"Commencement Speaker" has a new meaning
April 29, 2011 8:09 PM   Subscribe

MIT now owns non-voting majority of Bose thanks to a generous alum. NYT, CNN.
posted by staggernation (68 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting. He has children, too. I wonder what part (if any) they own of the Bose company?
posted by axiom at 8:17 PM on April 29, 2011


It's no Gatorade, but that's nice for them.
posted by oddman at 8:22 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, is Bose now going to claim that their association with MIT now makes them sound that much better?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:23 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Maybe MIT can turn them into a true high fidelity company rather than just a marketing company.
posted by caddis at 8:26 PM on April 29, 2011 [26 favorites]


finally, an affordable radio with great sound.
posted by clavdivs at 8:32 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Laugh all you like, but to average listeners, Bose's stuff does sound lightyears better than Sony or Panasonic or Apple or "Beats by Dr. Dre."

All of the really good midrange stuff is deliberately obscure, comfortably wrapped in an aura of faux-obsolescence - Grado? Koss Porta Pro? Looking at you. - or in a humdrum middle-of-the-road, won't toot our own horn aura of mediocrity - Sennheiser? Sure? Yeah. You.

And compared to B + O or Klipsch, Bose isn't that overpriced or oversold at all.

(And good christ, can I say how much better my dinky pair of Porta-Pro's sound than the Beats cans at a quarter the price? I have whatever the opposite of a Golden Ear is, but daaamn.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:43 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Never cared for the sound of Bose speakers, but by god, they are EVERYWHERE. You can't get away from that Bose sound.

That said, they have recently come out with a compact PA system which is really, really good. Excellent, very natural, very uncolored sound reproduction for small clubs, small halls. I've had the pleasure of using it on about 5 or 6 gigs in recent months here in Tokyo. I love it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:46 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


No highs? No lows? Must be Bose.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:06 PM on April 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Laugh all you like, but to average listeners, Bose's stuff does sound lightyears better than Sony or Panasonic or Apple or "Beats by Dr. Dre."

I have two audiophile friends (one of them with an ungodly 11.1 surround system) that would slap me silly if I bought a Bose setup because of how overpriced they are. I generally refer to them when I have audio-related questions, but even a cursory search on the web reveals a ton of Bose criticism.

Their main advice to me was: It's not that you're going to get "bad" sound with Bose, but if you're willing to spend that much you can get -a lot- better.
posted by lemuring at 9:10 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


This TV has to be heard to be believed. Utterly convincing surround sound with no external speakers. Also it is $5,349
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:11 PM on April 29, 2011


All of the really good midrange stuff is deliberately obscure, comfortably wrapped in an aura of faux-obsolescence... or in a humdrum middle-of-the-road won't toot our own horn aura of mediocrity

So you're saying that Grado, Koss Porta Pro and Sennheiser are 'really good midrange stuff'?

Not trying to be snarky here, it's a genuine question, coming from someone who doesn't know much about what constitutes 'really good' audio but who would like to know enough to get the best-sounding bang for his buck.
posted by WalterMitty at 9:18 PM on April 29, 2011


Well WalterMitty, tell us how much you're willing to spend or which Bose product intrigues you, and I'm sure someone will come up with a product that has better performance or better price.
posted by mikeh at 9:20 PM on April 29, 2011


A lot of home entertainment systems are one degree closer to Noam Chomsky today.
posted by Beardman at 9:21 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm also trying to trying to pick my jaw off the floor from looking at that $5k tv linked above. I know Bose doesn't believe in publishing specs, but... other than the fact it is a 1080p tv and it's 46", do they mention a single thing about it?
posted by mikeh at 9:24 PM on April 29, 2011


Not trying to be snarky here, it's a genuine question, coming from someone who doesn't know much about what constitutes 'really good' audio but who would like to know enough to get the best-sounding bang for his buck.

I've found the Sony MDR7506 to do the job. It's under $100.00 and as close to an "industry standard" for headphones as you'll find.
posted by mikelieman at 9:26 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why the hell do people make huge gifts to the 10 universities that don't need any more money and ignore the thousands that do?
posted by LarryC at 9:30 PM on April 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


ahh, good old BOSE: Buy Other Stereo Equipment
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:32 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why the hell do people make huge gifts to the 10 universities that don't need any more money and ignore the thousands that do?

