Bose Killers for Every Budget – a Series

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Irishman, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. Irishman, Jan 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

    Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Every once in a while, a thread will get started asking if there are better alternatives to Bose in audio. And most of us who read and join in those threads throw out some great ideas, and almost inevitably, someone says this - or words to this effect - "I should come up with a system that will demolish this Bose system". We've all thought this at one point, right? Well, I decided to have a go at it. The recommendations are 100% serious, and the mocking tone of Bose is half-serious.

    Bose buyers usually fall into 3 categories – they’re buying Bose for ease of use and setup, because they are stylish and unobtrusive, or they’ve been told that Bose represents the best in sound quality. First, we’ll tackle their least expensive “home theater” system – the Cinemate GS Series II.

    1. The Cinemate GS Series II at $600 includes a pair of small satellite speakers that Bose calls Gemstones, one of Bose’s Acoustimass modules, a remote control and remote sensor. It can only connect to a TV that has an audio output, via analog stereo or optical.

    Ease of Use - For those who like a sleek look and simple setup, the AVR is the Marantz NR1403. It features Audyssey MultEQ system calibration. It’s $400 list, but you can catch it for less on sale. To get 2.1 stereo sound boosted by a good subwoofer, pick up these Insignia NS-SP213 5 ¼” bookshelf speakers for $70, and round out the LFE with this Bic America V80 8” 100w subwoofer for $110. This puts you at $580, giving you $20 for cables at monoprice.

    Low Profile - For those who want a solution that disappears with no visible wires, go with the ZVOX ZBase 580. Like the Bose, it connects to your TV via optical, analog stereo, or digital coax. It’s also $500, and exceeds the performance of the Bose in every way. It also gives you the ability to add a true subwoofer to really enhance the LFE. Use the money you save on an optical cable if you need it, and be sure to pick up some popcorn for movie night, because you’ll be doing it a lot!

    Sound Quality - For those who want the best sound quality in a 2.1 system, get a pair of the lauded Andrew Jones SP-BS22 monitors for $130. Couple it with Bic America’s F-12 12” subwoofer for $200. Then power everything with Pioneer’s VSX-523-K for $250. This will leave you with $20 for cables at monoprice. Everything you play on this system will destroy the Bose Cinemate in every conceivable way.

    Next time, we’ll tackle their least expensive surround sound system – the Lifestyle 525 Series II.
  2. phrehdd, Jan 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014

    phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    The Marantz is a really nice AVR for what it is. I have one of the slim line models and it works beautifully. I think the Bose is really (sorry Bose fans) a complete rip off. The only think Bose has done very well is noise cancellation in their headphones (at the price of aural fidelity).
  3. blujacket macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2013
    Most men tuck their tails between their legs cause wifey don't want those big speakers in their house.
  4. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    +1 for the Marantz NR1403. a breeze to set up, and fits well into my HT cabinet (which a high-profile AVR would not have).

    I use it with a pair of MartinLogan Motion SLM Hi-Performance Flat Panel LCR Speakers, to continue the slim, low-profile theme. I am in a loft, so 5.1 is not an option. They have solid sound and handle bass surprisingly well...all at moderate volumes. If you want to blow the doors off, you'll need something else.
  5. roxics macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2013
    Would you recommend the P-BS22 for a 5.1 channel setup used as the side/rear speakers and possibly as a center channel?

    I haven't bought any hi-fi gear since I was in my early teens, about 20 years ago. I'm still using my old 3-way 10" woofer pioneer loudspeakers and my old Sony pro-logic receiver from that era. Along with some cheap KLH center and surround speakers I got back then. But that system only pushes 10 watts out those rear and center channels and pro-logic was never that great to begin with. But I've been considering an upgrade to a modern 5.1 system and would love to do it inexpensively.
  6. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    Which is why I don't understand either. Some big speakers are actually sexy to look at, supposedly have a very good WAF.
    And as wives love it. It's big :eek:
  7. Irishman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Next, we’ll tackle their least expensive 5.1 surround sound system – the Lifestyle 525 Series II.

