Customer Review

661 of 693 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great speakers - but not perfect, May 14, 2007
This review is from: Bose Companion 2 Series II Multimedia Speaker System (Personal Computers)
I have Altec Lansing ATP3 back at my home. They're a pretty good 2.1 set, and never had problems with them. But now, I'm away from home.

I set out to buy speakers to help me relax in my hotel room. My first choice would have been a 2.1 system. But since I am put up in a hotel room, a 2.1 system would prove heavy on my floor-space. So, instead I started to look out for good 2.0 systems.

There are several tiny speakers in the market, but all of them compromise sound quality over portability. I am ready to drag along some weight if needed, but I didn't want tin cans.

After a lot of research, I ended up with two options - Bose Companion 2 Series II and Klipsch Promedia 2.0. The Klipsch ones had excellent reviews all over the place. The bose speakers were rather new and haven't yet received a professional review anywhere. My deciding factor was the size. I wanted the smallest of the speakers without a compromise on sound quality. The klipsch speakers were larger than the Bose. So, I had to choose Bose. I didn't get to listen to Klipsch Promedia 2.0 anywhere, so I can't do a comparison. On the other hand, I did get to hear Klipsch Promedia 2.1 before and they're exceptionally good. I would prefer them to any Bose system if I was OK with a 2.1 system.

I had heard Bose Companion 2 (the older ones) at a Bose store, and didn't like them much, as they sounded tinny. A lot of screeching sound, and a lack of bass. But I found Series II to be much better. Thanks to Bose for overcoming this problem even if that needed an increase in the size of the speakers ever so slightly.

Now that I had only one option, I went ahead and brought these speakers home. Needless to say that these speakers were really good. I could hear the player's fingers rubbing against the guitar wires and all.

I listen to a lot of Rock, Jazz and Classical. The sound is really balanced, and reproduces bass, mid-tone and treble on more or less equal footage. I believe the bass and treble are amplified a little more. Maybe that's a decision Bose have taken to "define" their desktop speakers.

The advantage Bose has to other speakers of the same class, is the digital circuitry they probably use to enhance the sound to bring in increased stereo separation and roominess to the sound. The sound coming out is definitely more pleasing to the ears, and feels room-filling. You wouldn't get this experience with speakers from other brands, however faithful they are in reproducing sound as exactly as recorded.

Now, an advantage that's almost a disadvantage. These speakers are so accurate in reproducing the sound that you cannot forgive playing mp3s at low bitrates. You need mp3s to be coded at least at 128kbps for the sound to be acceptable. I rip my music at VBR 192-320kbps and I find it hard to differentiate between the original CD and the mp3, So, never over-compress your music.

Now, two clear disadvantages. The first is that these speakers are built to aim their best sound at the person sitting at the desktop. The sound fills the room, but you lose out on the spaciousness. The stereo separation is good at 6-10 feet away, but the spaciousness is lost. So, these speakers do have a sweet-spot, and that is a chair right next to the desktop. I wish Bose provided swivel stands, so that I could point my speakers at my couch and still get the best from the speakers.

Disadvantage 2. I have played at least 200 tracks by now. The sound reproduction was near perfect, except for one track. I was playing a classical track "Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica" - Scherzo: Allegro Vivace". This is an mp3 that has been shipped along with Windows Vista. Somewhere in the middle of the track, when a trumpet is played at a particular note, the right speaker gives a buzz. It means that I hit the natural frequency of the right speaker, and that resulted in resonance. I totally understand every object has its own natural frequency and you can't help it if you make a sound matching their natural frequency. But I am disappointed Bose didn't build it tight enough to avoid the buzz. I am not sure if this a defect in the speaker. But I can't return these speakers showing that the speakers buzz in only one track out of 200 tracks.

That's about it. The speakers are almost the best you could get in a 2.0 to my knowledge. The only contendor would be the Klipsch Promedia Ultra 2.0 and if you have enough desk-space and don't need them to be as portable, you could as well go for the Klipsch. But you mght miss upon the spacious-feel circuitry that Bose uses.

