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did a back-to-back listening comparison '17 LT stock vs. '17 Bose vs. '13 Bose

5849 Views 43 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  onevoice
I've been kicking some gen 2 tires and wanted to see whether the Bose is a must have.

The dealership had an LT and a Premier right next to each other. I took my iphone (with connecting USB) and a well-known song that had some dynamic range, some bass heavy sections, some singing, some higher treble notes.

The salesperson was busy, so he gave me the keys and told me to have fun comparing the sound systems. Even better! No pressure.

Let me share my impressions:

The stock (non-bose) was "better than expected" -- mainly because it had more low end than I thought it would without a subwoofer. Let me be clear that this does not mean "good"--it got muddy and distorted quickly.

The Bose, however, was "worse than expected"--I had read that many issues with the Gen 1 Bose were fixed in the Gen 2, but I think the Bose in my '13 is overall better, with some caveats.

The Gen 2 subwoofers are better placed and offer more "punch" than the '13 (and much more than the stock LT). The Bose would vibrate my seat--and offer "louder" sound at lower "volume" than required in the LT. In fact, the Bose system was absolutely "louder" overall.

My disappointment was the muddy sound. It was just not clear and wide, despite the lower end. I didn't have time to start investigating the system in depth to figure out why, I just used some fading and adjusting with the EQ to get a sense of its range. The '13 seems clearer to me.

Both the Bose and the stock suffered from "narrowing" of the sound--neither offered a wide, crisp sound--although the Bose was marginally better.

Bottom line -- the Bose did not reach "must have" territory for me and I would settle with a stock system and look at upgrades later if worth it. I just didn't think it was "good enough" to warrant the extra cost over the stock system--I would rather pay more aftermarket for a system I would really enjoy than "more" for a "less bad" system.

Funny thing is, getting back into my '13, I played the same song for comparison and found that it was crisper and clearer overall, but it didn't have as much low end punch (but I also have a heavy Volt mat in the back).

I know this is an issue that many people question and I just wanted to share my $0.02--it's obviously an issue of personal taste for everyone.
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I am an audiophile (sound engineer as a hobby) and am impressed by the Bose in the gen2. It lacks the sustained low end that people seem to favor these days, but it's punch is clean and crisp. The highs are sharp and the soundstage (left/right and front/back) is impressive. Midrange can get muddy, but if you are listening to a speaker system in your car looking for clarity in the midrange, you are going to be disappointed. So much is naturally in the midrange (road noise, engine noise, the low end of wind noise, etc) that any stereo in a car will struggle here.

Bottom line: would I absolutely have to check the box for the Bose sound system in the Gen2 Volt? Nope. It doesn't blow me away, but then again I have quite a favor for high end sound systems and know that a car isn't designed to be that stage. As such my expectations for a car audio system are probably below the average car buyer.

Good luck with your choice, and kudos to the OP for comparing the systems!


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I guess I'm sort of a Bose fan as I have 161's in my 7.2 surround system. But I'm not an audiophile. I just like the small size and having them on speaker stands that I put in place when we are watching a movie, and hide in the back of the room when we want it to look like a regular living room. I didn't even comparison shop, just wanted them because of their interesting cool shape. My son got them for me as a gift, though I should have specified white instead of black.
I do think this is Bose's bread and butter. The amount of sound they can get clearly out of a small enclosure and speaker is amazing.


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After reading this thread, I hopped into the gen1 volt with bose, queued up Linkin Park and Fort Minor via pandora via Bluetooth, turned up the volume a little, completely flat equalization, and listened carefully. I think the bose sound system is awesome.
Aye. This post makes me sick. BT has so little data in it. Pandora isn't a whole lot better. Even an amazing system isn't going to sound good using this setup.


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