Bose and Specifications

Part 1, an overture.
The dialog problem over specifications has been with Bose throughout the company's history. It has perennially been a grievous source of antagonism, mistrust, and deep misunderstanding. Our reluctance to provide measurements has frequently been construed as deceptive--as lying about our products by omission--or as prima facie evidence that WE must be ashamed of our products' performance. Those who want to make decisions based on specs are often heard to say that Bose provides nothing but evasive fluff about their products. Some folks appear to believe we are deliberately out to fool everyone.

Could we possibly be unaware of all this? After all this time? No. This festering misunderstanding has been personally agonizing for us, decade after decade. And when we explain our actions, it seems to us that we are often not understood. Worse, our attempts make a fraction of the population even more vitriolically angry at us. Many L1 owners have encountered that anger first-hand and now understand and share our pain and frustration at profoundly failing to find common ground on this topic. You know how much this hurts.

So why don't we just soften up and publish the numbers? And yet, completely symmetrically, why isn't everyone willing to just listen to our products for free, as we offer, and decide based on that? This impasse is almost as old as our company. Neither side ever seems to know how to break the deadlock. No attempt that we have ever made to explain our reticence has truly allayed the underlying suspicions.

Our perennial and direct explanation--that we engineers have found the interpretation of specifications to be dangerously tricky FOR US, and we have concluded, based on clear experimentation, that many specifications are useless to anyone or are misleading to most--is sometimes received as deeply insulting. It's hard to deliver that message without seeming to say, "YOU can't be trusted with real technical information." This fuels even more outrage and suspicion of deception. Our explanation is often "like putting out fire with gasoline." (David Bowie)

So why don't we publish the numbers? Let me try again on this question in my following posts. The internet, and this forum especially, enables a much richer dialog between us than was ever possible before. Maybe we can understand one another at last. As this thread proceeds, I welcome the most challenging responses, if respectfully posed, from anyone who has felt that we should be acting differently from the way we do. Those of you who are linked to other forums as well are encouraged to invite people from there to participate here.

To be continued ...

Attachments

Original Post
This topic and your comments caused me to remember one of my college roommates. He became a statistician in real life. He always said, “Anything in the universe can be represented by numbers.” Think about that for a minute…. Now, think about specifications and what they can represent. It’s true, some people only look at numbers. It’s also true that some people aren’t really adept with numbers. It’s true as well that people use numbers to form opinions about material things. It’s also true that people can manipulate numbers to give themselves a perceived advantage in the marketplace. Numbers can represent practically anything.

The use of numbers in judging whether a product is of value or not, can be a deciding factor for some people. Why not publish the numbers and let those people needing them, have them? The tough part for you is in deciding what numbers you feel comfortable in providing to represent your product’s “perceived value” in the marketplace.

For me, I have found throughout life that things of value to me typically have “good numbers” associated with them, but I never worry about them, per se. Nor, would I ever make a purchasing decision based strictly upon the numbers. When it comes to music and sound reproduction, I could care less about the numbers! I judge value in this category with my ears. If it sounds good to me, it’s of value….regardless of the numbers. Again, that’s my viewpoint, not necessarily the next guy’s.

Thanks for this online forum and your participation within it. It’s truly of “value” to me and part of the whole package in my mind.
Well, Chris, it is good that you are willing to carry on making this a publicly discussed issue.

Since there was much discussion about specifications already on this forum, interested readers might want to check out these threads as well:

http://bose.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/7521050644/m/9821050644

http://bose.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/7521050644/m/8221028154/p/2

I'd say that one of your biggest impediments to being perceived as credible regarding your position on publishing specifications is that you publish them for your Pro Sound products. It seems that this inconsistency can only be explained by what you have described in your post as being commonly perceived by many people for many years now. From an almost exhausting reading of an extraordinarily long post regarding the Bose L1 on another forum, it appears that pro sound people rely on these specifications for a multitude of reasons, and also seem to be the biggest finger pointers regarding your "withholding of specifications" policy for the L1.

As an example of a benefit of a concrete measurement that isn't entirely dependant on one's subjective ear-based judgements, let me quote BigKyle at Bose:

"First, loudness is subjective unless you measure it. Bring an SPL meter and know what volume suits certain venues. You will have to be louder at some than others to carry the venue."

(This appears on this thread: http://bose.infopop.cc/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/8146026354/m/...961057124#8961057124 )

In a previous post I explained how I managed to extrapolate some useful specifications for the Bose L1 from specs published for its cousin pro sound products (MA 12 and MB4). I was able to determine ahead of time that the L1 would suit my needs, and a real world test with an SPL meter proved my calculations to be correct.

Chris, you wrote:

"And yet, completely symmetrically, why isn't everyone willing to just listen to our products for free, as we offer, and decide based on that?"

One reason, Chris, is that no matter what you say, write, or argue on this or any other forum, there is a substantial percentage of people in the marketplace who simply DON'T DO BUSINESS THIS WAY because of many and diverse reasons. Most of these reasons are based on the same precept that allowed NASA scientists to be reasonably confident that they could land men on moon before they even attempted to do it. I've read all of the many, many, counter arguments that your company, as well as those of supporters of your policy, have put forth on this forum and others, and I can only say that I think they do more to convince those people who don't do business your way to continue NOT doing business your way, rather than the contrary.

I'm offering you my time here because I frankly feel that your company is making a huge mistake by continuing your policy regarding not publishing specifications on the L1 as you do with your pro sound products. Your post more or less spells out the fact that it has been a mistake for quite some time now.

My own interest in having you do publish specs is simply to make it easier for me to offer Bose L1's as a viable option for a sound system for my new band. As it is, I'm having a much easier time offering an alternative system from Meyer Sound, a company that publishes comprehensive specifications of its products, and has done quite well doing so. Nevertheless, though Meyer equipment is a very attractive option, I haven't given up on Bose.

