Bose L1 Model 1 Volume Problem
Bose have been
tinkering with the L1 system - and not for the better! The new
(but sadly not improved) version of their L1 system is being called
the L1 Model 1 (the original L1 system is now being referred to
as the "L1 Classic").
Unfortunately, both the Model 1 and Classic systems look exactly
the same so many musicians are reporting that they didn't realise
that their local music shop had sold them an L1 Model 1 instead
of an L1 Classic, and this has been causing some MAJOR headaches
for many musicians! Here's just one of many horror stories I've
heard regarding this issue recently:
Robert, our resident singing expert, (who, like me, is a professional
musician with more than 30 years experience in sound), borrowed
one of my my L1 Classic systems to try it out at his gigs.
He used my L1 Classic at EVERY gig over a 2 - 3 week period (venues
of every shape and size) and was so impressed with it that the
following week he bought one himself.
However when he played his first gig with his "new Bose",
he noticed that his L1 system wasn't nearly as loud as my L1 system
which he'd used the week before...
So how could this possibly be? After all, he bought his Bose L1
from the same music shop as I bought my Bose L1 from, and it looked
exactly the same as my Bose L1...
Upon further investigation he discovered the answer. It wasn't
the same. Although it looked exactly the same cosmetically,
inside it wasn't - it actually had 250W less power!
That's when he discovered that the system he had bought was the
L1 Model 1 and my system is the L1 Classic. They
both look the same, but the L1
Model 1 system puts out less volume than the L1 Classic system
of all is that when he bought his L1, the music shop assistant
didn't tell him (or perhaps didn't know) that the L1 model
1 is different from the L1 Classic, despite the fact
that they both look the same.
You can read all about Roberts L1
problems at the Bose forum.
When Robert told me about
this, I was a little shocked and surprised, so before writing
this article, I borrowed his new L1 Model 1 and conducted my
own tests and then compared my test results with his.
He was right.
In both our tests (conducted independantly), we both found
that the limiter on the L1 Model 1 kicked in and started limiting
the sound output at a much lower volume level than in the L1
Classic. Put in laymans terms, the older L1 Classic
was considerably louder than the new L1 Model 1.
Unknown to us at the same time, a third musician friend of ours
was also considering buying a Bose L1 and his local music shop
gave him an L1 system out on trial which he used at a few of
his gigs. He later told us that he decided NOT to buy it and
returned it to the shop because...you've guessed...the limiter
continually kicked in and the volume it produced just wasn't
loud enough! This now meant that 3 different musicians with
over 80 years of musical experience between them, had all arrived
at the same conclusion - the Model 1 isn't as loud as the Classic.
We tested both the L1 Classic and the L1 Model 1 systems at
dozens of live gigs and made A/B comparisons in all these venues
(which are all different shapes and sizes). The L1 Classic system
out-performed the L1 Model 1 every time.
We even had our "under-achieving" L1 Model 1 tested
and checked out by Bose themselves, and they confirmed that
there was NO FAULT on our L1 Model 1 system...which left
us with only one possible conclusion - the "L1 Model
1" is simply not as loud as the "L1 Classic".
There seems to be little doubt that this is because the L1 Model
1 has only 500 watts of power (2 x 250W) compared to
the L1 Classic's 750 watts of power (3 x 250W), a very
important detail that the Bose adverts for the new L1 and our
local music shop failed to make us aware of.
Robert then posted the problem on Bose's own forum where, astonishingly,
a Bose representitive actually dismissed this crucial piece
of information about the L1 model 1 having only two thirds of
the power of the previous L1 as "splitting hairs"
and gave technical proof to substantiate Bose's claim that the
L1 Model 1 produces the same amount of sound as the L1 Classic.
It was also suggested to us that by tinkering with the impedience
of the speakers, Bose supposedly made 250W sound like 500W and
anyway, the original L1 Classic didn't really give out 500W
- it was more like 375W because of the way the L1 Classc speakers
functioned. Of course all
this is very surprising because Bose are actually a company
who encourage their customers to judge sound with their ears,
not specifications sheets!
Perhaps Bose thought "...if we can't repudiate the claims,
we'll just try and blind 'em with science...". But unkown
to them, Robert only gave them his name, not his job title,
so these Bose guys to this day don't realise that they've actually
been dealing with MP3 Backing Trax professionals who are experts
in their field and really know their stuff, not Joe Punter!
