I have bought and sold thousands of dollars of gear since beginning guitar lessons back in 1966. I did a column for another magazine for many years where we examined bargain basement gear that got the job done for minimum cash. Now, I feel it’s more important to get great value for whatever I buy or recommend. Today’s entree, the Bose L1Model II, is an exceptional piece of gear at a price.
I bought one such system in 2010, kept it one gig and returned it because it fed back and the winery owner said he couldn’t hear our voices.
I went back to a typical powered cabinet/mixer/monitor system and got tired of lugging the extra gear, being asked to turn down, struggling to hear myself and having to do Yoga and ice my aching back after the gig.
I heard several other performers sound great with the Bose and wondered if that one duo gig was a fluke. Eventually, my duo and trio shows disappeared and my solo gigs ramped up so I found a used system and took the plunge. I am glad I did.
The acid test of any gear is how it sounds. When you understand why the L1 is made like it is and work with those parameters, it sound incredible.
As I point out on the video, the L1 doesn’t blast anywhere but it sounds clear, clean and present everywhere.
Think of it as a big hi fi system- it doesn’t honk or blast, it sings.
The T1 Tonematch probably deserves its own review, as I point out on the video. It’s a small computer mixer that allows you to create musical scenes for each channel and then save them for instant recall.
The mixer has a USB port for updating the software, a boon for keeping up to date. Bose has worked with dozens of manufacturers to craft individual presets for acoustic and electric guitars, mics and more.
You can boost or cut EQ, create different reverb, chorus, delay, flange, etc for each channel and then save each channel for use later on.
It isn’t a large mixer, but for someone like myself doing solo or duo gigs, it’s excellent. The feedback issue we had on that early gig hasn’t happened since, perhaps since I am using the system more correctly.
The video was done with my wife’s Nikon camera and because it was windy on top of the hill I was performing on, you’ll hear the wind on the video. Most importantly, you can hear the system reproduce all the notes cleanly, without mud or distortion.
Another solo guitarist vocalist told me the Bose is very unforgiving if you are sloppy. That’s true. I do find I can hear myself so well that I blend my voice & guitar better, with or without tracks.
The subwoofer is a critical component of this system. It balances perfectly and adds a full, fat low end you simply can’t get without a sub.
I have been asked on more than one occasion how this compares with the Fishman Solo amp. The Fishman sounds great, but hasn’t got the low end of the Bose.
The Bose sounds great, indoors or out, and I have no qualms about using it for 25-500 people or more. Since I sing, play acoustic and electric guitar tones and run DAW tracks with midi and real audio instruments through the same unit, I can’t get the same impact without the Bose.
Occasionally, I will bring a smaller acoustic amp for small party gigs and end up wishing I had brought the Bose. It sounds that good.
Finally, my Bose system has helped me become more successful. My One Man Band won a “Best of 2012” award from Gigmasters and I have to believe that the Bose was a big part of that. It’s my gigging voice and speaks very eloquently for me. Heck, my wife loves it and doesn’t want me to ever consider selling it!
Riley Wilson is a guitar and bass teacher, voice talent, writer and entertainer based in North Texas. He is the author and publisher of “Guitar Made Simpler- An Intelligent Approach.” A gigging professional since 1972, he still works most weekends playing all over the Southwest. Visit his websites at www.guitarmadesimpler.com and www.wrileywilson.com