Power output in RMS of the Bose L1

Jan from Sweden contacted me and like MANY others, raises this point yet again about the Bose L1.

Come on Bose, for goodness sake start telling your customers the power ratings of your L1 systems!

Every week another of your prospective customers contacts me asking me about power output and loudness etc. Every week others contact me to tell me that they’ve bought the Bose L1 but took it back to the shop for a refund because it wasn’t powerful enough.

If you, Bose, would just simply tell everyone the power output of your Bose L1 system, everyone would be able to make a reasoned judgement of whether to buy it or not and your customers wouldn’t have to contact ME all the time to get the info that you, Bose, are hiding from them!

Hi Kenny!

I`m thinking about to buy a Bose L1 system. I´ve been reading your articles about the difference in power output between Bose L1 Classic and Bose L1 model 1 with great interest. What´s your experice in this matter with Bose L1 model 2? Is this, even newer, model still too weak compared to the Classic? Your article about L1 Compact has conviced me that this amp is not my choice.

Best regards

Jan Berglind, Sweden

Hi Jan

I think the real problem is not so much with the L1 itself but the way Bose market the L1.

Bose (correctly) say that the L1 disperses the sound around the room in such a way that the audience at the back of the room can hear the sound almost as loud and clear as the audience sitting at the front of the stage. This is quite unique because, as you know, with conventional amp/speaker systems, the audience at the front of the stage usually hear the sound MUCH louder than the people at the back of the room – the loudness of a conventional PA usually drops off considerably when you move more than 10 feet or so away from the speakers.

The sound coming out of a Bose L1 doesn’t “drop off” as much when you get further away from it than conventional speakers – so Bose are not making false claims.

The problem is that Bose are happy to infer that because of the unique way that the Bose L1 disperses its sound, you don’t need as much power as you would with a conventional amp/speaker system.

I don’t believe this to be true.

Increased dispersion of sound around the room you are performing in is a fantastic thing, and Bose really excel at doing this with the L1. But speakers still need power – and the more power the speakers have, the more they can push sound waves out and the louder it will be. That’s simple physics (as Star Treks Scottie would say “you cannae change the laws of physics”).

Bose purposely do not reveal any RMS output details of the L1 in their sales literature. They argue that they want you to HEAR the system with your own ears and decide for yourself how loud it is rather than pre-judging it by knowing the power output beforehand.

Well, I’ve done that with every L1 system Bose have brought out, and I have come to the same conclusion every time. The quality of the Bose system has to be heard to be believed – it’s incerdible, brilliant. But don’t be fooled. The quality of it’s sound and the unique way it disperses all that lovely quality sound around the room does not mean that you can get away with less power.

If you are thinking of buying a Bose L1 and your old speaker system was a 2000w system, one Bose L1 classic 750w or L1 model 2 500w will most certainly NOT do.

My experience of using all of the different Bose L1 systems in a variety of different venues of all shapes and sizes has convinced me that if you want to replace your old speaker system with a Bose system, the Bose L1 you choose will need to have at least 75% of the power output of your old system.

If I was a guitar player with a 500w amp/speaker combo, I’d be happy to trade it for a Bose L1 model 2 (500w).

If I was a guitar player with a 1000w amp/speaker combo I wouldn’t trade it for a Bose L1 model 2 (500w). It wouldn’t be loud enough.

If I was a singer with a 2 speaker 2 x 300w PA system, I would happily trade it for a single Bose L1 model 2 (500w).

If I was a singer with a 2 x 500w PA system I wouldn’t.

Individual instrument players tend to have an easier ride changing from their old amplifier/speaker combo to a Bose L1. This is because they usually don’t have much more than a 500w amp/speaker combo to begin with, so as far as power is concerned the Bose L1 pretty much puts out as much sound as their previous amplifier (and the Bose does it much better and with much better quality). That would be a good trade.

The problem is when someone with a fairly large conventional PA system (i.e. two speakers at either side of the stage) tries to replace that kind of system with an L1 or even two L1’s. Even two Bose L1 Model 2’s (500w each) sitting at either side of the stage will NEVER sound louder than a 2000w or 3000w conventional PA system.

Every week I hear from singers and musicians who have gone to their local music shop and spoke to the sales person who told them to get rid of their old PA system and buy a Bose L1 or a couple of Bose L1’s. In every case, the singers and musicians who took their advice and replaced their small PA systems with Bose L1 systems are delighted with their new Bose L1.

The singers and musicians who replaced their big powerful PA systems with Bose L1’s are usually dissapointed.

I hope this helps shed a little bit more light on the Bose L1 system and it’s capabilities.

As always, I cannot say strongly enough how fantastic quality the Bose L1 PA system is and how well it evenly distributes the sound around the room.

I just wish Bose would stop hiding the power output details of their systems to prospective buyers.

If they gave out the power ratings of their L1 systems it would help prospective buyers make a better informed decision on whether the Bose L1 system will be up to the job of replacing their old amp/speaker system.

Just as a reminder, here are the output power rating specifications of the various L1’s again:

Bose L1 Classic = 750w

Bose L1 Model 1 = 500w

Bose L1 Model 2 = 500w

Bose L1 Compact = 250w