Originally Posted by otherc
I just sold a Bose 321 GS series iii (yes i commit that mistake of bought it, but it was my first contact with the hifi world, now i have denon and B&W) and realized that i keep a sheet of paper saying among other things the next:
"...We strive to reproduce the musical sounds as closely as possible to those of the original performance. And we strive to avoid flashy sounds, such as those associated with accentuated bass and/or treble frequencies. While those sounds may be initially attractive to the novice, they are not real and are not enduring..."
What does Bose are refering to that statement???
In the world of high-quality audio reproduction, formerly known as "hi-fi", you ideally want to have a flat frequency response. That is, if you plotted the frequency response of the unit on a graph, you would see essentially a flat line. When you see a frequency response rating of something like 20-20KHz +1db -2db, it means that the actual measured response doesn't vary by more than 1db in the positive direction and 2db in the negative direction from that flat line.
The only problem is that a device with such a response probably sounds kind of dull, even though it might be very "accurate". Most people prefer more bass and treble (a boost and the low end and the high end), especially when listening at low volumes.
Stereo receivers used to have a "loudness compensation" switch that would boost the highs and lows at low volumes, although most people kept it switched in place all the time. It was to make up for the fact that we perceive less bass and treble at low volumes. The loudness compensation circuits worked according to what was known as the Fletcher-Munson curve.
What Bose is referring to is the fact that they claim their systems have a very accurate response, rather than pushing the lows and highs to ridiculous extremes. Think of the guy in the hot rod with the giant bass speakers in the trunk with the levels turned up so that it rattles all the metal in the car.
Many decades ago, I sold audio equipment at retail. At the time, AR, which made incredibly fine and accurate speakers had at the bottom of the line a $49 speaker ($278 in 2012 dollars). Great speaker...I owned a pair. At the store, we had that speaker as well as a competing $49 "house brand". The AR was the better speaker. The house brand had more bass and treble, which doesn't mean they produced lower or higher frequencies than the AR - it means that at certain low and high frequencies the volume was pushed up. People would come in and ask for the AR and would be resistant to even audition the house brand. But once they did, they would always go for it. Most people don't like accuracy. It's the same as when you go to an electronics store and they have the brightness, contrast and color turned up on the TVs instead of showing a properly calibrated picture. They do that because that's what sells.
My problem with Bose is not that they claim to strive for a flat response. It's that they charge a lot of money for products that have very shoddy construction. My ex had a Bose System which comprised of a tiny control amp with a built-in CD player, small satellite speakers and a subwoofer. It didn't sound terrible, but the head unit was made of cheap plastic and the CD player couldn't have cost them more than $5 to make. It died after just a few years. Now she just drives computer speakers from her Mac either using iTunes or Pandora and she's more than happy with that.
On the high-end, Bose has made some good speakers. At J&R Records in New York, they have old Bose speakers in the back of the store and something else, maybe JVC speakers, in the front. When you're in the front, you think it sounds okay until you walk into the back where the Bose speakers have an extended, but accurate, high-end response and they're much smoother overall and sound far better. Then you walk back in the front and you realize how much you're missing.