Do I Need to Upgrade from the L1 Compact to the L1 Pro8?

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This article expresses my opinion and experience. Please post comments Twitter @ST_Muso or LinkedIn @STPro. Thank you — ST.


L1 Compact to L1 Pro8.jpg
If I have an L1 Compact, do I need to get the L1 Pro8?

Background

I've had an L1 Compact since Bose introduced them in 2009. and at times up to three. One of them lived in the trunk of my four-door sedan. It was small enough; I never begrudged the space. It was light enough; I never had to consider the extra gas I consumed driving it around. And it was worth it because I used it several times a week for small gigs indoors and outside. I used it as a personal monitor when playing on stages where there was a house system. It was also great peace of mind knowing I had a backup to my other gear. Although I never had to use it to replace another piece of L1 equipment, I have bailed out other people with it when their gear went down.

The L1 Compact worked well in situations where I didn't need to reach more than fifty people, and the background noise was light. The single 8-inch woofer goes down to 65 Hz, and this is fine for vocals and guitar. It was also good for pre-recorded music for backing tracks or background music. However, it wasn't great for my foot-percussion pedal, a PorchBoard Floor Bass. The fundamental frequency of the PorchBoard is 33 Hz. The Compact could reproduce the first harmonic (66 Hz), and it sounded more like a tap than a thump. It was usable but not satisfying.

The Wish List

There were a few things I wished for in the L1 Compact.

  • Phantom power
    My preferred microphone is a Neumann KMS 105 (condenser microphone that requires phantom power). I have some dynamic microphones that work well with the L1 Compact, but I still prefer the KMS 105.
  • Tone controls on channel 2
  • Reverb
    Although I don't use Reverb very often, it would have been nice to have for other performers
  • A ToneMatch port
    This would make it easy to connect a T1 ToneMatch mixer. The ToneMatch mixer resolves all three points above.
  • Occasionally, I play with a bassist. I can run the bassist through the L1 Compact, but that only works in tiny venues.
  • Occasionally, I wish the L1 Compact was louder, but I have the larger L1 Model II for those situations.

L1 Pro8 Ticks All the Boxes

Portability

The L1 Pro8 is just as portable as the L1 Compact. The power stand is just five pounds heavier (31 pounds vs. 25). The extension and mid-high speaker array are also slightly heavier (9 pounds vs. 5). In total, the carry weight is only ten pounds more. The L1 Pro8 also fits in the trunk of the car, just as well as the L1 Compact.

Phantom Power and Tone Controls

The L1 Pro8 shares the same input panel as the L1 Pro16 and L1 Pro32. It also has Bluetooth, and the L1 Mix app. That gives me three channels. Two of them have phantom power and controls for treble, bass, and reverb. With the L1 Mix app, I can use the same ToneMatch Presets as the ToneMatch mixers (T1/T4S/T8S).

Reverb

The L1 Pro8 has reverb on inputs 1 and 2

ToneMatch Port

The L1 Pro8 has a ToneMatch port that supports the T4S/T8S ToneMatch® Mixers and the T1 for power.

More Bass

The L1 Pro8 goes down to 45 Hz compared to 65 Hz with the L1 Compact. The 7 x 13 inch racetrack transducer is powered by a 240 watt RMS class D amp. That's nearly twice the surface area of the 8-inch woofer in the L1 Compact powered by 65 watts RMS. The L1 Pro8 gives a satisfying thump with PorchBoard Bass. It also responds better to thumps and whumps and hand percussion on an acoustic guitar. And yes, playing bass through it sounds good.

It's louder

The L1 Pro8 is 6 dB louder than the L1 Compact. That will make a difference in a noisy venue.

What Else

Although I never wished to play music via Bluetooth or the ability to manage the L1 Compact with my phone or tablet - I've come to appreciate these features in the L1 Pro8.

