Should I get an L1 Pro16 or L1 Pro32

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This article expresses my opinion and experience without sponsorship. Please post comments to Twitter @ST_Muso or LinkedIn @STPro. Thank you — ST.

L1 Pro16 or L1 Pro32


Should I get an L1 Pro16 or L1 Pro32?

If you are considering the L1 Pro16 and L1 Pro32 and trying to understand which is a better choice for you, then keep reading. I'll tell you what I considered as I pondered this question.

Too long didn't read - 🎬 Spoiler Alert I got both: two L1 Pro16 and two L1 Pro32 with Sub1 subwoofers. The L1 Pro16 has unique features that make it the right choice for some applications. The L1 Pro32 has unique features that make it the right choice for other applications. In the rest of this article, I will discuss the merits of both and why you might want one or the other. For a detailed comparison of the specifications please see 👉the table at the bottom of the article.

Background

I've enjoyed both the L1 Model 1S and the L1 Model II for over a decade. I mention these legacy models because they are the predecessors to the L1 Pro16 and L1 Pro32. This is how I used them and why I was interested in the new systems. Getting either of these new systems would mean replacing the older ones.

L1 Model 1S

L1 Model 1S Compared to L1 Model II Vertical Dispersion
I got the L1 Model 1S with B2 bass module in 2012. The reasons:
  • The L1 Model 1S vertical dispersion is 10° (+/- 5°). The L1 Model II had 0-degree vertical projection. This meant the L1 Model 1S could be useful when the audience was slightly above or below the stage. Click the picture for more information.
  • The B2 could be as loud as four B1s without requiring an extra amplifier.

L1 Model II

I got the L1 Model II with two B1 Bass Module bass modules and T1 ToneMatch Audio Engine in 2009. For solo work, I sing and play acoustic guitar (or electric guitar). Most often I would use a single B1 Bass Module. For larger shows or outdoors, I would use two B1 bass modules. When playing in bands, I bring the same equipment but I generally play electric guitar with a Kemper Profiler. I don't need much bass because I've got a rhythm section (bass guitar and drums). In most band settings, we set up an L1 for each performer. We would use up to four B1 bass modules for bass guitar or drums. When the B2 became available, we would use that.

The New L1 Pro16 and L1 Pro32

Similarities

Both the L1 Pro16 and L1 Pro32 have three channels (two with ToneMatch Presets, Tone controls, and Reverb). The third channel can receive Bluetooth audio or line-level inputs. Both units can be controlled using the L1 Mix App, and you can connect a ToneMatch mixer to the ToneMatch port.

Differences

Is the L1 Pro32 a step up from the L1 Pro16? Yes and No
Yes
Throw Over Distance
  • The projection over distance is greater with the L1 Pro32. This is because the line array is twice as long (32 drivers) and powered by 480 watts RMS. The L1 Pro16 has 16 drivers powered by 240 watts RMS.
  • Run the L1 Pro32 at a lower stage volume than the L1 Pro16. Lower stage volume means less likelihood of feedback.
  • When used with the Sub1 subwoofer, the L1 Pro32 is more portable than the L1 Pro16. The heaviest component is 35.5 pounds for the Sub1 compared to 43 pounds for the L1 Pro16 power stand.
  • Multiple options with the separate Sub1 and Sub2. See Sub1 and Sub2 for details
    • Separate subwoofers from the L1 Pro32 array
    • Scale the bass up or down as required by the gig
  • The L1 Pro32 is sold with a Sub1 or a Sub2. You can use the Sub1 or Sub2 as a subwoofer for other powered loudspeakers like an S1 Pro.
No
  • L1 Pro16 J-Shape
    The L1 Pro16 has a J-shape vertical projection. This is most useful when playing on an elevated stage with members of the audience below the stage level.
    The L1 Pro32 will sound muffled to an audience below the vertical sound field.
  • The L1 Pro16 power stand has the 10x18" racetrack driver powered by 1000 watts RMS. This is about +5 dB SPL louder than the Sub1 subwoofer (the smaller option available with the L1 Pro32). The Sub1 has the 7x13" racetrack driver powered by 500 watts RMS. To get performance similar to the L1 Pro16, use two Sub1s or a Sub2.
  • The L1 Pro16 footprint on stage is smaller (14 x 18 in) than the L1 Pro32 with a Sub1 (23.4 x 21.7 in) or Sub2 (25.6 x 21.7 in).
  • The L1 Pro16 total system weight is less than the L1 Pro32 with either Sub1 or Sub2. However, the L1 Pro16 power stand is bigger and heavier than the Sub1.

