I have very recently purchased a Bose L-1 Compact System for sound reinforcement with my classical guitar while playing some weddings, cocktail parties and other venues where I need a bit of a boost to maintain parity with high(er) ambient background noise. Yesterday I tried it at a bigger-than-recommended venue with a louder than normal ambient level. I play at a number of bridal shows and expos to drum up trade and yesterday I did the 'Saratoga Living' extravaganza at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Anyone familiar with the venue will recognize it: I played the long rectangular entrance hall--about 175(+/-) feet long, about 25 feet wide with a thirty foot ceiling. If you're not familiar with it, well, there are the approixmate dimensions. Bose advertizes the L-1 Compact for audiences up to 100 people. There were about 250 queued up to get in during the first hour or so, with conversation, foot traffic etc. passing directly in front of me to get into the show. So how did the L-1 cope?
First, let me describe my utilization. I play an Eric Marczak guitar which are very loud instruments yet still possessing good tone. I use a (cheap but effective) John Pearse contact microphone because I refuse to drill holes in an expensive instrument AND my experience has been that traditional mics (and stands) pick up too much ambient sound and increase my 'footprint' too much. The L-1 has a setting for tone match to a guitar. I assume that this is Bose's EQ for a steel string acoustic interfaced by a piezo setup. It is not the best sound for my classicals. I also hook my iPod up to the L-1 on breaks so having to remember to keep turning on and shutting off this guitar EQ for the two uses gets irksome. Also, the L-1 has nop reverb and sometimes a bit of 'sweetness' in a small acoustically dead room is nice. SO.... I use a Roland Mini Cube for a preamp and keep teh tone match setting off. The Roland allows for some EQ as well as the reverb. Plus it boosts the signal of the John Pearse contact mic.
With this setup, I was running--in the aforementioned space-- at about one third (ten o'clock or so on the volume control of the L-1. No clipping whatsoever. The sound quality was described as totally natural (which it also sounded to me) and I carried about half way down the room. Far enough. This was over very loud conversation. and walking in boots on hard tile. Had this been a cocktail party on carpet, I would have been much too loud--at least until the drinks really kicked in! It also would have filled the room. Dispersion -- I sounded like I was coming from everywhere, not just a single acoustic source. This is the part that is truely amazing. There are no 'hot spots' just seamless sound. The volume doesn't jump up drastically as you approach the system. All in all, I think I'm in love! Plus the portability factor, even considering the Roland added on, is so much an improvement over my old rig, makes the L-1 ideal for my needs.