Sincerely,
W.A.
WA

Did you consider setting up the systems for your band, playing through them and seeing which one you liked better? That's how musicians typically evaluate musical instruments (and do business), which is what the L1, for instance, is a part of.

I'd agree with you about the engineered sound and pro sound businesses. But products for musicians, in my opinion (being an active musician), are purchased on an experience and not numbers and data.

The L1 is the only product for musicians that does what it does: puts the music back in the control of musical artists, where it belongs. All other equipment are components of the "Triple Amplification System", which is known to create an artistic void between the artists and their audiences. The TAS still the best technology for large audiences, but the L1 is still the only technology that really works for smaller audiences, where we (statistically) all play most of the time. By "works", I mean allowing musical artists to control their own work.
Cliff,

You wrote:

"I'd agree with you about the engineered sound and pro sound businesses. But products for musicians, in my opinion (being an active musician), are purchased on an experience and not numbers and data."

Does this mean "end of discussion"?

If that's the opinion of Bose marketing, then I guess it must be end of discussion. You may have added to the alienation of musicians who make decisions based on both experience and numbers and data. I am one, and I know several, and there are undoubtedly many more. It was my impression that this was the market that Chris was trying to address.
I was hoping that this wouldn't happen in this thread.

As far as trying both systems go, well, I have experience both using and listening to both Bose (I've had my L1 for almost a year) and Meyer products. My situation is complex because my new band is two bands in one. We are starting out by addressing the jazz end of the spectrum, but we are all adept and experienced at playing R&B, funk, and blues as well as jazz. Once we get the jazz repertoire down, we're going to add more songs of those genres, and play now and then at larger venues that require considerable oomph. We like the variety. Meyer's specs have been very helpful in allowing me to know that some of their products would be convenient to use (light in weight) and have performance that would suit both environments. Each system has plusses, and a few minuses, but I don't think that a discussion of those is relevant in this thread.

Please know that my sometimes terse and to the point writing style is in part the result of me trying to do ten things at once, which is what I find myself doing right now!

Sincerely,

W.A.
quote:
Originally posted by Jazzman888:
Your post more or less spells out the fact that it has been a mistake for quite some time now.


W.A.,

As respectfully as I can I'd like to say that I could not disagree with you more. I think you're "putting words in Chris' mouth" by writing that. I’m confident that your intention wasn’t to do so, but that’s how it came across to me. I don’t think anyone at Bose would say that “it has been a mistake” but it can be a source of discomfort … especially for folks who now how to read specs correctly.

Specs are easy to manipulate in the audio world. I'd like to share an example, a company that I hold in high regard has a spec on their speaker that reads, "40Hz to 20kHz frequency response" and in small type below it said "-10db". Do you know what that means? I do. But nobody in my band does. I can tell you that this company went down a few notches on the totem pole the day I saw that for me, but I’ll bet you there’s someone out there right now saying, “Dude, this little speaker plays down to 40Hz.”

The reason we share "Pro" specs is that real pro's know how to read a spec. They can tell you and me why the spec above is misleading. The more you know about specs the more suspicious you are of specs. As we used to say in manufacturing, liars figure and figures lie.

Don't get me completely wrong, I think specs are great (I'm an engineer) but I also know that most consumers THINK they know more about specs than they do, so when I came to Bose and learned that we are reluctant to share specs I was simultaneously annoyed and thrilled. My first spec lesson came in college ~~~~ dreamy fade sequence to me with a mullet in college ~~~~ you see, I went to the local Hi Fi store to buy a new receiver and amp for my sound system and saw all kinds of specs for Watts. I asked the salesman, “Why do you sell 1000W amps, I have a 40W guitar amp that is so loud it can take your head off, I’m confused.” He then did me a huge favor and took me through a 10 minute spec journey that was enlightening … especially for a would-be engineer and musician. ~~~~~ end dream sequence and back to the topic at hand ~~~~~~

On the L1 system I think sharing specs is nearly pointless. Like watts. How can you compare a 100W conventional speaker with a 100W line array? You can't. It's like a 100HP engine in a semi truck versus a motorcycle.

I think we'd turn more customers away with specs if we published them on the box and on our web site. I can imagine this happening a lot, "The L1 system has 750W ... that's not enough, I need 1000W." But not all speakers are created equal. At 60 feet back the L1 will be A LOT louder than the 1000W speaker, right? It's a more efficient sound creation device.

I'm glad Chris has started this topic and I'm eager to see where it goes. Having been on this message board from day one, well day minus one really, and I'm convinced that 95% (or more) of L1 customers have no idea how to understand a spec; sure they can read it, but dig in a little and their knowledge is "heresy" and based on word-of-mouth. Ask them if it’s smart to trade in their 100W amp for a 150W amp and most would say “sure, why not?” It’s not because they are not smart people, it’s because nobody has educated them on how all this stuff really works.

I'm sorry to rant on about this. I actually enjoy this kind of conversation because I was once a “spec head”, which is part of being a “tech head”, but now I know, with absolute certainty that specs are mostly useless and often misleading and I’d love to share that wisdom with more people.

As you said, I’m certain we’ve alienated potential customers by not sharing an abundance of meaningless specs (well, meaningless in that you can’t really compare them to any other portable line array system), I’m also certain that we have not alienated too many folks because of the rapid adoption of the speaker. We are WAY ahead of where the Gibson Les Paul was when it was 3 years old and way, way ahead of the fretted solid body bass guitar (a.k.a., the Fender Precision Bass) which was going up against fretless upright basses (now they had some spec troubles didn’t they). The units sold data cannot be misinterpreted. Smile

Let’s keep this conversation going!

Steve
W.A.

No no no. Don't stop. Not "end of discussion"; actually "beginning of discussion". This is good for all of us. Don't worry about "terse"; it's just a style of writing. I think you've been direct and considerate in presenting your views.

