Bose Acoustimass 16
The Bose Acoustimass 16 system is six tiny dual-cube passive speakers and one big triple-driver self-powered bass module. You connect the high-level speaker and low-level subwoofer outputs from your own receiver or power amplifier to the subwoofer module, and it routes the power as needed to the speakers and to the powered subwoofer.
Bose no longer makes the Acoustimass 16, but you can still get it new through Amazonfor about $1,500 or used for about $500 if you know How to Win at eBay. Today, the Acoustimass 10 and Acoustimass 6 are smaller versions of the same thing, for less money.
The Bose Acoustimass 16 system is Bose' biggest and most competent multichannel sound system. It was sold new from 2002 to 2006, although I bought one new from Amazon in 2011 and third-parties still sell them new.
The Acoustimass 16 is the biggest and best multichannel system ever made by Bose. It's got all the magic Bose uses to cram big sound into microscopic speakers, but when they use this magic to cram sound into speakers which are merely small, it has enormous output.
The big, beautiful woofer module (2.5 feet long and slim enough to to hide anywhere) has response that gets stronger as the bass gets deeper, with a broad peak between 35 and 45 Hz, making everything sound great.
I use the phrases "woofer," "woofer module," "subwoofer," "Acoustimass module" and "bass module" interchangeably; they are all the same thing: the big, black speaker box into which everything else plugs.
It has solid response down to 29 Hz, below which output quickly disappears, completely gone by 25 Hz. This is about a half of an octave deeper than the much smaller CineMate, for instance.
We used to live on over an acre of land, and I kid you not: we used to turn on our outdoor "B" speakers from our indoor receiver, and the bass from the Acoustimass 16 module was deep and strong enough to make it out the open doors of our living room and fill our grounds with enough deep bass to augment our outdoor speakers. As few people realize, it's nearly impossible to get deep bass to propagate outdoors without the enclosed space of a living room. Wow.
When I met my wife, she had these set up in her house, and I brought over my reference B&W 801s to compare. To my pleasant surprise, overall spectral balance and bass capability were about the same, with the biggest difference in that the 801s had precise stereo imaging, while the Acoustimass 16 had enveloping sound that came from everywhere. Of course the 801s had more output below 30 Hz, too — but most music doesn't have anything down there.
I love our Acoustimass 16 systems. We had one set up in the living room for everything from music to movies, and I have a second set up as a desktop system. I use only two of the speakers, putting one of the little speakers on each side of my desk, leave the bass module on the other side of the room near the wall by my remote-controlled receiver, and have perfect desktop sound. It sounds great in my seat, and also sounds great anyplace else in my office. I just rest the speakers on my desk, no stands needed, and point the lower half at me and the top half away from me.
It sounds so much better than anything smaller, and sounds great for music too. I pity the fools who settle for wimpy little sound bars — that cost more and sound less!
Speakers (six included)
Each speaker has two 2.50" (63.5 mm) Bose "Twiddler" speakers in it. The two sections swivel for optimum dispersion.
6.2" H x 3.1" W x 4.0" D (157 x 78 x 102 millimeters) HWD.
Woofer (Acoustimass module)
The woofer uses three bottom-firing 5.25" (130mm) drivers in a row, so the woofer is long and thin for easy hiding against a wall.
16.3" H x 8.1" W x 29.1" D (414 x 206 x 739 millimeters) HWD.
2.4 lb (1.1 kg) each.
Woofer (Acoustimass module)
33 lb (15 kg).
Complete packed system
72.5 pounds (32.6 kg).
Speaker cables (18-gauge, white or black. RCA connector -> tinned leads): three 20 feet (6m) cables for the front, three 50 feet (15 m) cables for the rear.
System input cable (special connectors, connects the system to your receiver): 20 feet (6 m).
Power cord (standard).
Power Consumption is the power drawn from the wall, not the power delivered to the speakers.
400 W Maximum.
Made in North America (sunny México).
Versions Compared top
All these systems come in either white or black. They all were introduced in 2002.
This top-of-the-line Acoustimass 16 uses three drivers in the bass module, and includes six dual-driver main speakers.
I love the bass depth and capacity of the huge Acoustimass 16 module, but seeing how Bose discontinued the Acoustimass 16 and still sells the smaller Acoustimass 10 and Acoustimass 6, that tells me that few others heard enough difference between them to justify the extra cost — at least for movies.
The Acoustimass 16 is my favorite, especially for music, but the fact that Bose discontinued it and continues to make the smaller versions shows us that most people prefer the smaller systems.
The Acoustimass 15 was the same thing, but with only 5, not 6, main speakers for 5.1 instead of 6.1.
If you have an Acoustimass 15 and want to add the sixth center rear speaker, no problem: Bose will sell you the extra speaker and cable.
The smaller Acoustimass 10 uses only two, not three, drivers in its bass module.
The Acoustimass 6 is smaller still, with only one driver in its bass module, and its speakers have only one driver each.
It ought to sound the similar to the others, but since its main speakers have only one driver so they can't be splayed-out to spread the sound around, might lack some of the spaciousness of the others.
Bose knows how to make small woofers. While the smaller woofer won't blow windows out as well as the larger ones, even the CineMate sounds fantastic for home theater.
Connect the connector end of the huge interface cable to the bass module.
Connect all the speaker wires and subwoofer connector of the other end of the huge interface cable to your receiver.
Plug the speaker cables into the bass module, and connect the speaker wires to each of the speakers.
It's a lot of wiring, but the only difficult part is mounting the speakers to your walls. We mounted them up in the corners, and they work great.
When setting up the Acoustimass 16 system, there are both BASS and LFE level controls on the bass module.
The BASS control sets the overall bass level for all kinds of source material. The system has its own internal crossover and feeds the woofer's internal amplifier from the full-range speaker inputs even if you don't feed it with a "subwoofer" signal. You can drive the Acoustimass 16 system from any ordinary stereo receiver and get great results for music. Fed from full-range speaker outputs only, the Acoustimass 16 system routes the appropriate bass to the woofer for everything.
The LFE control specifically sets only the relative level of the LFE (Low-Frequency Effects) channel as added into your mix, and only has effect if you are also feeding your system from a separate Subwoofer or LFE output.
These now sell for $1,500 new through Amazon, and if I needed another, I'd pay it. The Acoustimass 16 is so much more than any of the smaller systems offered today for even more money.
If you don't mind gambling, paying $500 used at eBay is a steal.
If you, like most people, just want to order something new from a known good dealer, I'd get the smaller Acoustimass 10 new from Amazon today. The Acoustimass 10 uses only two, not three, drivers in the bass module. The Acoustimass 6 is smaller still, with only one bass driver. The Acoustimass 10 and Acoustimass 6 came out at the same time as the Acoustimass 16.
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