What's The Best Bose PA System For Me?

Bose are renowned for ground-breaking design, and are always researching new ways to improve their products – an approach that’s evident in their PA range. But what’s the difference between Bose’s PA systems?

Written by

Sam Beattie


Unique both in design and sound, Bose's active PA systems are among the most popular on the market. Known for combining unparalleled sound quality with practical, sometimes eye-catching design, they’re firm favourites.

But it we appreciate that it can be difficult to know where to start. Which Bose PA System is right for you? We’ve put together this handy guide that’ll point you in the right direction. In the simplest terms, the Bose PA range can be divided into three categories - click the links below to find out more:

The L1 system is arguably what put Bose PA on the map. First released back in 2003, they were an instant hit. An ultra-slim line-array speaker somehow produced a rich, room-filling sound despite being little more than 10cm wide. They now come in a number of varieties to suit every need, each offering 180 degrees of coverage despite their slim format. This slick design makes them great for bands, music venues, DJs, parties and much more. But what’s the difference between the Bose L1 PA systems?

Bose L1 Compact

The most affordable of the bunch. As the name suggests, it’s also the most portable. The L1 Compact has 6 speakers in a slim line array format for easy set up and great sound. It has a built-in bass module and two ToneMatch-voiced channels for a microphone & line level input respectively. Best for smaller venues and events.

Bose L1 1S

The 1S system has 12 speakers, double the L1 Compact’s 6. While the L1 Compact is designed as a single unit, the 1S can be configured with multiple components. The free-standing speaker can be paired with 1 or more separate bass modules (B1 or B2), giving you more flexibility in terms of sound. It can also be expanded with a ToneMatch mixer for greater tonal control. Great for medium venues that require a little more volume.

Bose L1 II

Again stepping it up a notch, the L1 II has 24 speakers. This offers unprecedented clarity across all frequencies, alongside the 180 degree coverage. Additional clarity in the sound means a huge amount of headroom; Bose state that the L1 II is sufficient for audiences of up to 500 people. Again, the L1 II can be expanded with a ToneMatch mixer or 1 or more bass modules. This is the cream of the portable PA system crop, perfect for medium to large venues with up to 500 people

The F1 is an active PA system with a unique design that lets you choose your vertical coverage. This is achieved by mounting the 8 speakers on adjustable racks. You’ve got 4 configurations to choose from:

Above: these configurations are referred to as straight, J, reverse J and C (left-right).

The system automatically adjusts EQ depending on your chosen configuration, ensuring optimised sound no matter how you use it. A bi-amplified design uses Class-D amplifiers to power the 8 speakers (including a 30cm woofer for punchy bass). Combined with the flexible coverage and 2 input channels, the F1 system’s 1000W output is powerful, crystal-clear and easy to use in equal measure. Thanks to its high power rating, the F1 system can handle higher volumes, so it's excellent for larger events, clubs, churches & places of worship, among other things.

The F1 Subwoofer

You can expand the F1 system’s low-end capacity with a specially-designed subwoofer. The F1 subwoofer contains 2 speakers with an additional 1000W of power, in yet another deceptively compact footprint. A polarity switch and EQ control allow easy manipulation of bass frequencies, depending on your application.

Finally, the F1 subwoofer has built-in extension brackets that can be easily raised to attach to the F1 loudspeaker. This means no need to worry about speaker stands or positioning your speakers – the system itself takes care of that!

The S1 Pro takes all of the best-in-class sound quality of Bose’s PA range and packs it into a truly portable wireless system. It’s designed as an all-in-one unit, perfect for live performance, busking, monitoring or practice.

Its lightweight design (complete with an easy-carry handle) makes it a super-practical choice for musicians on the move. A built-in battery provides hours of use – up to 11 hours according to many reviews – and a quick-charge function means you’re always ready to go.  

It has 2 combo XLR / jack inputs, optimised for connecting guitars, keyboards, microphones – the choice is yours. In addition, you’ve got 3.5mm input and Bluetooth compatibility, so you can easily connect your smartphone, tablet or computer for backing tracks. It even has built-in reverb and EQ. This is the ultimate all-in-one portable performance solution, perfect for busking, solo performance, singer-songwriters, open mic nights and much more.

What are Bose ToneMatch mixers?

Bose ToneMatch mixers are designed to offer improved dynamics and control over your sound. Bose’s PA systems are notoriously easy to use and offer a great sound straight away; the ToneMatch provides you with more tonal flexibility and connectivity options.

The ToneMatch mixers’ compact, simple interfaces offer studio-quality sounds and features, including EQ, effects, phantom power, up to 8 combo inputs and much more. They come in two varieties: the T4S and the T8S.

Bose T4S

  • 4 x combo inputs
  • 2 x 1/4” aux inputs
  • Stereo 1/4” TRS outputs
  • 2 x aux sends
  • Dual ToneMatch ports
  • USB connection (audio interface)
  • USB 3.0 input for flash drives
  • Phantom power
  • Studio-class processing and effects
  • ToneMatch & zEQ technology

Bose T8S

  • 8 x combo inputs
  • 2 x 1/4” aux inputs
  • Stereo 1/4” TRS outputs
  • Stereo XLR outputs
  • 4 x aux sends
  • USB connection (audio interface)
  • USB 3.0 input for flash drives
  • Phantom power
  • Studio-class processing and effects
  • ToneMatch & zEQ technology

Bose PA System Comparison

L1 Compact L1 1S L1 II F1 S1
No. of drivers 6 12 24 8 4
No. of inputs 2 1 1 2 2
XLR Yes No No Yes Yes
3/4" Jack Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Auxiliary Yes No No Yes Yes
EQ Yes No No No Yes
ToneMatch Port No Yes Yes No No
Bluetooth No No No No Yes
Battery-powered No No No No Yes
Dimensions 199.5cm H x 33.9cm W x 42.6cm D 111cm H x 26cm W x 45cm D 110.5cm H x 26.2cm W x 69.2cm D 66.5cm H x 33.4cm W x 37.3cm D 33cm H x 24.13cm W x 28.45cm D

Shop the full Bose range now!

Want to know more about PA systems? Check out our handy guide here! And if you'd like a helping hand picking the right PA system for you, read our article 'Choosing The Right PA System' now! If you've got any other questions about our Bose range or PA system selection, please don't hesitate to get in touch.