Bose Companion 20 - Premium portable speakers to match premium laptop?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Kendo, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Kendo macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2011
    I'm looking for the best 2.0 speakers money can buy ($250 limit). Unfortunately I can only limit myself to a two speaker setup since I am low on space (I live in NYC) and I don't want to lug around a subwoofer. Fortunately I am not a serious audiophile so 5.1 is out of the question but I have enough passion for music that I don't want to just get any cheap speakers.

    I noticed the Bose Companion 20 Speakers (not to be confused with the Companion 2) for $250 which is a lot, but from every review I've read, all seem to recommend them wholeheartedly. Especially the sound that comes from just two speakers. I love bass and they say even with the lack of a subwoofer, the bass is very rich. I know Bose products get a lot of flack from both audiophiles and review sites, but every review I can find rave about these.

    Anyone else match up their expensive MacBook Pro with expensive matching speakers? Can you recommend any good two speaker setups?
  2. greenchiliman macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2010
    Bose sucks, period. Most reviews are from people who don't have a good pair of speakers as a reference or in the case of bloggers, probably reviewing a pair they got for free.

    google 'speaker forums' and look for a computer section. The only thing you are buying with BOSE is the experience that you subsidized their massive marketing and branding campaigns.
  3. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Skip the Bose and look for a nice set of powered bookshelf speakers. I've never heard these, but Audioengine 2s are supposed to be good, and are less expensive than the Bose.

    CNET also says the bigger, better sounding Audioengine 5 is available for about $270. I'd absolutely pay the extra $20 for a better speaker than the Bose.
  4. mfuchs88 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2011
    I bought into the bose hype, and fully (FULLY) regret it. Don't get me wrong, my 201's are decent speakers, but I wayyyyyy over-payed for them. The marketing is incredible and if you are one of those who thinks brand name makes a difference to quality, then do whatever you wish. But i would not recommend Bose to anyone, being as they are far too expensive and not as great of a build as I had hoped.
  5. hopegrad macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2011
    Just listened to these in SF ...

    Hey Kendo:

    I am in the same situation as you are and just returned from listening to these at the San Francisco Apple Store. While I appreciate what audiophiles have to say, I think this is the best approach for a space limited situation. I also loved the B&W MM-1 set but those are $250 more and emit a white background noise when sitting powered on. Also, I noticed the right speaker in that set-up got quite warm/hot.

    The issue I have with the Audioengine 5s is that they are rather large. So, if space is at a premium, this may not be the best way to go. But, friends of mine who have them like them. Even they say though that the set-up is rather large.

    Now, back to the Bose 20s. I ordered them tonight from Apple with express delivery for today or tomorrow. There is a chance I will take them to the Apple store upon arrival for the B&W MM-1. But, the sound quality for the Bose 20s at this price point is too difficult to ignore. Plus, the speakers to my ears put out great loud sound without much distortion. My only possible fault is that the speakers were strong on bass and treble. The mid-range got a little muddy at really high volumes in a packed store. However, I am splitting hairs here.

    Also, keep in mind that I put a premium on good sound. I travel the globe seeing live music in my spare time. Last thing, I compared the same Beatles, Stones and Dave Brubeck tracks on the Bose and B&W systems and had a hard time detecting a difference in sound quality.

    I hope this helps. Please let us know what all you decide to buy.

    Happy Holidays.
  6. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    Nothing beats good headphones if you want best audioquality in a portable format.
    Everything else will be "okay" at best and if you do as greenchiliman says and take a look into speakerforums. Bose has a very bad reputation for marketing middleclass hardware at expensive prices. It is definitely not worth the price.

    Get a headset and if that is annoying at least get a similarily good setup for less money. Small speakers are in the end always limited and there is only so much the companies can do. Bose just charges.
  7. negativzero macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2011
    The only speakers you should pick are wood-housed speakers. Plastics give speakers a really dull sound and prevent the sound from really opening up to fill the space. Wood on the other hand, gives your music a very natural sound and enhances the acoustics.

