Review of the BOSE PAS - Professional Music System
by Chris Pointon

The BOSE PAS was 1st brought to my attention on  by Richard Mills. Since then I know that several members here have purchased one (or more) and my various excursions on the net to research this system got me thinking that it was worth looking (listening) into further.

On Friday I travelled to the only BOSE shop we have here in Ireland and asked the smiling shop assistant if I could have a demo of the Bose PAS. 'What's that?'' he asked. 'It stands for Personalised Amplification System'' I said returning his smile

'Don't know it' he said 'Is it from the Pro Range?' - 'Yes' I replied, already realising that my journey was in vain. He spoke to his colleague who had heard of it but told me that they only do home entertainment at that shop. He also said that he knew of one customer that had travelled to the USA about 18 months ago to preview it and subsequently brought one back with him.

Anyway to cut a long story short they gave me the number of BOSE Ireland and when I returned home even though it was 5.30pm on a Friday Bank Holiday weekend I called the number. The person who answered told me that someone would call me back shortly. Ten minutes later I had the contact details of the nearest PAS stockist - some 75 miles away.

Saturday PM I saddled up the car and rode out of town . 2 hours later, after battling with the Bank Holiday traffic I walked into this music store and my first impression was 'That sounds sweet'. At that stage I didn't know what was playing from what (it was a guy singing to a backing track) but as I walked down the shop I recognised the 'Radiator' of the PAS and it was obvious that this was where the sound was coming from. I then walked to each area of the shop, which was about the size of a venue that would seat 100, and, sure enough, the sound was as loud in the corners as it was standing right in front of the system.

I've heard 100's of PAs during my career and this is not like any one of them. I tracked down a member of staff and asked them to play a CD & turn it up. They played a Bob Marley song and this is only way I can describe it:

'In the late 1980s I heard my very 1st CD, played on a Sony Walkman with Sony headphones and, even though I didn't know the song, it was like I was there as it was being recorded'. This is the second time when I have been taken aback with sound quality in that way because I did feel that Bob Marley was in that shop . Anyway I spent the next 2 hours in the shop, not trying to find Bob Marley, but to get to the nitty gritty.

So onto the system. The guts are in a base unit (PS1) which was larger than it looks on all the pictures I had seen. In fact when I saw this I thought 'Why so big?' but can't think of any reason other than it houses 750 watts RMS in 3 amps and is designed for band use rather than disco (it goes behind the band). I suppose it could go behind the DJ too, The unit is robust plastic and can be stood on (this is recommended by BOSE when inserting and removing the speakers) but it does have a large 'footprint'. The controls for the amplifiers are at the rear of the PS1 and covered by a rather flimsy flap that opens backwards (I would have preferred the flap to open the other way & protect the inputs/controls etc) from the front.

There are 4 inputs - 2 either balanced/unbalanced (jack or XLR) and 2 more unbalanced (jack) The 1st 2 also have the option of assigning them preset values so for instance pre-recorded music would have a value of '00' (or '57' for low volume) and a SM58 mic would use '14' however these are only for direct input of the device and do not really apply when using a mixer. Most of the other presets are for various brands of guitar, double bass, microphones, keyboards etc. Inputs 3 & 4 are 0db lines and are designed for CD players etc.

The radiator (L1) contains all the mid/high range speakers (24 in total). It splits in 2 which is just as well as it stands over 7 feet tall. The connections are made automatically whenever the unit plugs in to the PS1 and there is a footswitch to release the locking mechanism at the end of the function. There is some movement when the L1 is connected into PS1 - it can sway a couple of inches from left to right and an inch front to back

The bass bins (B1) connect to PS1 using 4 way speakon connectors (the extra 2 wires are used by PS1 to determine if 1 or 2 B1s are being used). A lead is supplied with each B1.

The system also comes with a wired remote control (complete with Velcro) so that the volume, bass treble and middle can be controlled + the input from the 2 channels can also be balanced. There are 2 LEDs on the remote control unit which change from green to red if the system is overloaded. If a mixer is being used then the remote doesn't have as much importance however if it is not connected the system uses a default '12 0'clock' position for these controls when the input is on channels 1 & 2.

Whilst I was at the shop I helped the salesman unpack and prepare two complete systems. The padded bags for the PS1 were really tight and I managed to break the zip on one whilst trying to close it . The padded bags for the B1s simply slide on and there is a flap to access the handle on the speaker. The radiator splits in 2 and there is a bag for each - be aware that one bag is very slightly larger than the other and the only way to find this out is to lay them together (worth marking I think).

Weight wise, because the system breaks down into so many parts, even stairs wouldn't be a problem. I carried 2 PS1s (16Kg each) for a short distance and it was similar to going on holiday with suitcases. The rest of the system is lighter and I found no problem with 2 x L1s (4 bags - 2 in each hand) for a walk of 20 meters. The B1s are even lighter still.


Sound Quality

Sturdy overall construction

Ease of transportation/connection/storage


PS1 bag too small

PS1 itself has a large footprint

Flap on PS1 for controls not protective enough

The bags for the B1s could do with a pocket for the speakon lead

An expensive system

My personal opinion is that BOSE have come up with something here that is different & special. It is expensive, however from my enquires it is unlikely to come down in price for some time yet - in fact at the moment demand is exceeding supply (the shop I was in now has a waiting list and during my 2 hours there was a constant stream of people who had heard that this system was on demo and had travelled, like I had, for some distance to hear it in operation). The salesman I was with, who had worked there for some 20 years, had never experienced an interest on this scale in any other product from musicians. (They received their first 12 systems last week and the two I helped to unpack were the last ones reserved and, as I said, they now have a waiting list.).

The appliances are made in China (what isn't these days) and I suppose that eventually another manufacturer will come in with a comparative system at a lower price. How long until that happens though is anyone's guess.

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