    1. The Lifestyle 525 Series II at $2500 includes a set of 5 small satellite speakers that Bose calls Jewelcubes, one of Bose’s Acoustimass modules, their AV receiver with 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, an AdaptIQ calibration microphone and headset, a remote control and remote sensor. This is one of 2 Bose systems that can connect via HDMI, but features no blu-ray playback. You’ll have to bring your own player.

    Ease of Use - For high-performing, low-profile receivers, it really is just a Marantz world. Use the R-1604 for plenty of HDMI ports (7 in and 1 out), multiroom capability, Audyssey’s MultEQ calibration, and front panel iPod capability via USB all for just $650! That leaves you $1850 for speakers. Get this SVS SB-1000 sealed sub for just $500, leaving you $1350 for your remaining 5 speakers. To keep the low-profile spirit of this Bose killer, we’re going to go with monitor (read, bookshelf) speakers, four of these amazing Ascend Acoustics CMT-340 monitors and matching center – all for only $1190! This leaves you room in the budget for 4 stands for these CMT0340s and cables from monoprice.

    Low Profile/style – For this configuration, we’re going to get you separates! That’s right – we’re pairing Emotiva’s UPA-500 for $400, and their UMC-200 Preamp/surround processor for $700. That’s $1100, leaving $1400 for speakers. We’re going to opt for Aperion Audio’s Intimus 4T Hybrid SD package, for $1400. This gets you two slim 4T towers, one 4C center, two 4B monitors, and the Bravus II 8D subwoofer! Your system will be the envy of all your neighbors, even the Bose Lifestyle owners!

    Sound Quality – This one is hard. It’s not hard to beat Bose, mind you. It’s just hard to pick a winner, because there are so many phenomenal choices at this price point! If you want to make your theater room sound like an actual theater, you could do little better at this price than Klipsch’s RF-42 II Home Theater system for $1500. Make this Denon AVR-X3000 the brains of your setup for $900, and you’ll have pick up your jaw from where it lands on the floor!

    Next time, we’ll tackle their most expensive 5.1 surround sound system – the Lifestyle 535 Series II.
  8. Soultosoul macrumors member

    Nov 4, 2011
    I use the Andrew Jones bookshelf speakers and a Pioneer VSX 823. No subwoofer yet, but it's still pretty sweet. I got it mostly to airplay itunes and some internet vids.
  9. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    SQ wise, it's always very, very easy to beat Bose. I used to extremely hate Bose cube systems (am still a bit). But let's be honest here. Bose it's not about sonic quality. It's all about look, statement, ease of use and installation.

    It's an audio package designed for average joe who wants everything works, easily installed from the beginning and sounds okay while looking good and compact. And hey it's cool to show off you have Bose theater in your living room. Although I would be laugh if any of my colleagues show his Bose system to me. They need to learn what real audio is.

    There lies the problem: Most people who willing to spend $2000+ for an audio system usually know a thing or two about speakers and believe me, we're not easily pleased. So in this case, Bose plays in dangerous playground here.

    But when we're talking about low budget headphones, or speaker docks, Bose stands itself pretty well against another products.
  10. Robster3 macrumors 68000

    Dec 13, 2012
    We use Sonos for music, but I am now watching cricket with my 17 year old Bose lifestyle cube surround sound system, still going strong. Got a pair of the Bose Bluetooth headphones yesterday, not bad.

    If the Bose ever dies will get a Sonos play bar, sub and play 3's for rear.
  11. DukeNCSU macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2014
    Thanks for all this info. What sound bar +\- subwoofer would you recommend for using with the tv and mainly listening to streaming music on the Apple TV? I am wanting to stay in the mid range budget and dint have the type of living room that works well with surround sound. Thanks!
  12. Irishman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Will help to know two things - your budget, and what kind of audio output your TV has.
  13. Irishman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    This time, we’ll tackle Bose's most expensive surround sound system – the Lifestyle 535 Series II.

