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on June 27, 2012
It is true what some say, these are not for everyone, and room layout is important. Also, you need the right amplifier to get the best out of them. But they are THE speaker to build your system around. Not only do they sound great, they are almost indestructible. Almost...
I bought my 901s in the early 80's from a now defunct appliance superstore for a price close to what they go for now. They have been in my living room, home office, basement, garage, backyard for parties, in the woods on camping trips, in the hall for a wedding reception, and on the roof of a cabin. They have never failed to impress. After owning them for fourteen years, I received a letter from Bose. I sent in my registration card right after purchasing them, and I'm glad I did. In the letter, they informed me that there had been reports of deterioration of the foam in some of the speakers, and gave instructions on how to inspect them. Upon inspection, I found that there was some deterioration in some of the speakers, and reported my findings. They offered to replace the speakers and required equalizer for $400. The speakers were almost 10 years out of warranty. Awesome. Then, 12 years later, more than 25 years after my initial purchase, the "new" 901s were hanging from the ceiling in my living room. One day I came home from work and the right speaker had come apart, the panel on the bottom (they hang upside down) had come unglued from the speaker. It crashed to the floor. Luckily there was no one or nothing beneath. I went to the local Bose outlet store and told the salesperson what had happened. He asked me to bring the speaker in so that they could inspect it. I brought it in, in the original box, and they took one look at it, went to the back room, came out with a brand new one, and handed it to me. Here you go. Sorry you had a problem. Have a nice day. No questions asked. No receipt. No problem. I am truly a Bose believer. I still have them. And I still love them. They're on their 4th amplifier.
1313 comments|74 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 28, 2008
I owned a pair of 901s in the early 80s, they are excellent speakers in term of dynamics and their ability to fill a room with sound. Back then I used Phase Linear equipment to drive them. Phase Linear was designed by Bob Carver and were considered entry level high end at the time. Paired up with the 901s they produce some of my best memories of music. As I grew older and purchased a home with an open floor plan their limitations started to become more apparent. These speakers use reflected sound waves to produce a wide sound stage and excellent imaging, in an open area this effect is loss and you experience what others have called no highs or lows. The equalizer can compensate for some of this but not entirely. My advice is to carefully consider where you will use these speakers and if they fit the environment they can sound spectacular. They are not everyones cup of tea but they just may be yours.
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on September 4, 2011
I have a pair of Bose 901 Series VI speakers that I purchased new, direct from Bose, in the fall of '09. I power them with a 200W/channel Adcom amplifier. They are suspended 18" from the ceiling in my 16' x 18.5' basement man-cave. The ceiling height is 8.67'. The speakers are 18" out from the front wall and about 37" in from each sidewall. The Bose equalizer is connected to the tape monitor loop of my NAD pre-amp.

I give you specific set-up details because set-up is critical to your satisfaction with these speakers. Actually, you could say that about most loudspeakers, but it especially applies to this classic American loudspeaker. Not that it's difficult to set them up properly, but you just need to follow Bose's directions, that's all! I'd be willing to bet that most of the extremely negative comments you will read about the 901 are due to improper set-up. Of course, everyone's taste is different. Some like vanilla, others love chocolate. That's why there's so many loudspeakers on the market, I guess.

But this is my review so I can only tell you about my experience with them. And my experience has been wonderful! I'm getting great stereo performance from them in a room that I had been unable to get even acceptable performance from speakers costing from over two, to five times as much at retail. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I am just thrilled with them. I'm thinking maybe I can finally get off the audiofool merry-go-round.

I'm hearing frighteningly deep bass, stun-gun dynamics and seemingly limitless output capability. And of course, the trademark spaciousness. Compared to most conventional speakers, images take on a lifelike size. True, you won't hear pin-point imaging from 901's, but you won't hear that from most live music either, in my experience. And those sitting out of the sweet spot will still hear good sound. Not as good as those in the sweet spot, but a heck of a lot better than what they would hear from most conventional speakers. Sound won't collapse into the nearest speaker or take on that awful phasey, out-of-focus quality.

I listen to a lot of different kinds of music; from rock and country to jazz and classical. I listen softly when the family is home and I rock the house sometimes when they're not. And the 901's sound marvelous through it all. I will say though, I do believe that the louder you crank them up, the better they sound. I'm sure they have a limit, but I think my ears would give up before they do.

So I can strongly recommend these speakers to anyone who wants life-like music reproduction, especially at life-like volume levels, in their home, and is willing to make sure they can accomodate the Bose EQ in their system and the Bose 901 Series VI loudspeakers in their room.

