isn't some bit of Bose marketing BS. It's physics that column speaker designers have used for decades. The Bose L1 is one of the newer and more popular column loudspeakers on the market, but Bose is hardly the first manufacturer to employ line array geometry to achieve more consistent levels or to make similar claims in the marketplace.
A columnar wave front decays at a rate of 3 dB every time the distance doubles, not 6 dB like a spherical wavefront (in a free field, no walls, floors or ceilings in the way). In the frequency range at which the L1 (or any column speaker) behaves as a line array, it really does make a noticeable difference. The real-world application of this, of course, depends on the speaker and the acoustics of the room you are in, but the physics behind it is very real.
Is it better than a similarly priced "normal" system? It's not as good, let alone better. Especially if the musical genre "requires" a lot of kick.

Again, "better" is a tough thing to quantify. It is very well built, it sounds good, it is quick and easy for any layman to set up, and it fits in the passenger seat of a compact car. For a lot of people, that makes it "better," and those features are well worth paying a premium for.
At the price, I can't think of any reason to recommend it for any application.

To recap, here are four...
1) Extremely well made, much more so than most other portable PA products I've used.
2) It sounds really good. No, it doesn't take the place of a 5,000 watt conventional PA that fills a van, but it's not supposed to.
3) Brain-dead easy to set up, requires no more audio knowledge than that which is possessed by your average weekend warrior musician. I even know drummers who can use it. (ba-dum ching!)
4) Very small, easy to transport and store.
I know for many people, this isn't enough to compel them to pay more money than they would, on, say, a pair of QSC K10s on tripod stands. But Bose has gone from a virtual non-player in the portable PA market to one of the major players in the span of just a few years, and they didn't do that by building a product that was no good or that nobody wants.
January 16, 2012 @02:35pm
michaelhoddy

My quick take on the L1 (and I am pre-disposed to not be a Bose fan) is that it's great for simple setups in small rooms with moderate volume levels. It's close to a home run for guitar or keyboard-playing singer-songwriters and small combos that need some basic amplification. And it sounds quite nice with minimal fuss for these applications. I've heard 5-piece or so jazz combos sound great with these things. Despite my biases against Bose, I've been rather impressed several times by the sound of them.
I would say as a general principle that the louder the gig and the more complex the setup, the less the L1 stands out against a decent MI-grade traditional PA. It's not really intended for loud chest-thumping gigs and not intended for big rooms. Setup complexity introduces a lot of variables that work against it. It CAN sound okay, but the stars have to align, and when you're talking the usual weekend-warrior band, there are often plenty of reasons this doesn't happen. But in full-disclosure, there's lots of reasons with a typical average traditional bar PA and a "sound guy" that this doesn't happen either.
January 16, 2012 @02:46pm
TimmyP1955

I've also used these with a solo singer/guitarist. Again, the claims don't hold water, especially the -3db per doubling of distance - they just don't get that done. Every time I've walked from FOH to the front row, I've said "dang, I need to back it down, it's a lot louder up here". The SLS8695 columns I owned did a better job in this regard, but they did not live up to the line array hype either - neither setup is long (tall) enough to work as a line array much below 1kHz. And as to having better gain before feedback, this is not the case either, even when the speaker is downstage of the artist and the artist is on IEMs. If the Bose were $1000 MSRP for two stackable columns and a sub, it might not be a bad deal for some folks. But it's not $1000, and it is a bad deal. I really wanted to be a fan, owing to the slick packaging (except for the lack of protection for the stacking blade and connectors when the columns are cased), but it is way overpriced for the performance it offers.
January 18, 2012 @06:59am
DAS

I have heard the Bose systems sound really good when used the proper way....which means...either...
1) ...by a band who doesn't have the expertise to make a traditional sound system work very well. It's easier to get the Bose to sound moderately good for a small band.
2) ...by someone committed to understanding what they are good at, and and not trying to deploy them in a way that overextends into unrealistic expectations, or in a way that's based on the same thinking as a conventional PA. I've observed that people who live life in the conventional PA world (including me) have a tough time stepping outside that paradigm far enough to approach the Bose system as the developers truly intended. As a conventional PA, it is not as good as a conventional PA. But you could never do with a conventional PA what you can do with the Bose. And even that will not sound as polished and pro as a very well designed, tuned, and operated professional PA. That's just not who the product is for, in my estimation.
It keeps getting compared on that basis, and thus the controversy continues.
January 18, 2012 @04:30pm