The Definitive Guide to Bose L1 Portable PA Systems


Updated 18.10.17

The Portable PA Systems in Bose’s L1 range of line array speakers are suitable for all sorts of applications but with a few different models, which L1 system is right for you? Well, that’s where this handy guide comes in.


The Bose L1 Portable PA Systems are fantastic all-in-one solutions for live sound. And with a few different options of the coveted Bose PA system, we thought we’d help you with figuring out which one is the right one for you.

Portability and Easy Setup

Using proprietary audio technology, the Bose L1 portable PA systems combine the PA and monitors into one highly portable, yet powerful, unit. You simply set the L1 system up on stage, either behind the performer or to the side, and the performer hears exactly what the audience hears while achieving evenly spread, 180-degree coverage across the stage and audience.

The components of the Bose L1 systems simply interconnect without the need for messy wires. And since the PA and monitors are one and the same, you can set up your entire sound system in under a minute and be ready to perform.

Packing up after the show is over is just as simple and can be done in a flash, since the components are so compact and easy to carry you’ll have no trouble fitting the whole system into a car.

The Bose L1 portable PA systems are absolutely ideal for solo performers, or for anyone that wants to set up something like an open-mic night, keeping everything nice, quick and easy.

Bose L1 Acoustic Performance

Which Bose L1 Portable PA System Is for Me?

There are many different situations you might find yourself in where you would require live sound. Maybe you’re a singer-songwriter and you want to put on your own gigs, or perhaps you’re in charge of the sound at a place of worship, or even a DJ doing music for wedding receptions or you run an open mic night - with different challenges come different solutions!

There are three main options when it comes to the L1 Bose PA speakers, each suitable for different applications and we’re going to go into a bit about each of them to help you decide which of the L1 systems would work best for your requirements.

Bose L1 Compact System

The Bose L1 Compact system is the smallest and most lightweight of the L1 portable line array systems from Bose that has been designed for smaller audiences of up to 100 people.

The power stand weighs under 12kg and the total system with loud speaker and extensions weighs less than 14kg. With no speaker cables or stands required, the system can be set up in less than a minute. The components just interlock, so there’s no messing around!

The L1 Compact system features an XLR input for microphones and a quarter-inch jack input for instruments, such as a guitar, so it works great if you’re a solo performer or a singer-songwriter with guitar and vocals.

Two unique setup positions mean that the L1 Compact portable PA system can work standing (at just under two metres tall) or can be placed on a table top (at around 42cm tall), making it ideal for business conferences and professional speakers.

DJs would also find the L1 Compact PA system a great option as it has a 1/8” input suitable for connecting an iPod or other MP3 player and an RCA input so it’s perfect for hooking up a DJ desk/turntable.

Lastly; having two separate channels makes the L1 Compact ideal for karaoke parties, have your microphone going into the XLR and your backing tracks going in through the RCA or 1/8” analogue input and you’re ready to get this party started!

Bose L1 Model 1S

Now we have the Bose L1 Model 1S portable sound system. Featuring a unique combination of performance and portability, with a 12-speaker articulated line array, the L1 Model 1S produces a great sound with smooth tonal balance, wide coverage and a higher output than the L1 Compact system.

Being more powerful than the L1 Compact system, the L1 Model 1S is suitable for audience of up to three hundred people and so it is more appropriate as a PA system for medium size venues but works well in smaller ones too.

The L1 Model 1S is also compatible with the Bose B1 and B2 bass modules. We’ll go into the bass modules in more detail later, but in short the use of a Bose bass module provides really powerful low-end performance that can really take your live sound to the next level, giving it a fuller bodied sound and making it a great option for full bands or bass guitarists. The L1 Model 1S can attach up to two B1 bass modules or one B2 bass module.

An integrated Tonematch port means that you can upgrade your sound and take it up to four separate channels with the T1 Tonematch audio engine; a great device with tonnes of inbuilt effects, presets and customisation options for you tailor your sound to perfection.