I am not in "marketing" and my statements are mostly personal. I do believe in the liberating qualities of the L1, however. And this is not from the standpoint of a father's unconditional and even blind love for possibly a flawed child. It really does what I (not Bose Corp) says. It really puts us all in the driver's seat, for the first time. I'm an engineer by training (ME), an acoustical engineer by self-teaching and an inventor at Bose. But I have been an active musician since 1966, one foot on the bandstand and one foot in my classrooms in graduate school at MIT. My life is still like this. So, when I wrote about a musician's perspective, that's really from my own personal reaction to musical gear. I've always listened to my instruments before I purchased any.

Au contraire re: alienating musicians. I think the honesty and level-playing-field quality of this discussion should be a big attraction to like-minded musicians. (Sigh; where are the girls?). Most musicians who have been tortured by the TAS most of their lives really do know the L1 has changed their lives, even gotten them to play again.

Keep them cards and letters coming, baby.
Steve,

It seems that you are going right back to square one.

What you wrote in your last post was entirely predictable; and basically a rehash of what you have been saying for eons. This simply provides the same fodder for those who have reacted in a way that causes you discomfort, to react that way even more.

To answer your questions:

Yes, I know what -10db means, and I know some manufacturer's publish a -10db number and withhold a -3db one to look good. But truly well regarded companies don't this. Plenty of musicians understand this, and other specs as well. I know several, and I can point to many, many posts on other forums by musicians who understand this too. Some don't, and others don't care. Do you really want to limit your market? I thought that you were sincerely interested in expanding it.

You did publish the 750 watt spec for the original L1. It's on the CD disc that comes with the unit. You also shared that number on this forum a number of times. So I wonder why you used that as example of what you don't want to do??????

You wrote:

"The reason we share "Pro" specs is that real pro's know how to read a spec. They can tell you and me why the spec above is misleading. The more you know about specs the more suspicious you are of specs. As we used to say in manufacturing, liars figure and figures lie."

This affirms what I referred to in a previous post as a "double standard". It's also a statement that condescendingly and generically condemns musicians to be deprived of information some may find useful.

A simple read of threads in both this and other forums reveals that there are considerable number of musicians who have purchased Pro Sound equipment form Bose. I see no evidence of mass confusion among them.

Also, consider that there are some musicians who have purchased sound equipment without paying any attention whatsoever to published specifications, and subsequently were disappointed by the equipment's performance because they were unaware of it's limitations. These limitations sometimes don't make themselves known in a "trial" situation.

You wrote:

"At 60 feet back the L1 will be A LOT louder than the 1000W speaker, right? It's a more efficient sound creation device."

This statement is one that you might want to reconsider if you want to keep those vociferously vocal, and in some cases extraordinarily knowledgeable and experienced pro sound guys who understand things like speaker sensitivity with regard to line arrays and point source speakers, as well as cylindrical wave behavior, and who also have actual real time experience with both L1's and numerous efficient point source speakers powered by 1000 watts...........off your back. Seriously, this is likely to impugn your credibility bigtime. My very long sentence here is an expression of my concern.

I believe that this thread is just creating more of those same problems for Bose that you described so well in your first post. I'm certainly thinking twice about passing the word about the existence of this thread on to my forum friends at another forum, as you suggested in your first post. You surely don't need yet another round of what has occurred in the past on these forums.

You need to fix your problem by joining other well respected sound companies by publishing specifications for the Bose L1. In this thread, you are just doing the same thing that you've been doing for decades, which will simply perpetuate and exacerbate your existing problems.

Sincerely,

W.A.
Hi there,

First of all let me start by saying I am for sure one of those L1 users that falls into the 'non-technical' category. I have been playing one sort of music or another since I was in a high school band, Rubber Solution, way back in the early 70's.

To me it is pretty obvious. - Music is sound and the best way to judge sound is to listen to it.

I am really fond of car magazines and I understand a lot more of the car specs than I do of the sound equivalent. But I would never go and buy a new car based on what I just read in the latest magazine. Of course everyone would take it for a decent test drive.

It may be that the car that looks good an paper actually drives like crap whilst the best performing car might not even have been featured in the magazine. Would you not choose the excellent driver just because it didn't have the specs in the book ? That would be silly! Really.

At the end of the day - does the thing do what it claims to do ? - The best solution is to
take it for a test drive and let your ears and mind be the judge.

Just my non-technical opinion. All the best, Gordon.
I'm not a tech head at all and when I bought my L1 I didn't even ask how many watts, I bought based on the site advertising and the glowing reviews on the forum.

That said I think bose is making a mistake in thinking that people are just not sharp enough to get that x amount of watts in a bose system is tottally different than x amount of watts/specs in a traditional systm.

This is exactly the argument I've gotten into with pro sound guys or pro sound wannabes. They tottally don't understand the nature of the line array and they compare the straight up listed power. If, right next to the specs you listed why this system, needs less volume, watts, and throws further, then I think a lot of the spec heads would accept it more. It would become another spec and something THEY know.

The site does explain why the L1 works better for most situations, but it should go a little deeper and explain why the line array needs less actual wattage or power or whatever to do the same job.

I think that with each system you should reinforce that difference with a longer users manual that explains why this system works differently. Such as saying something like, " A traditional system would need 3000 watts to get to the back of such and such size room where as because of the line array nature of the bose we only need 750." Explain why the specs on the bose mean different things compared to a traditional system.

Actually that would be another nice marketing thing. You could list the specs of traditional systems that would do the same job. then explain why with less of x why the bose can do the same job or more Then add in the extra cost of mixers and extra equipment the other systems need and of course mention set up time.

You get the idea I'm sure engineers and marketing would do it better than me.

Sure, the product sells it'self after you use it. But, it's a common practice in marketing to send follow up that ensures that the purchaser is happy with his new toy.

