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Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-2013)

Posted December 27, 2011 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Known for founding the audio company Bose Corporation, Amar Bose is an American electrical engineer and sound engineer. Products developed by his company can be found in places ranging from the Sistine Chapel to the space shuttle.

Early Work

Bose developed an interest in electronics as early as age 13. During World War II he and some school friends started a small home business to supplement family income. The teens repaired model trains and home radio transistors.

After high school Bose obtained degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - a B.S. and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Bose took a position as an assistant professor at MIT and focused his research on acoustics. In the course of his work he invented a stereo loudspeaker to reproduce the reflected sound field that is similar to what's heard in a concert hall.

Bose Corporation

Bose had learned that a majority of concert hall sound (80%) is indirect. Indirect sound is bounced off of something, like the ceiling or walls, before it reaches the listener's ears.

Bose founded Bose Corporation in 1964. He used his understanding of how sound is distributed in a concert hall to invent the 901(R) Direct/Reflecting(R) speaker. This speaker was the industry standard for 25 years.

Bose was an MIT professor until 2011. He donated a majority of Bose Corporation's non-voting shares to MIT in 2011.

Resources:

http://www.engology.com/eng5bose.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amar_Bose

http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/bose.html

http://www.forbes.com/profile/amar-bose/

http://www.siliconeer.com/past_issues/2005/january2005.html [image]

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#1

Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/27/2011 5:08 AM

And yet so many Bose products still sound like crap in so many ways.

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#2
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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/27/2011 2:28 PM

What is the point of making such a derogatory comment. It speaks so much more about you, tcmtech, than it does about Amar Bose.

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#3

Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/27/2011 4:51 PM

Not long after the 901 direct/reflecting speaker came out, Stereo Review (or a similar magazine) gave it a pan review, saying that it sounded like a smear across the whole wall (or similar wording to the same effect). No doubt this would depend on room acoustics also, but I agreed with the "smear" description.

On the other hand, I am very pleased with my Bose Wave radio. It doesn't duplicate a full component system, but is great for day-to-day listening. (It doesn't rely on the reflected sound idea.)

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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/28/2011 3:48 PM

That reflect sound technology, isn't that the same as reverb that the music industry uses to enhance or improve a singers ....ah.....mediocre voice.

And on a similar note, music or sound, can be mathematical pleasing ......or not, if you know the formula structure.

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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/28/2011 4:19 PM

No, it wasn't a delayed echo like reverb; it was simply a few of the speaker elements directed rearward so that more of the sound waves reflected off the wall(s) and ceiling. In some cases, the surround-sound effect could work okay, but I thought it was too diffuse for most music.

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#5

Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/28/2011 4:11 PM

It is a bit difficult to repair home transistors (radios I guess) when the transistor had not been invented yet.

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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

01/09/2012 12:11 PM

"The first transistor radio was a joint project between the Regency Division of Industrial Development Engineering Associates and Texas Instruments. TI knew that it needed a fun product to catch the nation's attention. They thought a radio was just the thing to make a splash. TI built the transistors; Regency built the radio. On October 18, 1954, the Regency TR1 was put on the market. It was a scant five inches high and used four germanium transistors." - PBS.ORG

Yes he must have been a truly "Great Engineer."

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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

01/09/2012 12:23 PM
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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

12/30/2011 2:59 PM

Amar Bose is a very good engineer with a list of accomplishments that any engineer would like to have, Amar also has an ego bigger than the Sistine Chapel. On a number of occasions when product reviews were not glowing, Amar sued, complaining that the reviews were slanderous, to my knowledge, not a single one of his suits were successful and were thrown out. As the Judges generally remarked, just because a review did not praise your product, it does not constitute any form of slander. That said, Amar has come out with some very impressive sound systems and some not so impressive.

I've listened to a number of his speaker systems over the years, using my own sound sources and in general I have found them to range from a bit better than average to a couple of superior speaker systems. I can't say that I've ever heard any of his systems sound 'crappy'. Nobody has a perfect record and Amar definitely doesn't have one but he has a very good one in a very difficult discipline so let's give credit where credit is do and a 'tip-'o-the-hat' to him.

I remember auditioning the Bose 901 when they came out, they had a very impressive sound stage, a near 'you are there' quality which I had not heard before, the only draw back was that without a subwoofer to handle the low stuff, they lacked bass badly. None-the-less, a very impressive speaker. Note, as I recall, they were not advertised as requiring a subwoofer and without one, they lacked the ability to properly reproduce a grand piano, pipe organ or large drums. Yes, the 901 was very dependent upon room accoustics and I believe they also had to be positioned according to instruction or the effect was less than terrific, that may be the cause of the 'smearing' which I did not note in my audition. I believe the speaker positioning and accoustics were rather 'touchy' for the effect to be correct.

I disagree that the 901 was 'the' standard for 25 years though, as Polk and others met the challenge quite well. On the whole, I have preferred Polk over Bose in many cases.

