110 of 120 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Notes: I don't work for Bose, and I "paid for" these speakers with AMEX credit card points.
To compare these speakers to 3-piece computer speakers makes no more sense than comparing a computer subwoofer to a high-end audio subwoofer. The only similarity is that they produce sound, with varying levels of fidelity.
I'm comparing the Bose MusicMonitor to the few very small desktop speakers that provide a decent sound. Not necessarily an accurate sound; I've heard systems in the $250,000 range that provide excellent sound -- but it is still not accurate sound. If you're expecting the full sonic equivalent of a 3-piece system, you won't find it in the MusicMonitor. You also won't find the thumpy, tubby overpowering "bass" those cheap subwoofers produce. And in home theaters, all but the very best subwoofers are often paired with infrasonic transducers which, when screwed to the bottom of the floor, can take the output frequency down to 5 Hz or so (and tickle your feet and your butt in the process).
Granted, there's not much low bass so beloved of video explosions and certain types of music. But neither is there the strident blaring that often comes from small speakers whose speakers are driven well past the point of linearity. What the MusicMonitors provide is a well-balanced sonic field I would rate similar to some professional near-field monitors. Being small speakers, they do best in near-field positions - not more than a foot or two from your ears. Still, there's enough clear volume that you can walk around a room and the music won't seem too weak. My impression is that the bass tends to rise slower (maxes out) than the rest of the audio range as volume increases. But at lower volumes there's plenty there to give a good feel of solidity to lower notes. You will not get an extreme dynamic range, but then that's not what they're designed for either.
Some studies in the '50's showed that many people didn't notice the loss of extreme bass as long as their higher harmonics were reasonably loud. I'm sure that's at least a part of what gives these little boxes a sense of weight to music. The mid-and higher ranges all seemed well executed, with none of the stridency I associate with small-diameter speakers forced to do more than their design allowed for.
I was frankly surprised at how much I enjoyed the MusicMonitor's sound. I expected something a little better than the competition; what I heard was an order of magnitude better. They sound very good at my normal listening level and if I turn the volume up for a song that deserves it, I'm not disappointed by that presentation, either.
A fair review would pit the MusicMonitor against a 2-piece speaker the same size. But as far as I can tell, there isn't one. So I'll give the speaker 5 stars based on what it does with what it has. I don't think there's a better very small speaker out there. There are bigger and cheaper ones, but they're not really the same class of speaker I'm reviewing.
The Bose MusicMonitor is an excellent close-field speaker system that produces a broad, relativley flat sound with a wide variety of music. The speakers are unobtrusive, nicely finished, and would look good on any desk. An optional carry case lets you bring them along on a trip to listen to mp3 music in your room.
So, possibly aside from the price, these are definitely 5-star speakers. They play music and audio, in a small package, with no obvious audible distortions or other significant problems. Sure, tradeoffs were made, as they always are in design and manufacturing. But Bose has clearly hit a home run with this little jewel.
If you have reservations about buying and trying one, Bose and Amazon normally have very good return policies, but be sure to check before ordering. If you're looking for something small, look to the MusicMonitor first. You'll quickly see how size, weight, number of components and sound make them an easy first audition choice. You may decide that there's no reason to go on and audit your second choice.
99 of 111 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Addendum to my initial review:
Apparently Bose had a similar unit in Japan for at least 3 years already. This USA version is the low end Japanese 'M2' version. I confirmed this with Bose of Japan.
Japan also has a higher end 'M3' version in identical size. That one comes in silver or black - AND is capable of running on 4AA batteries that goes inside the base and runs at 2watts using batteries. Plugged in, they are 20 watts/channel. The buttons are different from the USA version.
The M3 in Japan cost 25% more than the M2. M2 is price in line with the US. M3 is reviewed as even better sounding than the M2, plus the capacity to take batteries is a plus. I wonder if the USA will introduce an 'upgraded' Music monitor next year by bringing the M3 to the USA.
Has anyone compared the USA model to the Japanese M2 and M3 models? Funny because Bose press in the USA seem to claim that these are recent developments when they have been in Japan for a few years. Do a search on the web and find the info.
Would love to hear from others.
2nd addendum to my initial review
Now that I've had one to try for a couple of weeks, here's the update.