    1. The Lifestyle 535 Series II at $3300 includes a set of 5 of Bose’s JewelCubes, one of Bose’s Acoustimass modules, their AV receiver with 4 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, an AdaptIQ calibration microphone and headset, a remote control and remote sensor. This is the second of 2 Bose systems that can connect via HDMI, but features no blu-ray playback.

    Ease of Use – We’re going with Onkyo for this solution, specifically the TX-NR929 for $1200. It gives you plenty of power in the largest rooms yet simple control via Onkyo’s Control App, HDMI video to a second zone, THX Select 2 Plus certification, plus Audyssey’s MultEQ XT32, for equalizing up to 2 subwoofers flawlessly! For the speakers, $2114 (yes, I know, we went over by $14! You’ll thank me, and here’s why). You get the EMP Tek E55Ti Tower pair, an EMP Tek E56Ci Center, an EMP Tek E5Bi Monitor pair, and a droolworthy Hsu Research VTF-3 MK4 subwoofer in rosenut finish!

    Low Profile/style – This Harman Kardon BDS SO 5.1 does Bose one better in this configuration. It combines a 5.1 channel amplifier with an integrated blu-ray player, for only $700. For low profile style, you really can’t top these Orb Audio Mod2X PLUS 5.1 system, including subwoofer, for $1876. Orb includes a 12 foot subwoofer cable in the bundle AND 100 ft. 16 gauge speaker wire! This brings you to $2576, letting you pocket quite a bit of the difference, all the while showing what premium audio can do.

    Sound Quality – We’re reaching out to one of our favorite and most well-regarded internet direct brands for this one! Yes, I’m talking about Hsu Research, and this time it’s their Ultra 15 5.1 Package, coming in at $2049 in a premium Rosenut finish. It features their ULS-15 subwoofer that reaches down to 15Hz, four of their HB-1 MK2 monitors and the matching HC-1 MK2 center. For the receiver, we’re going with Yamaha’s RX-A1030BL for just $1100, with great movie night sound plus HDMI-based second zone for multiroom flexibility. Their YPAO Room Correction system will also fine-tune the sound for your room. This gives you $151 for cables at monoprice, and a little left for popcorn and drinks.
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Sounds bars come in two flavours - passive and those with built in amplification.

    Passive sounds bars are much like typical speakers and require some sort of source (receiver) to work. Active systems have a built in amplifier and thus no receiver is required.

    Active sound bars are self contained and usually limited in capability. However, they are easy to set up and work well for limited needs. The ideal is to get what sounds best and has the right amount of connections that you may want.

    Passive sound bars range in all sorts of prices from very cheap to premier units like the Yamaha top of the line (several thousand dollars).

    A good place to go explore would be the AVS Forum site. If you can wade through the maker specific fan boys, you will get lots of info there.

    While I am not a fan of sound bars, I admit that some are quite impressive in sound and do well with creating a good stage for stereo music as well as depth for movies.

    Last - most active sound bars do not handle HD audio. At best they can use the core audio to get DTS and Dolby. Passive sound bars can play what the receiver is capable of putting out (thus you have the ability to get DTS-Master and the like).

    I don't know what a medium budget means to you. There are people who expect to get a full system AVR plus speakers for 300 dollars and to others a medium level system might be 1-2 thousand dollars.