How do you know if you can be so accomodating? Well, there's basically three ways to insert the EQ. I'll start with the best: If your receiver, integrated amp or pre-amp has a tape monitor or processor loop, put it there. If you can insert it between the pre-amp and power amp sections, that is my second choice, although there will be a slight but audible noise penalty. The third option is a bit kludgy and I don't really advise using it unless you are dead set on making the 901's work in your system and you can't go with the first two choices. It will require an external source selector. You hook the analog outputs from whatever sources you want to hear through the 901 to the inputs of the external source selector. Next, you connect the output from the external source selector to the inputs of the Bose EQ. Finally, connect the output from the EQ to any available source input on your receiver, pre or int. amp. As I said, it's a little kludgy and you will be limited to only the sources so connected, but it will work.

As for the speakers, they really just need a closed-ended room. That's the crucial thing. Then just follow Bose's guidelines which are something like...18-36" from the floor or ceiling; 8-18" from the wall behind them; and 18-48" from the sidewalls. And it's best if the walls behind and to the sides are hard and reflective; not covered with thick drapes or having open windows or doorways. It's also recommended to have no furniture within a couple of feet of the speakers. And I'd suggest a symmetrical set up within the room if at all possible.

That may sound like a lot of requirements, and there will be rooms where they just won't work the best, but they achieve their impressive performance by being designed to work with the room they're in, not against it, so if you care enough about good sound you will try to set them up as Amar Bose intended!

BTW, at $1400 a pair, the 901 is an incredible performance value today. Credit must be given to Bose for maintaining that pricing over the years. You could easily spend twice as much for half the performance.
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on December 4, 2007
probably some of the best speakers availiable to purchase, in the past I've owned a pair of 501's and these 901's blow those away. Note that the active EQ included with this set is not compatible with all receivers.
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on October 6, 2005
I have owned this model of speaker for about twelve years. I would add to the above review that if you have a good equalizer in addition to the active eq, you can make these speakers put out unbelievable bass. Basically, the speakers accurately reproduce the sound on the recording, nothing more or less. They have the capability for lots of bass, as several of my present and former neighbors can attest to.

The 901s do take a lot of power and generally aren't as loud as other speakers would be connected to the same set-up. Loss of stereo separation is only an issue if you are unable to set them up properly. They don't go right in the corner or right next to each other, and they don't sit on the floor. The stands, unless you can build your own or intend to suspend them from the ceiling, are necessary.

If you plan to listen mainly to music and have a powerful component system, these are great speakers. Bose used to make a matching center channel speaker for surround sound applications (back when they were only five channel) but currently don't have anything specifically matched to the 901. This makes them a poor choice for someone really into home theater. Also, if you don't have an adaptor or tape loop for the active EQ, the sound will be very fat in the midrange. These aren't speakers you plug into one of those DVD/Tuner?Surround Sound all-in-one units.
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on October 23, 2011
I normally don't write reviews but I thought I would in this case. Back in 1976, after graduating high school, I decided to buy some decent stereo equipment. I saved my money and bought a Pioneer SX-1250 (200 watts per channel solid state receiver), a Bang and Olufsen turntable (forget the model) and a pair of Bose 901s. The speakers cost about $750 back then with the equalizer (Pacific Stereo Dallas Texas). I had done a bit of research mainly by reading Consumer Reports magazines. The Bose 901 speaker system was regarded as the best speakers no matter the cost when compared to other speakers. To say that may be a stretch but for the money I will say the 1976 model Bose 901s lasted and held up to anything I have put them through which is to say three marriages, several homes and apartments, crazy parties, and a theft in which my speakers were recovered. I eventually purchased the Bose 901 Series Six models and now have four pair of those. I gave my old original speakers to my daughter and she says they still work great. Many young audiophiles have nothing good to say about anything related to Bose. I don't argue because I'm getting older and don't really care about what is considered top dog today concerning stereo equipment. The Bose product is what the company lays claim to and that it was a revolutionary product for it's day. Still is. In my opinion the Bose 901 speaker system is a fine product and is worth the $1500.00 price. You will get your monies worth and you will get great reproduction of audio. Thank you.
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on September 8, 2004
I'm a passionate music lover - some call an audiophile! In my search for speakers that can bring me the warmth and power of a live performance in my own home, I decided to buy a pair of 901's. This was more than a year ago ... the 901's are still kicking, and I can say with the utmost confidence that they're the best out there, no matter what the consumer and audio industry communities say otherwise about these speakers. Bose was the first to study and discover the direct/reflecting nature of live sound in a concert or ampitheatre setting. These are the only places where greatest musical sounds can be experienced! With this finding, Bose developed the direct/reflecting technology that changed the ways speakers were being made. After that, other speaker manufacturers were trying to erase the name Bose from the audio consumer industry. But the Bose 901's have been born and they were there to stay - right on top! Today, the 901's are in their 6th series.

The only downside about the 901's is that they are very picky about amplifier types and room conditions. But once you manage to set room conditions right and get an adequately powered nice-sounding stereo receiver or amplifier, the 901's will prove to you that they are truly the best of the best!

I've never come across speakers as revealing as these. They let you hear all the details of a performance to an extent that sometimes you think you're floating right in front of a live symphony orchestra.

