Bose Corporation

Last updated
Bose Corporation
Private
Industry Consumer electronics
Founded1964;55 years ago (1964)
Founder Amar Bose [1]
Headquarters Framingham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Key people
Philip W. Hess
(President and CEO)
Products Loudspeakers, headphones, audio equipment, car audio, Professional audio, High-definition televisions
RevenueIncrease2.svg US$ 3.8 billion (2017) [2]
Number of employees
8,000+ (2017) [2]
Website www.bose.com

Bose Corporation ( /bz/ ) is a privately held American corporation, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, that designs, develops and sells audio equipment. Founded in 1964 by Amar Bose, the company sells its products throughout the world. According to the company annual report in the 2017 financial year, Bose received revenue of US$3.8 billion and employed more than 8,000 people. [2] Bose is best known for its home audio systems and speakers, [3] noise cancelling headphones, [3] professional audio systems [4] and automobile sound systems. [5] The company has also conducted research into suspension technologies for cars [6] and heavy-duty trucks [7] and into the subject of cold fusion. [8] Bose has a reputation for being particularly protective of its patents, trademarks, and brands.

Framingham, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Framingham is a city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. Incorporated in 1700, it is within Middlesex County and the MetroWest subregion of the Greater Boston metropolitan area. The city proper covers 25 square miles (65 km2) with a population of 68,318 in 2010, making it the 14th most populous municipality in Massachusetts. As of 2017 the estimated population was 72,032. Residents voted in favor of adopting a charter to transition from a representative town meeting system to a mayor–council government in April 2017, and the municipality transitioned to city status on January 1, 2018.

Amar Bose Indian American academic entrepreneur

Amar Gopal Bose, was an American academic and entrepreneur. An electrical engineer and sound engineer, he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over 45 years. He was also the founder and chairman of Bose Corporation. In 2011, he donated a majority of the company to MIT in the form of non-voting shares to sustain and advance MIT's education and research mission.

Contents

A majority of Bose Corporation's non-voting shares were given by Amar Bose in 2011 to his alma mater and former employer, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They receive cash dividends, but are prohibited from selling the shares and are unable to participate in the management and governance of the company.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology University in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Institute is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, with an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The Institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength, making it one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world.

History

Formation

The company was founded in 1964 [9] by Amar Bose. Eight years earlier, Bose, then a graduate student at MIT, had purchased a stereo system and was disappointed with its performance. This led him to research the importance of reverberant (indirect) sound on perceived audio quality. [10]

Early years

Bose began extensive research aimed at clarifying factors that he saw as fundamental weaknesses plaguing high-end audio systems. The principal weaknesses, in his view, were that overall, the electronics and speaker failed to account for the spatial properties of the radiated sound in typical listening spaces (homes and apartments) and the implications of spatiality for psychoacoustics, i.e. the listener's head as a sonic diffraction object as part of the system. Eight years later, he started the company, charging it with a mission to achieve "Better Sound Through Research", now the company slogan.

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception and audiology—how humans perceive various sounds. More specifically, it is the branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound. It can be further categorized as a branch of psychophysics. Psychoacoustics received its name from a field within psychology — i.e., recognition science — which deals with all kinds of human perceptions. It is an interdisciplinary field of many areas, including psychology, acoustics, electronic engineering, physics, biology, physiology, and computer science.

In an interview in 2007 Bose talked about an early review that kept the company alive.

"One magazine in the United States, High Fidelity, a really credible magazine, had one reviewer named Norman Eisenburg who really knew his music. In those days I used to take the loudspeaker to the reviewer. I packed my son and loudspeaker in the car and went off. I put this little thing on top of the big speakers he had, turned it on, and within five minutes he said: 'I don't care if this is made of green cheese, it's the best sound, most accurate sound, I've ever heard.' He came out with a review titled 'Surround and Conquer'. [11] He was not known to do things like that. Everybody in the press knew he knew music, and it resulted in rave reviews one after another, and we were able to survive." [12]

Research history

Bose's first loudspeaker product, the model 2201, [13] dispersed 22 small mid-range speakers over an eighth of a sphere. It was designed to be located in the corner of a room, using reflections off the walls to increase the apparent size of the room. An electronic equalizer was used to flatten the frequency spectrum of this system. The results of listening tests were disappointing. [13]

Equalization (audio)

Equalization or equalisation is the process of adjusting the balance between frequency components within an electronic signal. The most well known use of equalization is in sound recording and reproduction but there are many other applications in electronics and telecommunications. The circuit or equipment used to achieve equalization is called an equalizer. These devices strengthen (boost) or weaken (cut) the energy of specific frequency bands or "frequency ranges".

