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Pro Tools
PERSONALIZED
SYSTEM
AMPLIFICATION
Youcould almost
hang a basketball
hoop up here. The
system is about
seven feet tall.
ailable
1msetups.
Integrated audio
connections
mean no cables
on the tower.
Review system
was equipped
with two subs; the
"off-the-rack"
configuration
includes just one.
Wee subwoofers kick
shockingly hard.
Connections are
down low at the
back of the Power
Stand. Remote
eliminates the need
to bend down to
make adjustments.
Slim profile totally
belies the quality
and volume of
sound available.
/
Excellent
sound:Easytransportandsetup.
essive.
Undocumented
Features?
Duringour time with the Bose,we heardsubtlecluesthat
perhapstherewerea noisegateandpossiblyevena compressor
or limiter built-in. Comparedwith a pair of monitorsin the
Keyboardstudio,the systemdidn't seemto allowthe same
extremes
ofdynamicrange.Loudsoundsseemedtamed.Clearly,
it adaptswell to whateveryou throw at it.- we heardno
obviouspumpingor other artifacts.Turns out there is aQ
onboard limiter that only kicks in at high volume. Its fi./[1ctioni$
to protectthe systemfrom damageandyour soundfrom distortion.
The noise gate is much more overt, and it too seems to be
adaptive;with vocals,keyboards,any sourcewe tried, we
couldn'tmakea soundthe gatewouldmessup, butwe could
clearlyhearvaryinglevelsof backgroundnoise(dependingon
thesource)enterwiththesignal.Whennosignalwaspresent,
thePASwasniceandquiet.Cryptically,
Bosesays"Afewofthe
presetsallowyouto usea noisegate,atvariousthresholdsof
attack.Otherthanthosefewpresets,weusenogates,"Wefound
no methodfor adjustingthe attackthresholdof the gate.
Havingsaidallthat,theautonomyofthe limiterandgatedid
nothingto detractfrom a satisfyingmusicmakingexperience.
Theyworkso seamlesslythatyou mayforgetthey'rethere.
In an all-acousticperformance,you hear the
instruments and voicesdirectly.They spreadout
across the natural stereo field according to
their placement onstage, and this helps the
brain hear everything distinctly and clearly.
The musiciansand the listenershearvery much
the samething, and a proper mix happensquite
naturally (assumingthat all the performers are
accomplishedand sensitiveenough to put their
playing in serviceof the ensemble rather than
showboating selfishly). Each performer is in
total control of his or her sound, and they work
together to achieve the perfect blend.
The way we amplify a theatre or club performance today involves individual instrument
amplifiers onstage, monitor speakers placed
so each musician can hear all the others (or,
increasingly, an in-ear monitoring solution),
and a large bi-, trio, or even quad-amped
system placed between the performers and
the audience. The mix the performers hear is
utterly different from the one the audience
hears, and what the audience hears doesn't
necessarily match what they see, making it
difficult or impossible for the visual and auditory cortexes of the brain to work together to
enhance clarity. And the complexity of the
audio system requires that one or two non-band
members be entrusted with the tone and level
of the instruments. When viewed from this
perspective, the status quo seems a little
I messed up, doesn't it? Where's the teamwork
I
I
ofthe performers? They're almost out of the
EQpresetsfor a
varietyof instrumentsourcesand
vocalmicsare
provided.Morecan
be loadedinvia
the DataInjack.
Gigbagsfor each
piece~ Included.
equation. Maybe these nlttty professors are
onto something after all.
and from .the first to the second. Plug in the
remote and AC power and you're ready for inputs.
In
Setup
The system lent to us comprised a tower and a
pair of passive subwoofers. The tower itself
breilks down into three conJ.ponents; the PSJ
Power Stand (which houses all the I/O and
three amplifiers) and the two-piece Cylindrical
Radiator Loudspeaker. A little remote hand
console connects to the Power Stand with the
included 7-pin cable.
Each piece is light and compact, but we found
that the fivepieces of ouuig were tough to lug solo
and made multiple trips.(or helpers) necessary.And
that's a bit of a hassle.If you're slickand alreadyown
a Rock-n-Roller cart or something similar, it'd
be sweat-free to.move the whole rig in one go.We
were impressed, however, at the obvious attention
given to making the thing easy to transport for all
ages, shapes, and sizesof people.
Putting the system together takes all of two
minutes and can be done while your mind is
elsewhere - there's only one right way to do
it (with the exception.. of where toplugin the
subwoofer, whose cable I managed to plug into
the wrong place once during a rushed load-in).
The Power Stand sets !lown first, the lower
part of the "pole" chunks into the base, and then
the upper part pops down on top of that The subs
stack securelytogether on their sides,and the cables
connect from the Power Stand into the first sub
Our first test occurred pretty much the minute
the cartons arrived. Our pent-up curiosity and
skepticism got thebetterof us.andwe unpacked
the system immediately. As we registered our
surprise at how tall it is at roughly seven feet, I
plugged my iPod into it and listened. to a variety
of material; thumping dance tracks, orchestral film
scores, minimalist acoustic recordings, jazz, rock,
and pop tunes. All sounded very close to how I
expected, with perhaps.a tolt\:h less sizzle and
sparkle than I normally like to hear. Clarity was
excellent, but missing was the air on top. Fiddling
with some of the many EQ presets - there are
a couple dozen, with profiles for Shure SMS8 and
Audix OMS mics, Fender Rhodes 73, Wurlitzer
ZOO,guitar amp withlZ" speaker, Taylor piero
pickup - Hound I could get the airy sound I
wanted. There are also lots of blank EQpreset slots;
a Data In jack on the panel telegraphs the intent
to make more curves available. In fact, it's one
of the system's cleverest features.
really a
coaxial S/PDIF input (and the counterpart to the
output right beside it). Bose will make updates
available in the form of WAY files that can be
"played" into the rig. They're even planning an
update kit that includes a portable DVD player.
