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Old 08-14-2012, 10:35 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Default Bose L1 Compact vs. Fishman SA220, final phase of the test

For the final stage of my comparison, I had three main objectives. The first objective was to hear with my own ears what the audience hears, so I planned to put recorded music through it. Not owning an iPod or any portable music device, other than a car, I used the car's stereo, turned it up, and miked it into the mixer, then to each PA in succession. Necessarily, both PAs had to be about 10' in front of that mike. I used a Ray Charles recording to get the soaring highs of the strings and the female chorus as well as the big bass. Not exactly my kind of music, but representative enough of what is popular. That's the closest I get to rock.

With the Bose, I discovered that when I turned the volume past 3:00, an annoying loud bass hum immediately began. At 3:00 it was fine, but turn it any further - and look out. I could dial this out with the mixer, but to do so would compromise the objectivity of what I was trying to do. With the volume turned up to this point, it was loud right in front of it, but actually not too bad. And at 120' away, the music could still be heard clearly and still sounded great. The bass was quite obviously there and the entire sound was warm and inviting.

When the Fishman had its turn at the higher volumes, I got an audible hiss. To be fair, you don't hear this when music is playing and, if you are 20-30' away, you may not hear it at all. Something like that annoys me more than the audience. Like in the other tests, the sound was clear and clean. Bass was.... well.... certainly adequate, but no more. Unlike most everyone else, I don't much get into bass or drums, so that was OK. At the maximum volume that I could achieve, the Fishman definitely sounder louder than the Bose. This is the opposite of what others have said. Although a little loud when it was a few feet behind me, I could stand it. At 120', it's sound was clear and well-defined. but at this distance seemed no louder than the Bose had been.

I went in a 120' 220 degree arc around each unit and could hear each clearly until a building interfered. Not bad at all. I could tell no difference between them. For fun, I plugged in my Mackie SRM450s and ran the same arc. While surprisingly wide, it was not nearly so wide as either Fishman or Bose. (For the record, the Mackie is supposed to be just 90 degrees, the Fishman 150 and the Bose 180.)

Which brings me to the second objective, to test them with the Mackies run in conjunction as I would in a larger venue, one too big for either Bose or Fishman alone. As expected, the Mackies are considerably louder, far more so than any difference between Bose and Fishman. The connections were easy and worked well with either. The sound from the Mackies, I might add was more like the Bose than the Fishman sound, only nicer still. I wasn't surprised, though I had hoped that one or the other of them would equal the Mackies. However, the differences in sound quality, while definitely discernible between all of them, were not great.

Third objective: I brought them indoors to a vacant 20x30' room I have, one with 11' ceilings and a very lively nature. “Aha, I'll learn something now”, I thought. What I learned was essentially more of the same. I got feedback far faster, as expected, and the Bose was slightly better at rejecting it. The Bose sound was still warm and inviting and the Fishman sound clear and clean. But the differences in sound quality were far greater than they were outdoors. I think the Bose sounded stunning here.

I did learn that the clip lights on the Fishman do indeed work, but only after your hearing is damaged by the hideous screech and squawk of excessive feedback. Not much use. The Bose lights anticipate when the feedback will come and I learned that I could have them barely lit and be fine. That's useful. You will never see the Fishman clip lights come on until you are torture yourself. Lights only a masochist will like. Still, the Fishman sounded louder before feedback. Like in previous tests, I set all sound-shaping controls of the Fishman at 12:00 and turned off all feedback rejection controls (the Bose lacks many of these controls). At equal volume, I felt there was less feedback indoors with the Bose system.

A couple little odds and ends. The Bose takes up a bit less total storage space. Better yet, the long part of it is considerably shorter than the Fishman unit and fits easily in behind the seats of my Honda Fit. The Fishman will not fit my Fit and lie flat across the back. How's that for alliteration? Am I a total alilterate? For fun, I timed getting each unit out and putting it back in the case, which means taking it apart, taking the power cord off and storing it, and fitting everything inside their respective cases. There wasn't much difference. With just one trial each and at “normal” speed, the Bose set up in 39 seconds and broke down in 40 seconds. The Fishman was 51 and 66 seconds respectively. This is a case of a clear winner where winning clearly means little. They're both great. Lastly, I noticed that both units are louder when not used with the mixer, but because I always use at least 2 mikes for myself and more often 4, as we usually perform as a duo, the mixer is going to be used. It adds a mere 3.5 lbs to what I have to carry, more with its carrying case.

