Bose: A Controversial Choice for Audiophiles?

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Bose is one of the best-selling audio manufacturers on the planet. Formed in 1964, the company has enjoyed decades of success producing speakers, headphones, and other audio equipment.

Why do audiophiles hate Bose?

Audiophiles often hate Bose as they are passionate about achieving the best possible sound quality. Audiophiles are only interested in speakers and equipment that delivers a polished, professional sound. Bose products aren’t designed for this, which is one reason audiophiles don’t like them very much.

Speakers, headphones, and other audio devices are designed for a certain purpose.

While some manufacturers focus on delivering the highest sound quality possible for professional mixing engineers or producers, others design their products for the everyday listener.

If someone is only interested in the former category of equipment, they could be described as an audiophile, and they are likely to be very critical of Bose equipment as it won’t meet their high standards.

In this guide, we’ll explore why audiophiles seem to hate Bose, and discuss whether this is justified or not.

What are Audiophiles Looking for that Bose Doesn’t Offer?

The number one reason that audiophiles aren’t particularly fond of Bose is the sound quality.

An audiophile, by definition, is interested only in achieving the best quality audio possible. While Bose may sound okay to the untrained ear of a casual ear, audiophiles often complain that the brand alters the sound of music too much.

The more speakers and headphones adjust the sound of music, the more artificial it can sound. It’s common knowledge that Bose uses a specific method of research, in which they look into the way that the listener’s brain perceives sounds.

This field is known as “psychoacoustics”.

Bose then uses the findings from their research to predict how the majority of listeners like their music to sound. They then design their speakers and headphones to reflect this, by tweaking the frequency output and altering aspects like tone, coloration, and dynamics.

While Bose’s intentions are undoubtedly good, this practice doesn’t go down well with audiophiles. They are likely to feel that the alterations make Bose products sound too artificial and that they change the original sound too heavily.

Some listeners may not even notice that Bose has tweaked the sound and designed their speakers in this way, but an audiophile who pays attention to every aspect of the sound is likely to notice these changes.

Audiophiles may feel that Bose’s attempts to create the optimal sound for most listeners is an arrogant pursuit. After all, how can they know for sure that most listeners will enjoy the sound more after it has been altered?

There is a strong argument that speakers should project the sound of a recording as accurately as possible. While this can be achieved with high-end studio monitors, it’s more difficult with portable speakers or headphones as they have smaller woofers and tweeters.

It’s therefore understandable that Bose would take these measures to try and make their speakers sound better. This isn’t likely to boost their popularity amongst the audiophile community, though!

Are Bose Speakers Any Good?

Just because audiophiles may not view Bose as a high-quality brand, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a good choice for the average listener.

It’s very important to consider Bose’s target customer base when assessing how good their products are. Bose is designed more for lifestyle purposes, than sound. They invest a lot of time and effort into making their speakers and headphones look good, while other brands may be more focused on sonic characteristics.

The distinguished aesthetical designs of Bose products are one of the main reasons for the brand’s success. Most consumers want speakers that will look good in their homes, and Bose delivers this.

An audiophile may scrutinize the over-processed sound of Bose speakers and headphones, overlooking the build quality and appearance of the products. This is because they are passionate about sound quality, and are less interested in other factors which don’t directly impact this.

It’s also worth noting that Bose is by no means the most expensive audio brand on the market. In fact, they are very fairly priced when you compare them to many other similar brands that essentially offer the same level of sound quality and components.

Consequently, if we were to compare Bose to a high-end, boutique audio brand that an audiophile would approve of, then we would likely conclude that Bose speakers aren’t any good.

However, if we look at the bigger picture, considering the cost, appearance, and build quality of Bose speakers, it’s clear that they can be a good choice for certain customers who aren’t particularly bothered about achieving the very best audio quality possible.

Do Audiophiles Like Klipsch?

Founded in 1946, Klipsch is another highly successful speaker and home audio manufacturer. Like Bose, the brand has consistently produced popular headphones and speakers for many decades. 

It’s fair to say that audiophiles prefer Klipsch to Bose, but many of them are still not completely sold on the brand’s quality. One common complaint amongst audiophiles is that Klipsch speakers sound overly bright, and like Bose, they alter the sound of the audio to a noticeable degree.

Accuracy is arguably the most important sonic quality that audiophiles look out for. Bose, as we’ve discussed, is not focused on delivering accuracy. Klipsch speakers tend to be more accurate than Bose speakers, but they do still change the EQ of the audio which is a big put-off for most audiophiles.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that Klipsch is one of, if not the best speaker and home audio manufacturer in its price range. For an affordable brand, they deliver a great sound that the everyday listener would be very satisfied with.

Again, it comes down to the fact that audiophiles are incredibly passionate about sound quality, and therefore they listen carefully for any ways that speakers or headphones alter the original sound of music.

Klipsch uses horns on many of their popular speakers in place of traditional tweeters. This often results in a brighter, more treble-heavy output. Audiophiles are likely to notice this straight away.

There are so many different factors to consider when deciding whether a speaker brand is good or not. If a set of speakers cost five times more than another set, you’d expect the sound to be five times better, but this is very rarely the case.

Klipsch, like Bose, is a great choice for anyone who isn’t overly fussed about experiencing the best possible sound quality. They sound good, look great, and are affordable.

Do Audiophiles Like Sonos?

In the two decades that it has been in business, Sonos has quickly risen to the top of the speaker and sound system manufacturing industry.

Renowned for its innovative designs, and versatile connectivity options, Sonos is used by millions of people around the world. But what do audiophiles think of this manufacturer?

Most audiophiles consider Sonos speakers to be average.

They’re part of a group of manufacturers that fall into the mid-tier category, producing a decent sound quality but not reaching the high standards of other, often more expensive speaker brands.

One of Sonos’ biggest strengths is the connectivity of its speakers, and the smooth operation they offer to consumers. However, these two qualities are not particularly important for audiophiles, who are more concerned with sound quality and accuracy.

Compared to Bose speakers, audiophiles are likely to hold Sonos in higher regard. This is because although Sonos also adds coloration to the output and alters the sound, they don’t do so as aggressively as Bose does.

Indeed, Sonos speakers are not suitable for critical listening. However, that’s not what they’re designed for anyway. They’re designed to simplify audio playback and satisfy the average listener, not to appease audiophiles and those who have very high standards.

Sonos speakers aren’t particularly cheap, but they are also nowhere near as expensive as some of the high-end options that audiophiles would recommend.

Some would argue that there is a point of diminishing returns with speakers, where the improvement of the sound quality is not worth the additional cost. Sonos is positioned very close to the sweet spot, in that respect.

Related Questions

Do audiophiles use EQ?

Most audiophiles don’t like to use equalization (EQ) to adjust the frequency output of speakers or headphones. This is because audiophiles claim that EQ diminishes the overall quality of the audio signal, and causes the sound to be less accurate.

What is the highest quality audio format?

Several audio formats are considered the highest quality. Each of these is known as a lossless format, and they include WAV, AIFF, and FLAC. They are considered to be significantly better quality than MP3.

What is lossless audio?

“Lossless” audio is a term that is used a lot these days. Many people believe it means that the audio is uncompressed, but this is not true. Lossless audio means that the audio file uses specific compression algorithms to avoid a loss of quality through the compression process.

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