system sounds as if it is compressed

Thank you everyone for all your input and help over the last few weeks.
Unfortunately I have now gave up hope on my L1, and have been using a hire pa for my last few gigs(as my old pa was sold to fund the L1).The bose im sure is a fantastic product but def not for me.
It got to the point where I absolutely hated going to a gig and using it because of its limitations, in fact I feel a bit duped by believing the hype, just wish I had spent more time researching and even reading more in this forum (seems i am not the only one who experienced the same probs).
Im sure at the same time the bose is marvelous in a concert venue where the audience is attentive and listening quietly, but not in the bar/club environments that I perform at.I am going to try to sell it privately after the christmas period and hopefully get some of my money back.

As for the people in this forum, I want to thank you for all your help and taking the time to reply to my posts

Hi Davy,

It is really disappointing to me that you have been unable to use the L1 for your shows. I know it is not for everybody, but still mystified that it seems not to be loud enough, because I know some folks who use the L1 very, very loud.

Whatever your next step is I wish you the best of luck.

I would love to be able to see and hear you perform in one of the venues that has given you trouble, but Northern Ireland is a bit far to go for a pint. If you ever have a chance, record a tune or two live and share them with us.

Best Wishes,


edit to correct spelling
Man, I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out for you!

I am also very surprised that you are unable to get the volume you need, I have played some huge venues with my L1 over the last 6 years. In fact, we just played a huge convention center 2 weeks ago for a crowd of 700, and every lick of our performance was easily heard by all, all the way to the back wall. We ROCKED the place! Cool

One thing we did learn early on, was that it takes a lot less volume with L1 systems to get a great mix of sound to the back wall Wink

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in whatever road you decide to take in regard to your gear!

Best Wishes,
Guys thanks for replying and your kind comments wishing me all the best,
Gonna persevere another while, its obvious I am doing something wrong judging by the venues that you have used the L1 in, I mean its just too expensive a product not to be professional.
Have a few gigs over the next few days so will take another go at it and will report back soon.

Again thank you all and happy holidays.

Glad to hear you aren't giving up yet!

It would be great if it were simply"operator error", but in reading through this thread, it seems you are doing everything you can do to get the system to perform at the level you need. At this point, you absolutely cannot rule out some type of gear malfunction.

Here is a link to a bar gig we did, the night after we played the convention center. Notice that the lead vocals have no problem cutting through using my Model II, as well as the second guitar parts on my Keytar. After gain staging, I probably had the trim on the mic channel at about 7, the channel volume at 6, and the Master volume at maybe 5 (I'm just "best guessing" here). I use a Sennheiser wireless headset mic (super-cardioid), so I have no way to avoid "eating the mic", which I'm sure helps. Everyone's vocals were direct into their individual T1 units, and completely flat just running the presets (no fx).

This was filmed with a camcorder set on a shelf in the back of the room, so not the best sound quality, but good enough to show that the system handled the gig effortlessly: Bombays Gig

Best Wishes,
Hi everyone,
A small update for you all,
I used the bose for 2 gigs this weekand have had better results, why you ask? because i kept the system turned down.
Brief description of settings:
Channel 1 = mic: trim 6 channel vol 6
Channel 4 = tracks: trim 4 channel vol 7
and master volume at 5 (50%)
I find that any more volume (whether on channel volumes or master volume)and the mic compression sneaks in,although it sounded quiet on stage with me, the audience seemed happy enough and danced all night, dont know though what it sounded like at back of room but no complaints from them either.
I have to think of this system in an entirely different way than my old pa I believe, was very happy with the system for these gigs but still have the desire to turn it up though.
The two gigs were both in a bar/lounge type venue, not really that big a venues, but would still love to try another system to ease my mind.

