Could this portable PA system be your perfect companion for small gigs?
Item: Bose L1 Compact
Price: $899 (US), £674 (UK)
Mic Rating: 4/5
At A Glance: The Bose L1 Compact is the smallest system in Bose’s L1 series of PA systems. It uses line array speaker technology to enable the system fill a small venue (typically up to around 100 people), yet remain lightweight and portable. The speaker arrangement of also helps to minimize the possibility of feedback – meaning you that you can often stand in front of the speaker column without any problems. The L1 Compact can be set up at 3 different heights, depending on your setup requirements, and features a simple 2 channel mixer (1 mic input + 1 guitar/line input) built into the stand; so you may not need anything else other than your mic and instruments to be ready for your gig.
High Notes: The system is very light – making it a great option for people who struggle carry around heavy gear. It has plenty of volume for small gigs and, with vocals, the sound produced is clear and well defined. The wide dispersion pattern from the speakers allows you to both fill the room you are in and allow you to hear yourself perform – meaning you may not require any additional monitoring. The line array technology used in the design of the L1 compact means that the volume of the speaker doesn’t drop off as much as a typical speaker when you move further from it. This means that you do not need to make the volume of the system that high at the front of the room in order to still be heard at the back. The system uses Bose’s “Tone Match” feature to optimise the sound for the instrument connected into it. By default Channel 1 is optimized for vocals, and Channel 2 is optimized for acoustic guitar. Channel 2 can also accept up to three inputs at once via its various connections; so you can connect an MP3 player for example to play background music in your breaks.
Off Pitch: There are no EQ controls on instrument input and there is no phantom power on the mic channel for using live condenser mics with the system. Also, Bose decided not to include a master volume control on the device (just a volume for each channel); so you can’t simply turn up and down your system once you have found the balance you want. When compared to the larger systems in the L1 range, the Compact is a bit lacking in bass frequencies – so it is probably not idea for DJ sets or for use with bass instruments.
VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: There are many more powerful, versatile and equally great sounding PA options available for the money if size and weight are not a major concern. That said, the L1 Compact is great at doing what it is designed to do and it is hard not to be impressed by the portability and simplicity of the setup. For singer/guitarists performing in small venues, the L1 compact should easily be able to get you the sound you want. If you are performing with a band, however, you will probably need to look at a larger system to be able to be heard. The “ToneMatch” feature works well for its intended sources; however there is no way to turn it off on your mic channel – which is annoying if you are using a separate vocal processing unit, and there is no on-board reverb on either channel. Overall, the L1 compact is a great system if it fulfills all of your requirements; however if you need something a bit more versatile or louder, you will need to look elsewhere.
Manufacturer’s Website: Bose
Chris Kennedy is the principal product reviewer for voicecouncil.com. Chris is a musician in the United Kingdom – you can see more about his work at www.chriskennedymusic.co.uk You can also see more articles by Chris here.