on June 5, 2008
I have worked as a mobile DJ since 1980 in the Pittsburgh area, and for most of that time, I used two Bose® 802 speakers (the pro version of the 901s) and the 302 acoustimass bass enclosure (which weighs 115 pounds). There was never a doubt that I had the best sound possible.
However, I tore a rotator cuff lifting the 302 into the car a couple of years ago; the system was just too much to load and unload, what with the speakers, two amplifiers, mixer, etc.
In January, I discovered the Bose® L1 Model II sound system. It is light, compact, and efficient, and it delivers incomparable sound that rivals the 802/302 system pushing 1600 watts but without the weight and clutter of cables, etc.
For DJ applications, I highly recommend getting two B1 bass units to deliver the kind of bass that carries into the room and which would be suitable for dancing.
If you are using the system as a single performer, then one B1 unit might be sufficient. However, my experienced friends have told me that this system does not work as well as some other systems with DRUMS. For that use, you might want to consider a different set of speakers, especially subs.
When I set up my L1 with two B1 bass units at a venue, the first "test" song I play is Billy Joel's "Innocent Man." If you're familiar with it, you know it starts off with dynamic bass. Then the high register kicks in, and the L1 system produces such spectacular sound that at every single gig I've done with them, someone--waitresses, bus boys, caterers, hall managers--comes over immediately to rave about the sound. One of the most frequent comments is "I can't believe how CLEAR the sound is!"
For what I do (weddings, corporate parties, reunions, etc.), it's the ideal system. Cocktail hour and dinner music, which have to be low enough to allow conversations to be carried on at tables, was always a problem. In the past, people near the speakers thought it was too loud, while people in the back of the room couldn't hear the music clearly at all. Now, though, I can set the volume, and that volume is pretty much the same if you're standing 10 feet from the speakers or 75 feet from the speakers. There is a very slight falloff in the sound volume after the first 100 feet, but even at that, it still carries well. Even though I've been doing this for several months now, I'm still amazed at how even the sound coverage is.
When it comes to the dance music, the volume doesn't have to be as "loud" as it had to be with the 802/302 system. When I fired those speakers up, there was always a "hole" on the dance floor in front of the speakers because the volume was so high it would make your ears bleed (OK, so it wasn't that loud--but it was loud!). With the L1 system, the sound carries so well that the volume doesn't have to be set at the "make their ears bleed" level. I can set it for the "right" sound for the dance floor, and it carries all the way across the room at the right volume. And people dance right next to the speakers. I was surprised to see that, to tell you the truth, and I even took a picture in May of the parents of the bride dancing about 2-3 feet from the speaker system.
A nice feature for me is the fact that the amplifiers are built into the pedestal base unit that holds the cylindrical tower (two speaker sections that fit together rather securely in a seven-foot high tower). The amplifiers are created by Bose precisely for these speakers. The cylindrical tower contains 24 matched speakers that are placed at specific angles within the tower to create that 178-degree horizontal "throw" of the speakers. The amplifiers sense how many B1 units are connected and properly direct sound and power to them.
Lots of "stats geeks" have trouble with Bose® speakers because they are into amplifier wattage, speaker capacity in terms of "power," etc. However, if you understand that Bose is engineering the sound of these speakers in a new way, then you'll understand that the sound is not directly reliant on some of the "old" measures of powering speakers. The bottom line is the sound your ears hear, which is the truest test of any speaker system.
If you buy this system, I recommend the Bose® ToneMatch® audio engine to go with it. It has three microphone inputs that have universal inputs (either XLR or 1/4 inch jacks), and a fourth input that accepts two 1/4 inch jacks (either balanced or unbalanced). Stereo sources can be connected here, so that solves the "stereo iPod" problem mentioned by another reviewer. There is also another connection, a direct USB connection, which will accept sound (either stereo or mono) from a computer. I use my laptop and a firewire drive, and all the music comes through the USB port into the ToneMatch® audio engine. Another benefit of the ToneMatch® audio engine is the large number of "presets." The presets will tailor the sound of the system to fit various microphones; a wide variety of instruments; and pre-recorded (DJ) sound sources. There is a "Low Volume" preset that is nice for dinner music, for example, and a "high volume" preset for dance music that eliminates the tinny highs and midrange, and the sometimes muddy bass sound that is often produced by sound systems when they are pushing the higher power outputs.
I recently did an outdoor venue for a Car Show and had to cover a huge area with sound. I used one Bose® L1 Model II with two B1 units and one Bose® L1 Classic system with two B1 units (I picked that up "used" as a backup for the Model II and for use in larger venues). I pointed one system up the hill into the wind and the other system downhill with the wind behind it. The "uphill" sound carried very clearly for about 70 yards, after which it was audible but not crystal clear. The "downhill" sound carried 120 yards with no hint of falling off. That answered my question, "Will this system provide enough sound for a large venue?" Last year I played that same venue with my Bose® 802/302 system (1600 watts pushing it), and the comments I heard this year were that the sound was much better this year and it was clear all over the area. Take it for what it's worth.
Bottom line evaluation for who should/can best use this system:
* For single performers, this is outstanding.
* For DJs, this is outstanding.
* For live bands trying to use more than one or two performers per system, this may not be your best choice unless you get one system per performer.
* For drums, this might not be the best audio solution unless you have four B1 units.
* For small venues, this system may have no equal.
* For larger venues, an additional system might be required to cover the entire area.
* While I have not had this concern, other DJs have reported that it is helpful to elevate the system to get better "throw" over a crowded dance floor. (Lots of bodies will absorb sound.)
Bottom line evaluation for the system itself:
* For portability, sound quality, and ease of setup, this is outstanding.
* For clarity and range of sound, this is outstanding.
* For bass reproduction at high sound levels in very large venues, this system is average with two B1s; below average with one B1; and slightly above average with four B1s.
Overall, I give the Bose® L1 Model II system (with TWO B1 modules) the top rating, 5 out of 5.