:( this is how social capital makes economic capital persist within a segment of society
posted by the mad poster! at 9:40 PM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why the hell do people make huge gifts to the 10 universities that don't need any more money and ignore the thousands that do?

Well, Bose had a close, lifelong affiliation with MIT.
posted by shivohum at 9:43 PM on April 29, 2011


Is he going to donate me some Monster cables to go with it?
posted by Sphinx at 9:44 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not trying to be snarky here, it's a genuine question, coming from someone who doesn't know much about what constitutes 'really good' audio but who would like to know enough to get the best-sounding bang for his buck.

honestly the best places to find out on the internet are forums where everyone lives and breathes audio.

If you're looking for headphones, Audio-Technica tend to have awesome stuff.
posted by lemuring at 9:49 PM on April 29, 2011


It's under $100.00 and as close to an "industry standard" for headphones as you'll find.

Is Sony engaging in some kind of shenaniganry here? It shows $130 for me.
posted by kenko at 9:52 PM on April 29, 2011



Is Sony engaging in some kind of shenaniganry here? It shows $130 for me.

That's list price on the Sony website, where they don't seem to sell them. Amazon has them for $89.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:54 PM on April 29, 2011


"Is Sony engaging in some kind of shenaniganry here? It shows $130 for me."

That's the manufacturer's list price. Quickly asking teh Google, I get back 'street prices' such as:
Amazon.com - $89.00 Buy.com - $89.00 Adorama Camera - $89.00
posted by mikelieman at 9:55 PM on April 29, 2011


I owe someone a coke!
posted by mikelieman at 9:55 PM on April 29, 2011


Maybe MIT can turn them into a true high fidelity company rather than just a marketing company.

Amar Bose was professor of electrical engineering at MIT from 1956-2001. The Bose company certainly hypes its products to position them at the higher end of the consumer market, but they are actually very good. However, you probably don't want a an essay about low-power amplifiers and waveguide design.

They are not the most accurate speakers available for the trained listener (eg an engineer), but they are among the best at delivering sound the way that most people want to hear it, relatively independently of where they're set up. I got one of their waveguide radios as a gift years ago, and I sold it a couple of years later when I moved and bought new speakers (KRK FTW). I wish I hadn't - there are times when one wants to hear things the way most people want most of the time. The only product of theirs I can't stand and refuse to have anything to do with are the noise cancelling headphones, which I do not think can possibly be good for your high-frequency hearing.

WalterMitty, another vote here for the MDR7506. Fine music/DJ headphones, but the reason I really like them is for having worked about 10 years in film production. they're light enough not to be tiring to wear, heavy enough to effectively block out ambient noise and give decent volume without distortion (and resultant ear fatigue), and very very transparent, adding little or no color to the sound from the mixer. Other headphones sound like a bowl of spaghetti being shoved into my ears - a distracting mess that's going to stain everything in the vicinity. I don't think that's just acclimatization bias. I record sound using one or more Schoeps microphones, which are unquestionably world class and cost a small fortune, and the reason I love the MDR7506 so much is that when I am setting up, I can lift the headphones off and put them back on and it sounds exactly the same. I think I'm on my 5th or 6th pair now.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:58 PM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Sony MDR-V6 is cheaper than the 7506 and literally the only difference between the two is that the V6 doesn't have a gold plated plug. That's it.
posted by zsazsa at 10:04 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, between the Sonys and my Grado SR-60s (which cost about the same) I generally prefer the Grados for mastering and general listening. But I'm not everybody, I guess.

anigbrowl: “Amar Bose was professor of electrical engineering at MIT from 1956-2001. The Bose company certainly hypes its products to position them at the higher end of the consumer market, but they are actually very good. However, you probably don't want a an essay about low-power amplifiers and waveguide design.”

They've gotten a bit better about components in the past few years, but by god they're still expensive as all hell. Of course, in the flash-and-cash world of "high-end audio," that's sort of par for the course. It sadly takes some looking to find audio stuff that is good that doesn't cost far, far too much. Bose is indeed pretty much just like every other audiophile-catering company that relies heavily on marketing to drive prices insanely high.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 PM on April 29, 2011


"In a letter to Bose Corporation employees, Dr. Bose paid tribute to his mentors at MIT: Professors Y. W. Lee, Norbert Wiener and Jerome Wiesner. He explained that the gift represents his long-held desire to support MIT education, and reaffirmed the company’s mission to play for the long run."

