Bose is a major force in integrated sound systems; in fact, they pioneered the concept of small speakers linked to big sound. Now their technology is being questioned.

Some people like professional CEDIA installers say that Bose sound is inferior, while others praise the Bose Audio system because of its small footprint. We decided to take a look at the argument from both sides of the argument. Love them or hate them, Bose is a major force in integrated sound systems. The company has built a global reputation and $4.5 billion dollars in annual sales by delivering small sound systems that to the naked ear sound satisfactory. But are they? Mention Bose sound systems to any hi-fi specialists, and you will get a mixed reaction.

Some love them because they are easy to sell and are backed by slick marketing. Others will tell you they hate Bose systems with a passion and refuse to sell them because they “deliver inferior sound”.

 There is no doubt that Bose is a company that’s built on principled ideas. Every aspect of its marketing and exposure is controlled by this private US organisation that today turns over in excess of $4 billion dollars. Among the many marketing principles that Bose resellers have to adhere to is one that bans the ‘live’ comparison of a competitive sound system with a Bose system. Other restrictions include the establishment of an exclusive area inside a retail outlet for the demonstration of a Bose system, a marketing strategy that many other sound system vendors are starting to imitate.

The passion associated with Bose can be found by doing a simple Web search. What you will find is an array of articles from those who “hate” the company and its products, to those who praise “the sheer brilliance” of Bose technology.


The Genesis

Bose was founded by Dr. Amar G. Bose, who is today Chairman of the Board and Technical Director of the Bose Corporation in the US. In the mid-50s, Dr. Bose began research into physical acoustics and psychoacoustics, study of the human perception of sound. Bose’s studies led to numerous patents in the fields of acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems and communication theory, as well as the founding of the Bose Corporation in 1964.

After initially questioning why loudspeakers with advanced technical specifications failed to reproduce the realism of a live performance, Dr. Bose began his 12-year study of speaker design and psychoacoustics.

He introduced the Bose 901 Sound System in 1966, which set a new standard for sound quality and promptly received worldwide acclaim.

In the 1960s, Bose pioneered the use of ‘reflected sound’ to bring concert-hall quality sound to home speaker systems. In the 1970s, the company moved into the car sound market.




The Big Debate

Talk to retailers who stock Bose, and they will tell you that the company delivers outstanding marketing that draws people into stores, particularly females who love the compact size of Bose systems. This, coupled with the design of the products where small speakers and through-the-wall control systems are marketed as being hip and powerful, is a winning formula for success.

Sydney reseller Len Wallis of Len Wallis Audio says, “We sell a lot of Bose systems. They appeal to a cross section of people, particularly females. Bose are excellent marketers who constantly deliver smart marketing programs.”

Vinod Christie David of the Lifestyle store in Sydney’s West says, “We do not sell Bose systems. The sound is inferior, and there are too many marketing restrictions associated with the product. For example, we would not be allowed to compare a Bose sound system in store with a competitive product.”


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