Thursday, November 16, 2006

Base Bose

The time once came when I decided to move on from Sony HiFi systems and set up a home theatre. I had procured an amplifier and a dvd player. I had to go speaker shopping. I grew up hearing a lot about these amazingly small speakers that belt out awesome sound. So the first in the list of probable speakers was Bose. Have you ever visited a Bose showroom? If not I heartily recommend that you make a beeline to the nearest store this weekend when time permits. It makes for a nice experience. I have been to showrooms here in Bombay quite a few times. It never fails to give me a kick. Before proceeding I must state that I have nothing against the salespeople there. They are smart and very friendy. They can also without fail keep smiling for ten minutes without a shortening of the arc which stretches from ear to ear. The demo usually takes around five minutes and is done in batches of five - for the home theatre demo they will normally play the horses scene from Fellowship Of The Ring - Lovely Liv being pursued by the wicked wraiths or the Quidditch cup clip from Harry Potter. They will pause twice in between the demo and ask you to pay special attention to the sound coming from all corners of the room and how crisp the chants of limpid eyed Liv sound. They say it with such vehemence - it is as if till now all you were doing is staring at luscious Liv and trying to listen to the hum of the air conditioner and not paying any attention at all to the speakers. And when the scene is over with a florish he or she will without fail ask you "Wasn't that wonderful!?". They make you feel as if they had just put on a magic show or performed a small miracle. (If you stand up and applaud they will probably take a bow).
Then when you ask them for the specifications of the speakers they reply that Bose doesn't believe in putting numbers to their speakers. No sir. Impedence, sensitivity, frequency response, crossover frequency is all classified information and would be of no use to the customer. We are to let only our ears do the judging when buying Bose. The first time they said that to me I couldn't believe anyone selling speakers can say that to a customer. Yes, the ears have the maximum say in the decision to decide on a particular speaker but the specifications add greatly to the judgement. Any questions on technical details are just not encouraged or met with vague answers. It was apparant that the guys at Bose are not very interested in selling just the speakers. What they want for you to do is to buy their whole system - all the jewel cubes, the media center and the bulky Acoustimass module. The product line is called Lifestyle. That says a lot to me. The reason I became anti-Bose is not because of the quality of their products (which is really good) nor the fact that they have serious competitors (there are many), it is because of their marketing strategy - "Don't question us. Just buy our product". It is not about music, It is about "Lifestyle". They want you to buy Bose, not speakers. It didn't sell to me.

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