P.S. I do know a lot of guitar/bass players that bought riggs just because some spec guy or pro sound guy told them they needed x amount of watts/power or whatever for certain rooms.
I think there is a significant difference between "published them on the box" and "on our web site".

For the Pro sound components, one often has to "dig" a bit for the technical specs (e.g.: pull down a spec sheet, go to a different tab) ... nothing difficult, but it's available if one really wants to find them. That is -- to me -- rather different than putting them "on the box" or even including them in the standard owners manual included in the box.

As far as I'm concerned, once I've purchased, the "performance spec's" are mostly a moot point by then. The only spec's of any use "after purchase" are those detailing the "interfaces": e.g.: the impedance of inputs and outputs, etc., so that one can judge the compatibility with possible external equipment.

So, maybe that's the separation one can make: "interface spec's" and "performance specs". Interface specs are good to have readily available; performance specs only really matter to the "Pro" who is trying to judge "capacity vs venue size" issues; for most, "rule of thumb" usage guidelines are sufficient.

Listeners/musicians don't really care about either -- just the "results".

Most L1 "specs" have been informally made available on this forum -- and thru this forum, one has the opportunity to put that information in the right context and have clarification.

Making specs available, even if not "readily available", does (to me) indicate a degree of openness that is helpful.
You’ve published much about Bose’s line array technology, now I don’t think publishing the specs is going to hurt the technology at all. Furthermore, publishing what the L1 double bass package can do, and having many of the owners testifying that it does exactly what Bose says it can do, has already convinced many (including myself) who have not yet experienced the system for themselves. Regardless of the specs, I’m getting a Bose L1 Model II double bass package to replace a 100 watt acoustic amp and on having to depend on whatever PA system was available for the gig...now, if I think having this technology at my daughter's fingertips is worth 3000$ of my hard earned money, well that’s my prerogative. This coming from an experienced gear junkie (30+ years) who will reveal one of the best kept secrets of all time - that is - that the best sounding guitar amps I ever owned were all under 20 watt tube amps! So, yes, wattage does matter... Wink

I also understand that to amplify a solo acoustic act, one needs to think about ease of use, portability, clarity of sound, headroom and overall performance of the PA system...these are the reasons why I’m so attracted to the Bose system, my daughter who ways 110 lbs will have no problems moving this equipment around, setting it up on her own, playing a 2 hour gig and packing it all up again, all in less than 3 hours, not including traveling time, thank you very much Bose!
Cool
Interesting thread indeed! I like to read some typical specifications as a rough guideline but listening to and actual usage of a product determines wheather or not it is up to snuff.
Any speaker with a 20hz to 20khz response would sound better than any speaker with 45hz to 16khz response right? If specs alone are the guiding law, It would have to. Specs are used to sell a lot of stuff and it seems to work! As
unneccssary as most specs are I still like to read them lol.
quote:
Originally posted by J.G.Nelson:

Any speaker with a 20hz to 20khz response would sound better than any speaker with 45hz to 16khz response right?



J.G., Sorry to use your post as an example of why specs are so misunderstood and often misused by folks like myself, I know you are speaking tongue in cheek.

I can't hear 20khz. I haven't been tested lately but I probably don't hear above 15 or 16K, same with the bottom end, I might feel 20hz but not sure I could hear it. Point being, to my ears I probably couldn't tell the difference between your two speakers. Of course everything else would have to be equal, and usually it isn't, soo.... I believe that those who can tell the difference, are the exception not the rule. That makes the answer to your question, yes, no, maybe, sometimes, not neccessarily, or, only if it's louder.

There is no doubt that Watts sell. There are thousands and thousands of vehicles running around with 1000+ watt systems installed, not because it is neccessary but because watts sell.

I think it is so cool that Bose can get the same acoustic output from the Model II as the Classic, with one third less watts. I'm no engineer but to me that's a huge jump in efficiency. I just wish they could do the same for my car's fuel efficiency, wouldn't that be a gas!

O
Yep, you got it O. I remember being about 14 (30 yrs ago) when how much power a speaker could handle meant everything! Whoever had the highest power handeling rating was king of hi-fi lol. That was the first thing that sparked my desire for the Bose 901's as they were advertised as "unlimited power handeling" and in the fine print they said "in non-commercial applications". I actually liked the sound they produced but back then I needed THUMP and SIZZLE so I purchased cerwin vega.(for about a third of the 901 price) Is MONEY a spec too? LOL that is one spec that comes with every product on every market. After a few years of punishing my ears and auditioning many many speakers, I cast my vote for bose (402's to start with) because critical listening revealed various shortcommings in all of the other speakers that had seemingly better specs. Powerhandeling don't mean much to me anymore and since the L1 appeared specs are all but irrevelant in my experience. I am very pleased with the sound and so has been everone who has ever heard it. I have been asked a few times" how many watts does it put out" which I think is a strange question to ask about something that just blown your mind with clarity and beautiful sound. Nuff said for now.
Part 2, theme and variations.
Well, aside from my sense of exhaustion, I'm thoroughly pleased with the way all contributors have illustrated and validated exactly the points I made in the four short paragraphs of my starting post. (Go back and read it if you like. Was I on target or what?)

We have here indeed "a grievous source of antagonism, mistrust, and deep misunderstanding". I'm sensing "anger" from several directions, although I interpret W. A.'s tone as more disdain than anger: "no matter what you say...", "same precept that allowed NASA scientists to be reasonably confident...", "Your post more or less spells out the fact that it has been a mistake..." (Oddly enough, we have been a supplier to NASA of several audio components for over a decade. They haven't reported any problems with our engineering rigor.) In fairness to W. A., emotions run high on all sides of this issue, and I accept his comment on his "sometimes terse and to the point writing style" as his recognition that he may have caused hurt by writing a bit too hastily. (Yes, it does hurt, W.A. Your veiled barbs hurt me a lot; I'd be more able to pay attention to your points if they were less disparaging in tone. Please take a little more time with your drafts, as many of us do.) So the "pain and frustration" I referred to is clearly here as well, in abundance. And only it took about a dozen posts to get us to the deadlock I referred to. We're not making progress toward getting on the same page.

