Bose Lifestyle 48 Theater System

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Bose Lifestyle 28 System Met My Needs

Apr 8, 2007
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Balanced sound, accurate base, full midrange and silky highs. Great calibration software.

Cons:None for me.

The Bottom Line: Return policy makes trying it in your home at no-brainer. Read the critics but ultimately listen to your ears.


My background

As an audiophile of many years, I have some very incredible sounding high end gear and built a music room ideally suited to music reproduction. I'm also a concert goer and know what live music of many different kinds sounds like.

I've always been skeptical of Bose speakers although I never had auditioned them before. I had simply repeated what other expert critics had said in high end reviews.

Bose Critics

Generally, many audiophiles think that Bose systems lack base and are thin sounding. Their speakers have been criticized for being cheaply made and expensive. The company is faulted for not publishing specs and for preventing retailers from being able to do A/B comparisons with other speakers in their stores.

My Needs

I have two home theatres. The larger one, off the living room, already had a 7+1 surround KEF satellite system and Velodyne sub, with Dennon amplification and DVD player. The new and smaller home theatre is off the bedroom. I wanted good sound but did not want to go through the trouble of installing a full surround system.

I looked into a Bose 3-2-1 to fill this need. Listening to the system at the store was impressive. The speakers had far more base and were fuller than I anticipated. The depth and breadth of sound was amazing even without rear units.

Reevaluation

Having met my initial need, I went back to the large theatre and found the KEF/Velodyne combo a little heavy sounding compared to the Bose 3-2-1. I thought, "why not try the full surround Bose system (Lifestyle 28) in the larger home theatre and see how it compares?"

I call it my larger home theatre, but the space is not that big. Measuring 10 by 20 feet and sitting six, it features a DWIN TV3 overhead projector and 120 inch fixed screen.

Store Experience

At the store, the Lifestyle 28 did not sound so hot. In fact, the system sounded like I had expected Bose to sound, thin and tinny. But the return policy made trying them out a no-brainer. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I bought them.

Home Experience

I'm glad I did. The Lifestyle 28 is simply the best balanced home theatre system I've heard in my space, and I've tried several high end combinations recommended in audiophile reviews.

By balanced I mean base is neither overwhelming nor is it light. Midrange is full and high end is silky smooth. The breadth and depth of sound is remarkable. I find it very accurate on music recordings that I am very familiar with, some in fact of concerts that I have attended.

If you like extremely heavy base that shakes up the joint the Lifestyle 28 is not the system for you. But if you like tight, supportive base that does not spill into the sound of other instruments this might be a good system for you to consider.

Calibration Software

I think a key to this system’s balance is the automated sound calibration provided by Bose. Wearing headset microphones, a user is asked to sit in five different room positions while the system analyzes output from each speaker in turn.

It is a thoughtful, carefully scripted program that achieves its purpose brilliantly and absolutely anyone can execute.

Cost

Bose speakers are said to be expensive. I really don't get it. The Lifestyle 28 cost $2,000. My KEF/Velodyne/Dennon combo, including a DVD player, cost $3,300.

You probably can get the cost of a good surround system down to $1,800 including a DVD player. It's a fairer comparison since the Lifestyle system integrates a player within the media center unit. My feeling is that a $200 difference is well worth the sound quality of the Bose system.

Individual Differences

We have different tastes and hearing ability. It is very difficult to wear someone else's ears. We also have different listening environments. Your space, and proper speaker placement and calibration, is half the story.

Summary

Bottom line is I would recommend that you try whatever Bose system you want at home. Give them a fair audition in your environment. Read the reviews to know what to look for but, ultimately, listen to your ears. There's no restocking fee so what is there to lose?

Be highly suspicious of experts who analyze everything to death but might not even have heard what they are criticizing. Anyone who is not open-minded enough to understand that your preferences and space matters, and that equipment specs are but a poor proxy for your ears, does not deserve your respect or attention.


Recommend this product? Yes


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