Advantages

* Good balance in sound. Enough bass - I don't miss the woofer

* TrueSpace technology - whatever this thing is, your ears will like it

* small size - almost portable

Disadvantages

* Speakers aimed at the desktop user. No swivel stands

* Buzz on right speaker playing a particular track (not sure if

this is a defect)

I am tempted to put price as a disadvantage, but I failed to find speakers of the same class at a lower price. So, I would rather leave the price alone.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 29, 2009 7:14:29 PM PST
J. Pawlowski says:
All mp3s sound like crap below 160kbs no matter what speakers you're using. 190kbs is just barely passable. You want 240kbs or better on any decent sound system.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 3:50:38 PM PDT
Edom says:
I'd also consider CREATIVE T20's... they're the same size, have a dedicated tweeter and a carbon woofer, and when I compared them side by side, sounded better to me...

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2009 11:17:03 AM PDT
M. A. Stuart says:
I agree. Rip them at 320kps if you're an audiophile, which you obviously are! It's worth that little extra disc space.

Posted on Mar 16, 2010 2:14:01 PM PDT
Did you try listening to "Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, "Eroica" - Scherzo: Allegro Vivace" on any other speakers? A lot of times those frequencies found were actually created by the microphone during the recording. It seems odd that only one section on one song hits a certain frequency that NO other recording does.

All speakers have a sweet spot and are directional.

Posted on Aug 16, 2010 4:32:33 PM PDT
AJ Runner says:
I definitely agree with your Sweet Spot comment. I spent about an hour in Best Buy listening to these. I took my ipod and an RCA cable and played my own stuff. Classical, Beatles, Blues, Rap (Humpty Dance!), etc.
If you aren't in the desktop range, you miss a lot of stuff. Outside of that range, you hear a lot of the vocals, but everything else fades.
That was the biggest non-selling point for me as I'd like to use these speakers for the entire office area, not just my little spot behind the desk.

Posted on Aug 25, 2010 8:45:26 AM PDT
I agree with not missing the subwoofer. These are just fine for my little computer room.

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2011 4:35:30 PM PDT
Thank you for a fair review.

I read Audiophile magazines that review systems that cost $100,000 + that of course hate Bose, and those who feel their products are overpriced. The zealots talk about sound quality but I've yet to hear a pair of speakers for $89.00 (Sam's, Costco, Best Buy on sale, etc.) that can even come close to these speakers. I've replaced these (temporarily) with $200.00 monitor speakers for music monitoring and they still don't sound as good.

In fact, ANYWHERE where I want better sound than I hear but don't have the space to put a 2.1 system in, I pick up a pair of these speakers. If I have a stand-alone TV and don't wire it for surround sound, the first thing I do is buy a set of these and attach them to the audio out.

My computer at work, another set of these speakers. At home another pair. My 5th wheel trailer, I have a pair in the bedroom attached to the TV and also in front as I'm not quite ready to step up to a 2.1 or 5.1 system.

In each case these speakers produce bass that is a thousand times better (and yes, I understand that some of it is equalization in the speaker...that's a Bose tradition going back to the 901s after all!) and there may be spatial processing as well (as Bose is also known for the direct/reflecting concept that even some audiophile speaker manufacturers use some variation of at least with direct radiating and indirect radiating speakers).

Because of the audiophile bias I've read about I've purposely tried maybe 5 to 10 different speakers in the same role (like I said monitors, speakers from other manufacturers, bookshelf speakers, etc.) and all pale in comparison.

As for pricing, these speakers couldn't be more reasonably priced. Logitech, Altec Lansing, any other desktop speaker are close in price but not in sound, most bookshelf speakers start at $100 + each ($200 per pair) and most roll off around 120 hz or greater where I get in all these applications decent bass response down to 50-60 hz without a .1 subwoofer. And those 2.1 system with a subwoofer still do not go down to 50-60 hz!