After this research, Bose came to the conclusion that imperfect knowledge of psychoacoustics limited the ability to adequately characterize quantitatively any two arbitrary sounds that are perceived differently, and to adequately characterize and quantify all aspects of perceived quality. He believed that distortion was overrated as a factor in perceived quality in the complex sounds that comprised music. Similarly, he did not find measurable relevance to perceived quality in other easily measured parameters of loudspeakers and electronics, and therefore did not publish those specifications for Bose products. The ultimate test, Bose insisted, was the listener's perception of audible quality (or lack of it) and his or her own preferences. [14] [15] This reluctance to publish information was due to Bose's rejection of these measurements in favour of "more meaningful measurement and evaluation procedures". [16]

Bose conducted further research into psychoacoustics that eventually clarified the importance of a dominance of reflected sound arriving at the head of the listener, a listening condition that is characteristic of live performances. This led to a speaker design that aimed eight identical mid-range drivers (with electronic equalization) at the wall behind the speaker, and a ninth driver towards the listener. The purpose of this design was to achieve a dominance of reflected over direct sound in home listening spaces. The pentagonal design used in the Model 901 was, and remains, unconventional compared with most systems, where mid-range and high-frequency speakers directly face the listener. [17]

The Model 901 premiered in 1968 and was an immediate commercial success, and Bose Corporation grew rapidly during the 1970s. The Bose 901 was in production since 1968 finishing in 2017, the longest running production run [18] , second only to the Klipsch Klipschorn speaker in longevity of continuous production. [19]

Presidents

  1. William (Bill) Zackowitz (1964–66)
  2. Charles "Chuck" Hieken (1966–69)
  3. Frank E. Ferguson (1969–76)
  4. Amar G. Bose (1976–80)
  5. Sherwin Greenblatt (1980–2000) [13]
  6. John Coleman (2000–05)
  7. Bob Maresca (2005–2017)
  8. Philip W. "Phil" Hess (2017 -)

Stock donation to MIT

The late founder Amar Bose was the company chairman and the primary stockholder until he donated the majority of the firm's non-voting shares to his former employer and alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 2011. An annual cash dividend is paid out to "advance the research and education mission of MIT". However, the conditions of receiving the shares stated that MIT was not allowed to sell them, nor was MIT permitted to participate in the company's management and governance. [20] [21] [22]

Succession

Founder and company chairman Amar G. Bose died in July 2013 in his home in Wayland, Massachusetts at the age of 83. [23] He was succeeded as Chairman of the Board by Bob Maresca.

Stores

Bose retail store in Century City Bose Store.jpg
Bose retail store in Century City

In 1993 Bose opened its first store in Kittery, Maine. Since then, Bose has opened 190 stores in the U.S. and numerous locations worldwide. For instance, in Hong Kong, there are 10 Bose retail stores. Also, in Britain there are eleven standard Bose retail stores, including one on Regent Street and seven so called 'factory outlets'. [24]

Facilities

The company's corporate headquarters complex, located in Framingham, Massachusetts, is known as "The Mountain". The company runs facilities in Framingham, Westborough and Stow (all in Massachusetts) [25] .

Bose products are generally manufactured in one of four plants. Bose Corporation owns two of the factories – one in Framingham and the other in Tijuana, Mexico.

Two other manufacturing and development operations, employing approximately 3,500 people, are located in San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico (opened in 1990) and Batu Kawan , Malaysia (opened in 2013). They produce selected headphones, wireless speakers, home-theatre systems and professional audio products. The Batu Kawan facility also serves as a distribution hub for Bose's Asia-Pacific and Middle East business. [26] In June 2016, it was announced that these facilities would be purchased by contract manufacturer Flextronics (now Flex), which will take over current and planned Bose production in the two factories. [27]

In 2015, two facilities in Columbia, South Carolina and Carrickmacross, Ireland, were closed (with the loss of 300 and 140 jobs respectively), as part of a "global streamlining of Bose's supply chain. Bose used the Columbia facility, which opened in 1993, for distribution and repair, sub-manufacturing and regional manufacturing, and final assembly for some headsets. The Carrickmacross factory, which began operations in 1978, did final assembly for some home theatre systems, Wave radios, and other regional manufacturing. [28]

