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  1. #1

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    Default Reminising Bose 901's

    After posting my thoughts in the "what sparked your interest in 2 channel" I thought I'd ask this question. I grew up with a pair of 901's in the late 70's and really loved them. I forget how much power the Rotel receiver had but it was plenty. I have read where the 901's are not well respected these days and wonder how they compare to the vintage Polk's. Also, do any of you guys/gals listen to the 901's regardless of the series?
    Reminiscing
    Drew

  2. #2

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    Concrete houses made 901's sound the way the should. They were strictly design to use reflective sound. Wood frame housing diminished the reflections.

    engtaz

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    A friend and I did an A/B comparison between the Bose 901s and the Polk 1.2 using 1260 Parasound watts per channel. First we hooked up the Bose and listened to 3 or 4 songs. I was really suprised at the sound clarity. Then, we hooked up the 1.2s and started the exact same songs again... Well, have you heard the saying, "no highs, no lows, ......" It's 100% true.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrettT1 View Post
    A friend and I did an A/B comparison between the Bose 901s and the Polk 1.2 using 1260 Parasound watts per channel. First we hooked up the Bose and listened to 3 or 4 songs. I was really suprised at the sound clarity. Then, we hooked up the 1.2s and started the exact same songs again... Well, have you heard the saying, "no highs, no lows, ......" It's 100% true.
    I must ask, did you run the Bose 901's with an equalizer? If not I guess thats the reason no highs or lows.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by engtaz View Post
    Concrete houses made 901's sound the way the should. They were strictly design to use reflective sound. Wood frame housing diminished the reflections.

    engtaz
    Reflective sound is great. Now for the concrete homes and wood frames thats BS or exaggeration. By the way BS is great I am a master of it!!

  6. #6

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    Default Say what you will

    ...the original Bose 901's were used at Peabody Institute of Music in their concerts for eLECTRONIC music in the 70's......to each their own.....8 speakers foreward.....i had a pair... series 3 and loved them......no other model but the 901's were any good.....best series were 1 and 2.....no foam to rot. Could never find anything wrong with the 901's as a PARTY speaker......will blow the POLKS away for the simple reason that they could be hung from the ceiling. I used the 901's with JBL 100's for years when i was into Rock........but for other types of music......there is so many better choices.

    In my day...sought out the alternative speaker choices...901's...Time Window 1 and 3's , Polk Sda's and Shahinian Obelisk. Let your fingers do the WALKING and your ears the Listening. What you LIKE is your choice.

    By the ways...still have the 901's with 18 rotted surrounds...great plant stands....but the speaker stands are a genuine collectors item

    http://stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/425/
    Last edited by dee1949; 04-01-2008 at 10:47 PM.

  7. #7

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    I have owned polks since the early 80's. I looked at the 901s at one time, because the marketing was magnificent.

    They sounded like crap. Even in the demo room set up especially for them with the streamers hanging from the wall so you could see the air move.

    Gimmicks!
    Jolida Tube
    Polk 11T, 7, 5, 5jr, 4
    Standard equip not worth bragging about.

  8. #8

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    Set up in a room with the proper symmetry with enough amp to drive them, they really disappeared in the sound field. Localizing vocals was their weak point for me, and the fact that most people chose to hang them near the ceiling drove me nuts.

    901 series IV driven by a Phase Linear 400 in the right room was listenable.

  9. #9

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    Ok. I'll qualify my last post.

    For the price, they sounded like crap.
    Jolida Tube
    Polk 11T, 7, 5, 5jr, 4
    Standard equip not worth bragging about.

  10. #10

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    I owned the 901s back in the day. They were the first "big boy" stereo my dad ever bought me. They sounded so bad once my dad and I got them hooked up that we immediately boxed them up and returned them.

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    Rotted foam seems to be a problem with Series III and IV. My Series V have a rubberish surround and it's holding up just fine after ~25 years. (My assumption is that no-one replaced the surrounds before I bought the speakers)

    My 901s are hanging from the ceiling of my garage; I'm using a cheapie receiver I got from ebay; and leftover house electrical wire as speaker cable. And they absolutely rock in that application.

