So I bought a vintage pair of Bose 901s and...

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mj_patrick, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    ... I like them!

    These are Series II Continental Edition 901s, walnut finish complete with chrome tulip stands, and thus aren't as prone to paper/cone rot. I'd like to say I did my homework there, but frankly it was dumb luck.

    Note I am not running them with the original Series II equalizer. Rather than playing roulette by trying to find a working model on eBay, I ended up purchasing a miniDSP from Deer Creek Audio which emulates the EQ settings and also includes a subsonic filter for a subwoofer. I think I made the right decision.

    The "no highs, no lows, must be a Bose" immediately comes to mind if you listen to them without the EQ curve applied– there is no mistaking between when it is and isn't being used. With that said, I do want to pair these with a sub for a little added oomph... just like I would with any other vintage speakers of mine.

    I'm having a lot of fun with playing music on them. I think they're great for home theater application and it seems clear to me that these did a lot to inspire the home theater systems that would follow. I wouldn't say they reveal any detail not heard before, but with that larger than life stage, they are ....*gasp* among the most fun speakers I've had.

    Truthfully, I've both owned and poked fun at Bose speakers in the past. The 901s were always the models I wanted the most, I always liked hearing them in any kind of social setting.

    Roast me!
    H8SLKC, Aftermath, pscreed and 9 others like this.
  2. timind

    timind Don't blame me

    Westfield, IN USA
    Congrats from a fellow Hoosier.

    I remember the first time I heard the 901s in a record store in Nashua, NH back in 70 or 71; they blew me away. In the mid 80s I bought a pair of the series IVs when I was stationed in Greece and loved them. When I bought mine they didn't have any equalizers in stock so I listened to them without for a couple weeks, bland. I loved those speakers, great for parties and really gettin loud.

    There are albums I'll play now and think they really sound flat as I was so used to them through the 901s. Maybe I need a pair for the basement.
    Ponzio and mj_patrick like this.
  3. 56GoldTop

    56GoldTop Unapologetic Music Ho

    Zero interest in roasting you. You've got them EQ'd properly, you're not claiming they stomp Magico's and you're enjoying them. Sounds like you've got your head and ears on straight. And... I've learned something. A friend of mine is getting his 901's in order; but, mentioned he didn't have an EQ for them. Thanks to your post, I can point him in the right direction. Cheers!

    mj_patrick, SandAndGlass and clhboa like this.
  4. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    Thank you. I have been considering relocating them to the basement, partially because of the volume! They're a lot of fun.
  5. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    I read a lot of reviews from consumers who replaced their old EQs with the Deer Creek miniDSPs. There was a lot of positive feedback so I decided to go that route. It's been rock solid. I'll take some pics this week.
    56GoldTop and timind like this.
  6. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    I owned 901s at some point in the past (and 601s, and 501s, and still own three pairs of 301s) but could never find a room that could accommodate them properly.

    So what room layout(s) are you using / planning to use?

    mj_patrick likes this.
  7. Ponzio

    Ponzio Well-Known Member

    Have fun with ur new toys.

    As a former owner of a pair Bose 901 Series IV I know the excitement you're feeling. I was quite fortunate to pick-up a pair, via my wife’s job in 1985. They had a contest to see who could come up with the best ideas to improve productivity in the department. Before then I could only dream of owning a pair, ever since I saw a demo in 1979 at an audio trade fair in Philadelphia that blew me away.

    Up to that point the best speakers I had owned were a pair of JBL100’s, which weren’t exactly chopped liver at the time. The closest I ever came for matching or improving the SQ (sound quality) was a pair of used Polk LS70’s in 1997(?) but the missus refused to allow them in the living room (20’x20’) based on aesthetics, so I was forced to put them in my small (14’x14’) office. They sounded great but they just overwhelmed the room every time I tried to crank them up. This was pre-AVR days with built-in equalization programs like Yamaha’s YPAO which would have tamed the buggers. To this day I still regret selling them.

    Over the years I replaced my receiver’s, turntables, cassette and CD players but the Bose 901’s were a constant till 2014. I even added a Velodyne DLS-3500 in 1999 which made home theater more fun to watch, along with some rear surrounds a couple of years later.

    And then I made the fateful decision to go speaker demoing in 2012 after being forced to retire for health reasons. As a young kid I used to haunt the local hi-fi shops and dream but once I was married/kids I just didn’t have the time for it. Talk about going into shock. I hadn’t realized how much speaker technology, along with the materials to make them, had improved … dramatically. After two years of demoing speakers I ended up buying a pair of used Focal Electra 1027Be’s, which got the WAF and had me grinning ear-to-ear. Everybody was happy.

    There’s nothing to roast. If you’re happy, then I’m happy for you. Enjoy.