The question is, do we want to repeat this exercise until we bail out in disgust yet again, or are we now willing to consider a different approach and maybe learn something totally new together? Are YOU ready to try something different? If so, please hold your comments until after my next couple of posts, which go together.

To be continued almost immediately ...
Part 3, trio.
Whenever I've seen a situation like this in the past, both sides have been deeply right about two different important things, but they have been talking past one another, as if only one could be right. But over and over, both have turned out to be right, revealing a new, bigger picture of the way things are. When this happens each side actually "gets" why the other side is also right. Both sides win. I'm committed to that; I will not accept either view "losing" on this thread.

I propose to use a technique that has succeeded many times in getting to the bottom of this type of disagreement. If it is to succeed this time, I will surely need your help and willingness to try it. What I propose to do is take each side of the debate in turn and challenge the other side with questions intended to bring out their ultimate core justification. And make no mistake, each side has such a justification for their views. But you'd be surprised how hard it is to get at, sometimes.

I need two labels for the two sides of this issue and I choose "LaD = listen and decide" and "PtN = publish the numbers".

Since W.A. is the only representative present from PtN, I'm going to challenge the LaD side first.

To be continued almost immediately ...
Part 4, duet.
Here is my challenge to the "listen and decide" group.

I have noticed that even the most devoted L1 users, who actually did "listen and decide", have a voracious desire to understand the product intellectually. I found this out at Big Sur a year ago and it was a complete surprise to me. I think this may be the same as the request for specs and there's something going on that the LaD crowd needs to explain. But, since I have the floor, I'll entertain you with the details before putting them on the hot seat.

When I went to Big Sur, I wondered why Ken had even asked me to go. I mean, I'm a hard-core tech geek and everyone there would be a musician, who had already "listened and decided", so why would they be anything but bored out of their minds by the technical material I had brought? I felt totally out of place and hardly introduced myself the first night.

So the next morning Ken thrust me onto the stage for a one hour technical session. Having no idea what my audience would want to know, if anything, I asked them to ask me questions. The first very timid request was, "can you tell me anything about this array thing to help me understand how it works?" And we were off and running. I answered technical questions about arrays and bass box performance at all available moments over the next two days. Okay, some of it was my theatrical delivery, but you cannot deny that most musicians there had an intense desire to intellectually understand all about this product of theirs. So "listen and decide" wasn't actually the whole story, even for them. We had left out something important.

Now, how is that case different from the more technically oriented user, such as W.A., for whom "intellectual understanding" needs to be specifically quantitative, not just qualitative? Don't those people deserve the same satisfaction of their interest as the musicians at Big Sur? Yes or no? If not, why not?

I'm going to hit this target again from a different direction. Over the years on the forum, members have asked for one specification after another, and generally gotten a complete answer. They have gradually teased out rather a large collection of specs, scattered about on different threads. Given we have been willing to do that, what is wrong with putting it all in one place, say on a specs sheet?

"You may pick up your pencils and begin," as they used to say in my college final exams.
A few cents worth.

$.01 - Long ago when I was in college, I had a music professor who told me to shut my eye's and open my ears. I did, and a new world of the music opened up to me. I heard things that I had never heard before while playing and singing.

I stopped looking at the notes, and became the music. In order for me to do that, I had to know what the notes were, and what they meant, but to actually get past the notes to the music, I had to let them go.

$.02 - Coming from an aeronautical engineering background, I often looked at the spec's of a bumble bee. Aerodynamically, the bumble bee can't fly. It's wings are too small, it's body is not shaped like any flying body in existance, and it is too heavy, but the bumble bee doesn't understand the laws of lift drag, and weight. It doesn't read the spec's, it fly's.

$.03 - When I sold retail electronics, I often used the spec's to get the tech person into a product. I carried a copy of the Audiophile spec's with me all the time so I could answer their questions.

Many times they bought the product, but just as many, they didn't. When I found out that the truly best way to get people into high end stereo systems, is to let them listen to them. I was the top seller of high end gear, and got a reputation for playing it loud and clean.

Now I have a Bose L1. I still play it clean, but not quite as loud as I used to. Smile

My point in this rant is that sometimes, contrary to all our hopes and wishes, there are people that don't like the product, spec's or information that we are trying to sell.

I am not an at Bose person, but you can't please everyone, all the time, and you have to let them go to be with their lovely spec's. As for me, I will be playing my Taylor guitar through my L1 for a long time, and my audiences will love me for it.
I don't think anyone in the world would look at Dr. Amar Bose and think he's anything less than an authority on the subject of audio.

With that in mind, he purchased a set of speakers based upon "SPECS" that, with his fully qualified engineer mind, did not satisfy his musical needs.

From that singular moment came Bose as we know it today.

Specs are nice and easy, but do not speak the truth as much as hering it. To look at a portable line array and try to compare it to any other product on the maret is silly. There are NO other portable line arrays on the market. What could you possibly gain from a numbers game with these "facts"? There is no comparison.

What I know for a FACT is that when my band is playing through the Bose L1 system, we are tighter, more musical, more dynamic, and never have to ask "how did we sound?" after the show.

When we've had to play through a conventional system, I am unsure of my settigs, the mix, and the balance of the overall band. There are NO SPECIFICATIONS that will measure SATISFACTION.
Interesting discussion.

So my thoughts.

When I am in the market to buy something e.g a new Guitar amp or a New PA etc. the fist thing I do is some research to narrow down the field. To Do that I read spec sheets, and visit forums and manufacturers websites etc.

