Bose Personalized Amplification System

By on February 11, 2004

Ever gone to a concert where it’s so loud you think you’re ears will start bleeding, and in spite of the volume level you can’t understand the lyrics?

Dr. Amar Bose and his namesake, Bose Corportation, are trying to change all that, and change the entire amplified performance paradigm with their new Personalized Amplification System (PAS.)

Bose’s approach to solving this problem is pretty radical, and at the same time surprisingly simple. It involves nothing less than, as they put it, “changing the fundamental properties of loudspeakers,” and yet the idea, once it’s explained, seems obvious.

The company’s new product is called the Cylindrical Radiator Loudspeaker. Two dozen or so (we weren’t allowed to peek inside the units) small drivers are arranged vertically in a flagpole-like structure about 3.5 inches in diameter and seven feet high, which is set into a floor stand. The arrangement of the drivers is designed to eliminate all vertical dispersion: The sound is projected forward and in a 180° arc horizontally, but there’s nothing projecting above the top of the column and nothing bouncing off the floor.

The most obvious effect is that, in theory at least, the sound is transferred to the room much more efficiently than with a standard spherical-front speaker. In fact, we were invited to walk directly toward the speaker from across a large room while a guitarist played, and observed that the difference in sound level as we approached was remarkably small, even when we put our ears right up to the speaker. Therefore, musicians can play at lower levels and still fill a space. Vocals sent through the system can be loud enough to project, but the potential for feedback is greatly reduced.

(quoted from a MixOnline article)

The Cylindrical Radiator speaker is placed behind the performer on the stage, providing sound for both the performer and the audience. This is a total departure from the traditional amplified sound system, which requires separate amplifiers and speakers for the audience and the performers, a mixing console, miles of cabling, and a sound technician to make it all work, and even then it often works poorly.

The PAS returns simplicity to the idea of amplified music performances, and makes for a much more natural sound coming from the stage, with the amplified sound from each performer coming from where that performer is on the stage. According to many posters on Bose’s online forum, the system is also ideal for DJ’s and playback of recorded music.

This is an answer to many prayers from frustrated performers and sound techs alike, tired of overly complicated systems for small to medium-sized rooms, not to mention concert-goers who feel the need to bring ear plugs along.

Look for the PAS to show up on stage at a nightclub or church near you.



  1. It still comes down to 1: $2000 for just one system or at least $8000 to outfit 4 piece band! $8000 can buy a lot of high fidelity options to compare it to!

    $4000 – $8000 is way over budget for most bands. If they are truly pro bands they usually rent systems.

    1. Many small venues have limited space for the band. To use the pas properly, the system must go behind the players taking up much valuable performance space.

    2. The idea “plays up to the egos of most musicians who feel that their sound isn’t getting across to the audience and it ” must be some one elses fault, like the soundman”(I’m not a soundman by the way) If the mix were left up to individual musicians, in most cases their own instument would be way to loud in the mix.

    3. No effects on vocals may sound clear, but they certainly contradict the argument that you sound more like a high fidelity recording with the pas system. High fidelity recordings of vocals have both clearity and ambience from reverb, delay etc.

  2. Yes, I agree the price is high but if it really works I’d give it try. An Bose audio equipment is not cheap but is usually a few steps above it’s competitors in quality. I’m a soundman, both live and studio and also an acoustic guitar player. I’d like to try this equipment for myself and the duo I play with, a guitar & two vocals. It might certainly work for coffeehouse gigs.

    In the long run, with a four or five piece froup, it’s still up to the musicians to create a mix/balance. However with each musician near his “stick”, hearing homself the loudest, it approached what the ultimate stage mix where each performer likes to monitor him/herself a little louder hen the rest of the band, just like walking up to your amp for a beter listen during a solo and stepping away to hear yourself in the ensemble.

    I won’t make any judgements until I hear it for myself. Who knows, if it works well, in a few years other companies my license the technology and build a more affordable system.

  3. Well, I’ve “test” driven the PAS system. Can’t suggest um. Here’s why:

    For my band, I’d need to purchase 2, and STILL run it through a mixer due to the fact we have 4 vocalists and guitars/bass, PLUS we need the reverb/fx for vocals. I don’t care what anybody says, these are STANDARD effects for voice (like any recording has) and I’m baffled that they didn’t bundle them with the PAS by default. Also, inputs 3 and 4 suck as you can’t control the volume/eq via the remote (it only controls inputs 1 and 2). You also need some kinda Preamp if you run instruments through inputs 3 and 4.

