This last Saturday, we had a hellish storm here in Florida. Lightning and the resulting electricity surges managed to take out my Verizon FIOS system, the NIC card in my main desktop computer, and a television. It also manged to (it seems) blow out my Klipsch 4.1 speaker system. My Klipsch system served me well for many years, and it was a killer set of speakers for a computer. The sound almost rivaled my surround sound system out in the living room. But, when I tried to play some music the next day, all I got was one speaker working. And the design of the Klipsch set was poor in that everything was hinged on one speaker. Hurt the connections in that one speaker, and the remainder of the set failed to work.
So, I went on down to Best Buy to get a replacement and I ended up getting the Bose Companion 3 Series II. Realizing full well that speaker reviews are subjective and in the ear of the beholder, I thought I would post my thoughts.
Bose is like the Apple of the speaker world. It is overpriced, and they spend a lot of time on design. So, Bose got a lot right with the design of this set. The sub-woofer is more compact than my Klipsch set, but every bit as powerful. The satellite speakers are much more compact, which is quite nice. I actually VERY much prefer the small form factor of the satellite speakers on the Bose set. They don’t take nearly as much room on my desk.
Another feature I quite liked was the control pod. It is a little round control module, like a hockey puck, that sits on the desk. Turning the knob on top adjusts the volume of the set. A slight touch on the top will mute the set. And, near the bottom, you have an earphone jack as well as an audio-in jack for plugging in external devices like a notebook computer, Ipod, or whatever. The secondary audio input is a very convenient feature I was looking for. My Klipsch set didn’t have it (the new ones do, apparently).
There’s not much to a set of speakers to look at. You unpack them, plug them in, and listen. The only real method to evaluate the speakers is how they sound and that is complete subjective. That said, I really dig the sound of these speakers. They deliver every bit as much punch as my Klipsch set did, but out of a smaller package.
I think part of how they do that is, obviously, the design itself. The satellite speakers on the Companion 3 are small, whereas the ones on the Klipsch set were huge. However, the Klipsch set had both a mid-range and a tweeter in each satellite. The Bose satellites are very small and, therefore, have one speaker dome in each. The way they balance out the sound is by moving more of it to the bass module, or sub-woofer.
If you look at the new Klipsch 2.1 set, each satellite is 35 watts and the sub is a full 130 watts using a 6.5-inch driver. That’s certainly a lot of punch. The sound is set up more like a traditional surround sound unit, with the sub doing only the lowest bass and the satellites taking care of the mids and highs. With the Bose unit, my ear is telling me that the sub is taking care of more of the mids. What’s interesting is that Bose seems to be quite secretive about wattage ratings and some of the traditional ratings of their speakers. What I can find in the manual is that the satellites both have 2-inch wide-range transducers and the sub has a 5.25-inch woofer.
The Bose set sounds fantastic. It packs just as much punch as Klipsch set, but from a smaller package that gives me more space on the desk. It packs great bass and the highs are crystal clear, so much so that you can hear fine details in guitar solos and the like.
Well, this aspect is a little debatable. The current Klipsch 2.1 set is about $160 right now, whereas the Bose Companion 3 Series II is running anywhere from $224 to $249. What are you getting for the extra coin? Yes, a smaller form factor. But, mainly, the Bose name.
Bose takes a card from Apple marketing. They price their products higher, which supposedly positions them as better than the others. Bose sets are quite good, but no, they are not necessarily better than all the others. So, a lot of what you’re paying for is the marketing.
These are great speakers in every way. I high recommend them to people who want a good set of higher end computer speakers. That said, the price is too high, in my opinion. The Bose name is not reason enough to justify the high price tag for a set of 2.1 speakers. For value, I would still recommend the Klipsch set over the Bose. Yes, Klipsch speakers are a lot bigger and take up more room, but you’ll get the same quality sound for less money.
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