Bose 901 Review – Are They Worth It? (2022)


When the Bose 901 was released in 1968, it was an instant commercial success. It was the crown jewel of the Bose Corporation, which made it rise to tremendous growth during the 1970s. Since then, it has been in continuous production.

Of all the speakers manufactured by Bose, none is more divisive than the famous Bose 901. Amar Bose’s design for this model was to mirror the way humans hear in concert halls. The Bose 901 endows sound with an unrivaled large soundstage and spatial realism. It creates a more accurate impression of natural ambiance than any other speaker system.

But, does it really do those things? Let’s get into this comprehensive review and find out if it’s worth buying.

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Sound Quality

Specifications

Maximum Power Handling 10-450W RMS (Rated 250W IEC)
Impedance 8 Ohms
Dispersion Reflected: 89%Direct: 11%
Frequency response 40Hz-50Hz
Sensitivity ~40 Hz

Imaging

Bose put the tagline “stereo everywhere” with this speaker, but it’s not quite the case. Imaging is highly important with any speaker, but it isn’t easy with the 901 models. It is hard to place or pick out certain aspects of the music in some setups.

There’s no questioning the 901’s capacity to make you hear all of the music. But because the image is blurry, you don’t notice it as much as directional speakers do. However, you get the feeling of it.

Outside environment

In the 200Hz-10kHz range, these are some of the loudest speakers. You can easily blast 112dB of non-distorted music from the back of the speakers from a distance of 10 feet. Although the front was limited to roughly 98dB, it is still quite loud for being outside.

The bass response significantly drops when you get above 95dB since the drivers can’t play deep bass at high volumes. It can also cause them to break down before 95dB on complex, bass-heavy music.

Tonality

If you’re not in the same room as the 901s, they’re tolerable tonally. If you listen carefully, you will notice loud treble and inflated bass. Bass response is more difficult to get, and it’s difficult to move away from the muddy bass. The Bass EQ settings appear to be confined to either bloated bass or no bass.

Simple instrumental tunes are fine, but you should avoid anything containing female vocals or cymbals. These speakers are suitable for use at parties and will impress most inebriated persons with the volume they create.

Build Quality

There’s no known information about the material used when manufacturing the Bose 901 except the cabinet. A non-removable dark-brown fabric grille covers the front and much of the back of the speaker cabinet. Each speaker unit weighs 35 pounds and measures 21 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 12-5/8 inches high.

On the other hand, the equalizer measures 13 inches wide, 4-7/8 inches deep, and 2-3/4 inches tall. It has a gold satin-finish aluminum exterior with a dark-brown plastic front panel and side plates. There is an option for 18-inch-high black steel speaker stands.

Bose (R 901 Series VI - Walnut

Driver

Blue cones are notorious for having a faulty foam surround. The drivers likewise have the same tinsel leads on the front. Its plastic baskets and dust cap are branded three times. These drivers are 1 Ohm a piece and are internally ganged to generate an 8 Ohm load.

Grills

The front grills are tweed and held in place with a handful of small staples. The rear grills are made of molded metal mesh, and the clip protects the rear drivers. They also reduce the treble response of the rear drivers. If you run these speakers without the back grills, you can expect shrillness that you didn’t even know existed.

Ports

It has a two-piece port. One side exits on the front of the speaker, and the other blasts air out the back. The port tube design is unique, as it allows for very deep tuning without requiring a lot of physical room. One disadvantage is that these ports may extinguish a light 6 feet away and are audible at full chuff.

Cabinet

You’ll find that the top and bottom of the cabinet appear to be veneered MDF. But the speaker’s back is thick injection-molded plastic. Even with all of the holes, it’s a really sturdy box.

Terminals

The terminals are located in the middle of the bottom of the speaker, which is an understatement. Their objective is to connect your cable and run it through the speaker stands. Unless you want to drill wood screws into your speakers to attach the stands, you’re in for a difficult task. Only 901 owners will understand the difficulty of flipping the speaker while holding the stand onto the bottom.

Stand

Although they’re an optional item, the stands are worthy of a mention in this review. Your wires are intended to flow through the top and out the bottom. However, there is no slot on the bottom to slide under. Instead, the wire just shatters, and the stand becomes somewhat imbalanced.

The screw holes are pre-drilled in the bottom of the cabinets. But you will most likely use them only a few times before the speaker base is broken. Astonishingly, Bose did not put threaded inserts on the 901’s bottom, which is unusual for a speaker at this price.