    Give Bose a skip. Find yourself a good pair of wood ones for the same price instead and you'll be amazed :)
  8. beosound3200, Dec 22, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011

    beosound3200 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2010
    obviously nobody understood the question right, if you wanna match a macbook pro with speakers, they also need to look good, not just sound good... look at it this way, op wants macbook pro and all of you are suggesting alienware...

    if you have the money
  9. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    I have a pair of M-Audio AV40s, and they are phenomenal for the price. Look into those...
  10. eron macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2008
    Swan Speakers

    My desk is in a small area, so big boomy speakers and bass don't work for me.

    So I bought a pair of Swans H2, and stuck them on the sides of my 24" monitor, so they are at my ear level, and save some space.

    Great speakers for the price I've paid for them, and works perfectly in the limited space I have.

    Oh, didn't know that! That explains why the Swans are good!
  11. greenchiliman macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2010
    I didn't get that at all from the OP. Plus the typical NYC apt does NOT look like that regardless of what every TV show wants us to believe
  12. grahamnp macrumors 6502a

    Jun 4, 2008
    None of Bose computer speakers offer decent sound for their price. If you want looks to match, the Logitech Z-4's color scheme (aluminium + gloss black) is an uncanny match for the MacBook Pro/iMac's glass bezel display. It doesn't sound that great though and I don't actually think it looks that great even though it does complement the MBP.

    I remember a Bose 2.0 speaker that had an unusual driver design that gave an unusually large and full sound for a two speaker system. This looks kinda like the bigger sibling of that but the one I was still wasn't that great for the money. Nice for a two speaker system but easily outperformed by most 2.1s.
  13. negativzero macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2011
    Lol, no offense to your username and the speakers in the link, but B&Os are overrated and sound crap, again like Bose, a company who used to make good speakers and then got poisoned by marketing gimmicks.
    Wood is only part of the story. If you know your components well, you can pick up a really good speaker for a really good price. You just need to know how to sift out the marketing and bullcrap from the real quality.
  14. ibis99 macrumors regular

    Jul 14, 2010
    Bose Blows!

    Bose is trash. Look into either Swan, MAudio or Audio Engine AE5. Well worth the extra $'s
  15. TheIguana macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2004
    Second the Audioengine A2s, I have had a pair for 3 years now and they are fantastic speakers. The A2s are very compact and have great sound for the price.
  16. beosound3200 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2010
    no offense taken, but if you think b&o speakers sound like CRAP you have no idea what youre talking about, no offense ;) there are certainly better sounding speakers for the same money, but b&o offers elegant and beautiful not bulky and ugly design and they are certainly one of the greatest innovators in the audio world, especially with their ICE amplifiers, after all this is MACrumors, no?

    and yes, you probably never heard a pair of beolab 5 speakers, dubbed as one of the best speakers in the world ;)

    i would never put bose and b&o in the same basket..
  17. snazzyiphoneguy macrumors member

    Dec 21, 2011
    harman kardon soundsticks.

    best sound for value and function and look

    sold at apple store too.

    150 last i remember. GET THEM
  18. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    I don't know about the current Bose offerings but I have a Bose system with a sub-woofer that I purchased years ago and it has excellent sound. The tiny speakers fit where larger speakers cannot.

    I agree that when my system was originally introduced at around $700 it was over-priced. But eventually Bose dropped the price to less than $400 and at that price it was a very good buy.

    Omitting a sub-woofer is going to have an effect on the sound quality since most small speakers cannot adequately reproduce low frequencies. If you have some space beneath your computer desk you have room for a small sub-woofer.

    I think that if music is what you mainly listen to that multi-speaker systems are overkill. (It's a different story if you are using speakers in a home theatre system and you want to try to duplicate the movie theatre experience.) You will get the best sound from stereo speakers and some of them don't need a sub-woofer in order to reproduce excellent bass.

    $250 is not much money considering that a good speaker system is a long-term investment. (My home speakers were purchased in 1981. I routinely get compliments from people about how good they sound.) If you cannot find acceptable speakers for $250 I suggest waiting a bit so you save the money to buy better speakers. A budget of $400 will get you much better speakers.)

    Cambridge Soundworks has some reasonably priced systems; when I was shopping some of its offerings had excellent reviews.