    At the very, very least, they should’ve included reverb to be a “complete PA solution.” I’ve read through all the posts regarding effects on their messageboard. I can’t believe that their suggestion of GETTING SEPARATE EFFECTS FOR EACH PAS should vocalists want reverb actually flies on there! People are like “hey, thanks! sounds great!”

    The RICHEST thing, if you have more than 1 person in your band, those guys suggest you buy 1 per band member! HA! are you high? most musicians I know are struggling ones. Who can afford $2000 per person, PLUS the cost of effects PER system?

  4. I have just heard the system! There were seven band members although only 5 speakers were used. Watching the set-up was amazing as it took approx. 5 minutes for the band to completely get situated on stage. The venue placed about 500 people in the area. The Band consisted on a Piano to the right, Drums next to the piano and the Bass Guitar nearing the center. Center Stage was the lead vocal and his guitar. Panning to the left you would find a trumpet player and then Sax. and then sound effects man with bells etc. What was amazing was where I was sitting, “Last Row.” For the first time ever, I could hear each instrument seperately along with locating them on stage as the begun to play. The musicians also seemed to be having a great time and really used a lot of dynamics to set their presence. If I were a member of a Band, I would see my personaly 2000 dollars as an investment to my ears, audience and passion. You could also argue that you wouldn’t be spending an additional 2000 dollars but instead spending perhaps 800 dollars more for a new and unconventional approach to sound. I now hope to experience more concerts that have great musicians. Thank you Bose.

  5. ah me This is some old tech tweek.They are speakers positioned in some new way,overpriced and useless to any guitar player who doesnt use amp modeling yet as a vocalist i am interested.but do you really think they would work on stage with a moderately loud rock band.Why coudnt it have been some thing like those new devices that throw sound by creating a series of vacuums with an ionizing lazer er whatever.

  6. ah me This is some old tech tweek.They are speakers positioned in some new way,overpriced and useless to any guitar player who doesnt use amp modeling yet as a vocalist i am interested.but do you really think they would work on stage with a moderately loud rock band.Why coudnt it have been some thing like those new devices that throw sound by creating a series of vacuums with an ionizing lazer er whatever.

  7. Playing rock classical jazz etc since 1964, things have degenerated seriously over the years due to poor sound mixing. Many , and I mean MANY people who used to go to shows, now refuse to go — they point out the obvious — music and art are replaced by a carnival sound and people ‘playing with equipment they do not understand and do not control ‘. A great deal of the music reflects this. Noone can pretend that the majority of performances sound ‘good’ . Now, a company proposes a solution. The comments by those who have actually heard it are very impressive to me. God knows I hope its valid. The actual magic of music might return, and this would surprise the heck out of a lot of audiences. People are weary of pleading with sound techs to let the artists make the sound and stop trying to usurp the show with corny tech. Bose may really have something special here.

  8. I’ve heard these speakers by a group called The Brothers Groove. I have a mixed response. On keyz, guitar and vocals, they were outstanding. For bass, they don’t “punch”, but they deliver a clarity of tone that, frankly, made the band sound like a recording.

    When I first saw the band with these speakers, everyone in the band was using them; the drummer used an electronic set, with 2 subs & a cylinder. The bass that night used a 1-sub setup, but when I talked to him, he said he’d have preferred to use 2 subs. I told him that I could hear the sound of his FX on his bass like I never could before. The sound would be described as a “clear mix”. But not a “pumping” mix. The bass was all there, but it was clear and present rather than deep and thumping. A lot of this band’s music requires “deep and thumping”. A few weeks later, I saw hit add a bass cabinet to the mix. I thought that worked.