With twice the number of drivers in the L1 Model 1S when compared to the L1 Compact, you get a much more powerful, more room-filling sound that is great for putting on gigs, music for functions, weddings and larger houses of worship.

Bose L1 Model II

Last but certainly not least in our trio of Bose PA speaker systems we have the L1 Model II Portable Line Array System. The L1 Model II system is the most advanced L1 system from Bose and features the best tonal balance, coverage and highest output of the entire L1 series.

With the L1 systems’ signature 180 degrees of high quality, horizontal coverage while also offering extremely tight vertical control which ultimate results in less drop-off in volume over distance than conventional loudspeakers, this is turned up to the max with the L1 Model II’s 24-speaker articulated line array. This portable PA system really packs a punch!

Featuring four times as many speakers as the L1 Compact, the L1 Model II is suitable to provide audio to larger venues and audiences up to five hundred people but works great at providing a full sound for medium venues too.

Similar to the L1 Model 1S the optional ToneMatch audio engine can be connected to the Model II to add extra channels, audio effects and equalisation and again, as with the L1 Model 1S, the L1 Model II is compatible with the B1 and B2 bass modules. With the optional A1 PackLite amplifier, however, the L1 Model II is able to drive a further two B1 bass modules or an extra B2 bass module meaning with the L1 Model II you can attach up to four B1 bass modules or two B2 bass modules to really fill out the low end give and deliver an incredible performance from a portable PA system.

Bose L1 System Comparison Chart: L1 Compact vs. L1 Model 1S vs. L1 Model II

See our chart below for a quick comparison of the L1 Series’ key elements.

L1 Compact L1 Model 1S L1 Model II
Price £749* From £1349* From £1899*
Speakers 6-speaker articulated line array 12-speaker articulated line array 24-speaker articulated line array
Suggested Audience Size Up to 100 people Up to 300 people Up to 500 people
Coverage 180 degrees H x 40 degrees V 180 degrees H x 10 degrees V 180 degrees H x 0 degrees V
Max SPL 106 dB (Cont.), 112 dB (Peak) 112 dB (Cont.), 118 dB (Peak) 115 dB (Cont.), 121 dB (Peak)
Low Frequency (-3dB) 65 Hz 40 Hz 40 Hz
Bass Options Not compatible with B1 or B2 bass modules. 2 x B1 or 1 x B2 bass module 2 x B1 or 1 x B2 bass module (optional A1 PackLite amplifier allows for an additional 2 x B1 or 1 x B2 bass module to a toal of 4 x B1 and 2 x B2 bass modules attached)

*Prices subject to change.

Bose L1 Systems On Stage

Take Your Live Sound to The Next Level

As we mentioned in our descriptions of the L1 portable PA systems, there are a few accessories that have been designed specifically for use with the L1 Bose speaker systems and so they work fantastically well at adding that extra depth to your live sound. From adding extra channels and effects to boosting your power and bass performance; there's a few extra gadgets from, Bose that compliment your chosen L1 system and really take your live sound to the next level.

Bose L1 with T1 ToneMatch and Bass Modules

Bose T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine

T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine

The Bose T1 ToneMatch audio engine mixer has been designed to enrich the sound of musicians and singers using any of the L1 Series portable PA systems but it also works with other PA systems too. It comes loaded with effects and proprietary Bose technology giving you an amazing sound while increasing your number of channels to four.

With over 100 ToneMatch presets that can be assigned to each of the four channels, the ToneMatch audio engine can instantly optimise your sound at the touch of a button. Bose engineers have worked closely with manufacturers of popular audio equipment so there are presets made for devices you’ll likely be using such as the world’s most popular dynamic microphone; the Shure SM58.

On board dynamics processing types include three compressors, a limited, a de-esser, a kick gate and a noise gate which can be assigned to independent channels as well as a range of popular effects such as reverb and delay.

