In 2006 Bose ranked second in Home Audio retail, behind Sony (based on retail point-of-sale data for the period of January through October, 2006).
The company dedicates a 6,500 square meter (70,000 square feet) building in Framingham for research, development, and engineering (RD&E) purposes with a minimum annual RD&E budget of $100 million. In 2004, Bose purchased an additional site from HP in Stow, Massachusetts, to house growing automotive and marketing divisions.
Although these speaker systems accurately emulated the characteristics of an ideal spherical membrane, the results of listening tests were disappointing (some of the reasons for this are detailed in a later publication from Bose's research department). This led Bose to conduct further research into psychoacoustics that eventually clarified the importance of a dominance of reflected sound arriving at the head of the listener, a listening condition that is characteristic of live performances. This finding led to a revised speaker design in which eight of nine identical small mid-range drivers (with electronic equalization) were aimed at the wall behind the speaker while one driver was aimed forward, thus ensuring a dominance of reflected over direct sound in home listening spaces, replicating the dominant reflected sound fields listeners experience in live performances.
Before hearing his new design for the first time, although confident that his new design would produce a more faithful replication of the "live" listening experience, Amar Bose was unsure as to whether his new "direct/reflected" design would be a small audible improvement or a large one over his earlier design and the best commercially available loudspeakers. The new pentagonal design, named the Model 901, was a very unconventional design for speakers at the time (which were generally either full-size floorstanding units or bookshelf type speakers accompanied by a subwoofer that handled only the very lowest frequencies). The Model 901 premiered in 1968 and was an immediate commercial success, and the Bose Corporation grew rapidly during the 1970s.
Amar Bose believes that imperfect knowledge of psychoacoustics limits the ability to adequately characterize quantitatively any two arbitrary sounds that are perceived differently, and to adequately characterize and quantify all aspects of perceived quality. He believes, for example, that distortion is much over-rated as a factor in perceived quality in the complex sounds that comprise music, noting that a sine wave and a square wave (a hugely distorted sine wave) are audibly indistinguishable above 7 kHz. Similarly, he does not find measurable relevance to perceived quality in other easily measured parameters of loudspeakers and electronics, and therefore does not publish those specifications for Bose products. The ultimate test, Bose insists, is the listener's perception of audible quality (or lack of it) and his or her own preferences. Unlike other major speaker manufacturers, Bose does not publish specifications relating to the measured electrical and objective acoustic performance of its products. . This reluctance to publish information is due to Bose's rejection of these measurements in favour of "more meaningful measurement and evaluation procedures.
In 1993 Bose opened up its first store in Kittery, Maine. Since then Bose has opened 160 stores in the United States and numerous locations world-wide. In Britain there are 8 Bose stores, including one on Regent Street. Bose stores feature a 15 to 25 seat theater which has a short film that demonstrates a Lifestyle Home Entertainment System using a high-definition front LCD projector. At one point in the show a three-sided box is placed in front of the center speaker, and the Lifestyle system automatically adjusts and corrects the sound in the room via AdaptIQ technology. Stores located in factory outlets discount prices on some products and sell both new and factory renewed (retested open-box) products.
Bose has a wide range of speakers for car audio and has even started to make consoles for car audio including the Bose Media System which can play CDs, DVD audio discs, DVD video discs, Super Audio CDs, MP3s, AAC, and features a music storage system.
At the 2007 auto show in Geneva, Switzerland Bose launched a new media system with the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. The new system combines stereo, navigation, and hands free calling into one component and interface. In 2007 the Bose media system won the International Telematics Award for the "Best Storage Solution for In-Car Environment"
On October 15, 2003, Bose Corporation began selling the L1 Model I family of products through its internal sales division and www.bose.com (in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada or U.S. Virgin Islands only). Guitar Center and Musicians Friend began selling these products on November 1, 2003, in stores nationwide.
On March 28, 2007, Bose Corporation introduced the L1 Model II system. It became available for sale May 1, 2007, through its internal sales groups and participating authorized dealers. At the same time the T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine was introduced. This separate processor is the main input and user interface for the Model II. It is also compatible with the original L1 System. That original L1 System is now known simply as the L1 Classic. It was replaced by the L1 Model I. This new model looks and is functionally similar to the Classic. The L1 Model I is RoHS compliant, as is the L1 Model II
In some consumer-level publications outside of this debate, Bose is regarded as a producer of high-end audio systems. . A market study published in March 2006 by the independent market research firm Forrester Research reported that Bose's brand name was among the 3 most trusted brand names (by the US population) of consumer-electronics or computer brand names in the US.
In 1968, Amar Bose presented a classic paper to the Audio Engineering Society entitled: "On the Design, Measurement and Evaluation of Loudspeakers" available from the AES at a small charge. Following the logic in this paper, Bose Corporation has endeavored to strike an economic balance between cost and performance to provide high quality as judged by the average listener whose criteria of quality include faithful reproduction of the listener's experience in a live performance, which according to Bose requires a dominance of the reverberant sound field in the listening space (a typical home environment). (see audiophile beliefs).
Bose's systems were criticized by Stereophile in 1975 in a review of the 901 system, stating that in the magazine's opinion, the system was unexceptional and unlikely to appeal to perfectionists with a developed taste in precise imaging, detail, and timbre, and that these shortcomings were an excessive price to pay for the improvement in impact and ambiance generated by the large proportion of reflected sound [to on-axis sound]. However, the author also stated that the system produced a more realistic resemblance of natural ambiance than any other speaker system.
Audio forums tend to talk about the non-linear frequency response of certain Bose systems. A reviewer in PC Magazine stated that he believes Bose is not a producer of high-end audio systems, because it didn't fulfill his expectations of what a high-end system should be. (Widely-accepted performance characteristics of 'high-end' audio systems typically include a flat frequency response curve throughout the audible spectrum, and precise impulse response.) Audio enthusiasts frequently criticize Bose in online forums, accusing it of overpricing its products and criticizing the sound produced by Bose products. In addition, Bose products are not sold at many stores which specialize in high-end audio and home theater. Bose does not publish specific technical specifications (impedance, sensitivity, range, sound pressure levels) on either their packaging or their website; and as of November 21, 2006 none of Bose's products is THX certified.
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