Why BOSE Speakers are So Expensive (A Detailed Study)

Shafi Khan
Dec 26, 2017 · 4 min read

The study was shared on Quora by Neya Rangesh (https://www.quora.com/Why-are-Bose-speakers-so-expensive/answer/Neya-Rangesh?srid=ZEzc)


While most other answers are from a Marketing perspective, they fail to highlight one of the important philosophies of Bose — Research. Bose directly re-invests its profits directly back into research with hopes of creating new breakthroughs rather than engage in unethical business practices[1]. It’s easy to dismiss technological advancements like Noise Cancellation like the other answers do, but, the truth is, it took them 15 years to even produce that tech.

Also, not many people know this, but the founder of Bose corporation, Dr. Amar Bose has given away majority of his non-voting shares back to MIT, where he graduated from. This is enough evidence to warrant that the company truly lives by its motto of fueling research first instead of just profits.

I used to believe all these self-proclaimed audiophiles discarding without citing references about how much Bose sucks in comparison to other companies, but, in reality, I’m yet to see another company that has dedicated its entire lifespan to research as much as Bose has.

FYI: I’m an Audio Engineer, I design my own speaker systems. Bose has a lot of firsts to its name. They even own a lot of patents with regards to loudspeaker design. In fact many manufacturers out there actually sell technology licensed from Bose. Anyone who has torn-down their speaker systems will tell you that they’re serious about the stuff they build and the size to sound ratio of their systems is nothing short of stellar.

Have you ever broken open a speaker system built by Bose? For all of the speakers they manufacture, they use custom drivers they’ve designed in-house. They’re always heavily customized and unique. At the same time, I’ve also broken open dozens of JBL speaker systems only to find generic speaker drivers from Chinese suppliers.

Case in point — some of the lower end JBL sound bars use the same subwoofer that can be found in a $100 Sony 2.1 home theater system (Model: SRS D9). That tells a LOT about the difference in the philosophy of the two companies.

So, why do many people hate Bose?

The hatred arises from the philosophy of Bose. Dr.Amar Bose had published in one of his papers that human experience is the best measure of loudspeaker systems and not their electrical specifications.

And this is the reason why they don’t publish technical specifications of their products such as Frequency response and Wattage of their speakers. This is more than good enough reason to upset the audiophile community.

And to complicate things, there was also the issue of racism. Bose was of (semi) Indian origin and looked very much Indian. In his own words, his account of discrimination:

“The big problem was color, pure and simple,’ . “There wasn’t a restaurant in Philadelphia where I could be served. In those days you couldn’t even rent a house.”

And finally, based on the same philosophy (that human experience is the best measure of loudspeaker systems and not their electrical specifications), Bose treats speaker size as just another parameter and they want to focus more on the experience, instead.

This is the gist of most complaints against Bose — “How dare they charge me $x000 for a 5” sub-woofer?! Outrageous!! Over-priced!!! I can get a 12" JBL Sub-woofer for the same price!!!!”

What they will never realize is that the Bose system actually provides similar/better response from such a small system without having to employ bigger drivers.

To appreciate this philosophy, let’s consider a real world example — You can perhaps try to compare the Bose’s famous soundlink Mini with other Bluetooth speakers out there on the market. You are sure to be blown away by the Bass produced by such a tiny speaker package.

Appearances can be deceptive. So, let me show you how it actually looks on the inside and how much R&D has gone into making this thing produce so much punch:

Source- Google Images

Do you know how long it took for their competitors to catch up?

The only competent speaker system (at the time of this writing) that performs similarly to the Bose is a JBL Charge 2+ and Charge 3. Do you know how many iterations and product launches they had to go through to even come close to the Bose?

  • JBL Charge
  • JBL Charge 2
  • JBL Charge 2+
  • JBL Extreme
  • JBL Charge 3

That’s the power of running a research-first company. You don’t need so many iterations.

Logically speaking, you need to re-coup all that cost of research somewhere. I wish I could say research is free, unfortunately, it is not. It costs enormous amounts of time and money to even create something as small as the Soundlink Mini I’ve mentioned above.

For a private company, without the inbound investment luxury of a publicly traded company, the best way to do it by pricing their products high. To the reader, that is you, I urge you to skip the noise and watch this documentary on Bose to fully understand the philosophy of what goes behind creating a company like Bose to produce the products they produce:

Dream + Reach: The First 50 Years of Bose

I personally support Bose knowing that more than 50% of my money goes back to MIT so we as human species can progress technologically.

[1]”Bose Corp. reinvests profits into research and development in hopes of making further discoveries, and would rather sacrifice business than engage in unethical practices” — More on Amar Bose

[2] http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse....

Shafi Khan

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