Bose L1, backing tracks, laptops and mp3 players

Thanks to Rita for this question about the Bose L1, backing tracks, laptops and mp3 players…

Hi Guys,

What an informative site – amazing.

I read about the L1 Model (Kenny’s article).

I have the latest model but unlike his friend, I have never used the earlier model. I am really pleased with my Bose system, but then again I only do small audiences of up to 100-150.

I only have one base box and Kenny’s article has concerned me a bit now as I’m soon to be singing in a 200+ sized club. Will it be enough?

I’m a solo artist using ipod so hopefully output will not be too limiting? Kenny’s input would be great if he gets a moment, i.e. should I buy another base? I certainly cannot afford another system in its entirety, having only just paid off my last instalment!!!

I would also like to ask Kenny to give me some techno info about what type of laptop to buy, completely off the record so to speak. I’m presently using a 5th generation ipod. My budget is limited. I have been told I can simply go and buy a laptop off the shelf around £300 and it should be fine for playing back backing tracks (using itunes or similar).

After googling I came across an article saying the Intel Pentium Processor (as used in Centrino laptops) are an excellent choice………need less fan cooling, quieter and more portable? Kenny’s advice would be a blessing, even if he gives me a couple of models to check out.


Rita B

Hi Rita

One of the most important things you need to take in to account when deciding how loud something needs to be is not just the size of the venue and the amount of people in your audience, but also how NOISY the audience will be.

I have personally played in a large restaurant (200 people) where the crowd were very quiet and attentive and didn’t need much volume.

Conversely I have played in a small lounge half that size with less than 100 people and needed twice as much volume because of the audience shouting, screaming, singing along, and dancing on the tables – they were a real lively bunch at that gig!

If you have a noisy audience, then you have to play at louder volumes to get your music to project above the noise of the crowd.

So, you need to look at 3 things:

1. The size of the venue

2. The amount of “bodies” in the audience

3. How noisy/lively you expect that audience to be

Larger venues will generally need more sound. The amount of people in an audience is very important because bodies “soak up” the sound so louder music is necessary to get above a noisy crowd. If you play too quiet, your gig will lack “atmosphere”.

I’d be very surprised if one 500w Bose L1 will be enough to fill a room with 200+ people. Even if that audience are relatively quiet and attentive, I still don’t think 500w will be enough amplification to get your music loud enough to create an atmosphere.

Regarding your question about laptops, laptops which contain an intel pentium processor have always been considered better for playing music. It’s not so much for reasons of cooling because cooling depends more on the reliability and efficiency of the fan serving the processor rather than the actual processor itself.

It’s more because intel processors have historically been better at floating point calculations – they do them very quickly and efficiently…and that’s good for music production.

However, we’ve come a long way from the old days of slow processors, rattly fan systems, slow floating point calculations, and small RAM memory, so none of this is much of an issue these days. So your friend is correct – a budget laptop could very well do the job just fine for you.

More important when buying a laptop is the quality of the soundcard in the laptop.

The better the soundcard, the better the quality of the sound it’ll put out.

For live music purposes, any small differences in quality are usually fairly unnoticable except when listening carefully through headphones. Again this gets back to the noise of the crowd in a live music venue easily overpowering any artefacts in your sound and rendering them pretty unnoticable.

Most singers I know tell me that they get just as good results from a budget laptop as they get from a more expensive high-end laptop.

In saying that, if the soundcard is too cheap it WILL be noticable so beware.

If you do end up with a laptop with a cheap and noisy soundcard, fortunately there are ways around this. An external soundcard will usually help.

Personally, I use a little iPod on stage. Luckily my eyesight is ok so the small screen doesn’t bother me. The quality of the iPods output is excellent for playing backing tracks live on stage and the fact that I can carry my entire repertoire around in my pocket really appeals to me.

One of the reasons I bought my Bose L1’s is because I wanted to cut down the amount of musical equipment I carry around with me to gigs so the “Bose + iPod” combination is perfect for me (and sounds fantastic)…