1. This is basically, even for Bose, a $200 system.
2. If you are looking for a $400 Bose sound, forget it. Even the guys at the Bose store tells me that they don't think it is worth $400 at all.
3. However, if you travel a lot like I do, then this is the best tiny self amplified speaker system on the planet. This doesn't mean it's $400 or even $200 great in terms of tone. In essence, I think of this as a $200 premium tacked on just because it sets the standard for something so small. I hope in time Bose will have some competition from other manufacturers.
4. Musically, this is remarkably good once, I got rid of my expectations created by the hype and price. I certainly prefer it considerably over the $200 Audioengine A2 which is almost exactly 3 times larger. The Audioengine has incredible reviews (see Stereophile) and is louder and has stronger bass. However, the Bose is more musical with better balance, highs, mids, clarity. MUCH MUCH better clarity which is quite musical.
5. They should have engineered a slightly stronger bass to this model. Their Japannese M3, by all account, is better because of slightly better bass. It needs a bit stronger bass foundation to give it the right sense of 'fatness'. I wish Bose had brought the M3 rather than M2 into the US.
So in conclusion, if I could change stars, I would now up this to 4 stars. Not remotely close to 5 stars due to price.
Reading the incredible hype by some journalists on the web, I had high hopes for these. This is compounded by reports of Bose claiming that this is one of their great achievements. I thought that this may be the ideal traveling system.
Well, tested these today at the Bose store in a quiet room. (Great service by the Bose personnel.) Sure, they sound remarkably warm for something this small. However, not close to the hype which, at least to me, implied that they sound as good as a system with small subwoofer. Well, they were not even close to the new Bose Sounddock for the Ipod or the Companion 3. To their credit, the new Sounddock is a significant improvement over the old. To his credit, the salesperson admitted that this little speaker was not close to the other two system mentioned. The Sounddock is not even a large system.
Another note: Having used dozens of laptops through the years, I've seen small and large adapters. It's surprising that Bose spent much on research to miniaturize these speakers and then cut corner on suppling a LARGE AC Adapter . Although it is thinner than the speakers, the adapter is as tall and almost as wide as the speakers. I've had laptop adapters that are much smaller and yet supply more watts. Too bad a $400 portable speaker product did not have an adapter to match. Lenovo for example, supplies a 90 watt AC Adapter that's the size of a pack of playing cards!
3rd and Final Addendum May 25 2009
Well, I had the opportunity to test about half a dozen units of these and noticed that there seem to be variance from unit to unit. My gut level reaction is that Bose may have improved the bass slightly with newer units because I found them more satisfying. So I got an older and a recent unit to compare side by side. This could be coincidence but the newer unit DID have better bass although subtle. It was enough to make it over top for me. Emotionally, I definitely felt a difference in how pleasurable the music became. So now I do own a unit and these are the best speakers on the planet FOR THE SIZE. It does help that I chanced upon a new factory sealed unit for 40% off or else I would still find it difficult to justify the price.
The single driver per speaker design means the imaging is decent. This is one of its greatest advantage over other more powerful and fuller range all in one units - stereo separation.
One more note. In hotel rooms where the desk is right at the wall, I noticed that I preferred the sound with the speakers a few inches from the wall. Right at the wall, it is now too much bass and a bit muddy. But too far from the wall in the middle of the room, not enough bass reinforcement. So a few inches away from the wall sounds right to me.
In short, if you need a small system, recommended. Highly.
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
David S. White
- Published on Amazon.com
OK, I waited a long time and really thought about it and shopped, shopped, shopped- meaning I surfed a LOT of websites, reviews, etc. Now, I go back to the legendary 901's in the late 60's/early 70's, and I have enjoyed many Bose products since then, owning a Wave radio, several headphones and other goodies. But, I couldn't decide on these.
I first learned they existed when I was walking through an airport with time to kill- I think it was Midway in Chicago. I heard wonderful music with a stunning clarity and I looked all around for where the music was coming from. I found the Bose booth and the salesperson asked me to pick what was playing-- imagine, airport concourse, busy and NOISY. Finally, he pointed out these teeny metal speakes and I frankly couldn't believe it.