Specialized products

Car audio

Bose Car Audio Bose Car Hifi.jpg
Bose Car Audio

In 1983 Bose introduced the industry's first custom-engineered, factory-installed sound systems in the 1983 Cadillac Seville, Cadillac Eldorado, Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Toronado. [29] In these early systems, Bose customized each installation by building the speaker enclosure and adjusting the frequency response for each vehicle. Bose produces a range of speakers and audio products for automotive use. At the 2007 auto show in Geneva, Switzerland, Bose launched a new media system—incorporating stereo, navigation, and hands free calling—with the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. [30] [31] [32] [33] In 2007, the Bose media system won the International Telematics Award for the "Best Storage Solution for In-Car Environment". [34]

Some automotive manufacturers that have used in the past or currently use Bose car audio products are: Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Fiat, GMC, Holden, Honda, Hummer, Hyundai, Infiniti, Mazda, Maybach [ citation needed ], Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pontiac, Porsche, Renault, Rolls Royce, and Volkswagen [ citation needed ].

Noise cancelling headphones

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones.jpg
Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
Bose ProFlight Aviation Headset with earbuds AERO Friedrichshafen 2018, Friedrichshafen (1X7A4512).jpg
Bose ProFlight Aviation Headset with earbuds

Bose makes noise-cancelling headphones that have been lauded for their performance. [35] Bose makes noise-canceling aviation headsets, which have been used in the Space Shuttle to help prevent astronaut hearing damage. [36]

Smartphone application

A smartphone application called "Bose Connect" is promoted to users of the company's noise-cancelling headphones. The application has a privacy policy that states that it does not collect personally identifying information. A 2017 lawsuit against Bose alleges that the application monitors what kind of audio the user plays on their phone. The complainant says that people who play religious devotional music, or podcasts on politics or sexual topics, can be tracked according to their religion, political beliefs or sexual orientation. [37] [38]

Automotive suspension system

Bose invented an automotive suspension system using electromagnetic motors in place of conventional (hydraulic or air) suspension systems. The system was unveiled in 2004 [39] [40] and was due for release in 2009, [41] [42] but it did not materialize due to weight and cost.

The research was based on two-state, non-linear power processing and conditioning. It was researched for more than 20 years. [40] The system uses electromagnetic linear motors to raise or lower the wheels of an automobile in response to uneven bumps or potholes on the road. [43] Within milliseconds, the wheels are raised when approaching a bump, or extended into a pothole, thus keeping the vehicle more level. This technology uses similar principles to noise cancelling technology for speakers and earphones. The unevenness of the road is sensed, and processed much like a sound wave. A canceling wave is generated, which is applied to the wheels through the linear motors. [22] In a French interview, Bose even showed off the car jumping over an obstacle. [44] Bose said that the system is "high cost" and heavy, even after many years and $100 million of development. [45] [46]

In November 2017, it was reported that Bose had sold the technology to ClearMotion. [47] In May 2018, it was announced that five major car manufacturers had expressed interest in the technology and that it may be available in 2019 for low-volume vehicles and by 2020 for the mass market. [48] [49]

Seat suspension system for truck drivers

Bose applied its research in suspension systems to the problem of fatigue, back pain and physical stress experienced by truck drivers. [50] In 2010, Bose introduced Bose Ride, [51] an active system that reduces road-induced vibration in the driver's seat. Bose claimed as much as a 90% reduction in driver's seat vibration. [52]

Professional audio systems

Bose Professional designs and manufactures audio components for AV system integrators and consultants that specify and install sound systems for commercial and portable settings such as stadiums, houses of worship, performing arts theaters, auditoriums, retail stores, restaurants, and meeting rooms. Though Bose commercial audio equipment has not been approved for use in studios or movie theaters that carry THX certification (due to never applying), [53] the division accounts for about 60% of Bose's annual revenue. [54] In 1988, Bose became the first company to pay for the title of official Olympics sound system supplier, providing audio equipment for the Winter Olympics in Calgary, and again four years later in Albertville, France, the latter installed and maintained by company subsidiary Bose France. [55] [56]

Electroforce

In 2004 Bose acquired company assets related to the development, manufacture and sales of materials testing equipment, founding the ElectroForce Systems Group, [57] which provides materials testing and durability simulation instruments to research institutions, universities, medical device companies and engineering organizations worldwide.

Military applications

Bose has contracts with the U.S. military [58] [59] and NASA. [60]

Public Address systems

The Bose L1 is a range of portable line array loudspeaker systems for musicians.

