Those who work hard to make a living as a musician, take note: There’s a new sheriff in town — the Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position P.A. system ($599 street). Its flexibility and innovative features were certainly a boon to my gigging business over the months that I used it. For solo acoustic shows, the super-portable S1 Pro is great for reducing time and labor, as it is an all-in-one guitar amp and P.A. system. Weighing in at about 15 pounds, it’s far lighter than just one of the wedge monitors I have to lug around for band shows.
The S1 Pro’s versatility is something to behold. It has three channels, including two combo inputs (XLR and 1/4-inch) for guitar or vocal, and a choice between a 1/8-inch aux input or Bluetooth (the wireless range is approximately 30 feet), to connect a playback system. The system configuration allows the S1 Pro to be placed straight up on its bottom, angled onto its back, set on its side like a monitor or mounted on a tripod. An internal auto EQ produces the right sound dispersion for whatever orientation you choose.
Solo musicians know that many venues’ dedicated space for music is often the size of a postage stamp — fingers crossed it’s in a spot where there’s an available wall outlet! You may also be barraged by environmental noise from the kitchen or bar. However, throughout a couple of months of gigging in various locales, the S1 Pro helped me overcome all of these challenges, and more, like a not-so-secret weapon.
First off, it has a hefty volume output, offering more than enough headroom to amplify my sound over obnoxious patrons, noisy espresso machines and the like. I was also able to use the S1 Pro during band performances, to improve the natural sound of my acoustic guitar. The S1 is so easy to carry — and is small enough to position easily on a crowded stage — I could transport it in along with my electric-guitar amp. In both situations, the sound is clean and clear and you’ll never feel underpowered.
NO-SWEAT AUDIO BLISS
The onboard EQ is bare bones — you just get bass and treble on the two vocal/instrument channels. But thanks to the Bose ToneMatch circuitry, which tailors the preset EQ frequency to a voice or a guitar, you are guaranteed good sound. I was able to dial in warmer tones in coffee shops with wood floors and big windows, and I could get enough attack to compensate for cushioned booths and carpets in upscale restaurants.
Even the preset reverb is nice. You can’t adjust blend, type or size, but the tone is expansive without being sharp or bright. I could always find the perfect reverb level to enhance my guitar playing and voice without overwhelming it, which can sometimes be tricky in ambient performance spaces.
Those who venture out into wide-open spaces to perform will appreciate the built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, with up to 11 hours play time. A quick charge feature lets you recharge the S1 battery pack in a hurry, and the S1 will trickle charge the battery when plugged into AC power. Additional S1 battery packs are available for $99 each, if needs be. The S1 Pro is also compatible with the Bose Connect app (iOs and Android) for streaming Bluetooth audio to two S1 units. In addition, the system’s cool factor is upped with several new accessories, including a backpack and a slipcover, and an upcoming option for premium covers in a variety of colors.
Acoustic-guitar amplification and portable sound system technology have made major leaps forward in the past few years, and the Bose S1 Pro marks yet another evolutionary stride towards easy gigging. I loved the system’s ultra-lightweight profile, and the S1 Pro let me get my solo-acoustic act out to a number of different-sized venues with pristine audio quality, some useful features and the ability to position the system to match the room. Brilliant!
Bose S1 Pro Multi-Position P.A. System
CONTROLS Independant volume control on all channels; Channels 1&2: reverb, bass and treble; Channel 3: Bluetooth
POWER 150 watts (100-240V — 50/60Hz)
EXTRAS 2 combo XLR inputs, ToneMatch, auto EQ, Bluetooth, TRS line output, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, compatible with Bose Connect app
SPEAKER Bose integrated high-excursion woofer
WEIGHT 15.7 lbs (7.1kg)
KUDOS Portable, great sound, versatile, rugged and wireless — what’s not to love?