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L1 Cylindrical Radiator with stand, B1 Bass Module, and Remote
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A decade-long research project at Bose Corporation has resulted in an entirely new approach to amplifying live music.

The new approach relies on special Cylindrical Radiator loudspeakers that project sound evenly across the stage and into the audience, maintaining consistent sound levels for both performers and audience members. These special Cylindrical Radiator loudspeakers mimic the acoustical qualities of a natural, all-acoustic unamplified performance, according to the company.

The new loudspeakers allow musicians to hear themselves and each other, improving the quality of their performance and the players' enjoyment, with a compact system that can be set up in minutes.

In extensive musical-performance testing conducted as part of the Bose research, panelists reported that the clarity and excitement that comes from hearing the accurate reproduction of sound from each instrument, and from hearing the sound of each instrument in its position on stage - as opposed to a mono or even stereo mix of all instruments - was unlike anything they had heard before from a traditional amplification system.

The Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker is a key element of the new Bose Personalized Amplification System family of products. These new products amplify any instrument, including voice, and can be used by musical groups of almost any size playing in any popular genre. They are intended to handle small venues and larger audiences of 300 people and more.

The Problem

Beginning in the early part of the twentieth century, and for the next 60 years, musicians used amplification equipment to project the sound of their instruments and voices to larger and larger audiences. Then, in 1965, over 55,000 music fans filled New York's Shea Stadium to witness a performance by the Beatles. This concert is legendary for its record-breaking attendance numbers. It was also reported as having severe acoustic problems.

This event at Shea Stadium is believed to have triggered a major shift in the way live music was amplified, and the results of that shift can be seen today in venues of all sizes, including small-to-medium size venues.

The approach developed - in use now since the 1969 Woodstock concert - uses three completely independent sound systems: the traditional "backline" of instrument amplifiers placed onstage behind the musicians; larger "PA" speakers in front of the stage, facing the audience; and "monitor" speakers onstage intended to allow the musicians to hear themselves and each other.

In the Bose research, performers said that with these triple systems they struggled just to hear themselves on stage, and talked of the frustration of not knowing what they sound like to the audience or their fellow musicians on stage. Audience members described garbled instrument sounds, unintelligible lyrics, and uncomfortably loud sound levels.

And yet, very little has changed over the last 30 years. The basic approach to amplification in use today is essentially the same as that employed in 1969. Bose researchers found that these triple amplification systems introduce numerous acoustical and psychoacoustical problems:

  • Musicians reported being completely isolated because they had no idea how they sounded to the audience or to each other.
  • Musicians expressed the frustration of initiating the sound but then losing control of it to the person operating the mixing console. They said they could not control how they sounded to themselves or how they sounded to each other.
  • Audience members and musicians reported not hearing the individual instruments in their respective positions across the stage. Instead, they reported hearing the voices and instruments mixed together and coming from a single direction: the closest PA speaker in the case of the audience, and a monitor speaker in the case of the musicians. They reported how difficult it was under these circumstances to hear clearly.
  • With all the sound coming from the nearest speaker, there was no connection between lines of sight to, and sounds from, the instruments. The sound of the guitar, for example, did not come from where the guitarist was standing on stage. Audience members reported missing interesting solos and musical details because they were busy hunting visually for who was playing. Musicians reported missing important musical cues because they could not connect what they heard with what they saw.
  • It was common to see both audience members and musicians wearing earplugs during a performance because the sound was so loud.
  • A typical triple amplification system requires a daunting amount of equipment, even for a smaller venue. The equipment is costly to own and operate, and is complex and time-consuming to transport, set up and use. Musicians reported that these burdens distracted them from concentration on the music.

Armed with an understanding of these underlying problems, Bose engineers began work on a new approach.

The Bose Solution

The Bose research team developed a Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker, which projects sound in such a way that sound levels are much more consistent on stage and throughout the audience area.

With one Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker for each musician, an amplified performance takes on the properties of intimate, acoustic music. A single Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker for each performer sends music from many different directions on stage, allowing audiences and performers to hear the clarity and detail of each individual instrument and voice. The musicians are in control of their music, as in an all-acoustic unamplified performance. The products are compact, easy to use, and set up in minutes.

A complete line of Personal Amplification System products, including the L1 Cylindrical Radiator loudspeaker, will be available this fall direct from Bose and through Guitar Center retail stores nationwide. More information about the new approach is available at www.bose.com/musicians or toll-free at 1-800-905-0886.

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