We were amazed by how painless the sound
was; it was so even and clear that we weren't
www.keyboardmag.com
I
SIPDlFoutput
makesit possible
to capturea digital
recording.
Thisis
particulartypowerfullf yourwhole
bandis onthe
Bosesystems.
Channels1 and2
havesend/return
IRS jacks.
DECEMBER 2004
KEYBOARD
67
...
-
Bose
...
PSfl
A. Il ~9A.'
.....
Lf & Sf
STEREOTOMY
Maybe it doesn't have to be said, since the
Bose's monolithic appearance kind of
implies singularity, but the system is not
capable of stereo imaging; for that, you'll
need a pair of them. So who's missing out,
really? Well, guys who simply must run
their Leslie simulations in stereo. Players
who get big jollies spreading their synth
pads all the way out to the edges. The
good news is that all you'll need is a
second complete tower, made up of a
Power Stand and the Cylindrical Radiator
loudspeakers. Interconnects allow two
towers to share a sub.
aware how bloody loud it was until we tried to
speak to each other and found we had to shout.
Claims made about a near-180° distribution of
sound were borne out to our satisfaction, too. I
found that even directly behind the rig, clarity
was acceptable, if diminished.
Chilly suspicions were thawing, and because
we weren't yet clued in on the physics the
system exploits, we wondered if it needed the
room itself to work its apparent voodoo. We
packed the thing off to the parking lot and
repeated the experiment outdoors. To our
~
Amplifiers
110
..
3; 250 W x 2 (tower), 250 W (subwoofer)
2 x 1/4"-XLR combo inputs, 2 x 1/4" inputs, 2 x 1/4' TRS inserts, coaxial
S/PDlFinpUt (forsoftvvare
input; bass line output,
amp 3/subwoofer
updates only), Amplifier 1.3 direct inputs, remote
amp 1 speaker output,
amp 2 speaker output,
speaker output, coaxial S/PDIF output
Drivers
24 x 2" drivers (tower), 2 x 6" driver (subwoofer)
Included accessories
wired remote, remote cable, subwoofer cable, gig bags
Dimensions/Weight
Power Stand:
26" W x 26' D x 5" H, 35 Ibs.; tower
3-112" W x 4" D x 43" H, 16 Ibs.; subwoofer:
amazement, it worked just as well outdoors
as indoors, and the claims made about the
apparent loudness staying relatively constant
whether you're 10 feet or 50 feet away held up.
Sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke famously
said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic;' and that's an apt
description for our initial experience with this.
We got an unusual opportunity to test the
system's ability to deliver the "unamplified
experience" when we were recently given a
demo of the new Ivory plug-in from Synthogy
and Ilio. Ivory is a disk-streaming
piano
plug-in that aims for complete transparency in
its re-creation of several acoustic pianos. Using
a pair of Genelec I030As as our reference, we
polypropylene cones
speakers
(each):
11" W x 18" D x 16" H, 28 Ibs.
NB' ed Ivory on them and the Bose. Out of the
gate, the Bose didn't fare very well. Compared
to the Genelecs, it made Ivory sound alarmingly
tubby and muddy, with an unpleasant bark in
the low midrange. And this was with the system's
EQ presets set to Flat. After running down a few
blind alleys, we found that the lost clarity could
be regained and the bark tamed with one of the
rig's generic EQ presets and small adjustments
to the three-band EQ on the remote.
One of the most obvious questions to ask
about this system is, "What about feedback?"
Since you're supposed to set it behind you, and
therefore, potentially, your open mic, isn't it just
going to squeal like a I2-year-old Barcelonian at
a Menudo concert? According to the professors,
&B1
feedback.The wild card here is how loud your
drummer plays. If he favors rolling pins for
drumsticks, has one eyebrow, and speaks in
monosyllabic grunts, you might be better off
no. They saythe rig's ability to project further than
a conventional speaker at lower volume means
you should only reach the feedback threshold if
you're way too loud anyway.I was able to get rather
more volume than I expected before reaching the
feedback zone. It was clearly too loud for a
coffeehouse setting, but without a full band in
full blaze through a number of Boses around me,
it would be impossible to state with authority that
the no-feedback claim is 100% true or untrue.
with conventional amplification for a while, at least
until Bose puts an even more powerful version
of the idea into production. (It's been intimated
that this concept can be scaled all the way up to
arena and stadium tour sized rigs.)
The system provides phantom power to its
two mic inputs at a new international standard
24v rather than 48. Reportedly, extensive
mic testing has yet to smoke out a mic that
underperforms
at 24v.
With four inputs, the rig can ostensibly
accommodate a good-sized keyboard rig, but
only channels 1 and 2 are full-featured; 3 and 4
are not represented on the remote, don't have
inserts, and don't feature EQ of any kind. Though
it's a bummer that they don't come up on the
remote (and I'd like to see this oversight corrected,
maybe with a bigger, optional remote), the lack
of EQ is lessof a concern since most current synths
and software synth hosts have EQ of their own.
Based on my experience with it, my hunch is that
the system would - at the very least - far, far
exceedthe abilityof a conventional speakerto resist
REMOTE POSSIBILITIES
Thoughthe remote onlyaddresses channels
1 and 2 and the master, the fact that the
Bose rig was designed by a keyboard
player shows upin a criti,cal detail. The
remote features a second connector at the
top and a Velcro pad so it can be stuck
down on your keyboard or stand with the
cable dressed to the back along with your
keyboards' other cables.
Conclusions
Admittedly, I walked into this review with
conflicted expectations. On the one hand, it
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