As for other systems, I've come to Bose's defense before too. A few tried to complain about build quality and yet a simple rap on the subwoofer cabinet made out of 1/4 inch plywood or 1/8 inch thick plastic in the satellite speakers and clearly there's a difference in build quality.

So the next complaint is single driver speakers. Of course back in the early days of hi-fi, expecting a single cone to cover the frequencies, and even today with the advances in speaker technology is physically impossible. But back in the day we didn't have the benefits of digital signal processing, digital equalization and advanced flow analysis like is incorporated in Bose (and other speakers). So we can through electronics overcome some of the physical limitations of single cone drivers and smaller drivers.

Of course physics still come into play. Anyone who buys a "desktop" speaker is a fool if they think that without the aid of DSP, digital equalization, they can get decent sound. And those who buy a 2.1 system thinking that that 8 inch by 4 inch "subwoofer" can reach 50-60 hz is a fool. I suspect most "subs" in this product range don't go down lower than 120 hz.

As for these Bose I've measured output at 50 to 60 hz myself at a reasonable listening level.

So again thanks for a fair review. I own 5 pair now for space limited applications and couldn't be happier, or more satisfied. Other manufacturers, give me a reason to jump, I'll give you a fair shake but until then these Bose get my vote.

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2011 11:09:21 AM PDT
Hey thank you for such good input, I picked up a pair of these speakers a few weeks ago for my computer.

I listen to all my mp3's at 320KBPS and can appreciate some good sound quality. I have bose speakers in my infiniti and love the sound quality so I decided to pick these up and they sound amazing, but after reading a lot of reviews people keep saying that for the price I can get so much better.

I am not sure if I should return these or not, I don't want a dedicated speaker just for bass because of my living situation I could easily disturb my neighbors, which I have already done with these speakers not having a sub lol.. Anyway I was satisfied with them until I read reviews.

Why is bose hated so much? It's one thing if there are companies that make speakers that are better which I know there are but why is bose so despised? Set aside them being a little bit overpriced (except for these companion speakers)

Anyway is there a 2.0 system at all that you would recommend over these? They sound amazing for classical music, jazz, 80's and some rock but when I listen to any electronica music or anything where it's important to have bass these don't seem to work, I am not saying I need loud bass but I would like to hear sound from certain pitches, I don't want loud bass, I just want to be able to hear different pitches of bass, there are a few different pitches that sound amazing from these speakers but with other tones they are not able to produce anything so the music just sounds flat.

Thanks again for your review I found it to be very helpful. I want to keep these speakers even more now but if there is something better for the type of music that I listen to I would like to know.

Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2011 12:27:40 PM PDT
I play keyboards in the electronica vein and I use the Bose as my monitors for non-critical listening and playing because my little home studio, more like a closet is short on space for large equipment. So I'm presenting a physical limitation for which the Bose are a good fit. The AudioEngine speakers are a great alternative if you have space and budget. More accurate, yes, but more pleasing, particularly when you figure in cost and space, my decision was the Bose, if you don't have to fill a large space and are monitoring/listening near field. I'd never propose the Bose for filling a large space but near-field, 6-8 feet and again I get more usable bass and a pleasant son than anything else under $100 by far.

As for the bias, like every manufacturer they kick out some winners and definitely some losers too. Bose has a "house sound" where some complain of a lack of midrange, or highs, and some even complain about the bass, but I suspect that this is more of the phenomena of such small speakers putting out acceptable (at the expense of accurate to some) bass.

Seems there is a bias in audio, particularly in hifi that no bass or little bass is better than bloated bass, and I'd agree but don't find for such small speakers that the Bose are bloated but more impressive for the low bass I get from such small speakers.

My 2 cents and good luck. Audition a lot, sound quality is so objective!

Posted on Jun 22, 2011 7:35:43 AM PDT
RC says:
Why don't you use headphones?
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