I think it's nice that he mentions his mentors by name - I've never been the kind of alumni to make gifts to my alma mater (not that I have anything to give) - but giving gifts as a tribute to wonderful mentorship - sign me up!

From the same article:

“Dr. Bose,” Hockfield continued, “has asked us not to shine too bright a spotlight on him today. So to honor that wish, let us simply celebrate Dr. Bose’s profound belief in the transformative power of an MIT education.”

Hard to feel snarky towards Dr. Bose now.
posted by ianhattwick at 10:19 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amar Bose: Lifer.
posted by maryr at 10:20 PM on April 29, 2011


Hard to feel snarky towards Dr. Bose now.

Can we still crap on the crummy speaker company he started, though?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:34 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Sony MDR-V6 is cheaper than the 7506 and literally the only difference between the two is that the V6 doesn't have a gold plated plug. That's it.

It's for warranty/after sales. For pro-branded gear, you get a different number to call, they'll send parts to wherever you ask for them and so on. It's well worth the few extra dollars if you have a gear crisis in the field. I think the quality control is a bit better too, but that's just a hunch.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:48 PM on April 29, 2011


zsazsa: "The Sony MDR-V6 is cheaper than the 7506 and literally the only difference between the two is that the V6 doesn't have a gold plated plug. That's it"

And the v6 warranty sucks.
posted by jjb at 10:53 PM on April 29, 2011


Bose speakers are only good if you don't have the room for proper speakers with a decent woofer and tweeter. If you're seriously cramped for space, though, their basic 2.1 system is as good as anything in its price range IMO.

But if you have the space, you really are better off with other brands.
posted by chimaera at 11:20 PM on April 29, 2011


I'm sure I'll get derided here, but I think what a lot of people are missing when they criticize Bose is the simplicity of the systems.

Now I'm the first to admit that they're expensive. But I also know people who own Bose Wavefront Systems that are extremely happy after buying the units because they're simple and not intimidating.

They don't have to adjust equalizers. They don't have to set levels for bass. They don't have to pick between jazz mode, light jazz mode and smooth jazz mode. They don't have to hook up six pairs of speakers. They also don't have ugly speakers that need integrating with their furniture and their decor. The units are sleek-enough looking that they can sit in a living room or dining room (or even a business office or reception room where I've also seen them) and not look terribly out of place (like many portable radios do).

The owners just turn on the radio or plop in a CD and the thing plays. Sure the radio antenna could be better (but pretty much any radio antenna can always be better) but really that's about the worse thing I can say about them.

Some people just want to listen to music or listen to the radio. They're intimidated by complex buttons and switches. They feel like they need to be audio engineers to work some stereo systems. Bose does a great job convincing them that listening to music or the radio can be simple and straight-forward. And for the most part that's entirely true.

I say "for the most part" because I did recently find myself having to provide "tech support" for a relative who accidentally set the Bose timer/alarm and couldn't figure out how to prevent the radio from turning on every day at 3:30 in the afternoon. Now this relative isn't stupid -- far from it. It's just somebody who is getting on in years a bit and isn't at all techy.

In the long run, it seems like the money spent on the (to my mind) over-priced equipment is really worth it because the owners actually use the systems and enjoy them.
posted by sardonyx at 11:48 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Now if only someone would give MIT a chain of pubs, they'd have somewhere to mount all those speakers...
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:52 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bose at some point developed some sort of electromagnetic vehicle suspension system, I don't think anything has ever come of it though.
posted by onya at 1:15 AM on April 30, 2011


I don't know if they're still in operation, but the Toscanini's ice cream place in the student union at MIT has a cool-looking Bose speaker hanging by the window. It's a long horizontally mounted tube. They also have a rack of Crown amplifiers.
posted by zippy at 1:32 AM on April 30, 2011


Maybe MIT can turn them into a true high fidelity company rather than just a marketing company.
Non-voting stock.
Hard to feel snarky towards Dr. Bose now.
Why? Is there anyone who doesn't believe in the 'Tran formative power of an MIT education'? They're the Harvard of nerds.
posted by delmoi at 2:04 AM on April 30, 2011


I don't know if they're still in operation, but the Toscanini's ice cream place in the student union at MIT has a cool-looking Bose speaker hanging by the window. It's a long horizontally mounted tube. They also have a rack of Crown amplifiers.