Hey Davy, glad you're starting to make some head-way. Where are you standing in relation to the L1 and at what distance. I still need to do some experimenting with my system, and have had some compression issues myself, as I mentioned before. I'm still a relatively new user and trying to learn as I go. I may be off base with this thought, it's something I intend to test, but I think there may be a correlation between the distance of the mic(s) to the L1 and the headroom that is available. Do you ever get a chance to sound-check at any of your gigs. I'm just wondering how loud you can get the backing tracks when there's no open mic. I'm wondering how much added signal from the L1 into the mic affects the headroom before compression, and if it does have an impact whats the best strategy to deal with it. Is there only a limiter on the pre amp? Or is there another later. One experiment I intend to try is backing way off on the trim and making up the gain at channel and master volume stages, just to see. Another thing I will try is body position, maybe my body can act as a shield to reduce the amount of L1 level bleeding back into the mic. One of the key features of the system, consistent level at greater distances actually makes this more difficult. Anyway, good luck and keep posting your findings, if I come up with anything useful I will post as well.
Hi Litesnsirens,
I now set the bose up beside me and slightly behind, just as I used to do with my old pa, I find the mic doesnt feedback as easy now.
As for compression, the system is great with one thing running ie,backing tracks, but when another source is added ie vocals thats when the compression/limiting occurs.
For example, Last gig I had the master set at 5 (50%) and adjusted the channel volumes accordingly to get the mix right. No compression or feedback was experienced until i turned the master up a little bit more (as the night went on and crowd got bigger and I felt i needed a little more volume to compensate for this).
And discos are awful, dont get me wrong the music playback is great but there is a stage where the system just doesnt get any louder as you turn up and when you try to get a bit of audience participation by announcing over the mic its then you notice that the mic sounds as tight and compressed and lost in the mix.
I believe, as do many of my fellow musicians who have heard me using the Bose, that this system is not designed as a conventional pa but to be used as part of a band whose members are using a system each, thus resulting in not too many sources being played through every system.
I have got to the stage now where I just go and do the gig, get paid and come home,the enjoyment has somewhat diminished.

Originally posted by Renegade:
As for compression, the system is great with one thing running ie,backing tracks, but when another source is added ie vocals thats when the compression/limiting occurs.

Basically, this is what I said a bunch of posts ago. Smile And it is why I use three "systems" (each one is a L1m2 and 2 B1s) for any large gig. One for the drum track, on for the backing track, and one for the vocals. Since the L1 system was designed to be used as on system per musician, the closer you can get your backing tracks to that, the happier you will be. I have a three piece gig coming up on Thursday (I am adding a sax and guitar to my backing tracks and vocals), and I think I will bring my 2 L1 Compacts in addition to the 3 L1m2, to keep their sounds from forcing mine into compression.
Makes me wonder where in the chain the issue is. Like if it's cacking out somewhere in the T1, or in the power stand. I know on some level it may not make a difference, but it might hold the key to figuring out how to squeeze a little more out of the system before hitting the wall.
I was actually a little more hopeful after my last gig with the L1, I was getting a bit of the compression but it was sporadic and my vocal level was really loud. We were running 3 vocal mics and a kick drum through the L1. So we were working it. When I can set it up to get stupid loud and no compression I will feel like I have a grasp on this system. Not that I need to be stupid loud, I just want to be able to so that I have everything less at my disposal.
Of course if I had 3 or 4 L1 systems, I would probably not be experiencing any issues, but I am determined to get more out of the system than it was designed to deliver. It's a brilliant piece of gear, I just need to learn to use it.
Originally posted by Litesnsirens:
Makes me wonder where in the chain the issue is. Like if it's cacking out somewhere in the T1, or in the power stand.

The primary issue seems to be the vocal, and if I read Davy correctly this can happen when he turns the T1 Master up.

In my mind this doesn't sound like system compression. (my mind is not the best in the world so I might be off base here)

If the Master volume causes the sound of compression it should be just as noticeable in the tracks as in the vocal.

I wonder if it is possible that Davy is either forcing the vocal channel into clipping when he senses he needs to speak or sing louder to get over the audience noise level, this might be very easy to do running through the harmonizer, and still possible when not using it.

Or, .....

"system sounds as if it is compressed" is just part of acclimating to the L1's clear and aritculate vocal reproduction.

Very hard to diagnose / troubleshoot in this medium, but easy to throw out ideas to think about.

Whatever the case, Davy, I'm glad to see you're still messing with it. I think it will come together to your satisfaction in time. Hang in there and keep tinkering.

