Monday, July 23, 2007

Product Review: BOSE Companion 5 Multimedia Speaker System.

Update 2 - The volume control pod snooze error (Scroll to bottom)
The volume goes off in the middle of play if USB not connected.

Update 1 - How to connect your BOSE Companion 5 Multimedia Speakers to your TV? (Scroll down)
Procedure and images to demonstrate the connection with TV.

Product Review - Good sound comes in Small Packages!

If you are one of those who hold any of the following opinion:

>BOSE is costly.
>BOSE has only Sophisticated Surround Sound Systems.
>BOSE is my dream audio-video system.

Then please read on….

BOSE Companion 5 Multimedia Speaker System (BC5MSS) shatters all the myths and brings forward the reality of High Quality audio experience in a small package!

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Bottom Line

Bose's Companion 5 speakers are great for those who want more from their DVD audio but lack the space for a true surround-sound setup.
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PROS

The subwoofer delivers nice rumble. Speakers widen the stereo image. Great for desktop or home listening. Wired control has volume and mute button.
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CONS

"Surround-like" is NOT real surround sound. The satellites are lacking in the mid-high frequencies. Control is wired.
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I bought the BC5MSS one month back and tried and tested it in multiple scenarios. Here is what I have to say about the system. BOSE is committed to provide Best Audio Quality and they have 100% delivered on it, interestingly, cost effectively and in a small package!

I am sure most of us would have come across BOSE’s amazing sound quality experience once in a while somewhere. I experienced it for the first time in FORUM Mall’s BOSE showroom. During my first visit there I was sure, this is my Dream Audio system. However, I was not sure when this Dream is going to turn into reality. Yes, price was something which was keeping me back.

Not long, I visited BOSE showroom around mid of June 2007 and I saw this BC5MSS system and saw a little price tag hanging there for Rs. 24,500/-. I was sure this is just going to be the price of the small speaker and nothing else. I was about to overlook, when the gentleman in the showroom approached me and asked me if I would like to see a Demo of the product. I said Ok go on show me what can this Tiny thing do? To my amazement, I was immediately overwhelmed by the systems audio performance! My very next question was, is this sound coming just from the speakers or there is a base unit to it? And, there it was, a pretty Acoustimass module happily sitting down there. My next question, so this set of speakers, stand, cables and this module costs how much in total? “Sir this entire unit including everything costs 24.5K” said the gentleman….yippeee…!! Am I dreaming or what? Well I had almost made-up my mind and thought let me quickly do an online research of the same and talk to one or two near ones. Did that quickly and took my decision to buy this system!

Features worth a mention!

Proprietary TrueSpace® surround digital processing circuitry - Creates an immersive sound environment from just two visible speakers. The system is designed for sitting at the computer; however I have used it with my TV out in my living room and gave that WOW experience.

Digital 5.1 audio playback (Surround Like – Not Surround Sound) Brings music, games, movies and other 5.1-decoded material to life with much of the performance you'd expect from a five-speaker system.

Compact Acoustimass® module – (The heart) delivers clean, deep low frequencies into the room. The module can be hidden almost anywhere in the listening area and allows for small, elegant speakers without sacrificing performance.

Control pod - multi-function pod for volume control, single-touch mute, headphone jack and connection for a second audio source such as an MP3 player.

USB connectivity - to your PC, this means that the Digital signal is being processed by the BOSE’s internal circuitry delivering that Virtual Surround Sound.

Dual inputs – means you can connect your DVD/iPOD/TV-Out/MP3 etc while it’s connected to PC. As well as there is a sound out – to connect to your Head Set / Headphones.

Performance Test – Built to last!

I have tried connecting this to my PC, Laptop, MP3 Player, iPOD, DVD/TV Player.

Results:

PC / Laptop: As promised, delivered the Virtual surround sound experience with USB connectivity you do get a 5.1 channel surround sound experience.

MP3/iPOD: Again as promised, delivered the WOW BOSE effect. Even with a 2.1 channel input, you get a 5.1 channel output experience.

DVD/TV: You can take a serial to phono cable and connect your TV out to the Control Pod “in” the DVD out can go to the TV and experience the Surround Sound experience.
Catch – Doesn’t match up to the actual BOSE surround sound system! I wouldn’t recommend for a complete surround sound experience. However, COST factor overtakes the sound logic sometimes! So your call, at this cost, a BOSE like experience should be really worth it!

How to connect your BOSE Companion 5 Multimedia Speakers to your TV?

I used the serial to phono cable(image below). The white and red end went into the TV out in the image below

Serial to Phono Cable.(Single end into BOSE POD and Double end into TV Audio Out) TV Audio out


Also, you can connect it to your DVD player too. Take a 3 pin to 3 pin connector cable and connect the 3 pins as shown in the image below to the Audio and Video IN of your TV. The other side of the 3 pins should go into the DVD player Audieo - Video OUT. So now your DVD player is connected to your TV and your TV player's output is connected to speakers.

