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Overhyped.....but fills a niche
on November 3, 2007
Addendum to my initial review:
Apparently Bose had a similar unit in Japan for at least 3 years already. This USA version is the low end Japanese 'M2' version. I confirmed this with Bose of Japan.
Japan also has a higher end 'M3' version in identical size. That one comes in silver or black - AND is capable of running on 4AA batteries that goes inside the base and runs at 2watts using batteries. Plugged in, they are 20 watts/channel. The buttons are different from the USA version.
The M3 in Japan cost 25% more than the M2. M2 is price in line with the US. M3 is reviewed as even better sounding than the M2, plus the capacity to take batteries is a plus. I wonder if the USA will introduce an 'upgraded' Music monitor next year by bringing the M3 to the USA.
Has anyone compared the USA model to the Japanese M2 and M3 models? Funny because Bose press in the USA seem to claim that these are recent developments when they have been in Japan for a few years. Do a search on the web and find the info.
Would love to hear from others.
2nd addendum to my initial review
Now that I've had one to try for a couple of weeks, here's the update.
1. This is basically, even for Bose, a $200 system.
2. If you are looking for a $400 Bose sound, forget it. Even the guys at the Bose store tells me that they don't think it is worth $400 at all.
3. However, if you travel a lot like I do, then this is the best tiny self amplified speaker system on the planet. This doesn't mean it's $400 or even $200 great in terms of tone. In essence, I think of this as a $200 premium tacked on just because it sets the standard for something so small. I hope in time Bose will have some competition from other manufacturers.
4. Musically, this is remarkably good once, I got rid of my expectations created by the hype and price. I certainly prefer it considerably over the $200 Audioengine A2 which is almost exactly 3 times larger. The Audioengine has incredible reviews (see Stereophile) and is louder and has stronger bass. However, the Bose is more musical with better balance, highs, mids, clarity. MUCH MUCH better clarity which is quite musical.
5. They should have engineered a slightly stronger bass to this model. Their Japannese M3, by all account, is better because of slightly better bass. It needs a bit stronger bass foundation to give it the right sense of 'fatness'. I wish Bose had brought the M3 rather than M2 into the US.
So in conclusion, if I could change stars, I would now up this to 4 stars. Not remotely close to 5 stars due to price.
Reading the incredible hype by some journalists on the web, I had high hopes for these. This is compounded by reports of Bose claiming that this is one of their great achievements. I thought that this may be the ideal traveling system.
Well, tested these today at the Bose store in a quiet room. (Great service by the Bose personnel.) Sure, they sound remarkably warm for something this small. However, not close to the hype which, at least to me, implied that they sound as good as a system with small subwoofer. Well, they were not even close to the new Bose Sounddock for the Ipod or the Companion 3. To their credit, the new Sounddock is a significant improvement over the old. To his credit, the salesperson admitted that this little speaker was not close to the other two system mentioned. The Sounddock is not even a large system.
Another note: Having used dozens of laptops through the years, I've seen small and large adapters. It's surprising that Bose spent much on research to miniaturize these speakers and then cut corner on suppling a LARGE AC Adapter . Although it is thinner than the speakers, the adapter is as tall and almost as wide as the speakers. I've had laptop adapters that are much smaller and yet supply more watts. Too bad a $400 portable speaker product did not have an adapter to match. Lenovo for example, supplies a 90 watt AC Adapter that's the size of a pack of playing cards!
3rd and Final Addendum May 25 2009
Well, I had the opportunity to test about half a dozen units of these and noticed that there seem to be variance from unit to unit. My gut level reaction is that Bose may have improved the bass slightly with newer units because I found them more satisfying. So I got an older and a recent unit to compare side by side. This could be coincidence but the newer unit DID have better bass although subtle. It was enough to make it over top for me. Emotionally, I definitely felt a difference in how pleasurable the music became. So now I do own a unit and these are the best speakers on the planet FOR THE SIZE. It does help that I chanced upon a new factory sealed unit for 40% off or else I would still find it difficult to justify the price.
The single driver per speaker design means the imaging is decent. This is one of its greatest advantage over other more powerful and fuller range all in one units - stereo separation.
One more note. In hotel rooms where the desk is right at the wall, I noticed that I preferred the sound with the speakers a few inches from the wall. Right at the wall, it is now too much bass and a bit muddy. But too far from the wall in the middle of the room, not enough bass reinforcement. So a few inches away from the wall sounds right to me.
In short, if you need a small system, recommended. Highly.