From experience,I have come to terms that to get high volume from the L1 in large crowds and venues,the one system per musician design is a must.Backing tracks usually consist of two main instruments,bass and drums and must be viewed as a musicians output.L1 compression is a protection and very real.Being that several L1s have been used to the same result,stick to the intended design for success.Trying to get by with less may leave you in disappointment.IMHO.
Right on J.D.! The folks who end up disappointed with the Bose system, usually bought it to replace their existing speakers on a 1:1 ratio. You can't do that. It is not a new type of speaker. It is a new type of approach. So you need to replace the approach in addition to the equipment. I know this because I made the same mistake and learned from it. I am still compromising a bit as my backing tracks consist of 6 midi channels/instruments and I have the five non-percussion all going to one L1 system. But the vocals and drums each get their own. I know it is frustrating to read these boards, get caught up and buy a system, only to find out you need another one. But you will not be happy until you buy another one. is there a Bose store near you? I know here in the states there is a 45 day money back guarantee. Or better yet - is there someone near you who will lend you one more system for one gig? Put the backing tracks in one and the vocals in another and I think all your problems will go away.
As an aside, there are a number of tips to help with feedback that the T1 can do. From paraEQ to a Gate. And getting a second unit will help with that too. With the backing track unit off to the side a bit, it will not overpower (or compress) your vocals in your vocal unit, and you will not have to turn your vocals as high.
Hi guys,
Thanks for your replies,I am now completely fed up,especially to hear that the systemm wont do what I am looking.
I researched and read everything about the L1 before I purchased and never came across the fact that it doesnt replace a pa system. I have spoken to countless bose guys both from bose uk and bose ireland and they never once mentioned this fact (even after explaining the scenario I would be using it in).
I have sold my old pa and scraped up the remainder of the £2800 price tag for the system only to find now I may need a second one.
This is just not acceptable, I just dont have the money to do so!
I do understand that this is just your opinion and not from bose but would love someone from bose to verify your opinions.
The dealer I purchased from never mentioned this and I was told it was the perfect set up for my needs (unless that was their sales pitch and I was hooked in)

Hello Renegade,
Sorry to hear about your disappointment in the L1.Please go to this link

for an explanation of the L1 approach,"multi-mono" as explained by Ken Jacob Senior Research Engineer with Bose.When a band plays acoustically with no amplification it is multi-mono as well,just louder with L1 approach.It is very informative.
While it's true that the system is designed to be used in a 1 unit per musician manner, many musicians sing and play an instrument, some of them even drums. I can say from experience that I can crank the volume very loud playing mp3's through the system with no compression. Music that includes many and any instruments and vocals. Davy has said that he can crank the backing tracks w/o his vocals and get acceptable levels. So it would seem that the system can get loud enough for alot applications, especially the size of venues most of us are doing.

Now I totally get that splitting instruments off into other systems will help. Mathematically it makes sense, less material through the system = less chance to engage the protective limiters. Just the same way it would help the feedback issues I sometimes face when running multiple vocals through a single L1.

But what we are trying to discover here is whether we can achieve the same volumes that we can get running mp3 or backing material, when using the system in a live music application.

So, right off the bat one thing comes to mind, the mp3 music, or cd, whatever, is derived from studio recordings where there was most likely a compressor on the vocal, and then mastered where compression would be added to the entire track. This is to bring the overall level up without spiking into overdrive. So could a pre-emptive strike help? Adding your own compression, that you are controlling would not cause the same squashed sound that the protective limiter produces. But it might prevent the spikes that cause the limiter to engage. Just a thought.

Another question I have is in regards to the B1's. I have read many times on this forum that the more B1's you have the more head room you have. I also understand the concept of the system automatically dropping the level of the bass frequencies when you go to 2 or 4 B1's in order to keep the overall tonal balance. So my question is does it add overall headroom or just bass headroom? I certainly don't want to advocate spending more money because if it doesn't work it's going to add to the frustration, but a couple more B1's and the little power amp would be about 1/3 the cost of another complete L1 system.
Renegade , try this. take the T/M compleatly out of the picture. Hopefully you have access to a mixing board. Just set up your rig thru the board and into the T1 base. If your trim level is right this should tell you if there is an issue with the TM module or the base unit.
I haven't got to play out with my rig yet but in our practice shack we have 4 musicians playing rock and blues thru the unit and it's as loud as our old $7000 PA unit we used to play thru.
We need to remember this thread started out with a title of "system sounds as if it is compressed".