Most haters of Bose products criticise the 901's as lacking deep bass. That's probably because they've never owned them to actually experience every musical nuance the speakers are capable of reproducing with incredible ease and smoothness.

To emphasise my point, one of my friends' dads owns a pair of Legacy Helix that's also claimed to be the ultimate in sound reproduction. After comparing the musical quality of the 901's with the older man's Helix, he was eventually convinced that the 901's were the winner.

Believe me these speakers can evoke all your inner feelings with their music reproduction capabilities. They are just the greatest, try them out and you'll see what I mean!!!
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on January 20, 2011
I bought my Series V 901's in 1988 and they are still as good as new. I expect them to outlast me. Once they are properly set up (equalizer connected to the receiver's tape monitor circuit is very important or they will sound terrible) and installed in a manner consistent with Bose's recommendations, they will outperform anything (at least anything I have ever heard except a live symphony orchestra). Placement is critical, but perfect placement cannot always be guaranteed. Even so, they are forgiving. Hanging them from the ceiling is preferable to placing them on a stand (less likelihood of interference from furniture). Make sure that you place at least the two front mounting positions under a ceiling joist or rafter. Ceiling drywall by itself will not support them adequately if at all - you don't want the anchors to pull out while you're standing under them. They are heavy. Now for sound quality. We don't listen to noise - we listen to music. That's what these things were made for. I fail to understand why some owners feel they are lacking in certain frequency ranges. Maybe they have better ears than me. I find that the bass they can put out can cause my walls to bulge. Too much bass is not natural - I prefer to hear every instrument in an orchestra as it was meant to be heard by the composer. These speakers do that. I am a most loyal Bose fan, needless to say. I own a pair of 501's as well; have had them since 1974, and they too are still as good as new. In 1999, I also bought a Wave Radio/CD which is still the best small electronic device I have ever bought. Now, if only I could justify a pair of noise cancelling headphones....Bose of course! You can't buy much these days that will still be around 30 or more years from now. I think Bose will continue to uphold their tradition of quality.
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on August 23, 2008
I bought a pair of these in the early '70's, while I was at college in Boston. They have been with me through thick and thin. They carried me through the deaths of John Lennon and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When Jerry died, they performed a funeral vigil for days. These days, they get more Mozart than Stones, and with the exception of one trip back to the factory in the early 80's for new driver seals, they have been the best sounding and most durable speakers I've owned or heard. They really get it when the kids are here for holidays. Powered by an old 200 watt per ch. Denon, they please the family and disturb the neighbors. These things are 36 years old. Do the math on dollars vs. decibel/minutes.
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on November 19, 2010
Ok folks. I never do this. But in the age of information I do seek as much as I can before I make a "major " purchase. I bought a pair of 901's in the early 80's,connected them to a Carver and abused them for the next 20 years.They truly are indestructible. I grew older and the need for the sheer force of these speakers gave way to many other things. So I bought a Krell 300I and some Theil 2.2s and tried to become an Audio snob. Every time I pushed the system, something gave, and this continued till the new "Ladies and Gentlemen " Stones DVD release killed the system altogether. There was always an "ohm-age" miss match but the system just couldn't take those rare occasions with an empty house if you know what I mean.. So I bought a NAD M3 integrated amp and a new pair of 901's. They aren't made of solid wood anymore sadly. Speaker stands need a wire cut out because if you use decent cables the stands pinch the cables and the rubber nubs they give you are totally inadequate. I used some felt furniture pads to get them off the cable. Also you MUST use the 901 equalizer connected to your receivers pre amp in/out jacks. The receiver must have these jacks available.This system is simple to hook up if two channel is what you are looking for. Surround sound receivers are another story, though it can be done ,as the equalizer affects all speakers connected to the system. Now for the sound. Placement matters, and the 901's like amps. The NAD is rated at 180 per channel and the 901's can take up to 450. So far my new combination is doing just what I had hoped. Cd's I have listened to a thousand times are reveling things I have not heard in a long time if ever. To the point of asking myself, what was that, when a triangle chimes or a pick hits a string. Bass plenty, and all filters including the equalizer are at "zero" ,the floor will shake when it's supposed to. DVD's are great in the two channel system as well. Although I am "breaking" the system in somewhat carefully, volume is not an issue, in fact the 901's do sound better the louder they are played. As someone said your neighbors will know you bought these. Our house has a large open down stairs and the sound follows us everywhere. If you want a pair of speakers you can rock, will last, (important these days) and have a Company stand behind them these are an excellent option.I like an expensive meal once in awhile, just as much as the next person, but I don't need it all the time. These speakers take a lot of criticism and I sometimes wonder if those doing the critique have left out the equalizer, as they are definitely flat and awful sounding without it. Or they simply haven't heard them and are repeating what they have read somewhere.Don't believe the hype and the "high end" audiophiles. Believe what you hear.
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