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tysontom

The Venerable Bose 901 Discontinued After 50 Years

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I just learned that the Bose 901 is no longer being made available from Bose Corporation.  This would be the end of a glorious 50-year run for this fine old speaker, and it's probably safe to say that if founder Amar Bose were still alive, no one would dare discontinue this model regardless of low the sales volume!  This is sad news, but nothing is forever, at least after the founder of the company has died. 

Bose-901-Later-Series_Cutaway.thumb.jpg.d54d894edcdb0ed084ff4db13e6af990.jpg

I also think the AWMS (Acoustic Wave Music System) is also discontinued.

Bose_Acoustic-Waveguide_Technology.jpg.8c5922448d6d7fd4717f4c0088d30e49.jpg

--Tom Tyson

Edited by tysontom
Correction to AWMS: Acoustic Wave Music System

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On 2/20/2018 at 7:53 PM, tysontom said:

I just learned that the Bose 901 is no longer being made available from Bose Corporation.  This would be the end of a glorious 50-year run for this fine old speaker, and it's probably safe to say that if founder Amar Bose were still alive, no one would dare discontinue this model regardless of low the sales volume!  This is sad news, but nothing is forever, at least after the founder of the company has died. 

 

I also think the AWMS (Acoustic Wave Music System) is also discontinued.

 

--Tom Tyson

Let me add that the discontinuation of the 901 may have occurred over a year ago.  It looks like it may have happened back in September, 2016!

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19 hours ago, tysontom said:

Let me add that the discontinuation of the 901 may have occurred over a year ago.  It looks like it may have happened back in September, 2016!

I contacted Bose and the "end" date was indeed September, 2016!  So, 48 years... almost 50!  Anyway, that was a good run with several-hundred thousand units built before it was over!  The 901 was a true icon in the industry!

--Tom Tyson

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Hi Tom......My group of friends back in the 70's worshiped the 901. Hanging them from the ceiling in the corners and it was music heaven...:)  Even the nightclubs had them hanging on the dance floors where we went to drink and dance with the girls. I drove mine with a Sansui 9090 that I still own. Always got a lot of critics but I ignored it....as it sounded fine to me. Amar gets a pat on the back from me....and I have two sets of the Series II Continentals as a tribute to him.

Thanks for the cool picture of the 901.

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Like 'em or not the 901 was the largest selling speaker ever.

I prefer the acoustic suspension models way more than the ported ones.

Even though they don't have the detailed treble and nicely defined bass of my big AR's there's just something about listening to a full range driver system. I found recapping the EQ with modern day electrolytic, film and silver mica caps will enhance the treble range a lot.

 

127_2782.JPG

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19 hours ago, lakecat said:

That work looks nice! I wish I had the ability to do that. I sent mine to guy that does them up nice.

Dave @ DHS Speakers? or the guy on AK (forget his name at the moment)?

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I had a pair of Bose 901 VI. They were OK. Sad to see a another legend sunset. Amar Bose brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people. And he still is.

Bose has gone in other directions fo some time now. For example, a line of smart speakers. Not audiophile and not for me but not that bad sounding.

So it looks like the Klipschorn wears the longevity crown. In production 72 years and counting.

 

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On 3/10/2018 at 8:15 PM, stan461 said:

So it looks like the Klipschorn wears the longevity crown. In production 72 years and counting.

Yeah, but I bet the sales of units doesn't come close to the 901.

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The 901 was a deeply flawed speaker but it at least it was an honest attempt to produce high fidelity sound. This just ratifies the mass market direction that Bose has been going in for the last few decades. 

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On 4/5/2018 at 1:40 AM, musiclover22 said:

The 901 was a deeply flawed speaker

I'm not sure about the "deeply"; especially with the acoustic versions.

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Hi, I'm back again. Sorry to disappoint you folks who hoped I was gone forever. :P

I think the real value of Bose 901 for me was what I learned from the design. Despite its flaws, its claims some of which were valid and some absurd, it was a novel idea and a bold departure from the conventional wisdom of the day. I'll never forget the first time I saw one in a store window with its price tag. I thought who would ever be stupid enough to buy such a thing. Turned out I was and I've never been sorry about it. It was a lot of fun experimenting with it, understanding its unique qualities that made it so attractive to so many people and understanding and correcting its flaws that made it one of the most maligned products by audiophiles I've ever seen. Now for many newbee audiophiles who never heard of it let alone heard a pair it's something from ancient history that at worst gets a shrug. RIP Bose 901 and RIP Dr. Bose who built a privately owned billion dollar company from scratch starting with this product. I'll bet you laughed all the way to the bank.  

