February 15, 2013

Bose L1 Portable Speaker Systems Overview

Bose is known for having some of the best sounding audio devices from headphones, to media players, to surround sound systems. To add to their existing line of quality professional audio equipment, Bose put out a collection of portable PA systems. Initially released in 2003 the L1 Speaker Systems looked to change the way we look at live sound setups. These systems have been used in multiple applications from PA for the acoustic performer to monitor systems for full bands. In 2012 Bose added a new product to the line with the L1 Model 1S and its companion bass speaker the B1 Bass Module. The L1 Portable Systems can also be used for any type of performance or live sound application from a mobile DJ to an orator. Not only do these speakers have great sound but they are also aesthetically pleasing for use as an audio source/entertainment hub for your home or business. There are three different systems depending on the audience size you are seeking to accommodate. Here are the features of each system:

L1 Compact System

Bose L1 Compact

Bose L1 Compact

The most notable feature to mention about the L1 System are the speakers. They have a unique design in that they are constructed as a curved articulated line array . If you’re wondering what that means, just stop by your local amphitheater or large concert venue and you will notice that the front of house speakers hanging from the ceiling are curved. This is an articulated line array and its the same design that Bose has implemented in all of their speaker models within the L1 line. The L1 Compact System houses 6 of these speakers as well as a bass speaker that doubles as a stand for the L1 Compact System. With 106 db of continuous power, the L1 Compact is best suited for an audience size of roughly 100 people. This system would be best for the acoustic performer, orator, wedding or mobile DJ, and even restaurants or small businesses looking to add some ambiance.

In addition to being a bass speaker and stand for the L1 Compact speaker, the bass speaker also acts as the central hub for all of your I/O. The I/O includes 1 XLR input for a microphone, an 1/8″ input for iPod’s or mp3 players, an RCA input, an RCA output, a 1/4″ input, and a 1/4″ output. In a nutshell it has all the ins and outs you need for an audience size of 100 people and has the power to accommodate.

L1 Model 1S with B1 Bass

L1 Model 1S w/ B1 Bass

L1 Model 1S w/ B1 Bass

The L1 Model 1s is the latest addition to the L1 line and features 12 speakers, 112 db of continuous power, and comes with the B1 Bass Module to bring the extra bottom end. The L1 Model 1S as well as the L1 Model II sit atop a stand with articulating legs called the power stand. It not only powers the L1 speaker but it can also power up to two B1 Bass speakers or one B2 bass speaker which is the bigger brother to the B1. The L1 Model 1S is built for an audience size of up to 300 people.

The I/O on the power stand has a 1/4″ input, an NL4 bass module out, trim control, and a port for the Bose ToneMatch Audio Engine. You can scroll down to read more about the ToneMatch but what you have essentially are the inputs and controls from a mixer and rack mounted EQ and FX processors all within a small and easy to use module. Both the L1 Model 1S and the L1 Model II can connect with the Tone Match Audio Engine.

L1 Model II System with B2 Bass

L1 Model II w/ B2 Bass

L1 Model II w/ B2 Bass

With the L1 Model II System you have twice as many speakers as the L1 Model 1S (2 sticks of 12 for a total of 24). This model puts out 115 db of continuous power and is best suited for an audience size of roughly 500 people. The I/O on the power stand is almost identical to the L1 Model 1S but with an additional 1/4″ bass line out which can be used with the A1 PackLite Power Amplifier to add two additional B1 Bass Modules or an extra B2 Bass Module.

You can use your existing mixer with the L1 Compact, L1 Model 1s, and L1 Model II, but you would be best served to incorporate the Bose T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine with these systems. The L1 Model 1S and the the L1 Model II have the input for the T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine while the L1 Compact does not.

T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine

T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine

T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine

The T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine might be small but it has some serious power when it comes to EQ, FX, and tone controls. You have 3 TRS/XLR combination inputs, master and auxiliary outputs, as well as a USB port most likely for updates and driver patches. The I/O may seem fairly standard but where this device shines is in its internal memory. The T1 ToneMatch is full of presets specific to certain instruments and microphones. For instance you can assign the best tone for a Shure SM58 as well as the optimal EQ for a Taylor Guitar by doing nothing more than finding those names within the menu and selecting them. The T1 ToneMatch takes all of the hassel out of adjusting EQ which is especially appealing to solo performers who need to focus on their performance. There are hundreds of presets so you’ll never feel limited in your options for tone.