    Although Bose updated the 901 series many times; the current production units are Series VI--and they've been in production for many, many years. Apparently Bose has quit the 901 R & D and now focuses only on crappy headphones and table radios.
    Last edited by Schurkey; 04-02-2008 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Typo in Series VI identification

  12. #12

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    Default Quote....stereophile ...1975

    If we were to judge the 901 in terms of the best sound available, then, we would say that it produces a more realistic semblance of natural ambience than any other speaker system, but we would characterize it as unexceptional in all other respects. It is ideal for rock enthusiasts to whom sheer sonic impact is of paramount importance, and for classical listeners who want the next best thing to ambient stereo without the cost and the bother of rear-channel add-ons. However, we doubt that the 901 will appeal to perfectionists who have developed a taste for subtleties of detail and timbre.

    ...in their day they were a part of the evolution of audio. Just because it is IN to be a Bose basher....at least know what you are talking about. The 901's were not the best, but far from the worst...... in their day they were a unique sounding system.....that provided many hours of fine listening, when set up properly with the right equipment....and for partying , only to be toped by the Voice of the Theatre speakers......the good old days....long gone but not forgotten.
    My friends system at the time was a Thorens TT with a Mac tube amp and the original 901's.....and They sounded Sweet playing that ole Rock and Roll.
    Last edited by dee1949; 04-01-2008 at 11:57 PM.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJPOLKER View Post
    Reflective sound is great. Now for the concrete homes and wood frames thats BS or exaggeration. By the way BS is great I am a master of it!!
    It's always nice when someone calls something someone has heard for himself and contact Bose about being called BS. Hum My point was the they sounded better in Solid wall constructed surroundings.


    engtaz

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    engtaz
    I used BS in a nice way by the way! The solid wall construction seems logical being they are direct/reflective speakers.

  15. #15

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    I have a pr of 901 series VI's in the same room as my SDA-1C's and monitor 10's, and I've also owned a pr of series IV 901s in the past. I listen to both the 901's and the SDA-1C's regularly; the 901's when I am working around the house and the SDA's for serious listening sitting in the sweet spot with a glass of wine.

    I grew up in Boston so a good number of my friends and relatives had 901's back in the day, some even worked at Bose.

    The 901's perform well for their size, but there is no image or soundstage; they are great for casual listening. Oddly enough, when I am in my upstairs bathroom with the door open, the 901's (downstairs) have a very low bass peak that absolutely rocks the bathroom. Only happens in the upstairs bathroom, so some wierd room coupling is happening. We have a vaulted ceiling in the front room where the speakers are located that goes right up to the bathroom door.

    901's sound worse than a transistor radio when used without the EQ, so thats possibly where the "no highs no lows/Bose" comes in. They are a complete waste of time without the EQ. I have always been somewhat impressed with the highs and lows the active EQ gets out of 18 6 1/2" drivers with no woofers or tweeters.

    My 901 vs SDA comparison is a bit unfair, as I have a full tube setup on the SDAs and vintage Yamaha/Parasound stuff driving the 901s.

  16. #16

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    I always preferred the 701 to the 901's. Just a better representation of the music IMHO. Although Bose always seemed to flat for my taste.

    dee1949, I am not a Bose basher. Heck they get alot of people in to audio which is of course cool and I have owned a couple pairs in my life. But my SDA's are much better at accuracy. And if you don't think SDA's can crank get the right amp for them. Or ask Ben.

    If I just wanted loud I would go get some Cerwin Vega or Technics towers and blast away. Loud is easy it's subtle that is hard.

    I have heard the Public Address version of the 901's I think they are 801's. They do a real nice job of that. So I guess I don't hate them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post
    WOW!