However, to be precise in this case the Audio processing is not directly on the BOSE board, so its not the digital signal being processed, but the analog one. Also when you connect BOSE directly to your laptop/PC, the digital signal is directly sent to the BOSE acoustimas module so the digital signal processing happens on the board and that's why DVD live quality.


If you want to OWN a BOSE system which gives you most of Audio-Video functionality at a very reasonable cost, this would be a Perfect BUY!

Update 2 - The volume control pod snooze error. The volume goes off in the middle of play if USB not connected. I have faced this problem that if I have connected the volume control pod with TV/DVD play, after some time of playing, the volume control pod goes into sleep mode. I am not sure why this happens, however, the solution is, connect your USB connector cable to some USB device or a laptop. In this way, the volume control pod remains active.

This is a strange solution, but then it works. Let me know if it worked for you or not.

23 comments:

Kuki McKinsey said...

Hey Sachin..Thanks for this review...I was banging my head to flipping between Bose or somethign else...but this review was really helpful for me to take a decision.

Cheers :)

PS: Your point of How to connect Bose Multimedia Companion 5 to a TV is superb.

Thanks!
Kuki

Raghu said...

Hey Sachin,

This is Raghu a bangalorean living in london. I hit your blog whilst searching for some help abt connecting Bose Companion 5 to the TV on Google.
I could not understand this... take a serial(9 pin VGA???) to phono cable and connect TV out to the Control Pod in. I have a old TV with RCA & SCART.
Hence I bought a Stereo 3.5mm to RCA phono the phono ends were connected to the TV and the stereo to the control pod in didnt work.
Before this I tried connecting with Stereo to stereo 3.5 mm via the headset option in the TV it worked but it sounded awful.
Could you please throw some liight on how do i go ahead and connect the Bose Companion 5 to the TV RCA Phono???

email id: ragpra@gmail.com

Cheers
Raghu

sachinuppal said...

HI Raghu,

Thanks for your question. Well I got your problem, though I am not sure if I have a solution for the same. I have a newer TV, in which I have the 3.5 MM OUT and IN jack spaces. So I have updated the blog entry with images on how I went about connecting. If you are using an old TV with 9 PIN out, I am not sure if it supports it or not, probably, you have to check with BOSE support. Though when I connected the TV out to my POD IN, it worked very fine for me.

Do let me know if you come up with some solution for the same.

Regards,
Sachin

sachinuppal said...

Also on your point of Serial to Serial cable connection sounding bad, its obvious as the serial to serial connection basically distorts the signal and the input signal to the Acoustimas looses the amplification signals and the noise gathered in the serial to serial transmission gets amplified, so you get a bad sound quality.

Probably its time for you to get a NEW LCD TV :)

Cheers,
Sachin

Raghu said...

Hi Sachin,
Thanx for your comments and time.
I have done exactly as depicted in the picture. Why is it not working for me???
Let me ask another stupid question, should I leave the speakers connected to the laptop whilst connecting to the TV??
It doesn't make any sense to me but completely relying on what I read from the Owner's Guide of Bose.
"Note: When listening to a connected audio device, alerts and sounds from your computer are
mixed with the sound from the audio device. You may need to adjust the volume control ring and
the volume levels in your computer and the connected device to hear both sources at your
preferred levels."
Please chk the Link for the cable I have used to connect but in vain :)
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=35928&C=Maplin&U=SearchTop&T=stereo%20to%20phono&doy=2m4

Nikhil said...

Hi Sachin, I hv a samsung LCD tv with a USB port on the side but these speakers just produce a humming sound when I connect them to the TV. How can I make it work? Of course using that cable is another solution but I want to connect it through the USB port

sachinuppal said...

Hi Nikhil,

Though I haven't personally tried connecting this to a USB port of a LCD TV, however, my guess is that it should work. But then my question to you is, the USB port on your LCD TV is a Sound / Video - OUT / IN port?

eg: When you connect the USB cable of the BOSE Companion 5 with your laptop, it is detected as the 5.1 channel speakers for the laptop and the entire sound signal is diverted to the BOSE circuitry to process the sound signals.

However, I am not sure how it works with the LCD TV, whether they detect the USB IN as a Sound OUT port or not.

Please check in their manual and see, how they treat the USB port as: Sound IN, Sound OUT, Video IN, Video OUT etc? That should / might give your answer.

Vibhor said...

Hi I recently purchased a Bose Companion 5 in US, and now am carrying it to india , but due to different Voltage frequencies it cant be used in India, is it true?, is theere any way by which I can use my BOSE companion 5 Multimedia speakers in India as well.

sachinuppal said...

I don't think its true. You can use it in India like you have used it in US. However, do check with Bose Support regarding voltage levels. Also, if there is a difference, you can always use a voltage stabilizer, which comes pretty cheap these days.

Vibhor said...