The range was introduced in 2003 with models that have been retroactively known as the "L1 Classic" range. These products were replaced by the "L1 Model I" and "L1 Model II" in 2007. [61] A smaller and lighter "L1 Compact" model was introduced April 2009. [62] [63] The L1 Model I was replaced by the "L1 Model 1S" in 2012, and the "B1 Bass Module" was replaced by the larger "B2 Bass Module".

Home audio and video products

The Bose SoundLink Mini uses Bluetooth to play audio from cell phones and other portable devices Bose Soundlink Mini.jpg
The Bose SoundLink Mini uses Bluetooth to play audio from cell phones and other portable devices

With respect to sales in the U.S. for home audio retail home theater systems (speaker and receiver combination systems) and portable audio sales, Bose was respectively ranked first and third in 2012. [64] Unlike "high-end" home theater systems that use separate components, [65] Bose multimedia TV systems combine the processing and amplification into a single unit.

Music and speaker systems

Home entertainment systems

Technical specifications

Amar Bose believed that traditional measures of audio equipment are not relevant to perceived audio quality and therefore did not publish the specifications for Bose products, claiming that the ultimate test was the listener's perception of audio quality according to the listener's preferences. [12] [66] In 1968, Bose presented a paper to the Audio Engineering Society titled "On the Design, Measurement and Evaluation of Loudspeakers". In this paper, he rejected numerical test data in favor of "more meaningful measurement and evaluation procedures". [66] This is still the company's philosophy. Many other audio product manufacturers publish numerical test data of their equipment, but Bose does not. [15]

Reception

In some non-audio related publications, Bose has been cited as a producer of "high-end audio" products. [67] Commenting on Bose's "high-end" market positioning among audiophiles (people concerned with the best possible sound), a PC Magazine product reviewer stated "not only is Bose equipment's sound quality not up to audiophile standards, but one could buy something that does meet these stringent requirements for the same price or, often, for less." [68] Bose has also received mixed reviews from the public. Some people claim that Bose equipment produces, "sound larger than life and exaggerated" [69] Bose has not been certified by THX for its home entertainment products [70] even though its more expensive home theater products compete at prices where THX certification is common. Also unlike other competing products, Bose does not provide technical specifications such as frequency response, audio crossover, and acoustic impedance for its products. [71] , as founder Dr. Amar Bose has described himself as an "audio subjectivist who rejects most specs, preferring instead to measure audio performance by what he calls the human experience". [72]

Some other views include:

Bose has been described by audio industry professionals as a litigious company. [80] [81] [82] [83] In 1981, Bose unsuccessfully sued the magazine Consumer Reports for libel. Consumer Reports reported in a review that the sound from the system that they reviewed "tended to wander about the room." Initially, the Federal District Court found that Consumer Reports "had published the false statement with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity" when it changed what the original reviewer wrote about the speakers in his pre-publication draft, that the sound tended to wander "along the wall." The Court of Appeals then reversed the trial court's ruling on liability, and the United States Supreme Court affirmed in a 6–3 vote in the case Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc. , finding that the statement was made without actual malice, and therefore there was no libel. [84] [85] [86] In an interview decades later Bose said "We had 37 people at the time. I gathered them in one room and said, 'If we don't do anything, it will probably kill us. But if we do something, we have no credibility since we're just a small company and we can't do anything against this.' I said I think we oughtta do something. I wanted a vote. It was unanimous in favor of taking action. Little did we know it would take 14 years to go through the legal process." [12]

Bose sued Thiel Audio in the early 1990s to stop the audiophile loudspeaker maker from using ".2" (point two) at the end of its product model "CS2.2". To comply with Bose's trademark of ".2" associated with the Bose Model 2.2 product, [87] Thiel changed their model name to "CS2 2", substituting a space for the decimal point. [88] Bose did not trademark ".3" so in 1997 when Thiel introduced the next model in the series, they named it the "Thiel 2.3", advertising "the return of the decimal point." [89]

In 1996, Bose sued two subsidiaries of Harman International IndustriesJBL and Infinity Systems—for violating a Bose patent on elliptical tuning ports on some loudspeaker products. [82] In 2000, the court determined that Harman was to cease using elliptical ports in its products, and Harman was to pay Bose $5.7 million in court costs. [82] Harman stopped using the disputed port design but appealed the financial decision. At the end of 2002, the earlier judgment was upheld but by this time Bose's court expenses had risen to $8 million, all to be paid by Harman. [87]

Bose was successful in blocking QSC Audio Products from trademarking the term "PowerWave" in connection with a certain QSC amplifier technology. In 2002, a court decided that the "Wave" trademark was worthy of greater protection because it was well-known on its own, even beyond its association with Bose. [90]