Once I have narrowed down my "short list" to a few I then set about trying them out in person and use the Listen and decide method to make my final choice. I don't have unlimited time to check everything out, nor over here in the UK is it easy to get access to everything you may want to try. Nor incidentally is the Bose "free trial " on offer ( a big mistake if you ask me - but off topic).

I wonder if the lack of Spec's in the L1 product would mean that the product never makes it onto someones "short list" ; Just a thought.

I very nearly didn't get into Bose at all - Last year I needed a new PA system (and was unhappy with My guitar amp set-up). The only Bose PA type product I had ever seen were the 802's ( I guess my research is not as thorough as it should be). I was about to buy Some Triple system gear from other vendors when I happened accross a post on the Line 6 POD users site when someone asked "What is the ultimate guitar/Pod AmP" and the L1 was mentioned as was the site line. Pure luck really.

Then I started getting interested - managed to convince my DUO partner it may be worth a look because of the lack of specs we nearly didn't but I read the 3*250W RMS figure on this forum somewhere (again luck) . We Visited sound control (UK distributor of L1) and set up in the shop and played - - We listened and decided- Awesome - we now have 2 L1's 4 B1's and a Paclite.

So By pure luck I came accross the L1 and it's capabilties.

I guess I'm rambling a bit here but my point is - the lack of some basic spec material could stop people even considering the L1 - and that would be a real shame since the product is awesome. It doesn't have to be really Deep technical specs but Ric's idea made some sense so people who don't understand line arrays but have a rough Idea on what 1500W in a quality conventiaional system will do could do some comparison on the "throw" and spread of the L1.
I know things like a speaker SPL/mW makes a difference etc. So could you do some charts showing some typical scenarios of the L1 + 2 B1's against a similarly powered Triple systems (maybe select a few different SPL/mW rated speakers - going from low Qual cheap speakers to High Qual speakers <without naming names>Wink and then show sound pressures at different distances. this would certainly show people that Watts are not everything.

I think this would have helped me


Just a few thoughts and ramblings

Hope it makes sense and adds something to the discussion

Cheers
JohnNell, Ric, and Dan Cornett, and Van Warp,

Wow! I'm impressed with the reasonableness and the understanding that your well worded posts reflect. You all obviously understand that people have different ways of doing things, and different ways of making decisions. The world is full of diversity, and I think that respect and tolerance for how others live, and what they believe, is a good thing. What I feel is not good is when ways of life and beliefs are forced on others, or when one group denigrates and demonizes another because of what they believe. I've long felt that the world is a big enough place to allow for some diversity. Your fine posts express the wonderful spirit of reasonable tolerance. BRAVO!

In one of my earlier posts on another thread which had some discussion about specifications, I wrote:

"If you are responding to my post, Andrew, gosh, you may want to give it a second read, as I didn't say that specs should be used to judge audio quality. I believe that ears work quite well (at least below 16,000 HZ !), and prefer using them when I can. My point was that it seems that freely providing specs might be good business, and I pointed to evidence that appeared to support this that is visible in previous posts on this forum."

I have not pointed an accusing finger, nor have I made derogatory comments about anybody who prefers to use their ears to aid making decisions about sound amplifying equipment. If I did, I would be denigrating myself as well, since I, too, use my ears to aid my decision making.

What I'm doing is simply making a plea for myself, and others who make decisions the way that I do, to have the information that we like to have in order to make decisions. Bose acknowledges that many Pro Sound people do this, and provide specifications for their convenience (even for MA12 linear array speakers). That's all I'm asking. I'm also aware of the heat that Bose endures, which was well expressed in Chris's first post on this thread. It's my feeling that if specifications for the L1 were available, much of this heat would disappear, and Bose would enjoy an increase in business. I feel that things would be better for all, and that would please me.

Chris, I again felt a breath of fresh air in your last post! My goodness! It looks like the many specifications regarding the L1 that are scattered about this site might be posted in one place. If so, BRAVO!

I also see that you have made some assumptions regarding the gist of some of the things that I wrote. I know that your assumptions have nothing to do with my intent. However I don't mind at all that you write freely about whatever you want to, because I believe that you are a gentleman, and I'm pleased to share a place on this planet with you.

SparkyG, I just read your post! Your process is very similar to mine. You saved me some writing time! Thank you!

Sincerely,

W.A.
I'd like to add my 2 cents' worth.

I was always a specs guy before the L1. I was horribly disappointed a few times by this, but it still seemed like the only way to really gauge a new amp or speaker before I bought it. The funny thing about specs is that my ears usually didn't bear out what the specs said. I bought several products that just didn't have any real punch or were really harsh at different frequencies. The other thing that disappointed me was the mismatch of sounds I got as a result. I'd have really sweet highs with a boxy & boomy low end because I had mixed one sub with another main speaker. I'd try to EQ it or try different crossovers, but I was always on an endless search for better sound.

Then came the L1. A friend told me about it. You know what the first thing I asked him was? "How many watts does it put out?" Then I went to the website & searched for specs to learn more about it. I had little idea what a line array was, so I looked to the fact that the L1 didn't have horns. I figured the highs wouldn't have a good throw because of this. I looked at the small sub & decided it couldn't have decent lows. I'm a little adventurous & like to try out weird new things, but I really figured the L1 would crap out on the low frequencies when pushed, & would not have the throw for the bigger venues & outdoor gigs I do. But my friend told me he'd set it up on his back deck & it sounded really good. Then I saw the 45-day trial & I figured I couldn't lose anything. I'm glad I did of course.

What I'm getting at is that without specs or a personal recommendation I probably would have written the L1 off & never heard it for myself. I would have thought it was some weird Bose idea that wouldn't last. I, like many others here, was not a huge Bose fan although I had several Bose products in my home. I'm not saying that specs should be published, but maybe we're not doing a great job of presenting the system as something fundamentally different if people are still looking for specs. Maybe the ad copy could read: "Forget everything you've heard before & all the specs you've read, the L1 is a new world."