Sadly, Tosci's hasn't had a place in the student center in around a decade, though they do still have their place on Mass Ave.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:37 AM on April 30, 2011


Since we're talking about things to loathe about Bose: they attempt to destroy the audio-buying experience.

If you're going to spend a bunch of money on something - speakers, amp, whatever - you ought to be able to sit the fuck down in a room at a store that has a number of different manufacturers' products, listen to your favourite music or movies or whatever, and then pick out whichever component (or combination thereof) sounds best to you, listening to stuff you like to listen to, at whatever price you can afford.

Yamaha, Onkyo, Nad, Plinius, Theophony, even fucking Denon, all can be sampled this way. Everything from mid-range on up. Bose work on breaking that by locking you down to the Bose store. That's bullshit. Bose don't want you to compare, and they want to make it hard for you to compare.
posted by rodgerd at 3:51 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bose speakers are just fine. For plebes and philistines. I was watching a rerun of "Murder, She Wrote" on my high-end home theater (Tom Bosley as Amos Tupper sounds incredible on my home set-up with the proper adjustments) and I saw an ad for the Bose system right after an ad for Metamucil and before one for diabetes testing supplies. I noted Bose's money-back guarantee. Being an audiophile, I decided to check them out..

The next day I drove to the Burlington (Massachusetts) Mall. I remember that I listened to the Prague Philharmonic's recording of Brahm's Academic Festival Overture on the way there to warm up my ears. I had just swapped out the stock Volvo sound system (Dolby Pro Logic and class D amplifier just don't cut it for me) with my Maffengrüpper Grandensia and installed a Satsuma Netsume sub-woofer under the dash. So I was ready.

I parked and walked in to the mall. There were kids walking around listening to their iPods with stock earbuds and probably listening to goddamn 128k mp3s. But kids are idiots. I saw one guy in his early 20s with Garðabær headphones, and I got really excited because some of the people on my favorite forum have been saying excellent things about Icelandic equipment. I walked up to the kid and motioned for him to remove his headphones.

"Those headphones are supposed to be really fantastic. What are you listening to?" I asked.

"Jazz ensemble recorded at fucking Mallindor Hall, dude. It's so pure!"

"Which ensemble?" I sniffed.

"I don't know the name. Friend gave me the APE files."

"Monkey's Audio? Why don't you just listen to goddamn FLACs? You disgust me. You have amazing headphones and you can't be bothered to get RockBox on that iPod so you can listen to WavPacks? One extra step for the full experience and instead you're listening to tin-ear shit files? Do you have stock cables on your home theater, too?" I shook my head and walked away, turning my head back once to briefly glare at him.

I got to the Bose store and you could just tell that it was staffed with people who just didn't care or understand audio. A woman approached me and asked if I needed any help, and I brushed her off and went to the one guy who looked like he knew his stuff (he had a beard). I asked him to play me some Mannheim Steamroller from one of the Bose rigs and I could tell it was total shit in five seconds. I said "no thanks" and went to Best Buy to lecture the staff on their equipment.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:04 AM on April 30, 2011 [46 favorites]


Thank God I'm not an audiophile.
posted by MustardTent at 4:33 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mayor Curley, that describes the most pretentious audiophile I've personally known; they'll go around griping about how nobody else's audio system can play Brahm's Academic Festival Overture like theirs can. I imagine the marble walls and ceilings of their house are containers for the great music and film, but in reality I've seen more How I Met Your Mother there than anything else.