    Thanks for jolting some fond memories of my 901's.
    Bobsblkwax, mj_patrick and timind like this.
  8. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    Never heard a pair and would love to sometime so think I better add to the bucket list. Rather iconic speaker for sure. Congrats on the find.
  9. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    People don’t realize that these speakers need SPACE. Basic to their operation is the requirement that they be mounted with the “V” facing the wall, the apex being at least 12 inches from the wall. That puts the front of the speaker about 30” into the room.

    I had a pair of Series IV hung from the ceiling for years. Mounted correctly they are superb - open, airy, and detailed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  10. Galactus2

    Galactus2 Forum Resident

    No roasting from me, either. I owned series 1 of the 601's and 301's for many years. They both served me well until they dry-rotted.

    There was a bar near where I grew up that had a pair of the late 70's (unknown series) 901's hanging from the ceiling. To say they were impressive is an understatement; you could sit anywhere in that bar, and even if it was crowded, you could hear music from those speakers. It often seemed like the sound was coming from all around. Whoever set those 901's up in that bar did a really good job.

    But I also know that, set up incorrectly (wrong room, wrong EQ, etc.), they can sound like death warmed over.

    Good luck with yours!
    monte4, mj_patrick and Ponzio like this.
  11. lonelysea

    lonelysea Forum Crustacean

    Pics please!
    clhboa and timind like this.
  12. Panama Hotel

    Panama Hotel Forum Resident

    That is the secret. The 901s want that sound reflected off the walls, so keep them "untreated". No absorbent panels, or any of that.

    The 901s are also impressive quad speakers, when four of them can be deployed as suggested in a good sized room. It's definitely a "special effect" type of ambience in either quad or "double stereo", but well-produced, dynamic classic rock records sound great on them.

    that 70s show
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  13. Ponzio

    Ponzio Well-Known Member


    Agreed. They need room to breathe and plenty of power. One of things I always regretted was not being able to move them out at lest 3' from either wall. That's when they really come into their own. Even in my 20'x20' living room they would have eaten up too much space and the wife would have had a conniption.
    monte4 and timind like this.
  14. Digital-G

    Digital-G Forum Resident

    Dayton, OH
    I heard them in a store around 1979/1980. They were set up correctly and sounded fantastic. I was impressed.

    One of the next times I went into the store, someone had mounted a long shelf about 1' above both speakers (for merchandise) and it ruined the sound.
  15. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    A childhood friend not long after graduating college and a job waiting for him at US Steel, bought himself a pair of 901s, McIntosh equipment to power them and a Thorens TT in 1971. When I heard them I was blown away by their sound. Being an engineer he set them up correctly and they sounded marvelous as compared to a majority of the speakers back in the day.
  16. Vinny123

    Vinny123 Forum Resident

    I’ve mentioned this before. When I was about 10 or 12 yrs old I wandered into an appliance store that had a set of 901’s. After only being exposed to my parents Magnavox console, the 901’s blew my doors off. I never saw of heard anything like them. I was obsessed w stereos from that point on.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  17. bluesky

    bluesky Forum Resident

    901s crank.
    monte4 and timind like this.
  18. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Not To Old To Rock And Roll

    Mystic valley, Tn.
    I’ve always wanted 901s. Perhaps one day. Enjoy
  19. monte4

    monte4 Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    I owned a set of 901 II's back in the early '70's. The series I and II were the best as they weren't ported which kept the sound tight and controlled. Set up correctly they do show well. Most Bose haters have never heard them set up correctly with proper placement and proper equipment driving them. I used a Dunlap-Clarke Dreadnaught 500 power amp (overkill but the Bose love power) with a Marantz 3800 preamp. Run the Bose eq. between the pre and power amps instead of through a tape monitor loop. I had a Dual 701/Shure V15 as my source. People were floored at how good this system sounded.
    Panama Hotel and timind like this.
  20. pscreed

    pscreed Somebody set up us the bomb

    My dream speaker back in the day.... maybe someday.
  21. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    That's why I was asking the OP about room layout.

    More than any other speaker I have ever owned / heard, the 901 demands that you fit the room to the speaker. Anything less sounds way off optimum. But in a perfectly-configured room...
    monte4 and Socalguy like this.
  22. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    I'm still working on wire management, but:

  23. lonelysea

    lonelysea Forum Crustacean

    So nice - what a find!
  24. mj_patrick

    mj_patrick Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Elkhart, IN, USA
    For the time being they're upstairs in a difficult area. They are about 18" from the wall at the apex of the "V" back.

    I was worried about the placement, especially being so close to the TV stand, but they are projecting quite well.

    rushed again, 56GoldTop and timind like this.
  25. 360-12

    360-12 Forum Resident

    That setup is not ideal. They need the wall for reflection - the furniture will block it badly. I hang mine from the ceiling to avoid that problem. Been using them since they were introduced and still love 'em. I now have the series VI.

    Edit - they might sound better if the tv and associated furniture were off the wall and even with the front of the speakers. They shine with bare walls and proper placement.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018

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