Written: Oct 25, 2005
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Outstanding Sound, Progressive Scan, IR Remote, Slick Design, uMusic, Small Speakers, Easy Setup, Updates
Cons:Hard Drive Glitches, Lack of Mid-range Sound, Can't
Play Dual-Disc Audio Cds
The Bottom Line: Audiophiles should stay away from Bose altogether, but the non-audiophiles will be more than pleased, especially if price isn't a factor. The Bose Lifestyle 38 System sounds remarkable.
I have had this system for about 7 months now, so hopefully I have experienced all I can and offer you my full personal opinion about the Bose Lifestyle 38.
As a result, I am quite satisfied with the system overall. Too bad it isn't close to perfect, considering the amount of investment you have to make for it. Don't get me wrong, I like the system a lot and I have always wanted a lifestyle system period, but you're going to have to deal with a few shortcoming.
first of all, if you decide to purchase this system, make sure you have someone there with you, b/c this 'baby' is heavy. This is mainly due to the large module/subwoofer. Luckily, hooking up the speakers wasn't difficult. It comes with an easy to read instruction manual w/ details & specs. Plus there is a large 'quick start' picture diagram on how to setup the system. The instructions from Bose is clear as usual, but then again, the wires, or the outputs attached to the wires, are color oriented. Brilliant.
On a side note, the Lifestyle 38 does not come with any wall brackets or stands. For the price, I think we deserve either stands or wall brackets for the speakers, don't you think? Other than that, everything else is included: IR remote control w/ batteries, component adapters, audio/video cables, antenna, samples of movie and audio clips, ADAPTiQ disc, etc.... I know I didn't list them all, but you can easily check out the Bose website for all the information.
Now for the big review, the sound quality. I'm not an audiophile, but I can tell you up front that you will not be receiving the best sound in the market. Part of the reason is there is little to no midrange. Therefore, the clarity of the sound is not top notch, at least by audiophile standards. Bose has a unique method in producing their sound, with their advance research and technology, but I think it is fine, just as long as you are satisfied with the sound result. Furthermore, the sound is excellent, whether you have the volume on high or not. You won't receive any distortion at all, and for all you bass lovers, there is plenty of bass. Whether you are listening to cds, mp3s, FM radio, or movies, the sound is fantastic. The total sound output is about 350 watts. Not impressive numbers, considering most sound systems contain more, but you can hardly notice any difference. You'll also hear clearer details that you normally won't hear in other sound systems (mainly lower models). AM stations on the otherhand, doesn't work too well. I don't know if it is the antenna that came with the system, or if I have poor AM frequency in my area. AM sounds nonexistent.
I haven't mentioned the features yet, but the audio that is stored in the lifestyle hard drive, sounds weaker than a regular audio cd or mp3. It still sounds good, but you will have to increase the volume a little more than usual. I think this is due to the low (compress) recording quality from the lifestyle. I figure Bose prefers their customers to have more storage room for his or her music.
There are five speakers plus a module and I do not see any difference in size or performance as compared to the other Bose cubed speakers. Unless of course, you are comparing them to the jewel cube speakers, which are a lot smaller. However, this goes the same for the lifestyle 48, you cannot add additional speakers. So the thought of 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound is out of the question. Anyhow, the cubed speakers are designated for reflecting sound off walls so you can hear a full rich sound throughout the room. I tested this by sitting in different areas in the room and I did not notice any loss in sound.
As for the features, I am only going to point out the main features since there are too many features to mention. Firstly, the lifestyle hard drive (called uMusic) is a welcome new addition to the lifestyle family. It is very convenient and saves the trouble in changing disc after disc. The lifestyle 38 hard drive stores up to 200 hours of music and if that isn't enough, you can upgrade to the lifestyle 48, which stores up to 340 hours. It only takes a few minutes to store the whole album into the hard drive, depending whether you have the system on or off. Unfortunately, you cannot select specific songs from the album. You can however, take the song out later, but that is after you store the whole album into the hard drive. One of the cool feature about storing albums in the hard drive, is the system automatically inputs the name of the album, artist, and songs in the database. And, Bose will continually send you a disc of updated music information for upcoming albums. How nice is that? In addition, you can create your own playlist from the songs stored in the hard drive or 'train' the lifestyle 38 to the types of music you like. It is as simple as just pressing + (like)or - (dislike) buttons during a song that is being played. It is definitely a cool feature to have especially when there are no sound system like it, at least to my knowledge.
The remote control is simply magnificent. The buttons on the remote are displayed very well. For the most part, it feels second nature. Plus, I think all remote controls should have this feature, the remote control is infrared. You can use the remote at very long range, I even tested the remote at a floor level below and it still works. And the best part is, you don't even have to point the remote toward the media center. Nevertheless, even though all the buttons are easily layout for you on the remote, you can't use some of the functions on the actual media center itself. Basically, you will be fully dependent on the remote control. On the media center, there is a volume control, power button, store button, and a source button, and an erase button. The point is, if you lose the remote, you will be extremely limited to what you want to do. In addition, the color of the remote is pure white, which doesn't match the other colored speakers available for the lifestyle 38/48, such as the black or silver speakers. Unfortunately, the remote control is standard white only.
As Bose has introduced this feature in previous lifestyle systems, the ADAPTiQ is also included in the lifestyle 38/48. For those not familiar with the ADAPTiQ, it helps you optimize the sound by the way the speakers are setup. So whether you are lazy or are having difficulties adjusting the sound to your preference, while watching a movie or listening to music, the ADAPTiQ will set it for you. I attempted the ADAPTiQ, and although it made the system sound impressive, I still prefer my own setting.
Since Bose evolves solely on technology, bad glitches will appear. While working with the hard drive, I receive a few lock-ups. Whether I am trying to store music into the hard drive or listening music through the hard drive, the system freezes. New feature problem maybe? The positive side, if there is any, is if the system detects an error, in this case a lock-up, it automatically reboots itself. Thus, this is the same as unplugging the system yourself. I think I have encounter this issue about 5 or so times in my 7 month span, so who knows what the future may hold.
As I stated earlier, the Bose Lifestyle 38 is a great system and should satisfied most of the people. However, the price is unacceptable to most of the people as well. I think it all depends on how well you like Bose's sound quality. Plus, Bose lasts a long time and their customer support is outstanding too, in my opinion. Even after encountering a few mishaps, I still enjoy the system and think it is worth it. Other than a few exceptions, the Lifestyle 38 contains the whole package or everything you would need for a terrific sound system.
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