Bose 161 Bookshelf Speakers Reviews
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Bose 161 Bookshelf Speakers

33 ratings (8 Epinions reviews)
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Great sound for background music or surround sound...

Feb 12, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

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Pros:Loud & clear. Unobtrusive but produce a pleasing sound. Suited to background music. Respectable bass.

Cons:Expensive for what they are. Enclosure can rattle.

The Bottom Line: A great speaker, with a wide sound and decent bass for the size. Quite loud and produce no audiable distortion. Suited for background music or surround sound rear speakers.


These speakers are more for the places like the kitchen, or the den room.. Where you need to fill a small to large space with good sound and wide soundstage. In other words, wherever you walk you hear a loud, consistent sound from the Bose – in which is referred to as Stereo Everywhere speaker performance.

They can also be used as pretty damn good rear speakers in a custom Home Cinema, they connect using standard spring clips and will take a fairly large gauge wire.

I would highly suggest getting some good amplifier power, really you do need around 80-100WATTS a channel to get them pumping. I found they distort quickly on low-end amplifiers, while on a powerful one the speaker simply cuts out if you overdrive the 2x 2.5” drivers.

I found running a Crossover at 60Hz produced a better sound, and provided much better bass - but they won’t get quite as loud as a result, but more than loud enough to have to shout.

They are clear, loud and produce a pleasing sound if maybe a bit mid-bass heavy and while bass is OK to the 80Hz mark, it then drops off very, very quickly. However as suggested above I would really advise a 60Hz Xover if your using these as mains, and they do sound a whole lot better, even apply maybe 2-3db increase to the bass on the amp. The port of the loudspeaker produces no port noise even when pushed very hard.

Do not however consider these as main home cinema speakers - but more so for background music or rear speakers as they are much more suited to that.

Ironically, I saw these in a small cinema once and was quite stunned at how loud they are – I can attest to that.

They are great for in the kitchen or den/sun room for providing a great sound in a small package, you really don’t notice them thanks to the two colour choices... black or white.

They come provided with brackets to mount on the wall, and they work really well.

With a subwoofer, these can sound fantastic, especially in a surround sound system as rear speakers.

The only issue I did experience is at high volume the enclosure could become resonant, but I found when they were screwed tightly into the wall the rattling disappeared which would assume the tension prevented the case from rattling, which probably just shows you how powerful those twiddler speaker drivers are.

Not the best from Bose, but for the size they are great and you can usually find a bargain on ebay like myself.

There's one thing I must say, they are very reliable. I've had mine for many years and never, ever have I had a Bose speaker go bust.

For front channel home cinema application I would suggest a non-bose speaker or the Bose 301s which are more suited to that.

The VCS-10 centre is part of the VCS-30 package with the 161s - I would advise against this package. Just get the 161s on their own, the VCS-10 is weak.

Overall a great speaker, but hear it before you spend your cash. Check ebay for a few good deals.

The specs are: 50watts IEC, 100watts Max 6OHM imp. 80Hz-16Khz.

I found the dispersion of the sound good, they are more suited to spanning the sound around the room than critical sweet spot listening, and this configuration is great for background music.

I would recommend these to someone who needs a small speaker with a good, pleasing sound for all recordings in background music settings or for the house parties where even the Cerwin Vega’s get blown up… I still haven’t found a way to destroy these speakers – even with insane amounts of power. ;-)


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 100

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