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

  17. #17

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    I have a pair of 901 Series IV's that I picked up last summer at a garage sale for a good price with the original boxes and the EQ but were in need of a refoam. Back in February, I ordered 18 new surrounds to redo what was there because I honestly wanted to formulate my own opinion of these speakers versus what I read. Although I've been in the home A/V business since 1979, I had never sold or owned a pair of 901's. I worked at a store years ago that at one time was selling the Interaudio series and later we sold (from what I can recall) the 301, 501, 601 and 701's of which we actually sold quite a few of.

    So, anyway, I redid all the surrounds on the speakers and once broken in on a smaller amp, I moved them into one of the spare bedrooms where I had put the Carver C-1 pre and M-1.0t amp (200wpc). I tied in the EQ of course and used a Denon DCM-560 as the source so nothing overly major. I will have to admit that for the size of the room these were in (11 X 12 maybe), they sounded pretty damn good and played quite loud. They definitely move some air as there were mini blinds behind one speaker and they were a movin! But for the money I have in them, they are rather fun to listen to.

    Below is a little writeup I did on the Audiokarma website and here is the link to the actual thread where I refoamed them. I am still going to replace the caps in the EQ with updated Nichicon's since it's cheap to do. Hey....I'm single; it's something to do. :D

    Well, I finally got around to listening to these today. I went back and checked phasing because something just never sounded right with these. I took a 9V battery and "popped" the speakers only to discover that 2 drivers in one cabinet and 3 in the other were backwards! Ok, there might have been beer that night when I was putting them back together. I also redid one surround because it was "whiffing" a little and that fixed it.

    Sooooo...to first tinker with them, I put them into one of the spare bedrooms hooked up to a Carver C-1 pre, M-1.0t amp (200wpc), the Bose EQ and a Denon DCM-560 CD Changer. Basic setup. For the first CD, since I wanted to test some low end on them, I used Toni Braxton's "Secrets" CD then it would be on to Diana Krall's "When I Look Into Your Eyes". Of course the surrounds aren't broken in yet but for my initial impression, I have to say...wow. I haven't heard these in about 20+ years in an actual demo room plus, our school used 6 pairs for the speaker system for the auditorium. I'm rather floored by how much bass in a 12' X 12' room these are achieving with it being less than stellar conditions. They are maybe 12" from the back wall and side walls and there are mini blinds behind one of them as seen in the pictures. Let me tell you that these little jokers move some air and were making the blinds move around quite a bit! I played the tracks I wanted to hear on the Toni Braxton CD and then moved to Diana for a bit...which is still playing in the other room as I type this.

    Now, I know that these may not be the best speakers in the world and there is definitely a Love/Hate thing for these speakers but I can certainly see the allure of why people like them in their living room. They don't have over bearing midrange, the highs are definitely there and, honestly, they have pretty damn good low end. On the 901's, I can't quite say "no highs no lows, it must be Bose" because I'm very surprised with how much comes out of these. If you do the math with a total of (16) 3.5" drivers (from the center of the surround) on calculating the "approximate" surface area, you come up with 76.96 sq in per cabinet firing backwards. That's a little under the equivalent of 10" woofer (78.5 sq in) so firing all of the ported drivers into a corner is basically the transfer function of corner loading them into the room.

    Honestly, I could live with these and I've heard a great many speakers thru the 25+ years I've been in the home/car A/V business. Would they be my main speakers? No, but if I had nothing else, it wouldn't be that bad. The next step today if I have time is to move them into my living room which is 24 X 20, hook them up to the bigger Carver amp (TFM-55 @ 380 wpc) and see what happens with them. But, I thought it time to tinker with these since I was done with the 3 hours of yard work out of the way today. I think I'll sand down the other ADS L810 speaker in the garage since one is already done then start with the multiple coats of Tung oil on them. Come to think of it, I need to clean up the 901's and do the same thing to them.


    Richard? Who's your favorite Little Rascal? Alfalfa? Or is it........................Spanky?................. ................Sinner.

