View Full Version : Bose Personal Audio System

Dennis Gordon
Dec-27-2003, 11:34pm
There was a discussion here a coupla weeks back regarding the new Bose Personal Audio System. It sounded pretty cool. Imagine my surprise when I went to a rehearsal for the Irish/rock band I play in and found that the guitar players had each bought one to replace our cumbersome PA and monitor system. $2200 each (including the optional subwoofer) from GC. Our bass player wasn't there, but we hooked up 4 mics, 2 guitars, and my keyboard to the 2 systems through our mixer (the mixer could probably be done away with, but we wanted more control until we get the hang of it. Each column stands upon its powered base unit and we set them up on either side of the drummer...

This was only a rehearsal, the true test will be at our 2 new year's gigs... but it sounded *fabulous* at fairly high (but by no means clipping) volumes. Clear and loud. Even the Strat, plugged in via DI/preamp sounded great. I only played my mando a little bit because of time, so I can't say how it'll fare in performance, but having the speakers behind the band gave excellent clarity. There wasn't even the hint of feedback, and we were cranking it out pretty good. The 2 systems we have should handle our 5 pieces (plus singer). Each system has 4 inputs for instruments and mics. I didn't have much time to study them, but the great sound quality was unmistakeable. If we could only afford one for each of us...;-) As it is, these oughta cut it quite nicely for small and medium rooms. If you have the dough, this portable and fairly lightweight invention is the way to go...

Dec-27-2003, 11:46pm
I think it is revolutionary what Bose is doing and I can't wait to hear these systems in use in different situations.

Dec-28-2003, 11:15am
Since my first set of 901's in 76 I have been a diehard Bose fan...please send a review after the NYE gig and let us know how things went.:)

Dennis Gordon
Jan-01-2004, 4:07pm
Okay... fresh from last night, here's my first real world impression of the BPAS:

We've got a 6 man (including 1 woman) band. It started out (before my time) as more of a celtic group years ago, but has morphed into an ecelctic jobbing/rock/celtic thing since.

Musicians: guitar/fiddle • elec. guitar/sax/penny whistle • keyboards/mando (me) • bass • drums • singer.

We had 2 gigs last night. The first was at the Dupage County Convalescent Center. The main gig was at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. We did 2 equipment setups since we had about 1½ hours between gigs and nearly an hour drive to go from one to the other. Any traffic or weather complications would have been most unfortunate, but the commute was quick and uneventful.

The Convalescent Center party was a low key 90 minute affair for about 150 patients and staff. We took 1 of the Bose systems and routed 4 mics, bass, and guitars through a small Mackie mixer. The electric guitar went through a Pod for processing. The acoustic guitar is a fancy acoustic/electric with its own dedicated computer processor (its name escapes me). I played the Center's spinet and mic'ed the back, using the same mic for the mando when I needed it. The solitary Bose resembled the monolith from "2001" and I started making ape noises and touching it like in the movie... but that wasn't really very funny. We played some Xmas tunes, novelty Irish (Finnegans Wake, Big Strong Man, etc.) and rock tunes (Listen to the Music, Amy, At Last, etc.) The sound from the one system was really very good. I was surprised that it could handle everything as well as it did. The mando sound pretty good on the Irish tunes, but this was at a fairly low volume.

On to our main gig at the Irish Heritage Center. This is a former Chicago public school that hosts banquets and special events. We played the main party in the 1st floor "Pub" for about 300 people. We'd set up in the afternoon, but we still needed to set up the other Bose system we'd brought from the first gig, as well as our mics. Fortunately, the Irish duo that was warming up went a few minutes long. We set up similarly to our first gig, using a larger mixer to pan the instruments, and I plugged in my Yamaha S80. The bass player opted to use his G&K amp rather than go direct into the Bose.

Bearing in mind that this was the first real test of the 2 systems, and we had *no* sound check, nor did we properly think the placement out, things went quite well. However, we have a 3-person front, and the keys/mando, drums and bass (AKA "and others" # ;-) are in the back where we set up the Bose. This resulted in the columns being about a 2 feet from my head, as well as the bass player's on the other side. When we kicked with "Listen to the Music" the sound was startling good and LOUD. The crowd went wild, and, like any band, that meant make it LOUDER. Having everything coming out 2 feet from my head was a bit much. I quickly patched my S80 into my Behringer keyboard amp so that I could take a little out of the Bose (I'd brought the Behringer along, anticipating this).