    Best bang for the buck doesn't always mean cheap or inexpensive. The Goldenear Soundbar gets extremely high ratings but certainly is not inexpensive by any means. - It simply has great sound and uses technology that helps with creating a stereo sound rather than a single source sound for music (similar with left right and center channel). I only give that as an example of a quality purchase. - There are others.
  15. DukeNCSU macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2014
    Thanks for the replies. I'm looking to spend ~$500-600. I will need an active soundbar (I don't want to get a receiver/amp) and probably subwoofer. I was thinking of attaching the Apple TV to the tv by hdmi and then attaching the Apple TV to the soundbar with the optical input and then attaching the soundbar to the tv via RCA.
  16. Parkin Pig macrumors 6502a

    Parkin Pig

    Oct 23, 2009
    Do you realise how arrogant that sounds?

    This is a misguided sweeping assumption. The only things you can be sure of about someone who is willing to spend $2000+ for an audio system are:

    A) that they have that money (or credit facility) available
    B) they rarely understand how tiresome it is when they constantly boast about it.

    I know enough people with expensive tastes to realise that the phrase 'all the gear, no idea' has some very strong foundations indeed.
  17. iSayuSay macrumors 68030


    Feb 6, 2011
    Certainly no less arrogant than people who'd boast their $2000 Bose systems.

    Hence as I said .. usually. Most people I know spend thousands of $$ on audio mainly after the sonic quality. Sexy design and chassis comes second. They don't mind sparkling and messy look of tube amp, cables, power, preamp boxes laid everywhere.

    And $2000 Bose is nowhere sound as good as THAT kind of system. But certainly it looks neat, easy to install, and compact. That's what you pay for and I don't see why anyone should feel .. offended?
  18. Irishman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Thanks for the budget constraints! It helps a lot.

    Knowing that, your suggested way of connecting the bar to your setup won't quite work the way you have it explained here.

    You don't connect the ATV to the bar at all. Just connect the ATV to the TV via HDMI, then connect the sound bar to your TV via either HDMI, Fiber optic (aka optical), Digital coax, or RCA stereo audio.

    Since you mentioned RCAs above, can we assume that your TV has clearly labelled analog RCA stereo OUTPUTS? Inputs cannot be made to work here, so that's super important.
  19. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    One thing to consider is just staying with a 2:1 system unless you play a lot of fighting robot movies. Better for music anyway.

    It is hard to set up two tiny speakers and a giant sub. Most people will have better luck with an engineered rather than a mix and match system.

    The room is as important as anything. I got expensive B&Ws, a respected name for sure, but they are wasted here in my bad room.

    Nothing is better than headphones, if that would work for you.
  20. Irishman thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    You had me onboard until this. I do get what I think you're saying. Equal money spent on headphones + a headphone amp that you would have spent on speakers for a room with bad acoustics (that can't be corrected via room treatments) can result in less offensive sound. THAT is true.

    Removing the room from the experience isn't always the best route to go.

    I think you're projecting your bad room logic onto everyone's situation. :)

    Unless I'm misreading you.
  21. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Headphones. No matter what amount of cash you have, you get headphones that are ten times better than amplifier + speaker.

    (True story: My wife once complained that my speakers were rubbish. Turned out that I had left my headphones plugged into the amplifier, speakers turned off, she wanted to listen to some music and turned the volume all the way up until these poor headphone speakers filled the room with enough sound for her taste ).
  22. antiwindows macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2010
    I agree with all points you posted. Are there any other manufactors of cube style speakers, that you or anyone compaired to Bose?
    For comsumers that want small form factor, Bose are ok, but what would stop me ever getting a Bose product is the price point.
  23. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Nothing arrogant about having disdain for the Bose "systems" that cost a great deal and deliver faux sound. For the same money one can get a nice set up that does meet the same requirements and have better sound, controls and connectivity.

    I always reference Bose with reverence when it comes to noise canceling headphones but with the caveat that the actual audio is not all that great.
    When it comes to their "systems," I mentioned what one gets for the price and that there are far better solutions out there. You may now call me arrogant for wanting to shop wisely, do my research and 'understand' the difference between a heavily marketed "wow" item and a down to earth get the job done with quality item.
  24. Beachguy macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
  25. jca24 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2010

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