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Bose Questions

ScharfR@aol.com asked:

> Over time, I have read a lot of commentary on Audi's various Bose systems -
> much of it negative.  Also a lot of negative on Audi radios/speakers/antennae
> in general.
> Is there any way to separate the wheat from the chaff?  I admit to having
> sub-audiophile ears, so I'm not capable of giving anything more than a lay
> persons evaluation.  Several questions come to mind:
> 1.  What is wrong with the Bose systems? I'd prefer a technical answer, but
> recognize that subjectivity comes into play in all listening evaluations.

As one who has generated more than his share of the chaff, I will 
comment.  (You guys knew I would.)  IMO, the stock Bose system is NOT 
all that bad.  It lacks high-end response, but I could live with 
that.  It does have copious bass, which most systems lack.  

*My* problem was that the Bose radio was very lacking in receive 
sensitivity on FM, and it was PITIFUL in AM reception.  This was 
compounded by the diversity antenna system, consisting of in & on the 
glass antennas.  The lack of reception sensitivity was  what moved me 
to change the radio AND install a power antenna on the rear fender 
(which my 84 5KT had, with wonderful reception!)
> 2.  Is there a heierarchical process to follow in seeking improvements? (i.e.
> rip out the loudspeakers, rip out the radio head, rip out the antenna ...)

The problem is that Bose send an approximate line level feed to the 
speakers and builds amps into each speaker.  The clever enclosures 
they use are also designed to make it difficult to replace speakers 
with non-Bose models.  Nor does Bose publish their speaker 
characteristics (power, resistance)  so it's hard to replace their drivers 
with your own because you don't know how the system will react.

This results in a "knocking-over-dominoes" situation when you start 
playing with the system.  Change the radio and you have to deal with 
the amp and speaker setup.  Adaptors to convert the output from 
standard radios (amplified)  to line-level are available from Crutchfield 
at $90, (and I've heard of another $200 unit, but not the source) but 
they seem to work OK with SOME Bose units, but not with others.

In my case, the Bose adapter left a high level of hiss at all times, 
made alternator whine audible, and created a  very loud POP every 
time I turned off the radio.  This last was a grounding problem which 
I spent about six hours on the phone with Crutchfield (on them, via 
their 800-number) trying to work out - unsuccessfully.  Unit returned 
for refund.

OTOH, remember if it doesn't work, you CAN return it for a refund.

Possible heirarchy of fixes:

1)  Upgrade radio; deal with adapting to speakers as you can.

2)  Unplug Bose amps and wire new radio direct to speakers, 
eliminating amps, thereby eliminating need for $90+ adaptor.  This 
results in a system lacking highs even MORE than originally.  I am 
working on solutions for this.  This solution REQUIRES a radio 
capable of driving speakers in the 3-ohm range; check radio specs 
before installing.

3)  POSSIBLE: install new coaxial speakers in palce of Bose units to 
add highs.  (Have not done this...might be lowest-cost fix, but will 
NOT solve problems with radio sensitivity.)

4)  Add new fender-mount antenna to replace on & in-glass types, 
improving radio reception.  (SOME users do have acceptable reception 
without replacing the antenna; SteadiRic is one such fortunate.)

5)  Add crossover(s) and amp(s) to drive old or new speakers.
> 3.  Are there economical alternatives, or does one have to spend large
> dollars to replace an already expensive system?

The domino effect is the problem.  Change the radio and you must deal 
with its incompatability with the amps; adaptor or bypassing amps is 
then required.  Try to replace speakers only and you have no idea how 
the Bose system will handle them.  My opinion is that if you use 
4-ohm or 3-ohm speakers which fit, you could probably replace the 
Bose speakers with coaxials and improve the highs without changing 
the radio; speakers in ththe 3-4 ohm range should work OK with the 
installed Bose amps.  BUT - Bose works hard to select speakers for 
doors and dash which are unusual sizes and have unusual bolt mounting 
patterns - therefore, they require creativity to replace.

Bose has done their best to force you to live with ALL of the system 
or replace ALL of it.

> 4.  Are there Bose defenders out there?  (Is it possible that Bose is fine,
> but some folks just like to spend/tweek/fiddle?)

For the average listener, Bose is a good solution.  You could do as 
well or better yourself, but most people won't bother - so it's a 
good option for them.  For people as perverse as I, or who want real 
fidelity to their music, it leaves something to be desired.  SO - to 
some degree, the answer to these last two questions are Yes and Yes.
> Not trying to start a "radio war", just want to have a better level of
> information for my next purchase. Polite responses gladly accepted.

Al Powell                           Voice:  409/845-2807
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