Hands-On Review:Bose® L1™ Model II Amplification System
The new wave
What are you looking for in a PA? I’m not talking about your existing PA system, I’m talking about starting from scratch to come up with something as close to perfect as it possibly can be. First and foremost, I think most would ask for clean, clear sound. I’m sure another common theme would be ease of use. And wouldn’t it be nice if your amplification system sounded nearly the same in all venues, regardless of acoustics? Personally, I’d love to have a system that was lighter as well. All of these requests might sound like an impossible wish list, but thanks to Bose®, they aren’t. With the introduction of the L1 Model II amplification system, Bose has taken another step toward developing its concept of the perfect portable sound system for musicians.
The sonic solution
The first-generation L1 loudspeaker was born of an ambitious mission to conquer the myriad problems traditional PA systems present. The main issues being excessive reverberation from directional sound and room acoustics, as well as high sound levels on and near the stage. Through its innovative Cylindrical Radiator® design, the L1 produces a wide dispersion pattern and balanced sound that projects evenly, so sound levels drop off more slowly, and extremely high volumes are less necessary. With less directional sound, feedback and unwanted reverb are also less of a problem. The L1 also eliminates the need for separate main and monitor systems, since musicians can perform in front of the L1 system.
The original L1 represented an incredible breakthrough in live sound, but soon Bose was itching to upgrade it. They wanted to make it easier to use, increase the tonal balance of the sound, improve the overall sonic performance, and make it even lighter and more portable. With the L1 Model II, I believe they’ve achieved their goals. The L1 Model II system is made up of three main components: the L1 loudspeaker with its power stand, the B1 Bass Module, and the T1 ToneMatch audio engine. Together they boast all the features of the current L1 as well as the improvements Bose was aiming for and musicians will love.
Tall, dark and handsome
The L1 Model II loudspeaker and its power stand feature high-quality construction and include fitted gig bags for easy transportation and protection. Inside the grille of the L1, every other driver is angled in a left-right pattern, part of the Articulated Array approach Bose developed for better coverage. Since it shares many features from its predecessor, the L1 Model II delivers the same clear sound and even, consistent volume levels as the first L1. With increased sound dispersion from the Articulated Array speaker design, the overall sound is wider and stays fuller and more defined throughout the sound field.
The upper and lower sections of the enclosure weigh less than 20 lbs. each, so they’re easy to handle. While the original power stand was extremely portable, the Model II stand is about 1/3 its size and 1/2 its weight. There's also a perfect space between the legs for your B1 Bass Module. The legs are also retractable, so the base takes up less space when you’re moving it as well.
Box full of bass
As part of the next generation L1, the Model II systems include a B1 Bass Module. It works with the Cylindrical Radiator speaker to deliver full-spectrum amplification that guitarists, keyboard players, and even singers and other instrumentalists will appreciate. For musicians who live in the lower clef, a double-B1 setup is recommended. Even though the B1 is small, it still pushes plenty of deep, and powerful bass. Inside the surprisingly light enclosure are two high-output 6-1/2" drivers controlled by a self-adjusting, active EQ circuit that dials in the bass response to match the instrument you’re playing.
Bose experimented with ToneMatch presets on the first L1 system, but to see where they’ve taken it is exciting. The T1 ToneMatch™ audio engine delivers all-in-one mixing and effects processing with presets based on the instruments you play. For musicians without a dedicated sound man it is a powerful ally in the nightly fight for consistent sound. It ensures that everytime you're onstage, you'll get the best sound possible without spending hours in sound check.
The T1 audio engine attaches directly to the L1 with a custom bracket at about waist level. It can also attach to your mic stand with an optional bracket. But there's good news for existing L1 system owners as well. The new T1 ToneMatch audio engine is backwards-compatible to work with the first L1. This two pound unit replaces your mixer, but does more than just a mixer. Its powerful digital circuits allow you to mix the audio from four channels (three preamp channels, one stereo line input channel) to the L1 but also give you access to the ToneMatch preset system for instantly dialed-in sound.
The presets are optimized for the instruments and microphones musicians use onstage. There are presets covering guitar, bass, keyboard, organ, drums, accordion, harmonica, upright bass, violin, various wind instruments, and even settings created with manufacturers like Taylor guitars and Audix mics. A USB port lets you connect the T1 to your computer for saving presets and updates, which include more presets from companies like L.R. Baggs, Lakland, Rickenbacker, Breedlove, and others. The USB port also allows the T1 to serve double duty as a computer recording interface fueled by the ToneMatch sounds. You also get a selection of studio-class reverb, modulation, delay, and dynamics processing effects which can be applied individually across all four channels.
The L1 Model II system with the T1 ToneMatch audio engine is the easiest way to get the defined and detailed Bose sound in a live sound setup. And since you’re in control of the sound, you won’t waste any time wondering what the mix sounds like in the house.
Features & Specs
L1 Model II Loudspeaker:
- Cylindrical Radiator with Articulated Array
- 2-piece, interlocking design
- Integrated power amplifier in base
- Analog line-level TRS input
- Trim control
- Signal/clip LED
- Bass module output
- ToneMatch™ port
- Bass line out for PackLite system or powered sub
- Retractable legs
B1 Bass Module:
- Compact, lightweight enclosure
- Fits between legs of power stand
- 2 - 5-1/4" bass drivers
- Line out for additional B1 connection
ToneMatch audio engine:
- ToneMatch presets
- EQ and effects processing
- Chromatic tuner
- Large backlit display
- Audio input mixing capabilities
- +48V phantom power (Ch. 1-3)
- ToneMatch single-cable connection to L1
- Mic/line inputs (1 – 3)
- Line inputs (4/5, L/R)
- Trim controls
- Signal/clip LEDs
- Balanced TRS preamp out (1-3)
- Aux output
- Balanced TRS Master out
- USB port