You can get a pretty good desktop computer and monitor for just under
$1,000 these days. Why then should anyone spend another $399 for a
pair of small desktop speakers?
"The sound, my dear Watson," as Sherlock Holmes might have said after
hearing the Bose Computer MusicMonitor, a product introduced this
month by a firm whose name is rightly synonymous with high-quality
The first word that came to mind during a demonstration of the
speakers at Bose's headquarters in Framingham, Mass., was
"astonishing," particularly when it was revealed that two, not three,
speakers were involved. To explain, I entered a room with a computer
and what looked like two desktop speakers and a floor-placed
subwoofer. That's not atypical for high-end computer sound systems.
But in the Bose demo, it turned out the subwoofer was a hoax, just a
box with lights and wires, no speakers or amplifier. The deep bass
sounds I heard came from the small desktop speakers alone.
True, deep, resonant bass, after all, comes from subwoofers and
nowhere else in a speaker system, right? Well, right up until a few
weeks back when the MusicMonitor system made its debut. The bass is
as deep and resonant as anything I've heard from any computer
speakers. It is a joy to behold.
It is also a wonder to behold: the speakers, after all, are just shy
of 5 inches high by 5 inches deep and 2.5 inches wide. The left
speaker weighs 1.2 pounds, and the right speaker, housing some extra
electronics, is 1.3 pounds. There's a small remote, and a carrying
case is an option.
Bose says the system can deliver high-volume output because of the
way the speakers were engineered: "Thin but powerful neodymium
transducers have 10 times the magnetic energy density of conventional
speaker magnets," is the official explanation. That works for me. The
sound is awesome.
During our demonstration, Bose officials pointed out the speakers
were engineered to complement today's desktop computer designs, which
are tending more toward brushed metal than plastic cases. The
speakers also won't damage a CD or DVD disc placed on top of them,
another sign of careful planning and design.
The unit can work with portable audio players and portable DVD
players as well as desktop and notebook computers. With their small
size and relatively light weight, they could go on the road as part
of a traveling presentation setup, particularly with a 17- or 20-inch
Although this normally doesn't come up in evaluating a product, the
morning I spent at the Bose headquarters, which included hearing from
company founder Amar Bose, helped convince me of the verities of this
product and any other that the firm offers. A Massachusetts
Institute of Technology engineering graduate and a professor of
engineering there, Mr. Bose is that rare man whose curiosity and
commitment to his craft seem to outweigh the mere pursuit of profit.
His original work in audio grew out of an unsatisfactory purchase of
an early "hi-fi" set from Radio Shack. Today, Bose speakers and
headphones are the favorites of purists, and of many of the rest of us.