Tom
Not being a pro-sound professional, as some of you are in this forum, I was wondering if there is an “accepted” industry standard for audio specifications? I’m talking about IEEE, UL, etc. sorts of standards. If there is, what is wrong with providing such industry standard specifications for the L1 systems?

I suspect if you did publish specifications which adhered to these standards, it wouldn’t be long before the pro-sound professionals or other able minded individuals would see they were comparing an apple to an orange (based on a TAS vs. a portable line array speaker/amp system).

By the way, I like apples and oranges. For those of you only on an apple diet, you might consider tasting an orange to see if you like it or not. Of course, if your only evaluation method in determining whether you want to try something is by reading the specifications, then you’ll need those specs about the orange before trying it!

Personally, I like living on the “wild side” ever once in a while and just tasting things that look or smell good!

There,,,, I feel better….carry on……
So one addition from me.

I'm not saying Bose should post the specs - that is entirely up the them and their marketing strategies and company policy.

- but what I am saying is posting some choice information may well lead to many more sales and more acceptance of the L1 in the currently "SKEPTICAL" community.


I know if all the people who have asked me about the L1 at our gigs and said they would get one, actually bought one then you got at least another 20 sales. So If I hadn't by luck found the Wattage spec then I may not have checked it out and that may have been some lost sales (maybe not 20 but possibly 5-10)

Anyway food for thought from an ex-engineer come marketer/product manager

Hope it helps
The specification that I found the most interesting was one that Chris, I believe, gave us at Big Sur. He compared the output at the back of the venue between an L1 and what would be required from a conventional PA to match that.

It was something like several thousand watts necessary to produce the same levels for the folks in the last few rows as what an L1 could do with only 750, and then of course you're blowing away the people down front.

It's the 3D view of the specifications as they relate to the entire audience that's relevant, more than simply the raw data coming off the powerstand.
I don't have any stong preference or thoughts as to whether specs are provided. Any question with regard to specs I have ever asked has been freely and kindly answered.

As to the issue of whether freely offering specs could increase sales, I'm not convinced this is true and I'll explain why, but I first want to clarify I'm not suggesting people don't have valid reasons for wanting specs. I'm only speaking to the issue of how specs affect sales.

Most people (decidedly not all) don't really know how to interpret specs. Furthermore, there may be specs that at face value would appear to make the Bose product seem inferior on paper. In the same way that knolegeable people would appreciate specs, might a number of unknowlegable people read the specs and assume it's not suitable without also listening to the product? It's a two-edged sword.

Specs might cause you to purchase and someone else not to. Who's to say which has more impact?

John
I love this thread. I came from the home electronics side of things where, before I knew better, specs meant EVERYTHING to me. I could walk into a store and buy a Record Player (I'm young, but I'm an old soul) just based upon specs and think I was happy.

When I worked in retail, my Bose rep (Todd Barnes) came in and we started talking numbers. I was just as skeptical and, frankly, dissatisfied with his answers. So he did something for me. We took a Lifestyle system and put it in the same room with a VERY nice Mid-Fi home a/v system (that system cost more than the Lifestyle...what I can say short of dropping names). We ran the AdaptIQ software and then did an A/B demo with the two systems.

I was stunned. I had never had the chance to do this. There were two entirely different sounds happening, but each time I liked something about the one, I found something I liked about the other. At the end, it was a push...
except...
the Lifestyle system was smaller, easier to operate, and cost less money than a comparable system from a trio of other manufacturers.

Then Todd told me what he knew of the specs of the Lifestyle system. Watts, etc... If I had seen it on paper, I would have not given it a second thought. But hearing it in that room, that day...look where I am now.

Again, there isn't a fair comparison available. If you see watts, you are only going to able to compare it to a traditional system...not applicable. If you see speaker sensitivity, not comparable because a line array acts differently than a conventional speaker cabinet.

Then you get to add in the little details for which there aren't great specs: Quality of the preamps, 31 band EQ for each mic channel preprogrammed to astound you, portability, ease of setup, audio quality, and on and on.

We WANT YOU to go listen to the system. We crave your participation in checking it out. We know that once you get the point of the practical aspects, how we do it will have zero difference on how much you enjoy the experience.

I recently purchased a 1988 Hamer maple body semi-hollow guitar, mfg in Korea, and loaded with "Duncan Design" pickups. On a spec level, would have blown it off. But I picked it up and played it. I put it in front of an amp to see how bad it would howl and it didn't. I played chords and single note phrases on it that just moved my soul. I noticed a few things about it I could change, so I bought it for about $300 and took it home. I changed the strings, adjusted the neck, intoned it, and adjusted the bridge/action.

That "no way on spec" $300 guitar has replaced my incredibly well spec'd PRS as my main guitar. It is without a doubt the defining musical mate I've ever had in an instrument.

All because I played it.

Music is passion, music is soul, music is innate in us. Numbers are too practical to allow us to evaluate how something can make us fill with joy.

I am filled with joy when I play. If you can show me the formula for that, I'll fall in line elsewhere.
quote:
Originally posted by Chris-at-Bose:

........gradually teased out rather a large collection of specs, scattered about on different threads. Given we have been willing to do that, what is wrong with putting it all in one place, say on a specs sheet?



I think if all the specs were available in one location, those more inclined to make judgements based on specs "could" make the wrong decision because some of the more important specs have no comparison in the current field of available sound reinforcement equipment.

I would think that there is enough noise (talk about the L1) in the market place now that the true tech heads would research line arrays first to better understand the L1 and then realize that even with specs there is just not anything to compare to.

I recall stories told of conversations between Chris and Cliff, and Chris saying "it won't work" based on knowledge available at the time about line arrays. Cliff continued to design and build and Bose has rewritten the book in the last 13 or 14 years.

