WHEN WE EXPERIENCED THE FIRST-GENERATION Bose L1 system a while back, it was like
a small and groovy miracle. The wide, almost psycho-
acoustic dispersion of sound was awesome, the
footprint of the system was slimmer than a supermodel,
it was portable enough to cram into a Mini
Cooper, and the whole shebang set up in under five
minutes. For small clubs, you could even use the
L1 towers as both mains and monitors, delivering
enough volume to keep fans and musicians rocking—
and all without being pummeled by aggressive
volume or constant feedback. The only downer
about the system was its high cost. Otherwise, we
couldn’t imagine club musicians not crawling all
over each other to put an L1 to use.
Now, the Model 1S is out, and it’s more of the same
(which is good), but better (which, duh, is obviously
even more of a benefit). We tested a system with
a 12-speaker line-array tower boasting 180-degree
sound dispersion, a B2 bass module loaded with two
10" drivers, and the ToneMatch four-channel digital
mixer. Pricing for a system remains on the tuxedo
side of the street, with the 1S/B2 combo going for
$1,999 street, and the ToneMatch coming in at $499
retail. But, once again, that’s the only “gulp” moment
for musicians on a budget, because the L1 Model 1S absolutely rules.
Our test system is recommended for audiences
up to 500 fans, and given its clear, transparent sound
and massive headroom, it can definitely fill a small
club if your band is loud and rocking, and perhaps
even a medium to large venue if your backing is
acoustic instruments and percussion. The single
B2 module does a great job of delivering full, meaty
lows to backing tracks, keyboards, drum modules,
and percussion, and if your bassist forgot his rig,
he or she might be able to get by plugging into the
system if the stage volume is kept relatively low.
(There is an option to link other modules if you’re
a bass-heavy act.) Even using the 1S in a crammed
rehearsal space, we were able to crowd three vocalists
near the speaker tower and still produce enough
clean, feedback-free volume for all the musicians
to hear the vocals. Pure magic.
But the real star of the new system just might be
the ToneMatch module. It seems as if you can do, like,
a trillion things with this baby, and control all critical
aspects of the live-sound game. You get three XLR and balanced ¼"
inputs and a balanced
line input, as
well as an Aux
output (for sending
a recorder) and
a USB jack (for
from your computer,
backing up data, and loading system updates).
The unit’s digital goodies are crazy: 100
presets, three delays (digital, analog, tape), five
reverbs (plate, small, medium, large, cavern), modulation
effects (chorus, flanger, phasers, tremolo),
dynamics processing (compression, limiting, deessing,
noise gate), comprehensive EQ, and the
ability to store custom scenes (snapshots of your
mix settings). Operating everything is super simple
via edit buttons, a parameter knob, and an easy-to-see (even on dark stages) LCD display. Bose even
thought of handy Mute buttons for each channel—
which got a lot of use when tweaking sounds, hunting
feedback, and setting vocal blends.
Once again, the L1 concept proves itself to be a
useful, flexible, portable, great-sounding, and near
magical option for club-level live-sound applications.
Adding the ToneMatch massively ups the bliss
factor, making this system a smash hit for those with
the budget to invite it into their band.
CONTACT Bose, bose.com
KUDOS Brilliant concept. Great sound. Portable.