Pros: Acoustimass module, control pod, reproduces pleasing music and suitable for gaming
Cons: discontinued, expensive, not direct/reflecting, very bright highs
I don’t understand the irrational hatred against BOSE on the Internet, from it one would be fooled into thinking, BOSE makes cheap and bad sounding products and sells it for premium price. But that is far from the truth, every speaker has different shortcomings and different levels of purity in sound reproduction, every speaker cannot perform like studio monitors and neither do they exist in a controlled environment like in Abbey Road Studios.
Usually, it is very hard to get speakers to sound the way they do in showrooms, because they create specially configured sound proof environment and creating such an environment at home is time consuming and expensive, only way possible to do is to dedicate a separate room to them, which is unfeasible for most people, but these speakers sound as closely as possible to the way they sounded in their showroom.
Real star of this speaker system is the acoustimass module, BOSE doesn’t call it sub-woofer because it doesn’t produce bass like a conventional sub-woofer, usually with normal sub-woofers if it’s placed improperly in a normal room, the bass becomes separate and localized and you can guess where the sub-woofer is, this ruins the music listening experience, to deal with this problem BOSE came up with what it calls the “acoustimass module”, bass drivers are encased within a specially engineered module, by this low frequencies are delivered into the room on a “column of air”.
“Low-frequency speaker drivers were placed between separate acoustic compression chambers inside the module. As each speaker cone moved, it excited air in the chambers. The air trapped in the chambers interacted with air in the ports, to produce more low-frequency sound with greater efficiency.
This system, to be known as Acoustimass speaker technology, proved to be more efficient, required less cone motion and produced less distortion. If any audible distortion was produced, the patented design trapped it inside the acoustic chambers — so it never entered the room.”
True to it, the bass produced on this system was more powerful, punchy and tight than Sound Sticks ii. I place the sub-woofer or acoustimass module on the floor between the satellites, which would be 2 and a half feet above floor to the left and right, with Sound Sticks ii, the bass could be felt coming from below, with these, the bass seems non-directional. The bass on this, acoustimass module, is not one note, chest thuming “boom, boom, boom” variety, it’s rhythmic and punchy, can get boomy if the track requires it, but it’s not overwhelming. In most normal sub-woofers, usually the bass from one instrument dominates the sound reproduction, and you can’t hear bass from other instruments, on this system, at least on one track, I was able to hear trailing bass accompanying guitar notes in addition to the dominant one.
At the back of the acoustimass module, there is a bass knob to increase or decrease bass, below that you get sockets to connect to satellite, after that analog audio input socket, control pod socket, on/off switch and the power socket.
With this you also get a wired touch sensitive control pod, which has to be connected at the back of the acoustimass module, control pod has auxiliary input and output, when it is turned on, a dot on it lights up lemon green, it turns orange when muted, increasing and decreasing the volume is done by turning the black ring on it, clockwise or anti-clockwise. Satellites come on a stand, which can be detached by unscrewing, but the cables of the satellites cannot be disconnected. When you connect a headphone to the control pod, it mutes speaker system and channeling the audio to your headphones, which can be good if you play or listen to music at nights or when you don't want to disturb or cancel other noise around you.
These speakers have good stereo imaging, depending on the effects on the audio track, sounds can travel from center to the sides or side to side, etc, voices in songs most of the time come out from the center. There is decent separation of sounds, and I could hear things which I couldn’t on Sound Sticks ii. Reproduction of sounds on Sound Sticks ii had a metallic character whereas this one has a cardboard like quality to the sound. These speakers sound their best when played at 48%-60% of their volume, anything lower, you can’t hear all the sounds and anything higher makes them sound like they are being strained, when within their sound field they can get very loud from 48% of their volume, so I don’t think anyone playing games will want to go above that. In games, the gun shots, explosions and foot steps all come out clearly from the direction they become visible in front of the player.
Before these, BOSE had Companion 3 Series i, when they released this, they also released Companion 5s with it, when I bought these, I had the good fortune of listening to the same track on these and Companion 5s, I couldn’t notice any difference between these two, Companion 5s’ surround sound effect wasn’t convincing to me and just seemed like stereo effect and wasn’t all that different than these, so we bought these as these costed a lot less than Companion 5s. I think, it’s exactly for this reason BOSE discontinued these, BOSE might have realized that having these or another computer speakers with acoustimass module on the market would be bad for the sales of Companion 5s, to replace Companion 3 Series ii, they came out with Companion 20s at the same price point, but I feel pity for most users of Companion 20s, because they don’t sound anywhere as good as these, the bass on Companion 20 is anemic compared to these and it’s only audible.
If you have these and are thinking of upgrading to Companion 20s, don’t expect any improvement in sound quality, there could actually be deterioration to the sound quality you are used to from these speakers, but they could be good for portability. As I have never heard AudioEngine’s A5+, Focal XS 2.1 and B & W MM-1, I can’t compare these to them.
BOSE has an official presence in India with official stores in major cities and they have a good service network, so presently BOSE’s computer speakers offer good value for money as they can be demoed in official stores, you can try your own music collection before buying. Same can’t be said about other speaker companies like Bowers & Wilkins, Harman Kardon, JBL, AudioEngine, Focal, KEF, etc.