This is a very long post, but I wanted to get this up at the site for others who may be considering the Bose system. What follows is basically my impressions after 6 weeks with the system.
Some style background: I started playin the guitar in '66, and the type of music I'm playing through the system is an eclectic mix of mostly blues (leaning toward acoustic style blues played primarily on an electric) and some blues/folk type tunes. I use only finger picks (Alaska pics), no flat pick. I often play with one or two others, who typically play acoustic guitars. For me, clarity/accuracy is likely the most important aspect of the sound.
And - I almost didn't try the system out (sticker shock), but decided that since I could give it a whirl for 45 days (through Musicians Friend), and return it if not satisfied, I'd check it off the list (fully expecting to send it back).
The idea of one-system-does-it-all was too tempting of a thought for me not to cross it off the list.
So .... I ordered the system (with one bass unit), and used it for about a month in my small "studio" area (which is about 18 X 12). I place studio in quotes, 'cause it's basically just a room to work rather then any kind of sound designed area.
It took me about a week of off and on playing to start to understand the system, and after that, as I played through it more, I realized that this system was as different as all the "hype" I had been reading.
The most startling thing initially was the clarity of the system. And this is a double edged sword, believe me. If you rely on effects, volume, and overlapping tracks to "enhance" your sound (some might say hide), then the Bose system is not for you. Put another way, if you have problems with what you play when there's no real amplification, then those problems are going to be heard loud and clear through the Bose system. The system basically takes what it's given, and throws it out in the room just like it came in. If the muddiness of many typical systems helps hide some rough spots in what you're playing, then you may not want this system. If you feel that the muddiness of typical systems hurts your sound, then this may be the system for you.
And as a side note - I wouldn't consider this system without the bass unit (unless all you play is weak acoustic guitar). If you really want good sound from a good acoustic, you have to have the bass unit. It's like the difference between a cheap acoustic, and a really good acoustic - cheap acoustic guitars typically have lame-*** low end.
Now - for a couple of real event experiences. Last week I played a solo gig at a local place, and then the next night sat in at a gig with two other musicians.
The first gig (solo), I played an electric guitar all evening (two hours or so) - a 70's Hagstrom Swede (Les Paul style) run directly into channel 1 with no effects. Because I had some other musicians sit in occasionaly for certain tunes, I borrowed a PA head (a very cheap one) so I could run my mic, and a second mic through the head. I used a touch of reverb in the PA head to "soften" the vocals, and had a second guitar at the ready (for those sitting in) run through channel 2 (a Guild dreadnought with a passive pickup).
The room was about 80 feet long, and 25 feet wide, with the 80 foot walls being brick, and the music positioned near the back end of the room.
The "manager" of the place for that evening also serves as the house muscian for open mic nights, and often performs there, so he's heard a wide array of the sound in that place, including the house sound system. His comment was that he never heard the kind of clarity in that room that the Bose system put out.
And as an interesting side note, when I showed up a little before the the lead off act started, the first act guys were having problems with the house system, and they asked if they could use my system (I had set my stuff up and did a sound check earlier in the day). I told them I had no real experience with the system, but would give it a whirl. Long story short, I ran them all through the cheap PA head into the Bose system channel 4, and they came off really well. There were three acoustic guitars, and three mics/vocals.
The interesting thing was that it gave me a chance to walk around the entire area and listen to the system while they played. And what I really noticed was the eveness of sound throughout the room. The volume varied considerably depending on how far away I was from the band, but the tonal quality remained pretty much the same ... unlike typical systems I've played through (and heard) where there are all kinds of hot spots and dead spots depending where you are.
What I really liked when I was listening to the other band through the system was that I could control the volume of what I heard by how far away from the band I was were. If I wanted to really hear what was being played without any surrounding conversation garble, then I moved close to the performers. If I wanted to talk to someone at conversation level (not shouting in their ear), and still wanted to hear what the band was playing, I put some distance between me and the band. Regardless of where I was, the sound seemed the same ... it was just the volume that varied, and absolutely no dead spots, or spots where the sound was garbled.
And when I got up to play, the thing that sticks in my mind is that the speaker/system was behind me, and I was hearing what I was playing before anybody else did. I thought I may have been playing too loud, but when I was done, and asked a couple of the musicians who sat in for a tune or two about the volume, they said it was fine ... definitely not too loud. I thought about all those times when I experienced that disconnected feeling of "what the hell is coming out of the PA system" were no longer going to be an issue. If it wasn't too loud for me, it wasn't going to be too loud for others, 'cause I was taking the first shot of the sound.
So - the first night solo gig ... I came away feeling really good about the Bose system ... really good.
The next night, I was sitting in with two other guys. The "lead" guy played an acoustic Martin with a passive pickup and sang. I played my electric, and sang, and the third guy had an acoustic Martin as well, sang, and also played a mandolin with a pickup. I ran my electric through channel 1 (this time with a touch of reverb via an amp modeler into the effects input for channel 1), and (using the same cheap PA head from the previous night) ran three Shure '58's, the two acoustic guitars, and the mandolin through the 6 channel PA (filled it up).
The room was about 15 by 60 ... a long narrow bar, and had to put the Bose off to our left (we were backed up against a wall). Wasn't quite as good as the previous night, when I had the system about 6 feet behind me, but it was the best we could do.
I had a wireless tied to my guitar, so I could move out into the room when we were all playing, and I noticed the same thing as the night before - consistant tonal/sound quality no matter where I stood, with the only difference being lower volume the further away I stood. And again, noticed that I could talk in conversational volume with people in the further half of the room. And one again, all three of us playing wondered if we were a bit loud until we ventured out to listen, and realized that what we heard playing was the peak volume. It really is a completely different experience then having the sound out in front of you, and hearing through monitors.
There were a couple of musicians in the crowd that night, and they both came up an commented about how clean the sound was. It's always nice to hear people from the audience comment positively on the sound, but when other musicians do the same, it means more to me.
So ..... granted, it's only been two times I've used the system, but I played both places previously using other systems, and there is no comparison.
Like most people, I was a bit leary of the price. Fortunately for me, I didn't have any "legacy" equip ... I was outfitting for the first time. When I started adding up the cost of an acoustic amp, an electric amp, and a PA, the costs were close. And considering that I absolutely **hate** carting piles of equipment around, the compact nature of the Bose system made any cost difference a moot point.
To sum it up at this point, I've had no second thoughts about the purchase. And I agree with other's comments about the Bose system *not* being for anybody into heavy metal, or full blast Marshall Stack sound. This is a finesse system for musicians ... if you hide behind your equipment, it ain't for you.
But if you're fussy about what you play, and do a lot of intricate stuff, you've got to at least try this system. Used to be for me that the sound system was often the weak link ... now it's me
And a note to the forum moderators .... just tried to attach a small (180K) MP3 of a guitar riff snapshot, and found that you don't accept MP3's. Interesting ... a site for musicians that won't allow MP3's .. hmmm
Please check your private messages. I'll try to help with that MP3.
Check this out! hagbone.mp3
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