    I’m a keyboard player. Chris Codish, the keyboardist, sings and plays through his system, which uses a 1-sub setup. The electric piano sound was succulent–it was just the way you want to hear it. Bells were glistening, synth solo and clav patches were kicking. He let me sit-in on a song, and I realized that I had to re-adjust my listening while I was playing. I have a JBL speaker (15 w/horn), and I’m used to the sound pumping behind me a certain way. This sound didn’t do that. I realized that I could play very directly with Erik Gustafson, the guitarist, who also had a very clear, but rich tone. Erik uses a host of FX on their songs (which includes everything from Miles Davis “On The Corner” era funk to Dr. John covers), and I could hear all the sound very clearly…I keep saying “clear”, but I have to. In the guitar and keyboard’s case, I thought their sound worked great through these units. And Chris’s vocals were clear and present.

    I would say that a band could use these units in mixed fashion. Because of how great these things sound on keyz, guitar and vocal, if you have a group where the vocalist isn’t a stand-alone vocal, then you have two things covered directly. A guitarist or keyboardist who sings could use these in a group setting. It’s an easy set-up for a vocalist. I would figure to run a mic into a separate mixer with fx, then run that into the PAS. Just being realistic. I like using my choice of FX, and this system was designed with a blind eye to this basic right, which is part of all musicians’ constitutions. Roland’s VS-xxxx have multiple FX built-in. If you’re going after people who will pay $2-grand for a sound system, add what’s necessary to complete the job. Reverb is a God-given right, so get it right. Finish designing this thing until it’s ready for prime-time.

    The other thing they should do is make it more powerful, in terms of punchiness in the sound. Clarity is wonderful, but some parts of music are acoustically more satisfying when they are gritty and can grab you by the ass. That’s what bass does, and that’s why I recommend bassists to wait for something more personally designed. Keyboard bass can work fine with this as long as the player is using patches that aren’t very percussive on the attack. If it requires more pump, then each individual will have to audition and choose for oneself.

    I like this system. As a keyboardist, I think I would dig this system when I am playing piano, electric piano, synth sounds and samples. But, often, I’m using my Kurzweil K2500 to play the organ mode. It may be scientifically incorrect, but I like those Hammond organ sounds to pump a room. I’d have to audition my keyboard through that system to really know if the 1- or 2-sub setups will satisfy what I need when I’m pumping the organ sound on a gig. And, unfortunately, it would probably take me a few gigs to really know, after making the adjustment to that sound. What I did like was that, even when I played a separate gig with Erik, he brought that setup, and his sound was excellent. So, these things can mix and match in a group.

    Peace, out.


  10. My listening experience was hearing one acoustic guitar through it. I thought is sounded great, exactly like the guitar, only louder and really well dispersed. I hope to hear it in more complex settings.

    Interesting product, and I hope it evolves in the manner recommed by previous commentators. I’m not ready to sell my Marshall yet though. :^)

  11. I have recently read the posts and decided to try the unit out. I think most musicians are idiots so I have decided to comment on the “amp” situation. You are not supposed tho substitute the Bose system for your guitar or bass rig. Mic it in the traditional way and use the Bose system as the P.A. I have read many posts where someone isn’t ready to give up their stack. Moron! You still have to play through your amp. Once you realize this and use the Bose system as a stand alone P.A. even with a reverb FX unit, you’ll be very suprised at what comes out. I play in a 7 piece county/rock band where volumes can get loud. I was very suprised at how much lower and clearer the stage volume was.

    If $2000 seems expensive then quit music. It’s a necessary tool. Why would you spend thousands of dollars on guitars, drums and bass rigs to play through an $800 crappy Peavey system? You could have the best rig in the world but if your P.A. sucks, so will you.

    I would like to see some advancements on the system but it does work well. I just think most musicians are very, very uneducated and don’t understand how “sound” is supposed to work.

  12. I am a 51 yr old drummer. I play all styles and have back problems. Lugging around my old JBL PA w/subs, amps and monitors caused me to have to give up steady gigging… until the PAS.

    I bought one in Sept 2004 and have used it in numerous situations and it works very well for all. The drawbacks are: It sounds natural, not beefed up, it forces you to hone your craft. At times I wished I could get “just a little” more vocal before feedback. You must learn to use it as you would any instrument.

    The pluses are: Setup in 5 minutes, drop dead easy Clean, clear sound, plenty of volume for smaller venues. It has saved my back and re-invented “gigging” for me…I couldn’t have done without it. Flexible, when used as intended; 2 mic inputs with superb EQ presets for many mics and instruments. 2 more inputs to accomodate a mixer, if you want to use it as it is NOT intended (like I do).