Hi Sachin , thanks for your response and giving me a ray of hope that I can use my BOSE Comapnion 5 (bought in US) in India.
One more thing that I want to know is do you know anyone getting this product from US and using it in India, if Yes then How? , because the Voltage on which Applicances operate in US is 120V whereas in India they operate at 230V. Also in your response you said that we can use Voltage stablizer, will that affect the sound quality in anyway and which Volatge Stabilizer would you recommend. Appreciate your response on this.

Vibhor said...

Hi Sachin I would appreciate if you can respond to my last comment "Hi Sachin , thanks for your response and giving me a ray of hope that I can use my BOSE Comapnion 5 (bought in US) in India.
One more thing that I want to know is do you know anyone getting this product from US and using it in India, if Yes then How? , because the Voltage on which Applicances operate in US is 120V whereas in India they operate at 230V. Also in your response you said that we can use Voltage stablizer, will that affect the sound quality in anyway and which Volatge Stabilizer would you recommend. Appreciate your response on this.
" , waiting for it, thanks for your time.

sachinuppal said...

Hi vibhor,

Sorry for the delayed response, I was busy with some family functions.

Well, I inquired with couple of people, one of them running an electronic goods shop. He suggested to buy a Step-Down converter (built in a Voltage Stabilizer). He said that you can visit any near by local electrical/electronic shops and ask for the same.

I do not know any brand in particular, but I am sure, ISI marked electronic stabilizer should be safe.

Regarding the sound quality, I do not see any reason, why it will get distorted, as the electricity is to power on the speakers and the circuitry is to produce sound. Though, I recommend calling the BOSE helpline once, when you are in India.

Hope this helps.

Vijayendra said...

Hi Sachin
This is Vijay I m wondering if i can connect my dvd player's 5.1 output to Bose Companion 5 with help of some convertor which will combine 5.1 output from dvd player and convert it to USB so that i can connect my companion.
Do u have any idea about it? or have any alternate way to get that 5.1 effect.

Thanks
Vijay

sachinuppal said...

Hi Vijayendra,

Thanks for your question. This is a really interesting one. I have not seen a 5.1 channel to USB connector personally. However, I am just wondering someone might have created this already. I will have to do some research online and offline to find it. WIll update this once I find the answer.

Thanks again for writing.

Regards,
Sachin

viren said...

if I connect Bose Multimedia Speakers to TV, is there a way to control volume remotely. Controlling volume by the wired Pod is a bot of inconvenience.

kikwon52 said...

Hey Sachin ,Thank you so much for your post !! very helpful !! WOW !! i love my Bose companion 5 connected to my LCD and DVD player !! Sounds Great , perfect !! i saved half the cost of buying a 321 Bose system !! =)

mattty said...

hey i was hoping you could point me in the direction of where to buy a serial to phono cable as i cant seem to find one. i have tried connecting using phono to 3.5mm but this hasnt worked.
thanks, matt

djvenom9111 said...

I am planning to pick companion 5 computer speaker set for iPod. My main purpose is to connect it with iPod only and not with computer. I read that volume controller dock goes into sleep mode if USB port is not connected and sound goes off.

I want to clear by doubt on this. Do I have to plug in a Pen drive always? Or it works without connecting any USB device?


Any help is appreciated :)

sachinuppal said...

@djvenom911 - I bought this system few years back. At that time I faced this problem that the control pod used to go in sleep mode after some time and I had to tap on it to activate it back. I figured out a solution at that time i.e. to keep the USB wire plugged in to a USB port. Not sure in the recent years if they have fixed this issue. Probably, you can go and talk to the Bose team and figure that out. Also, if you do find some information, do share it with me. Thanks!

djvenom9111 said...

Thanks Sachin. Will ask for such issues directly to Bose. Hope they have solved it :)

ilango raj said...

I had faced a problem with my Bose companion 5 - It used to go on Mute several times within an hour by itself. (Mine is connected to an USB source - so that was not the issue).I read somewhere regarding voltage fluctuation being a problem so I did two things:

1. Plugged the BOSE to a seperate plugpoint (Earlier it was going through a surge protector extension box)

2. Connected a Stabiliser/Voltage Regulator.

This solved my problem. It has gone on mute only once in the last two weeks.

I spent lot of time trying to fix this. Also took it to Bose and they couldnt find a problem with the system. hope this helps someone.

Nippy said...

Hi Sachin,

Thanks for the review.. It was really helpful.

Just a quick question. Am planning to get this set in the next day or so, but was wondering if the bass module is enough to fill a room ?

Does the acoustimass module really sound big from the small form factor sub ?

Many Thanks.

Kind Regards,
Nipun.

sachinuppal said...

Hi Nipun,

It totally depends on how big a room are you talking about and how far are you going to sit from the speakers. I used this in a room which was 16ft by 10ft and it worked fairly well. However, don't be mistaken that this is going to give you 100% dolby surround sound experience that a full blown Bose product can give. Hope that answers your question.

Best,
Sachin

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