Quite frankly, to truly appreciate the L1 you have to stand in front of it. (Or possibly be one of the inside designers and truly understand what makes it tick.)

So do the techies deserve the info? Yes, but don't make it easy. Keep it tucked away where only the persistent will find it. Make the journey pass a lot of real life users, so, by the time it is located they will realize this ain't your Daddy's sound system. Smile

O
quote:
Originally posted by Steve-at-Bose:
a company that I hold in high regard has a spec on their speaker that reads, "40Hz to 20kHz frequency response" and in small type below it said "-10db". Do you know what that means? Steve


Would somebody tell me what that means?

O
Hey Oldghm,

It means that between the ranges of 40 Hz (bass) and 20,000 Hz (top end of human hearing when you're young) that there can be as much as a 10 decibel dip in the output at some of the frequencies along the range. 10 decibels is half the volume. Without telling us where the dip takes place, it could be a 10dB dip in the range of your voice, your strings, or your bass...you don't know.
Hi all,

I think that "-10dB" in Steve's example means that the extremes of 40 Hz and 20KHz were the points at which the loudspeakers' otherwise relatively flat response were measured to roll off (be down) by 10 dB. I've seen more loudspeakers' published specs using the -3 dB (barely down) convention than the -10 (way down)...

Chuck
I've seen the -10db spec applied most ofter to subwoofers. They usually give a -3db frequency and then say "usable response" to such and such frequency noted as -10db.

Great thread and I will say I think I could listen to Chris-at-bose for hours on end. I feel like I have learned sooooo much from the Bose team of engineers as well as other forum members.

I'm very happy with the way the L1 performs and probably will always be curious why it does what it does as I find it simply fascinating.
Hi Chris - I certainly admire your efforts toward creating a civil dialogue on this issue, even if I don't quite understand why. I've spent quite a bit of time on the "pro" sound forums, and if you think Jazzman888's tone is disparaging and full of barbs, well... he sounds like Mother Theresa compared to most of those other guys "over there". Without saying a word or doing anything to provoke it, Bose has been the victim of one violent attack after another for many years. You've certainly got your work cut out for you. If you are successful at this, I think we should send you to Washington to see what you can do with our government. Your opening statements reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, from Lou Dobbs - "The White House is behaving with utter contempt for Congress and Congress is acting without respect or regard for this president. Could it be that, at long last, they're both right?"

But I digress - on to your challenge. I may be in a bit of a unique position here, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the "listen and decide" option works just fine. Before I ever saw a photo, a drawing or a written word about the L1, I got to hear it live. I heard The Linemen playing the same type of music I play, using the same type of instruments, at the same volume in the same size room that I typically play. And it sounded fantastic. I was blown away. At that point, there wasn't a spec in the world that would have changed my mind about the system... other than that one spec mentioned earlier - the price tag. And I didn't need to see any specs - it had just been proven to me and my ears beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would work for me and my band. What difference could the numbers possibly make at that point? Now, if I had not had the opportunity to hear it in context, and had to base my purchase decision on written word and photos, would the specs have made a difference? Possibly - but that's not what you asked. You asked if the "listen and decide" works without spec sheets, and yes it does. And yes, I did my research, asked my questions and wanted to learn as much about the system as I could. But the "specs" never played a big role. It was more about real world uses, connectivity issues, end user control options and things like that. The speaker sensitivity and efficiency ratings never entered into the equation. I had already listened and decided about the volume and quality.

Don't get me wrong - I've still got FOLDERS full of spec sheets from my old system. Every power amp, speaker, EQ, compressor, crossover and even cables that I ever owned were fully investigated prior to purchase. But we need to think about this for a minute. WHY did I spend all that time and effort mulling over specs? Because all the old triple systems are COMPONENT systems assembled from a dozen different manufacturers that require everything to work together. All impedance matching, system balancing connectivity and gain staging was critical to insure good results. The L1 is an INTEGRATED system, where all that work has been done for us so we no longer need to think about it. Come on, guys, there's not a single wire to have to think about connecting, other than the power cable. Why would I possibly care what the ohm rating per L1 section is? I don't need to know. And if you look around this forum, the VAST majority of people who have had problems with this system have had them because they introduced external components not native to the integrated L1 system. That's what the designers were trying to help people avoid (like I'm telling YOU something you don't know!) The people who use the system as it was designed have VERY few, if any issues. It works.

Now these "pro" sound guys, who are really at the heart of this spec issue are a different story. They pride themselves on knowing this stuff. They live for it. They feed on it like piranhas. There is an undeniable "mine is bigger than yours" attitude toward their equipment and their knowledge of its complexity. If you suddenly take all that away from them, what is left? You may as well rip their heart out through their ribcage. They don't want a small, easy system. The bigger and more complex their systems are, the more highly they are regarded in the chest pounding circles. The real thing that they don't understand is that the L1 is NOT A P.A. SYSTEM! You simply can't compare the L1 to anything else that they have ever known. Not in design, not in application and not in specs. Even adventurous open minded right brain creative-type musicians have a hard time grasping that. I really don't expect a soundman to get it. It took me quite a while to truly understand and appreciate the beauty of simplifying my equipment to MAKE THE MUSIC BETTER. But I listened. And I decided. And I'm glad I did - and so are my bandmates and my audiences.

The bottom line here is that this discussion can really come down to a couple of sentences: "I think it is hurtful to your business to not publish specs." The thousands and thousands of words following that are really just repeating that sentiment over and over and over (and over and over). And Bose will make their decision and respond accordingly. Bose is well aware of the perception out there regarding this - and they can run their company however they see fit. My guess is that they feel the specs will scare away more people than they will attract. In that case, it's a good business decision to avoid them. I don't think many of us are successfully operating $1.7 billion dollar companies of our own. So I'm guessing that they know a little more about how to do it than we do.

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