Hi-Fi Sound, Maximum Portability
Who doesn’t want a system that projects balanced sound throughout the room, that can be your monitor and your house speaker, and that you can easily carry? At $999, the L1 Compact (L1C for short) brings Bose’s “personal line array” design closer to reality for the gigging musician. The system consists of four pieces: the Power Stand houses the inputs, mixer, amplifier, and woofer; the Loudspeaker Array houses six speakers; and there are two height extension bars. The Loudspeaker Array travels locked into the Power Stand (which has a handle and slipcover with cable pouch), and the extension bars fit into an included soft case with a shoulder strap. Because Bose built the woofer into the Power Stand, you can carry the whole system in one trip and still have a free hand to open doors. By comparison, an L1 Model II (reviewed Feb. ’08) with one B1 bass unit involves four items to carry: the Power Stand, the B1, and two halves of the speaker column, each in its own case.
Using the Power Stand with the Loudspeaker Array in it is what Bose calls collapsed position. In extended position, adding the height extension bars achieves optimal projection for larger audiences.
The L1C has the unique capacity to sit behind a line of microphones. Though any speaker will feed back if you bring a mic too close, the L1C is more resistant to this than anything else we’ve tried, especially in extended position.
My first test was a solo café gig for an audience of about 40. The “stage” was to the side of the room, so there were listeners to one side as well as directly in front of me. The L1C definitely has the balanced sound dispersion Bose has been touting. I could hear everything at a comfortable level, and several listeners I spoke to afterward said everything was clear as a bell. I was pleased with the overall tone on piano sounds, and the bass response even hung with some low-end Moog patches I put through it. Overall, I love this system for its portability, flexibility, and tone. My only real gripe is that the RCA and 1/8" inputs sum the incoming signal to mono—if you use the RCA outs marked “record,” you’re getting the same signal from each side.
In rock bands with caveman drummers and shred guitarists, the L1C was not the strongest performer for sheer loudness. Editor Stephen Fortner notes, “The larger L1 Model II with two B1 subs will stand up to any stageful of knuckleheads and still project.” For more civilized gigs, though, the L1C has an unhyped, almost audiophile quality—particularly on acoustic piano sounds—that nothing else quite touches.
The L1 Compact is geared for the singer-songwriter with one mic and one instrument. Multi-keyboard players will need a compact mixer to enjoy its clean, clear sound.
Carry or play through the L1 Compact in collapsed position (shown), or add the included extenders and park the speakers on top. All the connections are internal.
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