If presets just aren’t your thing, the T1 ToneMatch has a fairly robust EQ and FX section. There are ten different effects all with their own customizable control, seven dynamics processors, as well as something called zEQ or intelligent equalization. The Single Band ParaEQ is especially useful for singling out certain frequencies when playing from venue to venue. You can also store your own presets into the ToneMatch to recall next time you are in that venue. With a chromatic tuner and a large back lit LCD screen, the T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine has everything you need for the gig and then some.

We got a chance to hear all of the systems in action when Bose stopped by our offices. Not only was the fidelity quite impressive as expected from a company like Bose, but the dispersion was top notch. We were asked to walk around and stand in different locations and listen for any sonic changes based on our location. Much to my surprise no matter where I stood within 180 degrees of the L1 System’s position, it sounded nearly the exact same all around. Obviously as you get closer things become louder, but at certain distances it was quite difficult to tell a difference between two positions on opposite sides of the room. This is really a fantastic solution for those in need of a hassle free, plug and play, ease of use, PA system with great fidelity.

The big thing to take away when talking about the L1 Systems is the absence of external wiring. All of the speaker wiring is internal and connects via the “sticks” and power stand. This not only speaks to the ease of use and portability of the L1′s design, but also to a nice clean look on a stage that all performers want whether or not they are willing to admit it. Lastly this does not have to be the PA that only accompanies you to gigs then sits in a closet or storage unit when not being used. You can connect any of the L1 systems to your home entertainment system and get some great sound out of a PA that isn’t an eye sore like traditional setups would look in a living room. The L1 Systems come with carrying bags to help pack up and store easily for travelling, making it ideal as a portable PA system.

With an aesthetically pleasing design and great sound, the Bose L1 system is certainly one to consider if you are in the market for a PA. Be sure to visit where we have great deals on the L1 Systems as well as other Bose products.



The Bose L1 Portable Line Array System offers a powered loudspeaker setup into a portable and clutter free stage arrangement for use as a performer, speaker, or as an entertainment center for your home or business. The advantage of the Bose L1 systems over other PA setups is the ability to set up and take down with very little effort or hassle while maintaining a high level of audio fidelity. There are 3 models in the system: The L1 Compact, the L1 Model 1S, and the L1 Model 2.

The L1 Compact System is the smallest of the three and features two distinct arrangements depending on your needs. There is the collapsed table top position which features a bass speaker as well as a removable speaker which houses 6 curved articulated line array speakers. You can also set it up in an extended position which raises the speaker off the ground and mounts into the accompanying bass speaker. The bass speaker also houses the I/O of the L1 Compact system. You have an XLR connection, a ¼ inch jack, RCA inputs, and an ⅛ inch input for connecting an iPod or MP3 player. You have volume control for each channel and master, bass, and treble EQ. The L1 System is designed to accommodate an audience size of roughly 100 people.

The L1 Model 1S features a top array which houses 12 speakers. The bottom bracket connects to the Model 1S power stand and the top array fits snugly and tightly on top of the bottom bracket. The Model 1S power stand has articulating legs which fold in and out nicely for storage and setup. The stand also has connections for an analog input and a Bass Module out for your bass speaker which is connected via speak-on cable connection. You also have an Ethernet connection for the Tone Match audio engine which we will go over shortly. The L1 Model 1S is best suited for an audience the size of roughly 300 people.

The L1 Model 2 has the same speaker design as the Model 1S but features both top and bottom speaker sets for a total of 24 speakers. The model 2 features the same power stand as the Model 1S but with a bass line out for adding an additional powered bass speaker. The  L1 Model 2 has enough sound coverage to accommodate audience sizes of roughly 500 people.

Both the Model 1S and the Model 2 power stands are able to provide power for the Bose L1 Bass modules. They can be used to power 1 B2 bass module and up to two B1 bass modules. Additional bass modules will need to be powered with an amplifier like the Bose PackLite Power Amplifier. The bass modules help to provide the extra bottom end that may be lacking in a band, DJ, or home theatre application.

The Model 1S and the Model 2 systems have Ethernet ports which allow you to connect the T1 Tone match Audio Engine. This interface has 3 XLR inputs and 5 total ¼ inch inputs, an auxiliary and master output, as well as 3 preamp outs. There’s also an option for connecting your computer via USB as well as the Tonematch Ethernet port. The Tone Match Audio Engine has the ability to not only provide equalization and FX, but it also has presets for popular models of microphones and instruments to get the most performance out of your gear.

To learn more about the L1 Portable Line Array Systems or to purchase the L1 Compact, the L1 Model 1S, or the L1 Model 2. visit