Which, to me, is like having an hour of Einstein's time and choosing for him to play left field on your softball team.
posted by dflemingecon at 5:27 AM on April 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


As part of becoming an authorized Bose retailer, you have to move the Bose speakers elsewhere in the store from everything else, so that customers cannot do an A/B comparison. And that, right there, should tell you how good they actually are.
posted by Malor at 5:59 AM on April 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


FWIW I prefer one of Dr. Bose's competitors. The Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble III speakers designed by Henry Kloss (he of AR, Advent, Tivoli, and KLH fame) Are much fuller sounding than any competing Bose speaker. Unfortunately all of Kloss's companies are now kaput and owned by ventures that are only using the brand names to put out meh products.
posted by Gungho at 6:01 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do they want to own part of Idaho?
posted by desjardins at 6:05 AM on April 30, 2011


Yamaha, Onkyo, Nad, Plinius, Theophony, even fucking Denon,

I don't know if they make speakers or not, but Denon's electronics are really good. I've owned both Onkyo and Denon, and put a lot of hours into both, and think they're both excellent choices. Onkyos are bright (more treble), and Denons are warm (less treble), but they're otherwise very comparable. I've listened to other stuff in the store, and didn't think it sounded particularly better.

Almost all your budget when buying a sound system should go for speakers; even a cheap receiver from Onkyo or Denon will sound good, and will drive even very expensive speakers very nicely. Their mid-range receivers (say, $600 - $700ish) sound incredible. You really, really don't need to spend any more money than that on your DAC and amplifier. After you've got your playback device of choice, put everything else into speakers.

You get the big performance improvements up to about $2500 for the total system, with $1500ish typically being a solid but slightly weak multichannel setup, and $2500 being at the blow-the-doors-off-with-the-huge-sub level. Maximum bang-per-buck is probably between $1500 and $2K. After that, further improvements are hard to come by, and rapidly get nosebleed expensive. There's a LOT of bullshit in the audio world, so you do have to be careful.

And, in my opinion, one of the components of 'being careful' is avoiding Bose. They don't sound awful or anything, but they're very expensive, use cheap materials, and are completely proprietary. You can't easily fix a broken part or do piecemeal upgrades. If something breaks, you have to either pay them too much to fix it, or replace the whole system. They're not incompetent, but if you're willing to invest some time educating yourself, you can usually do just as well for a lot less, or get a much better system for the same price. All that marketing costs a lot of money, and that money isn't going into speaker construction.

I'm personally very fond of both Boston Acoustics and Energy speakers, but that's just my personal preference. Everyone hears a little differently, so you want to shop around and find a speaker that makes tradeoffs that suit your ears well.

If you shop around, and find that Bose really does sound better to you, then buy Bose. But they deliberately make it very hard to do proper comparisons.
posted by Malor at 6:19 AM on April 30, 2011


Oh, I just spotted this:

So you're saying that Grado, Koss Porta Pro and Sennheiser are 'really good midrange stuff'?

I don't know Grado or Koss, but I can tell you that Sennheiser makes extremely good headphones, especially when you get up into their more expensive lines. I have a pair of HD600s that are about, um, I guess about ten years old now. I think the replacement is the HD650, which I haven't heard myself.

Both the 600 and 650s are 'high impedance' cans, meaning that normal headphone outs don't have enough power to really drive them properly. You need extra amplification for them to sound their absolute best. They still sound good on anything, but hook them up to a small amp (it can be quite cheap), and those 600s are stellar.

My ears are noticeably inferior to what they were ten years ago, but at the time, I found that the amplification only mattered if you had really good sources. With 128K MP3s, I couldn't hear any difference between the 600s amped and unamped. But when I went up to 224K, the difference was very noticeable; the bass was much tighter, and it was much easier to pick out individual instruments. Driven losslessly from my Squeezebox 2's headphone out, through an amp, the results are way, WAY past delicious. There's something about the SB's analog out that I really love; it's not even using expensive parts, but WOW does it sound good. If there's musical nirvana, I reached it with the Squeezebox 2, a Total Airhead amp from Headroom, and the HD600. That is one hell of an experience.

You do NOT have to spend much on an amplifier. Don't get fooled into the $2000 headphone amps. Humans are terrible at telling amplifiers apart. If you can solder, you can build yourself a little CMOY amp with the free online plans for like $30, and that'll sound great.

If you want an all-in-one solution that will give you outstanding sound, Headroom has updated their earlier analog-only Airhead to the Total Bithead, which adds a USB DAC to connect to a computer. It can work from USB power completely; it'll also take batteries if you're listening loud, or want to drive two sets of cans. Plug that setup into any computer, use high quality sources (lossless is best, but the 256K tracks from Amazon and Apple are great too), and you'll have toe-tingling sound for not that much money in absolute terms.