Conclusion. OK, you've got my 2 cents worth now. Draw your own conclusions, do your own test, and exercise your own subjectivity. My ear may not be educated the way yours is, nor may I share your own likes and dislikes. What I found was little substantive difference. Neither is as loud as I hoped they'd be and neither works perfectly as a monitor. But they are not bad. The sound is decent too, not all one could hope for, but pretty good. Very good, considering the size and weight of these units. At 66 and with physical ailments raining down on me, I am buying one mostly to cut down on what I have to carry and to set up. The Bose has more bass and is warmer, the Fishman adequate bass and is cleaner. Indoors, I definitely preferred the sound of the Bose. Both transport quickly and easily. The Fishman may be found cheaper, though they both share the same nominal price, and it has far more bells and whistles as well as that important (to me) second XLR input. But I am going to go with the sound I prefer, the Bose.
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:14 PM
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Sheesh. You completely forgot to test how difficult it is to turn the knobs. Come on, man!!!
No, serioisly, very nice work. If there's a better A/B comparison between these two systems, I'd like to see it. Can't think of anything, really, that you overlooked. Still really enjoy my SA220 -- which fits just fine, thank you, on the floor right behind the front seats of my little Toyota! -- but there's no doubt that these are both pretty amazing systems, IMO, in what they do, what they cost and how little space they take up. And fortunately, there are some significant differences that will matter to different people to help them decide. Anyway you did a great public service here, sir; thanks!
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:12 PM
bkepler bkepler is offline
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This is the type of comparison I was looking for 6 months ago. I'm a traveling instrumental music teacher and each school I go to has subpar PA systems. I was looking at these units for my concerts. I ended up going with the Fishman mainly for financial reasons but also for the EQ bells and whistles. Running a small mixer into the second channel allows us to mic the musicians or choir while keeping a mic used for MCing in the first channel. The aux input allows us to easily pump in music (which sounds great!). I have yet to max out the power. I have used the Bose but never had the opportunity to do a side-by-side comparison. Great job!
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:37 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Default comparison of Fishman and Bose

Thanks folks. I did LOTS of internet research beforehand and could not make a decision. Some folks said opposite things about the same unit (well, what each of us likes best is subjective, after all); others had obvious axes to grind, some had something to sell, and many more were in musical fields far different than mine. Because one unit works for rock does not mean it is also good for folk and classical - that sort of concern.

After my own A/Bing, I was struck more by their similarities than their differences. Didn't expect that. I think the Fishman is definitely the better buy, IF you will use all the extras that it offers. Although I am influenced by money matters, I first want to be sure that any equipment I get will suit me and at least meet (if not exceed) my standards. THEN I worry about the price. I am fortunate to be able to do that.
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Old 08-17-2012, 07:45 AM
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I like my 2 Bose Compacts. But then I need them for my keys as well as acoustic guitar.
I would have kept my Fishstick if I only did a guitar thing.
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Old 08-19-2012, 01:13 PM
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I'm in the research process between these two as well. I have yet to play either of them, and of course that will be the final test, I have to admit that I'm leaning toward the Fishman only for the on-board reverb. I'm not 100 percent confident in my voice just yet, and reverb seems to help ease that worry.

As a novice musician as far as performing in front of people, I still don't fully understand the EQ side, as far as someone maybe saying, "You could use a little more mids," so if they're even as far as that is concerned, I might lean toward the Fishman for the aforementioned reason.
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Old 08-19-2012, 03:27 PM
Bobby1note Bobby1note is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJ10 View Post
I still don't fully understand the EQ side,
PJ10, there's some excellent free tutorials out there, that can give you a pretty decent handle on most aspects of "Public Address", including of course, EQ.

The simplistic view of EQ is, you have tone-shaping EQ,(usually on the instrument pre-amp, or the mixers' channel-strip); and you should also have EQ for your Front-of-House system, as well as your monitors, ("room-correction" EQ, to deal with room "nodes",,,standing-waves, feedback, etc.)

Here's some helpful links.

http://shure.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/71

http://www.shure.com/americas/suppor...ions/index.htm

http://www.yorkville.com/default.asp?p1=6&p2=0&p_id=17
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:09 PM
PJ10 PJ10 is offline
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Read through most of that stuff, and it's still all Greek to me. What I need to do is find someone who knows what they're doing and pick their brain as they're doing it.
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:51 PM
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I sponsored a Bose/Fishman A/B at my local GC a few years ago and Fishman ended up sending reps when they heard about it.