There are many things in the chain of events / gadgets / gain and eq settings, that can make a system "sound as if it is compressed".

In my experience it takes much less power from a system to reproduce a recording than it does to reproduce live musicians. For that reason I don't personally think Davy is asking more of his system than it is capable of giving. Of course I'm not there and have no way of knowing for sure.

I would encourage Davy and any one else having difficulty with a new system to start with a blank slate. Do the least amount of signal processing as possible. Choose presets where appropriate and leave eq controls flat. Bring the system to performance volume before any effects or eq is added. Don't double eq, as in using the harmonizer and the T1 both for eq.

It is much easier to ruin the open natural sound of a vocal or acoustic guitar with eq, than it is to improve the same.

I agree with O..

I recently did sound for a church play (during Christmas Eve). I only had 2 L1MII systems with an Allen & Heath mixer. I used a T1 to provide Reverb and Delay effects for the entire board. There were 13 Microphones and 5 instruments hooked up to the board. And they sounded wonderfully. Of course, I did not leave all of them on all the time. Depending on the act, I turn them on/off accordingly. There were time that performers walked right in front of the L1 systems with microphones and no feedback was experienced. The level of the whole system was adequate for the whole church.

I don't think a traditional PA system can provide the same result.
Hi guys,
Just finished the christmas "tour" and gonna give you all my final verdict.
The Bose is a fantastic product, stylish, durable, and reliable but lacking in the volume department (mine is anyway, waiting to try another system).
I know a few of you have told me that it doesnt replace a conventional Pa while on the other hand Bose themselves have said otherwise.
I would at this point tend to go with the former of these two, system protection is my problem, I have tweaked, adjusted and tried about every thing to get the sound i need but no good.
Small venues 20-30 people are great but anything more and the system struggles.
I find that after everything is gain staged there is a certain point where the system does go into protection mode, dont get me wrong, I am happy this protection feature is in the Bose but would love to have a little more headroom before it does so.
I have not used the tc helicon harmonizer for any of my gigs over christmas to see if the mic problem could be sorted, but unfortunately it is no good.
I find it very hard to explain in writing here what the problem is I am facing but will give it a go.
With the master vol at 50% I adjust my trim for each individual channel and then use the channel volume to mix the sound.
I get the mix to a low/moderate level and start the show and adjust channel volume levels to performance volume,which usually leaves the channel volumes at roughly the 50% setting.
I now have the master at 50% and the channels at roughly 50% (nothing going into red, just green/amber).
Any attempt to go beyond this volume either by turning up master or channel volumes results in the dreaded mic "squeezing" sound,(protection is coming on because sometimes the tracks loose a bit of volume and come back up again after a few
I am having sleepless nights wondering what I am doing wrong and why the mic seems to be the only problem (maybe the tracks are compressing too but not as noticeable)
On new years eve I was out performing with my two piece band (using Martin rig) and after we decided to do the disco with the bose so that we could dismantle the 2 piece gear and pack it into van.
The room held 200+ peolpe and the Bose handled this no prob (to a certain point where the system wouldnt get any louder no matter how you turned it up)but once a mic was added to announce a few requests thats when the compression started (had to mute the disco to do requests or else the mic just was not heard).
It is a strange situation and I am at a lose tring to work out what could be wrong.
Are the tracks too punchy? I really dont know.

Originally posted by Renegade:
...The room held 200+ peolpe and the Bose handled this no prob (to a certain point where the system wouldnt get any louder no matter how you turned it up)...
At this point, you are getting all that one system will produce -- at least with 2 B1's. I suspect, especially disco music, that you are hoping for more bass. One solution is to add an "extended bass package (a Packlite amp and two more B1s) or an external powered bass speaker (both of which are run from the Bass Line Out on the L1). Either way, that would allow you to "get more bass" (which most equate with "louder") without pushing the L1 column to its limit.

Just a thought: are you sure both B1's are working? Can you clearly hear sound coming from each B1? Maybe one of them is not working, and that might explain A LOT of your volume issues.