 

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On ‎3‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 3:11 PM, DavidR said:

Dave @ DHS Speakers? or the guy on AK (forget his name at the moment)?

It was Dave at DHS. Did a nice job for me. 

Alas........ I see even on this forum someone has to be negative when it comes to Bose.....lol....cracks me up! Feel better now?

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Dave did mine as well. I wanted all resistors changed to 1% metal film but he wouldn't do it. He did change 2 in the audio signal path. I also would have preferred something other than Sonicaps but that's what he likes to use. BIG difference in SQ; especially treble.

Did you ever A/B your ported 901's to the acoustic?

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I worked at Bose for a few years back in the early ‘90’s. Even then, in the beginning of the Home Theater era, Bose could see the writing on the wall for the 901. Stereo 2-channel was on the way out. The 901—complicated enough for the average Joe with its need to integrate the EQ through the tape rec loop in the system—was now a near-impossibility to use with home theater.

Bose marketing/sales brass wanted to discontinue the 901 then, but Amar forbade it. There were two things that were bandied about re the 901: First, there was going to be a totally self-powered version (with the EQ’d amps in the pedestal stands, removing the need for the little outboard EQ box). This could be run directly off any line-level equipment and side-step the receiver completely. There were prototypes, but obviously, it never made it into production.

The second option for the 901 was this: Amar was amenable to discontinuing the actual 901 Direct Reflecting 9-driver speaker that we all know, but he wanted any replacement (whether it was a standalone speaker, a powered speaker, a complete system, whatever) to be a) daring, envelope-pushing and TOTL, and b ) called the “901.” In other words, any new top-of-the-line Bose product had to be called the “901” if the original 901 speaker was discontinued.

Alas, nothing worthy came along and so the original 901 speaker soldiered on, way past its relevance in the marketplace. In the last few years, retailers had stopped carrying it and it was available only from Bose directly, IIRC.

Anyway, that’s some inside info on the 901 that you may find interesting.

Steve F.

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MY HT doesn't incorporate surround. I use the 901's for the rear speakers and run them on it's own amp. The fronts are run off a separate amp. I think they are great rear speakers for the rumble they can create. YMMV

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On 2/27/2018 at 9:16 PM, lakecat said:

Hi Tom......My group of friends back in the 70's worshiped the 901. Hanging them from the ceiling in the corners and it was music heaven...:)  Even the nightclubs had them hanging on the dance floors where we went to drink and dance with the girls. I drove mine with a Sansui 9090 that I still own. Always got a lot of critics but I ignored it....as it sounded fine to me. Amar gets a pat on the back from me....and I have two sets of the Series II Continentals as a tribute to him.

Thanks for the cool picture of the 901.

I believe the 901 used in the discos way back were a commercial version designed to handle heavier high volume usage.

Both however, could handle all kinds of power and were a good match for the “super amps” that were also arriving on scene.

 I recall taking a motorcycle 🏍 ride with a buddy of mine to a Holiday Inn for a demo of the WAVE radio. 

As usual, BOSE put on a clever show with it....hiding it behind a big video screen, that raised to impress everybody about the little box with the big sound.

The cutaway units showing the air channels were also on display.

 

Bill

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On 4/20/2018 at 2:26 PM, DavidR said:

Dave did mine as well. I wanted all resistors changed to 1% metal film but he wouldn't do it. He did change 2 in the audio signal path. I also would have preferred something other than Sonicaps but that's what he likes to use. BIG difference in SQ; especially treble.

Did you ever A/B your ported 901's to the acoustic?

Hi...and yes I did before I sold the fives. I have a big great room so was hard to hear much difference...to me anyway. The series two's just had a slight edge in bass and sounded warmer...if that counts for anything. I had several people listen and they also could tell little difference. All ears from non musicians though...so not trained to hear the nuances. Just preferred the two's though.