Bottom Line

If you are happy with the L1 Compact, you can do what you need to do, and you do not wish it could do more, then keep it. The introduction of the L1 Pro8 does not make the L1 Compact obsolete. The L1 Compact still does what it always did, just as well.

Comparison Table

Questions and comments or LinkedIn @STPro.Thank youST.
FeatureBose L1 Pro8Bose L1 Compact
  L1 Pro8 51x200.jpg height:280px
Horizontal dispersion 180 degrees 180 degrees
Vertical dispersion 40 degrees (+/- 20 degrees) 40 degrees (+/- 20 degrees)
Output 112 dB / 118 dB peak 106 dB / 112 dB peak
Audience Up to 100 people Up to 100 people
Speaker Array Eight 2.00" (51 mm) high-excursion drivers mounted in a curved Articulated Array® Six 2.00" (51 mm) high-excursion drivers mounted in a curved Articulated Array® loudspeaker
Woofer One 7"x 13" neodymium racetrack transducer in the power stand One 8" (203 mm) low-frequency driver mounted in a ported bass enclosure in the power stand
Low Frequency
  • 45 Hz - 3dB
  • 65 Hz - 3dB
  • 50 Hz - -10 dB
Crossover

200 Hz

400 Hz

Power to speakers Biamped
  • 80 Watts RMS mid-high array
  • 240 Watts RMS sub
  • 320 Watts total
Biamped
  • 65 Watts RMS mid-high array
  • 65 Watts RMS sub
  • 130 Watts total
Weight Total system weight 18 kg (39.8 lb)
  • Power Stand: 14 kg (30.9 lb)
  • Mid-High array and extension: 4 kg (8.9 lb)
Total system weight 13.4 kg (30.2 lb)
  • Power Stand: 11.2 kg (24.6 lb)
  • Extensions (each): 1.1 kg (2.3 lb)
ToneMatch® Presets Channels 1 and 2
Full suite of ToneMatch Presets available in the ToneMatch mixers, built-in. Set using the L1 Mix App.
Channel 1
  • Fixed: Microphone

Channel 2

  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Line Level (flat)
Dimensions H x W x D 200.5 × 31.8 × 44 cm

(78.9 × 12.5 × 17.3 in 39.8 lb)

41.8 x 33.9 x 42.6 cm

(78.5 x 13.25 x 16.75 in (24.6 lbs)

Battery No No
Connections

Channels 1 and 2
Combo Jacks
XLR / 6 mm (1/4" Tip-Ring or Tip-Ring-Sleeve) balanced / unbalanced
Channel 3/Aux Input

  • 6 mm (1/4" Tip-Ring or Tip-Ring-Sleeve) balanced / unbalanced
  • 3 mm (1/8" Tip-Ring-Sleeve) accepts stereo or mono input
  • Bluetooth input

Channel 1:
XLR balanced

Channel 2:

  • 6 mm (1/4" Tip-Ring or Tip-Ring-Sleeve) balanced / unbalanced
  • 3 mm (1/8" Tip-Ring-Sleeve) accepts stereo or mono input
  • Two RCA unbalanced phone plug
Tone Controls Channels 1 and 2
  • Bass / Treble

Channel 3

  • None
Channel 1
  • Bass / Treble

Channel 2

  • None
Line Out XLR balanced ¼ inch (6mm) jack: Nominal +2.2 dBu, Max +20 dBu
Note: Using a TS unbalanced cable will result in a drop in the audio level of -6dBu.
Bluetooth input Yes: Channel 3
Supports Bluetooth 5.x
No
Reverb Channels 1 and 2 Yes
Channel 3 None
No
ToneMatch Port Yes full support for T4S/T8S
power only for T1
No
System EQ Yes
Live/Music/Speech/Off
No
Scenes Yes
Store/recall system settings via Bose L1 Mix App
No
Bose L1 Mix App Yes
Wireless control over volume, tone, reverb and system EQ
No
Sound Projection Click for full discussion