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I inherited some 50+ year old Bose 901's. Should I bother?

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  • I inherited some 50+ year old Bose 901's. Should I bother?

    I haven't even hooked them up yet, as they're tricky to find space for. Room placement seems extra critical for these things.

    I'm assuming they'll want new drivers, as the surrounds are probably cracking by now, but maybe not.

    The lack of dedicated tweeters in anything other than tiny speakers seems wrong me, but what do I know.... I've got a house full of speakers with rather nice tweeters, so I'm guessing they'll sound a bit dull in the highs to me....

    Should I bother?
    Form does not follow function
    Form is simultaneous to function

  • #2
    They do background muzak ok. Other than that, they don't have many redeeming qualities. I think they are eminently saleable, though. Just smile and agree that they're a rare and desirable find when the sucker, erm, potential buyer appears.
    Francis

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    • #3
      I've enjoyed more than a few evenings listening to friends 901s. Not something I'd want today but they still have their fans. A cult speaker.

      Comment


      • #4
        Get what you can from e-bay. I always thought they were horrible. The 301 was the best speaker of the era as it was half decent and dirt cheap.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you keep them, from what I remember Bose had an EQ box to go with them that sort of helped. You already found out that room placement is a big deal.
          Francis

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          • #6
            Have to disagree some on this one. My Dad had a set of Series II years (well decades) ago connected to an old Pioneer tube amp. When placed properly in the correct room environment they sounded pretty good. No matter where you stood you got the same sound and solid left and right separation. Bass only suffered a bit. As one user mentioned, you need the Active EQ in order to make sure they are hooked up correctly. So here is the story.

            My dad purchased his 901's back in the late 70's. He listened to them for a good decade or so before life happened and he moved on to another hobby to occupy his time. Fast forward a few years and I decided to see what they actually were. I was 16 at the time. I removed the back grill and noticed all 8 drivers (still one in the front for a total of 9) were missing their surrounds. They had all fallen to the bottom of the grill lip and would disintegrate when touched.

            Had a friend at the time that worked at Incredible Universe (then became Frys) at the time and I stopped by to see her one day and the Bose rep was demoing that day. I got to meet him and started to tell him the story of my Dad's 901s. Before I could get my story out, he stopped me. he asked "re the driver surrounds missing". Per his words, there was a bacteria that fed on the surrounds in warm environments AKA the southern US. Drivers would last 8-10 years and the surrounds would just disintegrate.

            He stated Bose was aware of the issue and there was a remedy. He gave me a number to call and said they would ask that we send in the old 901s with EQ (sans stands) and in-turn for $150 would send a new set of speakers. I thought this was way to good to be true. So when I got home, I called Bose, arranged payment, packed up the old speakers and waited. 1 Month later a brand new set of Bose 901 Series VI's. We hooked them up to the old tube amp and they sounded great. Long story short, My Dad gave them away to a good friend who has them and uses them to this day.
            "A dirty shop is an unsafe shop, if you injure yourself in a clean shop you are just stupid" - Coach Kupchinsky

            The Madeleine
            The Roxster
            Swopes 5.0
            Acoustic Panels
            Living Room Make Over

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            • #7
              If I was to restore 901s, I think I'd do a major reset and use modern drivers. Heresy I'm sure, but drivers have come a long ways since then.
              Francis

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by fpitas View Post
                from what I remember Bose had an EQ box to go with them that sort of helped.
                It was indispensable. 'Got no highs, got no lows, must be Bose' was what happened if you used them without the dedicated external EQ, which was originally passive, later active. That mandatory EQ was also what was responsible for the very low sensitivity. There was 18dB of bass boost, and that eats up a lot of power.
                www.billfitzmaurice.com
                www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gordy View Post
                  Have to disagree some on this one. My Dad had a set of Series II years (well decades) ago connected to an old Pioneer tube amp. When placed properly in the correct room environment they sounded pretty good. No matter where you stood you got the same sound and solid left and right separation. Bass only suffered a bit. As one user mentioned, you need the Active EQ in order to make sure they are hooked up correctly. So here is the story.

                  My dad purchased his 901's back in the late 70's. He listened to them for a good decade or so before life happened and he moved on to another hobby to occupy his time. Fast forward a few years and I decided to see what they actually were. I was 16 at the time. I removed the back grill and noticed all 8 drivers (still one in the front for a total of 9) were missing their surrounds. They had all fallen to the bottom of the grill lip and would disintegrate when touched.

                  Had a friend at the time that worked at Incredible Universe (then became Frys) at the time and I stopped by to see her one day and the Bose rep was demoing that day. I got to meet him and started to tell him the story of my Dad's 901s. Before I could get my story out, he stopped me. he asked "re the driver surrounds missing". Per his words, there was a bacteria that fed on the surrounds in warm environments AKA the southern US. Drivers would last 8-10 years and the surrounds would just disintegrate.

                  He stated Bose was aware of the issue and there was a remedy. He gave me a number to call and said they would ask that we send in the old 901s with EQ (sans stands) and in-turn for $150 would send a new set of speakers. I thought this was way to good to be true. So when I got home, I called Bose, arranged payment, packed up the old speakers and waited. 1 Month later a brand new set of Bose 901 Series VI's. We hooked them up to the old tube amp and they sounded great. Long story short, My Dad gave them away to a good friend who has them and uses them to this day.
                  That's interesting, it reminds me of something I read about Bose headphones. Apparently the are kind of fragile, but if you ever make a warranty claim on a damaged set, they'll say it was abuse rather than a design flaw, but they'll sell you a replacement set of $300 headphones for $99 dollars. Some people have been through this loop multiple times, sort of like a subscription service, rather than buying a product outright...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                    It was indispensable. 'Got no highs, got no lows, must be Bose' was what happened if you used them without the dedicated external EQ, which was originally passive, later active. That mandatory EQ was also what was responsible for the very low sensitivity. There was 18dB of bass boost, and that eats up a lot of power.
                    HA! In the 12v in dusty we used to say "No highs, no lows gotta be Bose" We had countess Vettes and Nissans that came in with torpedoed Bose systems. When folks heard replacement of everything was the cure for their issue they freaked out a little
                    "A dirty shop is an unsafe shop, if you injure yourself in a clean shop you are just stupid" - Coach Kupchinsky

                    The Madeleine
                    The Roxster
                    Swopes 5.0
                    Acoustic Panels
                    Living Room Make Over

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      https://www.parts-express.com/replac...1-ohm--290-922

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                      • #12
                        Handy that there's a direct replacement, but you'll need 18 of those at $20.68 each. Ouch!
                        Francis

                        Comment


                        • djg
                          djg commented
                          Editing a comment
                          New cabs and you're good to go.

                        • zx82net
                          zx82net commented
                          Editing a comment
                          At least the price break comes in at 18 units, that's something. Would have been cynical if they made it 19.

                      • #13
                        Bill's right.
                        If you don't have the EQ box w/'em, don't even bother listening to them (but you can still sell 'em).

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          I have the EQ box.
                          Form does not follow function
                          Form is simultaneous to function

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                          • #15
                            The drivers have cloth surrounds and should be fine. Don’t remove the grills. Hook them up properly using the equalizer. Appreciate. Amazing bass. I’ll take them

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