The Bithead still has the Airhead's analog in, so you can use just the amp with any other device you have. But be warned that a lot of computer sound is pretty bad, and I've heard bad things about the iPods since they went to flash. My first-gen iPhone was absolute SHIT at music playback, just horrible -- almost Logitech speaker awful. Test any Apple product carefully before buying. I had an early iPod, which I thought was outstanding, but the first iPhone was one of the worst pieces of shit, sound-wise, I've ever had the misfortune of owning. Completely fucking incompetent.
posted by Malor at 6:50 AM on April 30, 2011 [5 favorites]



Some people just want to listen to music or listen to the radio. They're intimidated by complex buttons and switches. They feel like they need to be audio engineers to work some stereo systems. Bose does a great job convincing them that listening to music or the radio can be simple and straight-forward. And for the most part that's entirely true.


So, Bose:sound equipment :: Apple:computers
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:34 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bose hate makes me laugh.

I use a set of Bose desktop speakers with my computer at home. Not because the quality is astounding, but because they were like $20 more than comparable ones, but included dual inputs. So I can hook up my laptop, tablet, work laptop, record player or ipod and listen to one thing, while still getting audio from my computer. It's like *magic*. Making a product that fits my needs lets you earn an extra couple of bucks. I heart capitalism.

And I'm 40ish. I can't hear high end sound anymore anyway.
posted by DigDoug at 8:12 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bose:sound equipment :: Apple:computers

I'm not sure how well this fits, because Apple's computers aren't midrange.
posted by grouse at 8:34 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lots of people are very happy with their Bose systems. Lots of people happily drink Budweiser. Lots of people happily watch Fox News. Who am I to begrudge anyone happiness?

However, I still haven't worked out the best response to finding myself in a world where such things are true, and I'm 45. Although I'm beginning to reconsider the once self-evident truth that states of denial are ipso facto bad.
posted by Devonian at 8:42 AM on April 30, 2011


Devonian, the analogy doesn't work. The complaint against Bose seems to be that it's overpriced not that it's wack. Whereas Budweiser is a different sort of thing.
posted by the mad poster! at 9:00 AM on April 30, 2011


Yeah, Bose sounds okay. My mother had one of the Wave Radios, and that was pretty listenable, with good midbass for the size.

But it was also a thousand dollars, and I could have built an INCREDIBLE stereo at the time for a thousand dollars.
posted by Malor at 9:20 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, Bose:sound equipment :: Apple:computers
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:34 AM on April 30 [+] [!]


Actually, that's exactly what I was going to write when I posted, but I figured that would start a flame-war derail and didn't want to be responsible for starting something like that.
posted by sardonyx at 9:21 AM on April 30, 2011


(oh, and their construction is also crap; they use the cheapest possible materials in their speakers, all paper cones and stuff. You can get much better quality for a lot less money.)
posted by Malor at 9:22 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how well this fits, because Apple's computers aren't midrange.

I suppose if you're doing pixel kerning. But if you're doing actual computation, they're mediocre (though nice looking) boxes (i.e. Matlab in OSX is slower than linux or windows).

Plus, Apple's design philosophy means that the latest and greatest hardware (Sandy Bridge, Tesla, etc.) is available sooner and cheaper on the Dells and HPs of the world.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:08 AM on April 30, 2011


I got a Wave cd/radio as a gift about 15 years ago. It's been sitting on a radiator next to my bed for 15 years, cycling between 65 and 95 degrees a dozen times a day every winter, and one year the ceiling leaked into it. An adapter cable I used to plug my ipod into it literally disintegrated from the heat after a few years. The radio still works fine, and even the CD player still mostly works, when I brush fallen ceiling plaster off the lens.

How does it sound? I dunno, OK I guess, but I wouldn't call it poorly made.
posted by moonmilk at 10:11 AM on April 30, 2011


I can speak from experience... I'm not not an audiophile - I believe in physics - not nonsense gold-plated-$1000 power cables that will increase bass response and that crap...... but I do like my audio.