The set started with some rock dance tunes. We then did about 6 Irish tunes and I pulled out the mando. My unamplified Tacoma M2 couldn't really cut it throught the mix, even though I was so close to the speaker. Using an SM58 (my vocal mic) to mic it certainly didn't help. It just couldn't compete with all the electrified loudness coming out, but I still had a blast strummin' away while alternately playing accordion on the S80.

The first set ended and we did a quick analysis. Instruments too loud - vocals obscured. Chalk it up to exuberance. The audience loved it, but several mentioned that they couldn't make out the vocals. We did a quick EQ change. It made all the difference. The 2nd set was almost shimmering by comparison to the first. With the instruments slightly backed off, and the mid-range tub taken out of the vocals we had a beautiful mix. I finally could hear a bit more mando when we did a medley of waltz fiddle tunes, but I really should have brought my AKG c1000s to the gig. That would have worked much better than the Shures.

From there on out it was more loud stuff – Blame it on Your Heart, I Will Survive (you know, I really do like that tune) Celebration (yeah, I like that one too - go figure), etc. Had a guy come up and sing Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, and some tunes about the Black and Tan. We ended up with Setzer's "Jump, Jive and Wail".

The 2nd set sounded really good. We had one moment of feedback that quickly faded.

The final analysis was that the Bose system was a great success. Several people in the audience commented on how clear and consistent the sound was everywhere in the room, which is the point. With 180° dispersion, everyone seems to have heard the same things. Considering the lack of sound check, and this being our first time using them in a raucous crowd, we were very pleased.

Our biggest mistake was in the setup. Putting the columns so close to the back musicians made for more presence than was necessary. Ideally, we'd set up in one line in front, with a separate system for each player; but we don't have $12,000 for that, nor the room on stage, and besides, if we had to set up that many systems, it'd be more cumbersome than what we're replacing.

That said, the Bose system must be fabulous for a 3-4 piece acoustic band. We got a terrific sound using only 2 systems for 6 people, playing amplified Irish and rock, while setting it up on the fly. Not having speaker stands and monitors in front of the band is great, and the cool look brought many comments.

One last note on this lengthy post regarding the setup. While each component is relatively lightweight (the powered base is the heaviest at about 35 lbs) each system is fairly heavy. The column rises about 6 ft (filled with tiny computerized speakers that plug right into a computer plug in the base - amazing) and comes in 2 pieces, each with its own bag, weighing 15 lbs or so each. The optional subwoofer (about $300 I think) is the lightest piece. The construction is very solid (and for $2200 a pop oughta be).

So that's my first impression. Blending 6 people into 2 systems doesn't qualify as being a truly "personal" sound system, but it's still a heckuva great sounding P.A. I'd love to be able to get 2 more (easy for me to say, *I* didn't pay for these). But what we have should do quite nicely, and one day the price will come down. In the meantime...woohoo!

Happy new year everyone....


Jan-01-2004, 9:16pm
Ive been waiting for a real world review of these...seems kinda impossible from the first impression, and the hype that Bose was putting forth... once you have a chance to dial this system in and play some more shows give us an update...I love the concept, but I was also worried about the fragile nature of such computerized wizardry...

what part of the world are yall in?...sounds like a cool mix of genres..now I have 2 reasons that Id like to catch a show...Trip

strangerstringband.com (http://strangerstringband.com)

Jan-01-2004, 9:40pm
I have been down to G.C. three times now checkin out the Bose system. It blows me away everytime. It's a little out of my price rage right now bein so close to Christmas but I can almost say that I think I am going to get it for me and my pard. We do a little accoustic duo (mandolin and guitar) and I think it would be perfect.

What gets me is that you can walk almost anywhere in the room and the sound sounds the same. Those little dang speakers are amazing!

What I love is that it has a setting just for a Taylor 810, which I HAVE and it is one awesome guitar if I don't mind saying! Course my pard who plays a Martin don't think so but eh?