In 2003, Bose sued Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), a non-profit electronics trade organization for use of the "Electronic Lifestyles" trademark, [80] which CEDIA had been using since 1997. Bose argued that the trademark interfered with its own "Lifestyle" trademark. [91] Bose had previously sued to protect its "Lifestyle" trademark beginning in 1996 with a success against Motorola and continuing with settlements against New England Stereo, Lifestyle Technologies, Optoma and AMX. [92] In May 2007, CEDIA won the lawsuit after the court determined Bose to be guilty of laches (unreasonable delays), and that Bose's assertions of fraud and likelihood of confusion were without merit. [93] CEDIA was criticized for spending nearly $1 million of its member's money on the lawsuit, and Bose was criticized for "unsportsmanlike action against its own trade association", according to Julie Jacobson of CE Pro magazine. [92]

In July 2014, Bose sued Beats Electronics for patent infringement, alleging that its "Studio" headphones line incorporated Bose noise cancellation technology. [94] [95] Bose and Apple had collaborated on the SoundDock for iPod music players in 2004, then in May 2014 Beats was bought by Apple, bringing Bose and Apple into direct competition in the headphones market. Bose headphones were once the foremost brand offered in Apple stores, but Beats headphones outnumbered Bose headphones in Apple stores at the time of the lawsuit, and Beats had captured 62% of the premium headphones market while Bose held 22%. [96] In October 2014, Bose dropped the lawsuit, as Bose and Beats settled out of court without revealing the terms. [97] [98] [99] Apple removed all Bose products from its Apple stores a few days after the lawsuit was settled, [100] but two months later Bose products were returned to shelves. [101]

In April 2017 Bose was sued alleging a privacy violation with regard to the mobile phone apps delivered by Bose to control bluetooth Bose headphones. [102]

Related Research Articles

An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction. An audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a live musical performance, typically in a room with good acoustics. It is widely agreed that reaching this goal is very difficult and that even the best-regarded recording and playback systems rarely, if ever, achieve it.

Behringer German audio equipment company

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Klipsch Audio Technologies is an American loudspeaker company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Founded in Hope, Arkansas, in 1946 as 'Klipsch and Associates' by Paul W. Klipsch, the company produces loudspeaker drivers and enclosures, as well as complete loudspeakers for high end, high fidelity sound systems, public address applications, and personal computers.

Waves Audio Ltd. is a developer and supplier of professional digital audio signal processing technologies and audio effects, used in recording, mixing, mastering, post production, broadcast, and live sound. The company's corporate headquarters and main development facilities are located in Tel Aviv, with additional offices in the United States, China, and Taiwan, and development centers in India and Ukraine.

Altec Lansing company

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Bose Corporation produces headphones for consumer, aviation and military use. The models range includes in-ear headphones, mobile headsets, supra-aural headphones, Circumaural headphones and military/aviation headsets. The company was the first to release active noise cancelling headphones as a consumer product.

Monster Cable American consumer electronics manufacturing company

Monster Inc. is an American company that manufactures and markets about 6,000 products, but is best known for audio and video cables. It also produces speakers, headphones, power strips, mobile accessories and audio devices for automobiles. The company was founded by an audiophile and engineer, Noel Lee, in 1979 by experimenting with different ways to build audio cables. It grew by doing demonstrations to convince the industry that audio cables made a difference in audio quality and by establishing relationships with retailers that were attracted to the cable's profit margins.

NHT Loudspeakers

NHT Loudspeakers, often colloquially referred to as NHT Audio, is an American loudspeaker and audio component company based in Benicia, California. The company was founded by Chris Byrne and Ken Kantor in December 1986.

Shelf stereo products sold by Bose Corporation are listed below.

Home audio products sold by Bose Corporation are listed below.

Bose Corp. v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc., 466 U.S. 485 (1984), was a product disparagement case ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court held, on a 6-3 vote, in favor of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, ruling that proof of "actual malice" was necessary in product disparagement cases raising First Amendment issues, as set out by the case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1963). The Court ruled that the First Circuit Court of Appeals had correctly concluded that Bose had not presented proof of actual malice.

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The portable audio products sold by Bose Corporation have been marketed as the "SoundLink" models. These wireless speaker systems are battery powered and play audio over a wireless connection from a separate source device. Most models use Bluetooth to communicate with to the source device.

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Beats Pill is a brand of portable Bluetooth speakers produced by Beats Electronics. The Pill was released in 2012. The devices include 3.5 mm audio input and output jacks and charges over a Micro USB port.

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