Are Bose speakers worth buying at a significant discount?
June 21, 2010 5:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering purchasing a pair of Bose Companion 3 speakers at a local retailer where I receive a hefty discount. I should be able to leave with them for roughly $175 as opposed to the retail $250. Is this a justifiable purchase?

I have heard from numerous sources that Bose speakers are simply overpriced. I completely agree.

I'm considering purchasing a pair of the Companion 3 speakers at a local retailer where I receive a hefty discount. I should be able to leave with them for roughly $175 as opposed to the retail $250.

The reason I am considering them is because I need a nice set of desktop speakers for my currently very cluttered desk. I want the speakers to have a small footprint but I still want them to sound good and maintain the sound at a high volume. I've heard the Bose system compared to the other speakers offered there and they really do sound far better than the local competition.

So my question to you, is 1) if you know of a system with roughly the same footprint that 2) looks good, 3) sounds just as good if not better on the same volume levels and 4) is roughly $175?
posted by vmrob to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by rhizome at 5:53 PM on June 21, 2010

posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:14 PM on June 21, 2010

The markup for Bose is 100% -- that is, the local retailer is paying $125.
posted by mmdei at 6:57 PM on June 21, 2010

You will be much happier spending that money on a good pair of headphones (and they do come pretty surprisingly good, at that price) than anything with "bose" stamped on the side.
posted by mhoye at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2010

I just bought a 2.1 system for use with my laptop and ended up going with the Logitech Z-2300 from Newegg. The Companion 3 got fewer and worse reviews. I've yet to be let down by customer reviews on Newegg, especially for a product with hundreds and hundreds of positive reviews. You can also typically do a direct comparison of products using the Specifications tab of Newegg's standard product page, but the Bose system publishes no information about actual performance. With shipping, I paid just under the price you'll be picking the Bose up in store for. Unfortunately, they don't arrive until Wednesday, or I'd tell how how they sound.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 7:41 PM on June 21, 2010

One thing about Bose is that due to high markup, stores will try various tricks to sell them rather than competing speakers. For example, I personally saw one store pushing a more expensive Bose system by playing it from a properly positioned spots and then playing cheaper speakers that were stuck somewhere 2 meters above vs. where speakers should normally be. Most people don't realize that positioning affects sound a lot. They also use specially tuned tracks to make Bose sound best, so bring your own. From what I heard on audio forums, Bose are worth, at best, 1/3rd of what they sell for typically. Even at that price something like Paradigm atoms or NHT superZeros are probably better, but they'll be a bit larger too.
posted by rainy at 7:50 PM on June 21, 2010

I agree with mhoye that headphones may be a better choice. Definitely much better sound at the same price point but sometimes people just want speakers. For 175 you can pick up some really nice 'phones!
posted by rainy at 7:54 PM on June 21, 2010

For that price you can get much better speakers.

I used to always recommend Infinity Primus 150 to people looking for good bang-for-the-buck bookshelf speakers, on the strength of a number of astoundingly positive reviews I've read of them over the years ... but they're hard to find now. Amazon has one person selling them for $62/ea, but I'm not sure I'd buy used speakers without listening — hard to know if someone has abused them. They've been replaced in Infinty's lineup by a newer model that might be worth looking into given your price range, but I don't know much about it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:26 PM on June 21, 2010

I did the same thing with the Companion 2's, or whatever is just two desktop speakers. I had a Best Buy gift card and wanted a 2.0 speaker set for my dorm room, and they fit. I actually really like them. They might have been overpriced, but I just count the cash I paid for them, so really, I got a bargain!
posted by Precision at 10:32 PM on June 21, 2010

No - they aren't even worth the wholesale price. If you care about sound quality, understand that Bose are trash.
posted by turkeyphant at 4:12 AM on June 22, 2010

Buy Other Stereo Equipment. I would recommend the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 instead.
posted by querty at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2010

Kadin2048 is correct that the Infinity Primus 150's are very good speakers for the price (or several times the price), although you would need an amp since they are not powered monitors. You could pair the Infinities with an inexpensive T-amp. Those would sound much better than the Bose.

Otherwise, you should look at powered monitors like the Audioengine A2 or the M-Audio AV40. The A2's may be too base-shy without a sub for some tastes.

And mhoy is correct that dollar-for-dollar (up to a certain point) headphones will sound better than speakers. You could try the Audio Technica AD700 or the Sennheiser HD595. Or visit for other options.
posted by paulg at 8:04 AM on June 22, 2010

Response by poster: I really should have made my priorities clear. While I do care very much about sound quality, aesthetics and footprint are some of my biggest concerns. I also should have said I was thinking about getting these at cost ($75 markup at your local best buy) using an employee discount.

I also already own a pair of nice headphones and need some desktop speakers.
posted by vmrob at 2:07 PM on June 22, 2010

Bose makes nicely packaged and nicely marketed equipment. If aesthetics and footprint are most important then get Bose. Just realize at any price point you can find better speakers than Bose.
posted by 6550 at 8:13 PM on June 23, 2010

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