  18. #18

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    Having that right channel reflecting off of those window blinds couldnt have been a good thing

    I forgot which series 901's I had back in the day...they were ok...bout the same time I had Design Acoustic PS-10's .
    The first rule of Fight Club is you don't talk about Fight Club

  19. #19

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    Yeah, I knew it wasn't the best set up for them but it was an open room for testing. ;)
    Richard? Who's your favorite Little Rascal? Alfalfa? Or is it........................Spanky?................. ................Sinner.

  20. #20

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    Its great to hear everyones thoughts because the more I read the more I remember the good old days. We really played millions hours of loud rock and roll thru those 901's and had plenty of parties, some I don't remember so well!
    After years of listening to the 901's we decided to buy Monitor 10's and thats where this whole "Polk Thing" started. I am just about done totally re-building the 10's and will post the process once completed. I think I may buy a pair of vintage 901's someday just to re-live the past, god damn I am getting old. There is no doubt in my mind they will not compare to my SRSII's but so what its all about feeling good, right?
    Drew

  21. #21

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    No, they definitely don't compare to my SRS II's, either. But I am looking forward to hearing them in the living room to see what they sound like in a bigger area with double the power. Should be interesting...
    Richard? Who's your favorite Little Rascal? Alfalfa? Or is it........................Spanky?................. ................Sinner.

  22. #22

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    avguytx
    Regardless of what some may say they are in their own way an incredible speaker. I hope you share your thoughts once you have listened to them in a larger room with 2x the power. What equalizer are you using?
    Drew

  23. #23

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    I've heard the 901's, but not enough to really speak intelligently about them. I don't 'dislike' them but they aren't for me. I can see why people like them though.

    BDT
    I plan for the future. - F1Nut

  24. #24

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    Hey Troy,
    You can be like some of the others around here and speak unintelligently. But I understand, who would what to be like that!

  25. #25

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    Default Bose Bashing

    I have a feeling that the Stereophile artcle that pops up when searching the Bose 901 is the only basis a lot of people have for their opinion of this speaker. Folks are unduly influenced by the elitism of magazines like that. The 901 VI are very good sounding speakers that just sound right when properly setup. Iíve owned a lot of speakers in 36 years of hifi and Iím not a Bose fanatic. I listened to 10Bs with a sub while the Bose sat in a box for 5 years, until recently. The 10Bs are packed up now and I used the 901s because they sound better. I have to give credit where it is due.

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJPOLKER View Post
    I must ask, did you run the Bose 901's with an equalizer? If not I guess thats the reason no highs or lows.

    No... and no eq on the SDAs, either. Everything running flat.

  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrettT1 View Post
    No... and no eq on the SDAs, either. Everything running flat.
    The Bose Equalizer is required for proper operation of 901's, they sound like AM radio without it, completely non-usable. Sort of like running SDA's without the interconnect cable, only the results are far worse with 901's and no Bose EQ.

  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boywonder View Post
    The Bose Equalizer is required for proper operation of 901's, they sound like AM radio without it, completely non-usable. Sort of like running SDA's without the interconnect cable, only the results are far worse with 901's and no Bose EQ.
    ABSOLUTELY true.

    Bose 901s are pretty much the ultimate Roller Rink speakers. Loud, easy to drive, compact. As a PA speaker they're about as "high-end" as it gets.

    They're wonderful in my garage. I wouldn't say they'd be my first choice as a primary speaker, though.

  29. #29

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    I listened to them quite a bit at one time. There was a dedicated Bose
    demo room outside the base in Okinowa. They didn't sell Bose, they just demo'ed them.
    They had a whole wall of albums, and we would just go down and sit in the room to listen for hours.
    I went for JBL L100's. Great rock speaker and much easier to place and
    use than Bose. And much better than many of those Pioneer and Sansui
    speakers guys were buying. High end, hell no. But at the time I was 19
    and they seemed like the greatest thing since sliced bread.
    Add a reeel to reel, and you were set!
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

  30. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boywonder View Post
    901's, they sound like AM radio

    I agree.

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