I decided I would take the $400 plunge (nearly $500 with tax and very nicely done carrying case with strap- a necessity if you want to move these things around) yesterday and went to a Bose store to hear them one more time. They sounded awfully good, so I bought them, and went home for the big moment. Music equipment sounds very different in your own home than it ever sounds at any store or public place.
I have a MacBook Pro with about 60 gigs of ITunes, a huge collection of CD's and an XM Radio, several IPOds and a CD player and I was eager to hear all of them through these little tiny speakers. I fired it up and had a moment of great disappointment when it seemed to sound no better than my Mac's nice built-in speakers. Then, I realized I had not connected the speakers to the Mac! Duhhh . . .
Then I connected them and tried all different genres including the demo CD. All I can say is, if price is no object (and that's what all the reviews ding Bose about, over and over and over . . .), these are, pound for pound, the finest little speakers I have EVER had the pleasure of hearing. Highs are clear and well-defined and the bass is incredible, given that there are two little speakers and NO subwoofer. They take up like zero space and they really can fill a room with sound- in my house, anyway.
Now, I have followed an old audiophile's advice from when I was a kid. Don't buy anything that is higher quality than you can hear the difference (not grammatical, there it is). I am in my later 50's and have some rock n' roll hearing loss, as so many of my generation do-- too many Marshall stacks, too close. But, these little speakers really do it for me. I cannot imagine a better sounding set of little speakers and they do just fine for me with MP3's, CD's, playing the XM through them and the CD player and the IPods. I heartily recommend them to you, again, if price is no object, and you really want a quality sound coming out of these little speakers that don't take up much room (they won't even bother the wife!). I am totally happy -- don't listen to all the techno-geek, Bose-bashers out there who probably have never even heard these little puppies before they spewed all over the Internet. Let your ears make the decision.
59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
These speakers sounded great in the Bose Store, downtown Seattle. It was near closing time so I did not get a chance to listen long or look closely at the computer set up. They did not have any for sale so I ordered some from Bose. I mated them to my 15in Apple G4 laptop. I have a wide variety of songs in iTunes. The first thing I noted was that the highs were very good and precise but the bass and over all warmth of the music was not as good as at the store. Acoustic instruments like guitar, and piano were vibrant. The funk was not happening as the bass was weak. I tried making adjustments in iTunes using the equalizer and was still not getting the sound I wanted. Then I turned on the SRS iWow iTunes plugin. The difference was like night and day. The bass was amazingly better and the sound stage was more expansive, music warmer. I think these speakers have a lot of potential but what you get out depends on what you put in. I suspect most laptops could use some software help to get better sound. I do have much better sound now than I did with my previous speakers also using the plugin. All in all I think at this price point I was expecting better sound right out of the box but I am totally satisfied with my current setup.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
My major complaint with these speakers is that Bose priced these "Japanese speakers" to a point where the same amount of money could be used to purchase the Desktop-friendly Companion 5 and the SoundDock Portable, both also from Bose.
However, judging from the radiator technology Bose utilized on these small speakers to forego the Acoustimass requirement, Bose wanted to price these relatively small but laptop-appropriate speakers at the same range to the Companion 5, since Bose's radiator technology with air vents are relatively new to the market.
The only minor complaints I have is that there's no headphone jack on either of the speakers (just in case you have to listen to sound discreetly), no Bose TrueSpace (shared with Bose's earlier Desktop Speakers), and you can only connect this to one stereo-compatible device at a time.
The main plus is that testing a couple of music tracks that I have purchased from the Apple iTunes store and testing this against Bose's own Companion 3 Type 2 speakers (with the Acoustimass set at mid-bass), the MusicMonitor sounds a bit more natural thanks to its neodymium magnets, and the bass isn't too harsh, making the MusicMonitor easier on the ears.
The MusicMonitor is just Bose's first attempt on a pair of "Laptop-friendly" speakers and judging from Bose's commitment to fix all mistakes, I wouldn't rule the speakers out as the MusicMonitor should have some time to develop into a killer set of speakers. On my wish list is battery operation, Bose TrueSpace architecture, support for 2 devices for the least, and a headphone jack on one of the speakers. Bose Waveguide architecture could be nice, though optional. While I liked the sound of these speakers, the Bose MusicMonitor has a lot of catching up to do.