To me, and the folks I chatted with, Fishman was the clear winner, and the price difference is substancial. You can add a really decent subwoofer to the SA220 (if necessary), and still be less expensive than the Bose.

I admit I am not a Bose fan in general, it's the only thing I do not like about my new Infiniti G IPL, Bose has a signature sound and I find it a bit compressed and very lacking on the low end, even when designed specifically for a car in a very controlled environment.

But I digress. I decided to start gigging again at 62 and bought a SoloAmp a few weeks ago. After 1 gig in a noisy Italian Restaurant, and many hours at home, I am fairly satisfied. Neither the Bose or Fishman sound as good as a traditional system, say QSC or Mackie with a decent board, but the portability cannot be dismissed.

It's true most audiences would not notice the difference between the Bose and Fishman. I am long time into high end audio/home theater, and to my ears the Fishman is less compressed, less processed, and more articulate.

Different strokes, just my opinion................
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:20 PM
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You can add a really decent subwoofer to the SA220 (if necessary), and still be less expensive than the Bose.
How do you do that Rich?
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:01 PM
Bobby1note Bobby1note is offline
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How do you do that Rich?
Just run a cable from the SA220's Monitor-out, or Mix-out, to an active subwoofer. You'll be sending a full-spectrum signal to the sub, but the subs' built-in crossover will roll-off the highs. Sometimes, that x-over point is variable, as are the slopes. Match the subs' sound to your main, and voila.
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmyAddison View Post
I sponsored a Bose/Fishman A/B at my local GC a few years ago and Fishman ended up sending reps when they heard about it.

To me, and the folks I chatted with, Fishman was the clear winner, and the price difference is substancial. You can add a really decent subwoofer to the SA220 (if necessary), and still be less expensive than the Bose.

I admit I am not a Bose fan in general, it's the only thing I do not like about my new Infiniti G IPL, Bose has a signature sound and I find it a bit compressed and very lacking on the low end, even when designed specifically for a car in a very controlled environment.

But I digress. I decided to start gigging again at 62 and bought a SoloAmp a few weeks ago. After 1 gig in a noisy Italian Restaurant, and many hours at home, I am fairly satisfied. Neither the Bose or Fishman sound as good as a traditional system, say QSC or Mackie with a decent board, but the portability cannot be dismissed.

It's true most audiences would not notice the difference between the Bose and Fishman. I am long time into high end audio/home theater, and to my ears the Fishman is less compressed, less processed, and more articulate.

Different strokes, just my opinion................
Rich, I think you are confusing the Bose L1 Compact, with its double the price brother the Bose L1 Model 2. The Fishman SA220 and the Bose L1 Compact are virtually the same price--around $1k...


All in all, an interesting comparison, Bard Rocks...I have been meaning to try out some small PAs soon, so I will be checking those two, for sure.

Thanks!
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:16 AM
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I had 2 gigs this past weekend with my Fishman; one was a medium sized pub, and the other an outdoor farmer's market. I got compliments on how great the sound was at both venues. I have been using the SA220 for a couple of years now, and the portability and versatility would cause me to buy another in a heartbeat if something happened to the one I own.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:57 AM
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Regarding Subs...

One of the things I really like about the Bose Compact is the low end of it. It's almost as if it contains a fairly low-powered sub woofer, but that gives a little more oomph than most other portable systems I've used.

You can add a sub to the SA220, sure - but then the cost goes up, and so does the size/weight.

Most powered subs I've come across are very big and heavy. Does anyone know of a lightweight pseudo-sub that might be comparable in weight to the base of the Bose Compact?
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Old 08-21-2012, 04:21 PM
pshambroom pshambroom is offline
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Quote:
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Regarding Subs...

Most powered subs I've come across are very big and heavy. Does anyone know of a lightweight pseudo-sub that might be comparable in weight to the base of the Bose Compact?
Ferg, I've been wondering the same thing. The two subs I've found that are relatively light weight and have specs that indicate decent sound (DSP and low distortion) (I know, published power and response spec are by highly suspect, please let's not get into that again....)
Alto (around $450, 41 lbs.) and EV (around $600, 55 lbs.)
I haven't pulled the trigger on these, we don't play out much. I may at some point if I find a good sale and some positive reviews.
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