    I have used mine as a vocal PA for a 4pc R&B group with 4 vocals…also ran the kick drum thru it. Sounded very good, not LOUD, but the vocals were clear and legible and needed no added FX.

    Have used it for a duo: acoustic guitar, 2 vocals, and Djembe drum. Great.

    Use it in church weekly. Run Lead vocal in channel 1 w/mic preset, acoustic guitar into channel 2 w/acoustic pickup preset (beautiful tone!!). Then I use a mixer to submix kick drum, Djembe, and three vocal mics and run it into channel 3. That leaves one channel open that on occasion will have a bass guitar or another acoustic run into it. Works great. In this situation…my only gripe is that the vocal could be a bit louder, but I can’t get it there without some feedback. And I have tried all kinds of ways around it.

    Neverless, it is sufficient, as was Christ’s sacrifice to save.

    It gets the job done, with a minimum of weight and fuss. I sold ALL my old PA gear for $2700. which covered the double sub woofered PAS and a new mixer and an audix OM5 vocal mic which is awesome.


  13. Sounded like crap to me in a few ways. sounds great for a quiet setting with nice clean hghs and no feedback issues but who would use it in a quiet setting? a performer not willing to shell out 2000 bucks thats who. so its pointless. also.. it has absolutly no power or punch.. even when using 2 subs.

    Tthe WORTS PART is when I hooked a guitar into it… i have been a pro guitarist and home/studio recording engineer for many years. the boss pas can NOT reproduce mid range guitar freq without sounding like the speaker is gonna blow.. that was with a clean jazz guitar tone as well as a lead channel tone. I would not reccomend the unit for anyone except a singer. I think this is a bad idea that could be a great idea with revisions. BOSE should make speakers for use WITH a mixer and make the subs powerfull. If i wanted to spend 2000 bucks on a speaker system I surely wouldnt purchase 15 PC desktop speakers and match it to a shit PC desktop sub. ( which is what bose did) I would buy a triple rectifier and cab like I ave becausde it has been taliored to sound good with guitar for YEARS. Its not even a comparison.. by triple rectifier mesa with cab would decimate the bose system on all aspects… clarity.. tone.. and power. and it comes to.. 2000 bucks as well. so screw this little rinky dink bose pc speaker crap. and screw not having a mixing board with fx racks.. compression.. delay sub harmonic synthesizers etc. because in a REAL band situation the bose is A) not powerfull enough for anything above 50 member audience. and B.) Is going to have musicians at uneven volumes because they all seem to want to be louder than eachother.. what about seperate monitor mixes? lol any pro musician or sound man would agree that the bose is a real bad idea and will not sell. besides.. It cant handle the primry freq range of a guitarist. do this… go to try out the system.. and play an A on the e string with a Db on the A string and you will see and hear what I mean. do it at stage volumes so you can break their speaker right in the store and have a laugh for yourself. bose PAS is a COMPLETE JOKE.

  14. Hello, Our band has 4 cyclinders and 5 subs, open labs neko, 4 vocalists, bass, hart dynamic electroacoustic drums w/vintage cymbals, etc. The pas is a unique instrument in reproducing sound. I agree w/ the writer that musicians are idiots I also agree that musicians have the hardest job in the world; learn new technology, learn technique, learn relationships in a band, learn how to allocate time to the work/ or hobby where most anybody else related to the musician does not care… Anyone thinking about trying this system ought to check it out as I think it is apple to oranges to basic P.A’s. Check out the bose info pop site for users, it is one of the greatest resources for musicians trying to learn sound reinforcement. And by all means go to a dealer and try to break the pas, who knows you may break a G string doing it. Markd16

  15. When I read a lot of comments that some folks put forth, I am reminded of my youngest daughter when she used to eat only “the pancake syrup with the red top on it” when she was little. My wife and I always had to make sure that we poured whatever brand of syrup we happend to buy into the same old red top bottle or our little girl would refuse to eat it. For what it is worth, our 4-piece band plays through 2 Bose PAS systems and we are absolutely amazed by the performance. Indoors, outdoors, no matter what the venue, we alway get great coverage and a pleasing (not ear bleeding) sound level everywhere. (OK, so we never play in football stadiums!) I have played music for people for about 45 years and most of the time, used many standard amps and PAs. I am still amazed at the fact that with the PAS you can HEAR EVERTHING in the band ALL THE TIME. With the advent of the modern day guitar effects and cabinet simulators, I am very pleased with the sound of my guitar thru the system. We have even quit using the vocal effects such as reverb and echo since the natural overtones of the environment are smoother and less “artificial”. In addition to this, we have one hell of a lot less equipment to lug aroiund with these systems and setup and teardown is a breeze. Thanks for reading, Charley