So, is it possible that Bose have cut corners with the L1 Model
1 and would rather we didn't use our ears to judge
this new versionof their L1?
this story is now repeating itself at an alarming rate. Every
week I hear of yet another musician who has bought a Bose L1
Model 1 system because they've heard others using the L1 Classic
and are impressed, only to find that the L1 Model 1 just isn't
cutting it the same.
The problem is further aggravated by the fact that Bose don't
produce the L1 Classic anymore, so when they go to their local
music shop to buy what they think is an L1 Classic, they are
actually walking out with an L1 Model 1. Worse still, not one
of the sales assistants or PA experts in our local music shop
who sell Bose products (and
who inform me they've been on Bose training courses) advised
any of the musicians before they bought their L1 Model 1 that
it had 250 watts and one power amp less than the original
L1 Classic (and no-where on the Bose marketing stand in the
music shop does it tell you this either)!
I, and everyone else I've spoken to about this, have all been
led to believe by Bose in their forum, and the sales reps in
the music shops, that both these systems give out the same volume
- they don't.
It's unclear whether Bose, after originally gaining world-wide
acclaim with the fantastic L1 Classic, have
been cutting corners with the new L1 Model 1 and have perhaps
just gone a step too far. Certainly, I personally can only think
of one reason why Bose would produce a new version of their
L1 with one less amplifier, only two thirds of the power, and
spend time and effort tinkering with it to try and squeeze the
same from less (which according to our tests they've been unsuccessful
in achieving)...and that's to save money and produce it cheaper.
So if you need your sound to be loud, beware of the L1 Model
1. Compared to the L1 Classic, it produces MUCH LESS volume
despite Bose's claims that both systems produce the same volume.
For solo acts who only put their backing tracks and a microphone
through it, the L1 Model 1 will most probably be fine because
with this type of set up, the volume limiting isn't quite as
noticable as it is when there are multiple instruments and microphones.
In saying that, this is really no excuse. If the old L1 Classic
can handle a multiple instruments
and microphones type of
set up with ease, then the new L1 Model 1 (which Bose still
charge the same price for) should be capable of handling the
same...and it doesn't.
In the end, Robert gave his L1 Model 1 back to the music shop
and managed to get hold of a couple of older L1 Classics the
same as mine. He's now completely happy with his
L1 Classics and the volume they produce and would never
consider buying an L1 Model 1.
Be aware though
that the Bose forum is moderated by Bose and Bose (understandably)
don't seem to like any negative publicity about their products
on their forum. It took a few days before Bose would publish
one of Roberts posts about the L1 Model 1 problems, and the
day they did publish it, they also published their response
to it. We reckon that Bose probably held back publishing Roberts
post until they felt that they had some sort of suitable answer
to it. By doing this, the negativity in Roberts post could be
counter-balanced by Bose's reply. This clever piece of marketing
ensures that the Bose forum is perceived by the public who read
it to be a place where Bose users can publish their questions
or problems etc and straight away those clever, helpful guys
at Bose answer and solve them. That's not quite the case!
I'm sure Bose would argue that their forum exists solely to
provide help and assistance to L1 users, and I think they do
manage to achieve this to a large extent. However I do feel
that the Bose forum is more of a thinly veiled marketing excercise
for Bose products rather than being in the true spirit of what
a proper internet forum should be (internet forums historically
have always been places where people interested in the forums
subject matter can join in and throw in their two cents worth,
but the Bose forum doesn't seem to be that type of forum which
Finally, on a more positive note, please don't let what you
read here deter you from buying a Bose L1 Model 1 or any other
L1 system for that matter - just remember to "up"
your calculations a little bit more when you're trying to work
out how many of these systems you'll need to replace your current
PA system as you may find you'll need to buy more systems than
you perhaps anticipated to make up for the lesser volume the
L1 model 1 produces.
As for the earlier article I wrote
(which was written some months ago before I discovered this
issue with volume on the L1 Model 1 system), I still stand by
EVERYTHING I've said about the "L1 Classic".
Go buy one (or two or three) now! It's still the best quality
sounding PA you'll ever hear....
by Kenny Campbell
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