--jim_n_virginia-- http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dennis Gordon
Jan-01-2004, 10:25pm
These things are very sturdy... but with the electronics inside the base unit, you'd best keep any liquids far away. The speakers snap into what resembles an ATX power connector in the base. It's a tight fit, but a stumbling drunk trying to sit in on drums could cause havoc ;-)
Ought to be very rugged with sensible care...

I didn't mention that they come with a remote that controls volume and EQ. We didn't need to use it, since we were submixing, but it's a nice touch.

I bet we'll be seeing lots of duos and trios with these things in the next few months...

Jan-02-2004, 12:19am
I think they are very cool. But don't count on the prices coming down. Bose has never played that game. The same price, everywhere, always.

Willie Poole
Jan-05-2004, 12:07am
Hey Dennis...These things project 180 degrees so why do you set them behind you where they blast your ears, set them in front of the band and they are somewhat like monitors also....I`m going to check one out myself....soon....Keep us informed....`til later....Willie http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dennis Gordon
Jan-05-2004, 9:26am
I imagine that if they project 180, then standing behind them would put you out of the dispersion area. You'd still hear them, of course, but I think that the idea is, with the speakers behind you, the band hears the same mix as the audience. It would be worth a try to put them up front and see what happens...

Jan-11-2004, 12:11pm
Hey Dennis
Did you try your akg c1000s?
I'm wondering if small or large diaphram condenser mics would be a feedback problem

Dennis Gordon
Jan-12-2004, 1:18am
This band is on a January hiatus... so I haven't had a chance to try the AKG. I bet it would sound pretty good, though. I'll give it a try when we get together in a few weeks...

I really need a good pickup for the mando to be heard with this band. With the SM58 I needed to be right on it and thwack the mando pretty hard to be heard. Doesn't make for the subtlest of dynamics. The C1000S is much more appropriate. I'd have taken it along, but the windscreen pops off easily so I keep it at home most of the time...

Mar-03-2004, 1:23pm
hey Dennis
did you ever try the akg 1000's? I'm curious to know if they fed back to much?

Mar-09-2004, 6:35pm
Our bass player just bought the Bose System. He bought 1 tower, and two subs, and will be buying one more tower before we gig with them. We tested it out at his house Sunday night, using the 1 tower and 2 subs. We ran a board to mix everyone, and then sent the main outs to the tower inputs. I have to say, it sounded awesome. We had it cranked pretty loud with no feedback, though we all use pickups on our instruments. I've never heard pickups sound so good though. We're talking about attempting to mic all the instruments individually since we won't have the feedback isue to deal with anymore. I can't believe it. We had this thing cranked up so loud, and had the tower/subs about 6 feet behind us, and had no feedback. AND it all sounded super-clean. Yay for no more in-ear monitors! 2 thumbs up from me! I can't wait to gig with this setup.

Mar-09-2004, 9:33pm
what type of mics were you using?

Mar-10-2004, 11:42am
Dynamic vocal mics. I think we had 2 sm58s, a comparable Sennheiser, and an Audix OM2. My mandolin has a Joe Mills condenser mic on the inside, and I had that cranked about 3/4 of full volume, and had my piezo down to about 1/4. I usually have that the other way around due to feedback...

Mar-10-2004, 4:26pm
Thanks for the update. I have been looking into this setup. I really want to hear how they do with a large condensor mic. Let us know how adding the second tower turns out.

Mar-10-2004, 9:13pm
I guess a link is just too much to ask for...

Mar-10-2004, 9:26pm
Also, using the correct name for a product is helpful for the rest of us to find it... Bose Panaray® #MA #12 Line Array (http://www.audiolat.lv/ma12.htm).

Mar-11-2004, 12:51pm
Here's the link...

http://www.bose.com/control....dex.jsp (http://www.bose.com/controller;jsessionid=AQngSOHT16jv8zRxe1t1hyWqlry7 Pat53iFbgq7oB2nba5WGTXr9!-1272298742?event=VIEW_STATIC_PAGE_EVENT&url=/musicians/index.jsp&linksource=header_img_musicians&pageName=/home_entertainment/help_choose/new/index.jsp)