    Axiom also has computer speakers. I have used their bookshelf speakers and the sound quality cannot be beat for the price. They are equal to speakers priced at three times the cost. And I can vouch for the company's excellent customer service and no-hassle 30-day return policy.

    Be sure to buy from a company with a good return policy. What pleases you may be very different than what pleases others, which is why soliciting recommendations should only be a first step in the selection process.

    Whatever speakers you wind up buying, give AstoundStereo a try. The software improves whatever speakers you use through some clever spatial tinkering; it can make even marginal speakers sound better. The software improves the sound of small computer speakers that may have to be placed closer together than is optimum for the best sound.

    BTW, I have excellent speakers in my living room, so I have been able to compare the Bose to the much larger boxes. (I've been using high-end speakers for 40 years and I have listened to speaker systems that are priced in the $5000 range.) The Bose do a very good job as far as my ears are concerned. It may be that currently Bose isn't worth the cost for what you get; fortunately, there are plenty of very good, reasonably-priced alternatives.
  19. bcburrows macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2009
    I am in a similar situation to you and I went crazy and went for a bose sound link - bluetooth single speaker that is portable.
    Quality is good and it can be used with my iPhone etc either at home or on the go. Great if you are giving a presentation with sound!
  20. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
  21. SurferMan macrumors 65816

    May 14, 2010
    South FL
    Yup in that range, the HK Soundsticks II are tops for the $. I'm very into audio/home theater and beyond impressed by the sound this setup offers for the money. Even a lot of reviews thought they would be "hokey" but were surprised at how nice it is when they tested it. Plus the setup looks cool too.

    Bose mehhh, Bose home theaters are complete junk, spectrum/quality of sound etc are horrible compared to a full setup you could put together yourself for less then a grand, even a couple hundred at that. Pretty pathetic when you could put a 5.1 system together using cheaper speakers like Fluance and blow away Bose top offering. Their headphones and portable speakers like for computers aren't bad, but just not worth near the $ they charge for them.
    Another good choice, Axiom's speakers are excellent, I've used them in my last home theater.
  22. Mojo1, Dec 22, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011

    Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    When I was testing the Axiom's I had a problem with my receiver. Axiom let me keep the speakers for over two months while the unit was off being repaired. They were very accommodating to say the least!

    I wound up returning the speakers but when I am in the market again you can be sure that Axiom will be my first stop.

    I never really "got it" when it came to the Bose audio speakers I tried out. (My first experience was with the original "omni-directional" Bose; if I remember correctly they were the 901 series. Man-that was a LONG time ago!)

    I have the original Bose Acoustimass system with a sub-woofer made of wood (actually particle board). I don't doubt that there are now alternatives that are equal to it or better at a similar price. But at the time (1997) there were only a few higher-end computer systems available; the rest were plastic junk. I've never had a reason to replace the Bose system, but if I need to do so in the future I'll be looking at other systems.
  23. snazzyiphoneguy macrumors member

    Dec 21, 2011
    was bose good back in the 80s? my dads 1986 buick park avenue has a bose speaker system in it, top oft he line at the time, and sound AWESOME lol
  24. Nameci macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2010
    The Philippines...
    M-Audio AV40's or the swans. Bose is just marketing hype.
  25. SurferMan macrumors 65816

    May 14, 2010
    South FL
    Yeh Bose had their place long ago, they carved out a niche with the cube speakers especially. And they had an excellent PR/Marketing team. But even then you could do so much better, just had to select and match your own speakers which a lot of people don't do or didn't know they could and just want a pre-boxed system.

    But yeh now, totally different game, speakers today are on another level of quality and sound. I mean take for example two companies I have experience with that weren't too expensive, Energy and Axiom. I wouldn't even put Bose in the same sentence as those two even their top offering vs Energy/Axioms cheapest speakers. (Energy subs kick ass btw lol).

    There are Cube systems today now that just destroy Bose Cubes. Like check out Orb, , now that's how a Cube system should sound. I have a friend with their setup. Sounds is incredible for Cubes.

    My last place the owners left the Bose Lifestyle-V system in the living room, one of the first thing's I did was sell it on Craigslist lol.

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