  16. Hello, I’ve been using the Bose PAS for about 3 weeks on my weekly gig. I can hear my vocals the same as the crowd for the first time, and I have noticed a greater appreciation from the audience. My guitars don’t sound as thick, or dense as they do from a guitar amp, but they’re not bad either. I want to continue using the PAS for guitar, as well as vocal, because it makes the setup, loading and unloading, etc. much easier. I have been thinking the Line 6 Pod might help, but suspect it may be too loaded with heavy sounds, as opposed to clean sounds, which are what I use. Suggestions from anyone would be most welcome. Other than that, I agree with most of the other positive posts on this site. The PAS appears to be one of the best investments in musical gear that I have made, and believe me, I have made quite a few in my time! Thank you, Bose for a very sensible tool!

  17. I have demo-ed the PAS at a local guitar shop. I was in a room approximately 10 ft by 15 ft with wood walls, using a Taylor 614ce ES acoustic. I thought the PAS sounded fantastic with some minor EQ adjustment (as would be standard with any PA setup). I played it both with and without the sub…I didn’t notice too much difference either way, which is probably because I was just playing acoustic guitar. My only concern was the volume level. It sounded great in the small room I was playing in, but I did ask how it would sound in a larger venue with 50-100 people. The salesman (keyoword being ‘sales’) said he had heard it in a number of venues larger than 100 people and that it sounded plenty loud…don’t know if I believe that. On another subject, Griff hit it right on the head about the Line 6 POD. It doesn’t offer enough ‘clean’ settings for a standard singer/songwriter type musician. If you are in a larger band and need ‘crunchy’ sounds for electric guitar, it does that very well. I use mine for fun with my electric guitar, but when I play the acoustic on stage, I leave it at home. Good day.

  18. Our guitar player just purchased a two sub system and we were checking it out in rehearsal this week. After we each plugged into it seperately, we decided to run rehearsal through ONE unit. bass guitar, guitar, keyboards and my bass drum mic hooked directly into the Bose Pas. It sounded like we were playing our CD throught it. As far as individualy, the guitar and bass sounded like they were playing through a finely tuned and balanced PA system. We went back and forth between the guitar going through his new Marshall rig and the PAS. The PAS made the sound more spacious and well covered instead of just being so directional from the guitar amp. Our guitarist attended a Bose seminar and concert with the PAS. Guitar and keys used one sub each, bass and drums used FOUR subs each. Each member had their own PAS. We are still deciding on each of us buying one. To ensure we will have enough bottom end, the bassist and I are planning four subs each. You just go bass out of the PAS and into a separate power amp, we already have, and into the other two subs. The Bose subs are about the same price as any other average sub out there. But if money is no object and you can’t get enough bass, go out and buy something like a powered Mackie sub to hook up. But our whole thing is having easy to obtain concert sound without a lot of gear. It takes up to two hours at times to gear up now. Hell we were amazed by the sound coming out on ONE at rehersal. We could all hear each other all through the room. It made us focus more on playing together and dynamics. Can’t wait to see what four will sound like! Will give an update if we all get one.

  19. Thanks, Geno. I have yet to see/hear one in action, but I hope to demo one soon.

    Our church is in a building program, and as specifications for the worship center sound system (1200 seat) keep getting more & more complex, I keep thinking back to the simplicity of the PAS, and whether something like that could be redesigned for a permanent installation that will fill a larger room. That may be just a pipe dream, but a guy has got to have a few of those!