Using Bose’s intelligent zEQ system you can completely tailor and fine-tune your sound with the T1 ToneMatch audio engine; redefining lows, mids and high ranges for each ToneMatch preset. When you need to cut or boost specific frequency ranges for different microphones or instruments, zEQ gives you the power.

Bose B1 Bass Module

Bose B1 Bass Module

The B1 bass module is the most portable bass supplement from Bose for your L1 portable PA system, bringing a powerful low-end performance to your sound.

The highly efficient design of the speakers in the B1 bass module feature two 5 inch drivers that provide deep, strong bass from a small enclosure by simply connecting it to the L1’s power stand whilst active equalisation circuitry adjusts the bass signal automatically to ensure it’s always sounding great.

Bose B2 Bass Module


The Bose B2 bass module delivers greater low-frequency output when you require a more powerful bass sound for larger audiences. The B2 Bass module also has three on board settings for increased flexibility and audio tailoring options.

The standard setting on the Bose B2 is ideal for bass guitar or kick drum microphones; emphasizing that smooth, punchy sound. The higher setting is designed for DJs and situations where you might need to playback music should you be performing at a club night or disco for example. Lastly, the lower setting is designed to work well for acoustic guitar and vocals; emphasizing and enhancing the deeper tones found in those ranges to give you a richer, fuller sound.

The B2 bass module features two 10 inch, high output drivers (that’s twice as large as the ones on board the B1 bass module) producing powerful, smooth and deep bass from a compact enclosure which, due to its highly efficient design, takes up significantly less space than you’d expect from conventional bass bins that would be required for a similar level of bass performance.

Bose A1 PackLite Power Amplifier

Bose A1 PackLite Amplifier

The PackLite Amplifier from Bose is designed for those instruments that require additional headroom and an increased output in the lower frequency bass range; instruments such as electric bass, the bass drum and high output playback of dance music.

The L1 Model II system supports the use of an A1 PackLite Power Amplifier and when you have one attached to your system you can add a further two B1 bass modules or one additional bass module, which would bring your total up to four B1 bass modules or two B2 bass modules giving you unprecedented bass performance in what is still a relatively tiny package which little visual presence on stage but a huge presence in your sound.

A Fantastic All-In-One, Portable PA Solution

Whatever your live sound requirements are when it comes to a PA systems and on stage monitoring, we're confident you'll find what you need in the Bose L1 series. We've never seen a more portable, powerful, all-in-one solution to live performing - the L1 PA systems are seriously impressive setups and don't just take our word for it; here's classic rock outfit Foreigner on the benefits of performing live with a Bose L1 system:

Now with Portable Wireless Streaming capabilities

Bose L1 Compact Wireless with SoundTouch Link Adapter

2017 marks an extremely exciting update for this now industry standard piece of kit. The Bose L1 Compact Wireless with SoundTouch Link Adapter allows for even more freedom!

The Bose L1 Compact Wireless Package includes the brand new Bose SoundTouch Wireless Link adapter that allows you to stream audio to the Bose L1 via Bluetooth or WiFi, meaning you can stream your favourite songs to the system, utilise backing tracks wirelessly (especially handy if you’re a solo performance artist) or wirelessly stream a complete DJ set!

Check out the demo below:

To find the perfect solution and truly appreciate the performance of a Bose L1 Portable PA system get on down to your local PMT store where we have demonstration areas and trained experts on hand to guide you through the range, or call us on 0151 448 2089 so we can discuss your requirements and put together an L1 package for you!

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3 Comments on “The Definitive Guide to Bose L1 Portable PA Systems”

  • Ervin

    We are a three piece band. Harmony vocals, double bass, guitars and sometimes piano, simple percussion. We use a QSC Touchmix 16 desk.

    Can our desk plug into a Bose system. Would there be any drawbacks in doing so?

    Thank you

    • Lee Glynn

      Hi Ervin, the QSC Touchmix shouldn't encounter any problems as they're designed to work with many systems.

  • Bob Timney

    It would have been good to include the original L1 Model I in this as there are still many out there in use and you can still buy them new or like-new.

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