The long shadow cast by the Bose 901 "Direct/Reflecting" technology, or...


Señor Member
imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. :)

Well, not quite imitation, but in the early 1970s (at least in retrospect) there seem to have been a bevy of loudspeaker models/designs that were inspired by/influenced by (or maybe even ripped off from) Dr. A. Bose's famous (and still in production) 901 loudspeaker. Influenced either by the deliberate use of an array of drivers to widen "soundstage" :p and/or simply by the 901s iconic cabinet design (shape).

The genesis of this thread was a post at the Polk Audio forums a day or so ago about the Allison Model Four loudspeaker.

I note, wryly, that most of the New England 'big name' loudspeaker brands of the era had, at least briefly, a loudspeaker that at least kinda sorta resembled the 901.

I started to screen dump stuff about Bose 901-esque commercial loudspeakers in the above-mentioned thread, but I thought it would be fun to start one someplace outside of a manufacturer forum (e.g., here) to document this interesting appendix to the history of loudspeaker design.

... or maybe not :p but, work with me here, OK? ;)




(a well-known web 'review' of the Series VI 901)
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Señor Member
Preface. I know/remember that there were several clones of the 901 (and/or clones of commercial variants thereof, e.g., the Bose 800). The Bose company typically (I think) shut such operations down quickly. That said, if any of you have specific examples of 901 clones (ad copies, blurbs, test reports, or maybe you even own a pair!), please do share your largess with us! :)


It is also, perhaps, worth noting that Polk Audio was started in the early 1970s by JHU student/graduate Matt Polk and two colleagues, who initially started to build Bose 901 clones (known as the "Bozos" to Polk fans). Bose put a stop to that venture PDQ, leaving Messrs. Polk, Klopfer & Goldman (maybe they missed their calling as a law firm ;) ) with a slew of 4-1/2" CTS "fullrange" drivers to do something with. That "something" became the (somewhat infamous) Polk Audio Monitor Series Model Nine. In its initial incarnation, the Model Nine proudly used "no electronic crossovers", coupling four of the CTS drivers to a Motorola piezo tweeter and using a passive radiator to load the cabinets :p

Polk Nine blurb
by Mark Hardy, on Flickr

These., however, weren't very 901-esque, other than the "midbass" drivers.

by Mark Hardy, on Flickr


Señor Member
so, on to the subject(s) of the thread -- finally! :)

Allison Four

Roy Allison (ex- of AR) based the initial product line of his own first company (Allison Acoustics) on the notion of loudspeaker designs that were optimized for real-world use (i.e., in a real, normal home environment). Of the original models, the Four was a 'bookshelf' design in a 901-esque cabinet, even if it didn't quite have a 901-style array of drivers :)

From the above mentioned Polk forum thread:

Allison Four brochure scan from (the single best resource for the New England cadre of classic/vintage loudspeaker brands).

in the case of the Four, the woofer aimed up, and there were also two of the uniquely-shaped Allison tweeters (dome variants, with paper diaphragms that always have reminded me of nipples) mounted at angles on the sides of the enclosure.

Thus, the enclosure of the Allison Four was sort of a reverse-901 configuration, and was designed to be placed on a shelf and up against the wall (muthafu**a!), rather a different application than that for which the 901 was designed.


Señor Member
So, when that thread on the Polk Forums appeared, mentioning the "Bose 901ness" of the Allison Four.
It got me to thinkin'.

There was a time (late 1960s/early 1970s) that it seemed like everybody -- well, at least everybody in New England :) -- was building a loudspeaker that was at least evocative of the 901. At least in some respects (e.g., sometimes bass-ackwards relative to the 901 ethos, and rarely if ever with FR drivers, other than the 901 itself).

The first one that came to mind was from KLH. A little googlin' turned up the model I was dimly recalling, the KLH 28:



Senior Member
The ONLY times I thought Bose 901’s might portray something approaching realism required 250wpc+ in a room where wall boundaries were at least 6’ from any side wall and 3’ to 4’ from the back wall. Oh and playing at least 90dB+. Selling HiFi at the time, they were so highly regarded I felt like I should sell a pair once in a great while. In three years, I didn’t sell one pair, not one. KEF, Mission, Bose 301’s/601’s,501’s yes. You think there might have been some silent bias customers might have picked up on?
The other really salient candidate for this thread, of course, is Massachusetts' own Acoustic Research.
AR's flagship loudspeaker, for a time, the AR-LST, and its value-priced :) siblings, the AR-LST2 and AR-MST, all three had something of a Bose901-ish design aesthetic/philosophy goin', too.

No drivers on the back/flat side of these, though.





Also probably worth mentioning that Mark Levinson made and sold an AR-LST clone/update, of sorts, as the Cello Amati (Pro) in his post Mark Levinson days.

OK, that's my tale so far.
Any of you currently (or pastly) own a pair of any of these -- including any of the myriad versions of the venerable 901 itself... or any of the non-sanctioned 901 knockoffs?

Any other loudspeaker models with an approach to 'soundfield' that resembles this rogues' gallery?
^^^ More of a 301 vibe, no? :)

Borrowed images -- although I rehabbed a pair of the later, single tweeter 301 (like the bottom photo) for a friend some years back, and (true confession) I rather like these unassuming (other than their price when new) little two-ways! :) The small Bose (in this context, I am referring to the 201 & 301), as Dan Doc Bottlehead Schmalle used to put it, get the midrange right.