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I explained how and why I re-engineered my pair. Clearly 901 offers something that is valuable to many people or it would not have lasted on the market as long as it did and it would not  have sold so many units. IMO the original and series II were the best design. The criticisms of 901 are actually valid. However, being an engineer and a tinkerer I don't give up on something I like for one reason that attracted me to buy it in the first place because of something(s) I don't like and I try to see why I don't like it and what I can do about it. I'm not in this industry but I have many relevant skills I was able to bring to bear. No highs, No lows, it's Bose. There's more than  an element of truth in this for 901. Why are there no lows? Because the equalizer was designed incorrectly. Further equalization fixed that but power requirements were far greater. Why were there no highs? Because what is now called a midwoofer has too much inertial mass to produce much in the way of high frequencies no matter how hard it is driven and what little it does produce would beam in one narrow direction from a 4" driver. The fix for that was to turn it into a two way biamplified speaker system. This was not nearly as easy as it sounds. The first half hearted try ended in failure.  I have to admit it wasn't much of a try. The second try about 10 years later took four years to get it to where I wanted it. I've re-engineered many of my other speakers to because I don't like them for other reasons. This one though was by far the most challenging. The results were well worth the effort and the envelopment effect and other attractions of this speaker were not compromised, in fact they were enhanced. 

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On 4/25/2018 at 2:17 PM, Steve F said:

I worked at Bose for a few years back in the early ‘90’s. Even then, in the beginning of the Home Theater era, Bose could see the writing on the wall for the 901. Stereo 2-channel was on the way out. The 901—complicated enough for the average Joe with its need to integrate the EQ through the tape rec loop in the system—was now a near-impossibility to use with home theater.

Bose marketing/sales brass wanted to discontinue the 901 then, but Amar forbade it. There were two things that were bandied about re the 901: First, there was going to be a totally self-powered version (with the EQ’d amps in the pedestal stands, removing the need for the little outboard EQ box). This could be run directly off any line-level equipment and side-step the receiver completely. There were prototypes, but obviously, it never made it into production.

The second option for the 901 was this: Amar was amenable to discontinuing the actual 901 Direct Reflecting 9-driver speaker that we all know, but he wanted any replacement (whether it was a standalone speaker, a powered speaker, a complete system, whatever) to be a) daring, envelope-pushing and TOTL, and b ) called the “901.” In other words, any new top-of-the-line Bose product had to be called the “901” if the original 901 speaker was discontinued.

Alas, nothing worthy came along and so the original 901 speaker soldiered on, way past its relevance in the marketplace. In the last few years, retailers had stopped carrying it and it was available only from Bose directly, IIRC.

Anyway, that’s some inside info on the 901 that you may find interesting.

Steve F.

The Bose 901 may not have been the best-selling loudspeaker of all time; that honor probably goes to the Dynaco A25 or perhaps even The Advent Loudspeaker (original version), but the Bose 901 was—with the exception of the low-production Klipschorn—in production longer than any other commercial system, nearly 50 years. 

It’s interesting that the 901 was extremely maligned over time; for one thing, it could make some other speakers in a showroom seem very anemic, and many dealers “bad-mouthed” the speaker unmercifully.  The 901 had equalized deep bass down to nearly 30 Hz, albeit accompanied by an increase in 2nd order (generally less objectionable) harmonic distortion, and few speakers could reach down that low.  With an appropriately huge power amplifier such as Bose’s own 1801, the 901 could play at volume levels approaching ear-bleed, and few other speakers could come close without damage. 

But in terms of generally good overall sound quality and unsurpassed “spaciousness” in the sound field, the Bose 901 was a fine loudspeaker, and it was more than good enough for most high-fidelity audiophiles.  It always sounded effortless playing classical music.   It was certainly the product that energized the great Bose Corporation to become one of the very largest, and most-successful, consumer-electronics firms in the world.  Bose revised the 901 over time to make it easier to mass-produce to improve quality, up the efficiency (one major problem with the early sealed systems) and improve profitability by eliminating much of the hand-labor involved with the original versions.

—Tom Tyson

  

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Hi Tom,

There was a point when I actually thought about going to the 901 for that sheer DB output those units were capable of.

 I preferred the overall sound of the Allison:One, but I also had a too loud habit (continuously) in those days.

 I went back many times and played the 901s but never went for them.

 

Bill

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