What’s in the Box?

Like any speaker, expect this set of speakers to be handed to you in two big boxes. At the same time, the equalizer is safely packed together with one of the speakers.

The box dimensions are 24 x 16 x 15 inches. All in all, the package weighs around 72 lbs. Please note that no cables come along with the Bose 901. Also, the speaker stands are an optional buy, but it’s a great add-on.

Key Features

Multiple full-range drivers

There are nine drivers installed on the Bose 901. Using an inbuilt equalization to make these speakers function together is wise. Most modern speakers use DSP to regulate each driver. But Bose could replicate the effect with a less complex (and less expensive) passive EQ control unit.

Custom Controls

It is worth noting that while using a receiver, you must place the inline EQ in a tape-monitor circuit. If the amp and preamp components are separate, you can place the EQ directly between them. Bose offers a pair of 3 foot RCA patch cables to facilitate the installation of the inline EQ.

The EQ features two built-in sound profiles:

  • A flat one.
  • A bass boost akin to the volume button seen on older receivers.

There are also sliding controls for the mid-treble and mid-bass frequencies. Comparably, the mid-treble slider has a more visible impact on the overall sound quality profile.

Single speaker, crossover-less design

Bose 901’s design provides a unique coherence that is nearly impossible to replicate with other speakers. Thanks to their impressively wide sound dispersion, these speakers sound amazing in just about any place.

The single speaker, crossover-less design of the 901 gives the speaker a unique coherence that is almost impossible to reproduce with other types of speakers. Thanks to their impressively wide sound dispersion, these speakers sound amazing in just about any place.

Generally, the design flaw lies with the sound. Others noted that some ultra-focused listening is lost, which may be an issue for some audiophiles out there. However, these speakers will excel in situations where other speakers will not, such as entertaining a large group of people.

Setting Up

Installing a Bose 901 speaker set has three steps: placement, connecting to the amplifying equipment, and connection to the equalizer.

1. Placement

The Bose 901 is ideal for corner placement. Because most drivers face rearward, positioning is critical to fine-tuning imaging performance.

Placing the speakers closer to the room’s corners exaggerates the reflection and creates an inflated stereo appearance. They resemble the aftereffects of a psychedelic event.

Some prefer to position the speakers in a more traditional placement in an audiophile perspective. It appears to be ideal, allowing the sound from the front-firing driver to anchor the presentation. The placement is as follows:

  • About eight feet apart.
  • Eight feet from a couch.
  • About five feet out into the listening area.

However, putting the speakers too close to the corners of a room creates an overblown stereo speaker picture. The positioning can make the speakers seem much flatter than they are.

2. Connecting the wires

You can use any speaker wire to link the 901s. The amplifier connections for both 901 speaker systems must be identical so that both speakers work together. Start with the speaker marked “Part 1.” Locate the “+” and “-” terminals at the bottom of the speaker.

Using the speaker wire, connect the first speaker’s terminal marked “-” to the terminal marked “com.”  Then connect the “+“ terminal on the left speaker to the terminal marked “pos.” Do the step again to the other speaker.

3. Connecting the equalizer

You need to turn off the control unit and other components you’re connecting before anything else. Then locate the input and output jacks on your tape deck. After that, find the four jacks marked tape recorder connections on the equalizer.

Connect the left and right tape output jacks to your tape deck using standard audio cables. Once done, you need to connect the left and right tape input jacks to the tape deck.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Big, high-quality sound.
  • Very competitive price point.
  • Effectively work when placed almost anywhere in a room.
  • Crossover-less design.

Cons

  • Can’t render low-level details and microdynamics.
  • Excessive sound reflection when positioned too close to corners or walls, might cause them to sound flat.
  • Don’t have threaded inserts for attaching pedestals.
  • Inline EQ requires slightly more setup.

Can you use Bose 901 speakers without an equalizer?

The Bose 901 speakers are meant to work with their equalizer and will not function properly without it. Although it’s plausible, you can only do it if you have something similar to equalize it with. Then again, it will result in poor sound quality. The speakers will lack the high and low frequencies needed for a full sound.

Is Bose 901 Worth It?

Overall, the Bose 901 is a great fit for almost any home entertainment system. These speakers are excellent at reproducing almost all types of music. Moreover, the inline EQ controls make fine-tuning the sound profile a breeze. The speakers will not distort even at maximum intensity, and the bass energy is consistently down to roughly 40Hz.

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Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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