Once you are pushing the L1 System (in this case, L1 Model II and 2 B1's) with just the "tracks" (music), then this:
...but once a mic was added to announce a few requests thats when the compression started (had to mute the disco to do requests or else the mic just was not heard).
... is entirely understandable -- and would actually be true of any speaker/amp configuration with built-in protection. You just can't push them past the design-in limits.

As an aside: many conventional PA's allow this by either distorting the "over-max" sound or letting you operate in the "risky zone" where much of the time you can be loading the equipment "too hard" - but with the risk of blowing some circuit or component or speaker somewhere.

...Are the tracks too punchy?...
This is what made me wonder if:
(a) both B1's are working.
... and / or ...
(b) you just need more than 250w of bass volume to meet your expectations.
Hi Dan,thank you for your reply,
The bass is certainly not the problem, this machine is fantastic at producing bass end. The prob I am having is that it goes into protection at too low a level for my backing tracks for the one man show I do.
It is amazing at a certain level, vocals are crisp and clear , but once I try to turn up the vocals get compressed.
The Bose is definetly a different system than what I am used to, and maybe my ears are not accustomed to that yet.I do understand as well that the volume doesnt need to be as loud now to carry throughout the venue, wheras the old pa I had was loud on stage to fill the room and maybe that is what I am basing my opinions on.
Below is a few vids I recorded last weekend in a reasonably big bar I perform at.
I recorded it with a FLIP video recorder placed on a shelf about 20 feet away, this is the system not compressing (any louder and the problems start)

Just to give you all an idea.
It actually sounds loud on the videos but isnt on the stage .

Sounds good to me, both the performance and the system. From the perspective of where you have the camera/mic, you're way above the crowd noise and everything sounds nice and clear. That said, I understand that not being there and not hearing it from your perspective, it's not fair to comment. How about next time trying the mic/camera even farther away? See if from that perspective it's still cutting it and clear. It might at least give you some piece of mind that out front your being heard clearly.
Hi Davy,
Thanks for the videos. The flip camera apparently has auto record level which messes a bit with the dynamics of your performance but it can't hide the quality voice and guitar playing.

The mix seems very good to my ear. The guitar disappears from time to time, but your vocal stays out front and on top, I liked it.

It is hard to tell in the video but it appears there is an opportunity to get a bit closer to the mic. The last inch in front of the mic could be worth 10dB or more. I think working lips touching the mic was the hardest adjustment for me to make but it is worth it if you can make the change.

When the music gets soft, the camera changes it's record level and begins to pick up the audience, but when you are performing at a moderate level the audience noise seems pretty much in the background.

Based on my experience I'm betting you can still hear the audience, and possibly quite a bit more than you did when using conventional equipment. That is another part of getting used to the L1. Because the sound field is more uniform throughout the room it might seem as if the audience is louder, or you need to raise your level to get across, but if you work with it long enough you will get used to hearing the audience and maybe even learn to appreciate the fact that they can pretty much talk at reasonable levels and listen to you at the same time.

I do understand as well that the volume doesnt need to be as loud now to carry throughout the venue, wheras the old pa I had was loud on stage to fill the room and maybe that is what I am basing my opinions on.

Davy, I think you are on the right track here, there is definitely a huge adjustment from performing with conventional gear. As a 4 piece rock cover band, we were used to having to blast the mains to get the sound to the back of the room.

One advantage we had is that we always had a loose body that could walk to the back when we were soundchecking, so we quickly got used to performing at lower levels.

We soon found that both the patrons and club owners in general liked the sound of the new gear; customers didn't have to yell to get their drink orders, or to converse. And overall, the fine details of the music were actually better appreciated.

Great videos, your sound is clear and crisp, very impressive for a simple open mic camcorder.

Best Wishes,

Just wanted to revive an old thread that has helped me tremendously. I, too, was having system compression trouble like the OP. After reading DrumrPete’s reply, I have turned up the master on my T4S to 2 o’clock, controlling the overall volume for each channel on their respective channel gains. I have run this system (L1S) much louder than previously, with ZERO compression trouble. Still fighting a little feedback from my lead singer’s mic, but I’m searching thru threads to help me with that. So glad I found this thread. 


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