  20. I have owned a Bose PAS for 11/2 years and have really tried to like the system. Unfortunately, several problems with components including the remote, L1 and PS1as well as lack of effects and a stereo sound capability make it diffacult to recommend as a serious PA system. I play a moderately loud Old Time Rock N’ Roll venue with live vocal and guitar with a computer doing the backup tracks. Feedback is a very big problem(The Bose forum tries to downplay this and passes it off as a microphone or other component problem. Bull.). I live fairly close to Bose and have had the system there several times for repairs and tweaking. The powerstand(PS1) has been replaced. When it works it sounds OK, but getting reliably quality sound should not be this much work. In the 47 years I have been in this business I have never had to work this hard to get a decent sound.I have gone back to using my Mackie sysrem and am quite satisfied. So are my audiences, by the way.

  21. I have owned a Bose PAS for 11/2 years and have really tried to like the system. Unfortunately, several problems with components including the remote, L1 and PS1as well as lack of effects and a stereo sound capability make it diffacult to recommend as a serious PA system. I play a moderately loud Old Time Rock N’ Roll venue with live vocal and guitar with a computer doing the backup tracks. Feedback is a very big problem(The Bose forum tries to downplay this and passes it off as a microphone or other component problem. Bull.). I live fairly close to Bose and have had the system there several times for repairs and tweaking. The powerstand(PS1) has been replaced. When it works it sounds OK, but getting reliably quality sound should not be this much work. In the 47 years I have been in this business I have never had to work this hard to get a decent sound.I have gone back to using my Mackie sysrem and am quite satisfied. So are my audiences, by the way.

  22. I’ve been using the Bose Personalized Amplification System since June 2004. It took us six months to get up to four systems for our four piece band (in time for New Years’ Eve 2005) and so we’ve been working that way for a year now.

    When we (the two front players in the band) play as a duo, we always take two Systems.

    If you want to read about the ongoing impressions and experiences with the System you can read the good and the bad in my blog.

  23. I have purchased and been using the PAS for over a year and have had nothing but success on its account. The PAS has provided very powerful crystal clear sound with no feedback using everything from vocal and instument mics, my iPod, my electric coming out a VETTA II, a vocal preamp/fx box, and more. Sure the PAS has no effects on board but that is not Bose job in my opinion. I have left that to Line 6 roland and others. The price is a hefty but I got what I paid for.

  24. I am in a five piece acoustic classic rock band. That’s not Peter, Paul, and Mary, It’s America to ZZTop, just acoustic. We run two towers and four subs with a mixer. Instruments include guitars, 12-strings, mandolin, acoustic bass, keyboard with samplings, 4 vocal mics and congas, bongos, and tamborines for percussion. Percussion is miked. Perhaps the fact that we are all acoustic is not a fair comparison to musicians who play electric. We don’t know sound from shinola…but this is our experience. Placement of the of the towers is everything. Sometimes we really have to work to get past the feedback, especially in smaller venues. Once that’s done. The sound on stage ranges from very good to incredible. Being able to hear yourself and everyone else’s instrument with the blend we need through the tight vocal harmonies is very satisfying. We have reverb and fx through our mixer. But frankly, most of the time we don’t even use it unless it’s some Pink Floyd tune. Overall, we’re very pleased with our setup. Haven’t needed a sound man since we got the system. The audience response is greatly improved. We’re pretty excited. Most important, if we need more cowbell, it’s there, baby.

  25. i have used the pas for about a year solo or using it with a mixer with 5 peaple playing through it including kick and bass…i herepeaple say they would like more vocal before feedback…well use a 31 band graph and tweak out the hot freq. as you would with standard pa….the presets are ok but as we know each room and stage have there own problems acoustically….let me tell you if you eq the stage you cvan get a lot more volume before feedback….i am finding that the natural reverb in the room worksfor the most part..but i do use reverb from my mixer sparingly….2000 dollars is not a lot when it comes to the good times my band is having playing with each other on stage…use common senseto the size of the room and also the audience(is it a sit down and listening audience or a bar where they are as loud as the band.)….remember …eq …….it works

  26. hello everyone, i love bose for the true sound i love to hear not, other models that are not natural,bose are unique i have big nice looking speakers but bose far better sounding even some are very old.

  27. I got the Bose PAS about 2 years ago for coffee house gigging and small to medium venues. It sets up fast and it is clean and warm and bright and makes performing solo coffee house gigs a very real pleasure. My audiences hear every lyric and every note with extreme clarity.

    I also have used it with my acoustic trio and it has delivered very well in almost every situation.

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