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Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

01/09/2012 1:05 PM

I agree wholly with your opinions of Bose. Both his personality and his engineered products. The arguments I had over those 901's. "There's no way a five inch speaker can reproduce bass like a 15 incher or even a 10 inch speaker" I'd say. "Yes but there's NINE of them" would be the comeback.

If you want to tip your hat to someone who really made an impact on electronic audio equipment, you should do so in the direction of Henry Kloss. Not only a great speaker designer, but the developer of high fidelity cassete tape. He is also responsible for produceing the first projection television for the consumer market. His name is associated with Acoustic Research Corp, KLH, and Advent (projection TVs). He invented the first solid state phonograph, the Novatron tube, and colaborated with Ray Dolby createing a noise reduction system that did not affect response (too much).

All this without even finishing his degree a MIT.

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#11

Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

01/10/2012 9:09 AM

Yes, the Bose 901 isn't perfect (it is close IMHO)....no speaker is.

Back in college I had a roomie that was an EE (I actually had 3 roommates who were EE's at the time) who had worked every one of his Co-ops at Bose. He had earned so much money (w/ lots of OT) while working on the GM/Bose sound systems (mainly the Cadillac ones) that he had bought a truly amazing stereo system. To be frank, it was the best sounding system I had ever heard in my life up to then (1982). Everything was top of the line and cost around $20k, which back then was a TON of bread to spend on anything, let alone a stereo system, but this guy was a true audiophile! Even the records that he purchased (for mega bucks) were pure virgin vinyl.

But the point that I want to make is that the Bose 901 Mk IV speakers that he had in the system sounded flat as all hell. that is until he customized the output of the state of the art 24-channel ADS Digital Equalizer by taking microphone reading of both the white and pink noise at many locations around the apartment living room, the dining room, the kitchen, and yes, even the stairwell (we had a 2nd floor apt.). After all the acoustics jumbling/tweaking, the adjusted system output was incredible and the best i have ever heard (even to this day). The 901's were suspended from the ceiling on heavy chains. You should have seen them "swinging in breeze" at 500 Watts per channel output! At night with the lights off, the entire system was a digital light show...sort of like "Tokyo at Night"! LOL

I have a Bose sound system for our TV/ entertainment center in the living room, and to me it is incredible and IMO the best, bar none!

Long live Dr. Bose and his creations!

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#12

Re: Amar Bose: Engineer, Inventor, and Industrialist (1929-)

01/10/2012 12:22 PM

PMOON.....I agree with you quite heartily about Henry Kloss, a very accomplished engineer!

CaptMoosie, you have just made our point about the Bose 901 with your roommate's considerable efforts. The 901s were very sensitive to room acoustics by its very nature of operation and the fact that your roommate used a very expensive equalizer to correct for all of the apartment's odd reflections only proves our point even more. In an average room (or even better than average) the 901s simply cannot produce the sound stage they are capable of unless one of two somewhat impractical means are used; either the room acoustics are modified or a complex equalizer is used to compensate for the room acoustics. In terms of money and time, only someone with a lot of money could afford either of those options.

The room in which I auditioned the 901s had better than average acoustics than most homes and was also larger than most rooms where these speakers may be used in a home. I also stand by my earlier statement that the 901s lacked bass response, this was noted in reviews repeatedly over the years and all agreed that a sub-woofer was necessary. In your description of "500 watts" driving the 901s, given the obvious lack of bass response (also noted in the 901s own specifications), any low frequencies you were hearing were nothing more than higher harmonics of the fundamental bass notes. The frequency rolloff of the 901 precluded any significant low bass reproduction even if it was being shoved down their cones at high power levels. This is no different than any other speaker system with lack of sizable woofers, it is physically impossible to reproduce very low frequencies with small cone speakers. One other note, shoving low frequencies down a speaker's voice coil at high power also increases the distortion levels dramatically, particularly a speaker which cannot reproduce that frequency directly. Not my idea of high fidelity, best leave the low frequencies to a big speaker that can do justice to them.

I am glad that you like the Bose system you have, I'm sure it does what you want it to do and that is just fine, not everyone likes the same speaker system or there wouldn't be so many different ones on the market. For the type of music and instruments I listen to, the Bose generally are not good enough in one or more respects but that is my opinion and my ears which say so and in my case, they have the final say, just as yours does. Enjoy the music first and foremost.

To anticipate a possible arguement about paralleling small speakers to act like big speakers.....yes, to some degree it does work, but it has also been proven that this method has limits, that the individual speakers do not add together in a linear manner and that they are not as efficient as one or two large speakers at the same frequencies or power levels. The use of smaller cone speakers was in response to users wanting smaller and smaller speakers to fit on shelves or in limited spaces where the larger speaker systems would not work for them. It had nothing to do with 'better' reproduction with smaller systems. Given that many people are listening to limited fidelity sources today, the lack of a wide bandwidth speaker system is not of any concern except to those of us who demand such high fidelity in our systems.

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