On the headphone end - Grado headphones, while they all have a fairly "bright" sound to them compared to a lot of others - does have a full range of headphones. Grado in particular are all Low-Z. (32 Ohm I think). You can generally drive them with anything - but a simple amp is always nice. You don't need the high end phones - though if it's really your thing, you won't be disappointed.
I listen to stuff at home on my RS-1's because it's quiet at home and I can hear the smallest detail with them - things I dind't know where in the music before.

Sennheiser.... sennheiser makes a great range of products, from junk to world class. If you just want a nice pair of headhpones find some HD750 symphonies - they are nothing special as far as any audiophile would be concerned, but I've had a pair that's lasted me 15 years so far and still going - the most comfortable things I've ever owned.

What do I think of, like the quietcomfort-15 active noise cancelling headphones? I got them for use at work - because it's noisy, and my open-backed headphones not only made it harder for me to enjoy my music, it required me to turn the volume up louder, bad for my ears, plus they leaked sound to my neighbours who were also trying to concentrate.
The Bose headphones, while definitely not as "pure" to me as the rest of my stable, give me a good casual listening experience, while doing a fantastic job of damping down background noise to the point it doesn't bother me. It's always a tradeoff.

Back on point - BOSE. I remember when BOSE first came out with that wonderful little tiny speaker system (plus a woofer) that had STUPENDOUS sound for it's size. You really did have to see and hear it to believe it at the time. IT may be more common now -but when it came out, it was a market game-changer. Yes, for your audiophile who wants purity or whatever, they technically took some shortcuts - but they designed speakers the size of my hand in a time when everyone else was using things that took up 10x the space.

Throw a Bose system up in your room and it will sound good in general with no fiddling.

It won't satisfy an audiophile - someone who takes their listening very seriously - but as a consumer product it's fantastic.
posted by TravellingDen at 10:42 AM on April 30, 2011


Maybe MIT can really use some brain power and create some Bose stuff that is like; made in the states?
posted by buzzman at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2011


Again, the problem with Bose isn't that their stuff sounds bad. It does sound okay for the consumer. It's that Bose radios are a THOUSAND DOLLARS, and that's completely insane for a little radio and CD player. Recommending Bose for average consumers because those consumers won't need high-end audio quality is like recommending that people pay $100,000 for a Toyota Camry because most people probably won't need the horsepower of a Lamborghini Murcielago.
posted by koeselitz at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bose doesn't design their speakers to be accurate.

Bose doesn't design their speakers to sound balanced.

Bose doesn't design their speakers to reproduce a wide range of music perfectly or even passably.

Bose designs their speakers to make them sound good to the average, untrained, (well-financed) mall-shopping type while they're in the store.

And as long as you keep that in mind, there's nothing wrong with them.
posted by -1 at 1:40 PM on April 30, 2011


A very learned recording engineer with a few walls full of gold and platinum records once told me: If sound were sandpaper Bose would be a pretty rough grit.

The Bose system in my car sounds good but the Levinson in my friend's new Lexus LS460 is mind-bending.
posted by bz at 5:44 PM on April 30, 2011


I have two Lexus LS460's in my living room. Mindbending isn't the start of it.
posted by the noob at 5:46 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that had to be, at the least, door bending, too.
posted by bz at 6:06 PM on April 30, 2011


One group of people who will be up against the wall come the revolution is the audiophile.

Bose speakers are OK, and for my acoustically imperfect lounge room and my aged gig-worn ears, they sound great.

I do agree that you pay a premium for Bose speakers - and they are sold differently. Our local department store has a separate room to demo the Bose systems, I can't see Warfdale, B&W or Tannoy on sale. It's Bose or the shit that is bundled with home theatre.

The real crime in listening are those white "buds"that are shipped with iPods. Apple owes the commuting public a huge fucking apology, in that I can no longer just sit and read my book without listening to tsk tsk tsk. Oh for a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones.
posted by the noob at 8:02 PM on April 30, 2011


So you're saying that Grado, Koss Porta Pro and Sennheiser are 'really good midrange stuff'?

As someone who's sampled supra-aural headphones from all three, hells yes. (I dislike circumaural cans, even tho they sound loads better... uncomfortable and massively expensive IMO.)

The Koss Porta-Pros in particular will knock over even the most tin-eared listener coming from iPod earbuds. Best $50 you'll spend on audio gear.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:12 PM on April 30, 2011


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