The Bose L1 Compact is a portable, light PA solution for some gig situations
Since then, I’ve had a lot of experience working with and playing through the L1. I was a “house” performer at a restaurant where the L1 was the house system, and after about six months of weekly performances I thought I sounded funny through most anything else. The Bose is the single most transparent PA system I know of, which can be good or bad, depending on the rest of the signal chain.
Let’s Get Small
When I heard that Bose had released a smaller version of the L1, I was excited and immediately contacted them to get one to review. Small, light, compact, and easy to transport are all very good and attractive things in a PA system. It arrived in two deliciously light boxes, and we set it up in under a minute. We plugged it in. We looked at it with some puzzlement.
There are two channels, one with an XLR in for a vocal mic, and the other a 1/4" in for acoustic guitar pickups, keyboards, basses and other instruments, a 1/8" in for an mp3 player or a portable audio device, and an RCA stereo in for CD or DVD player, video game console, DJ mixer or keyboard. The vocal channel has Hi and Low EQ and Volume. The guitar channel has a single knob: Volume. That’s all. Period. Well, I thought to myself, that’s idiot proof. Each channel has a clip indicator: green when signal is present, red when it’s clipping.
There’s also a switch called ToneMatch that you engage when plugging in an acoustic guitar. Engaging the ToneMatch, according to Bose, “instantly optimizes the sound of your acoustic guitar to the L1 Compact.” This input also allows the L1 Compact to interface with the outboard Bose T1 ToneMatch audio engine (retail $499), though in order to use the T1 you have to turn off the ToneMatch setting on the console. There is no digital interface on the L1 Compact for the T1. The T1 has guitar and pickup presets that you can use to optimize your guitar, and it has additional tone-shaping tools, as well as more inputs so you can use it like a little mixer. If you have a small combo, or want to take multiple guitars with you, purchasing the T1 will allow you to use the L1 Compact in that way. The ToneMatch T1 will require its own power outlet.
The rear panel has two outputs: a 1/4” which accepts TRS balanced or unbalanced, or TS, but the manual states that there is a 6 dB drop when using a TS cable. The other out is RCA, a mono line-level out for connecting to audio devices such as CD recorders. I plugged in a Takamine Glenn Frey model, and sure enough, it sounded terrific. I didn’t have a vocal mic around to try, but figured it’d pretty much sound like a Bose (which indeed it does). Here ended the initial phase of testing, as there really wasn’t a whole lot else we could do with it. I decided to take it home and see what could be discovered.
Hooray! Field Trip!
I tried it at band rehearsal in my living room. I live in one of those big old houses with wooden floors, plaster walls and ridiculously high ceilings. In the room was me with an acoustic, the bass player playing through a practice amp with a 10" speaker and the drummer with full kit, playing with brushes. The Bose sounded great with a Gallagher A-70 (in DADGAD), if just a little bassy. Unfortunately, the lack of an EQ section meant I had to live with it—not good in an ensemble situation (too much bass in the acoustic plus an actual bass player made it muddy). After a few songs, I switched to a Voyage-air VAOM-1C (in Standard tuning), which sounded great in a completely different way, but lacked a little warmth in the low mids.
The lack of control over the guitar EQ was a new challenge for me, and since Bose didn’t send me a T1 ToneMatch audio engine along for this review, I ended up assembling a pedalboard with two Baggs ParAcoustic DIs and an Aphex Acoustic Xiter through a Road Rage Pro Gear TBEL, so I could dial in the tone I wanted for each guitar andmake them sound more consistent when played one after another. This eliminated the tonal discomfort I was experiencing, but added more components to pack, transport, load in, set up, and plug in—and as the L1 Compact does not have phantom power, it meant I needed another power outlet.
It was time for a field test in a medium-sized open room with auditorium-style seating and a high but uneven ceiling—fairly lively acoustics. Load-in and setup went quickly; soundcheck was another story. Once I got the guitars dialed in for the room and the vocal mic balanced against the guitar, it was time to add my bandmates to the mix. Dan had his own bass amp, and Eric was just playing acoustically in the room. Here’s where the lack of a Master Volume became critical. We quickly determined that this was not the gig for the L1 Compact, and I ended up using a different amp.
A few days later, I tried the L1 Compact at a coffeehouse-style bakery. It was a solo gig, so I had only myself to contend with. I took one guitar, the Gallagher A-70, and went direct, as Bose intended. I’m told that the Bose sounded great in the L-shaped room, and that the sound carried perfectly and beautifully through the entire place. However, from where I sat, every time I played an F# or G chord I felt like I was being pummeled in the side of the head by the bass frequency—which is interesting because that guitar usually only acts up on A if it’s going to at all, and A was perfectly smooth in the mix. My son was next to me for a while, and heard exactly what I was hearing. The single-eyebrow-raised look of vexation he learned from me passed between us.
I’ve grown used to responding to what I hear in the monitor and trusting that what the audience is getting is good. The L1 Compact is supposed to serve as both monitor and main, so this fierce bass frequency distracted me and made me change the way I was playing to compensate. However, I learned that at about 10–15 feet away the frequency was smoothed into the rest of the sound. As the crowed ebbed and flowed, controlling the sound without a Master Volume was an additional challenge.
The Final Mojo
The Bose L1 Compact is a Bose, so it will reproduce with alarming accuracy anything you plug into it. It doesn’t do much else and that seems to be by design. In the right room, a player with minimal needs will appreciate the amp’s simplicity. Its size, weight and ease of transport are beyond my wildest dreams. This is not the amp for you if you play larger rooms or rely on features like a Master Volume, EQ for the guitar channel, phantom power, an effects send/return or a built-in reverb.
you love light, compact, easy, fast, stylish and simple, and you can completely control the environment at every gig you get.
you need a truly viable and versatile piece of gear that is gig-friendly.
MSRP $999 - Bose - bose.com
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.