L1 Pro16

The L1 Pro16 is a convenient, all-in-one package with a surprisingly small footprint on the stage taking only 14 x 18 inches. That's slightly over half of the stage area of older full-sized L1 models. They were 26 x 26 inches.

It provides more bass than the legacy B2 bass module even though the power stand weighs only a few pounds more. It uses the same 10 x 18" racetrack driver as the Sub2 subwoofer option with the L1 Pro32.

L1 Pro16 J-Shape
The L1 Pro16 has a J-shaped array. It provides the best coverage (of all the L1 models) for audiences below an elevated stage.

If all my gigs were in venues up to 75 feet the L1 Pro16 would meet my needs. I prefer to have the L1 behind me on stage, and prefer not to run my stage volume above 100 dB SPL. At 75 feet, the projected volume drop is approximately -24 dB. See the coloured chart below 'Throw Over Distance'

The L1 Pro16 downward coverage makes it the best when some or all of the audience is below the stage.

L1 Pro32

Throw Over Distance
Throw Over Distance

The line array in the L1 Pro32 is twice as long as the L1 Pro16. It is driven by a larger amplifier and provides higher volume and lower drop-off over distance. This means the Throw Over Distance is greater. For example, the -24 dB expected at 75 feet with the L1 Pro16 happens at well over 100 feet with the L1 Pro32.

Lower Stage Volume

In many venues, you can run the L1 Pro32 at a lower stage volume than the L1 Pro16 (and L1 Pro8) and still reach everyone.

In this example adapted from the Throw Over Distance chart, our objective is to be heard at 82 dB SPL at 32 meters (100 feet). To reach this goal:

  • L1 Pro8 stage volume is 112 dB SPL
  • L1 Pro16 stage volume is 109 dB SPL
  • L1 Pro32 stage volume is 103 dB SPL

The longer the array, the lower the stage volume

The L1 Pro32 is a better choice:

  • If you prefer lower stage volumes
    • Note: Running at lower stage volumes can reduce the likelihood of feedback.
  • If you need even volume from the front to the back of a venue
    • People closer to the stage will not be subjected to excessive volume
    • In my area, there are restrictions on the volume of music in live venues. Live music is to be no louder than conversational level. They don't want people to have to raise their voices or lean in close to be heard. Lower stage volume and even volume throughout the venue are highly desirable these days.
Sub1 and Sub2

Scale Up or Down

You have several options with the subwoofers to scale to your needs with the L1 Pro32:

  • Single Sub1
  • Double Sub1 (cardioid mode or not)
  • Single Sub2
  • Double Sub2 (cardioid mode or not)
  • Sub1 plus Sub2 (see the video to the right for more details at 1:39)
    Connect the L1 Pro32 to the Sub2. On the Sub2, set the Line In filter to L1. Set the Line Out HPF on and connect the Sub1. The result is, the Sub2 plays all the frequencies below 200 Hz. The Sub1 plays the frequencies from 100 to 200 Hz. Control the mix using the Level control on the Sub1.
Separate from the L1 Pro32 for Flexibility

The subwoofers are separate from the power stand. This means you can position them for optimum results for the venue. For examples:

Raise and Lower the Bass Independently
Sub1/Sub2 Level Control
The Sub1 and Sub2 have a separate level control.

Start with the control at 12:00 o'clock (Unity). Then fine-tune the balance of bass frequencies with the mid-high frequencies covered by the L1 Pro32.

You may choose to raise that at low volume levels, and reduce it at high volume levels.

Does the Array Out-distance the Subwoofers?
L1 Pro32 Straight Pattern
There have been some discussions online about the L1 Pro32 array being able to outdistance the Sub1 or Sub2. You may experience this outdoors or in applications where you are running at a distance at high volume.
The Sub1 and Sub2 are point-source loudspeakers. The volume drops off at about -6 dB SPL for every doubling of the distance. The L1 Pro32 portable line array drops off at about -3 dB for every doubling of the distance (up to the critical distance). As you move farther away from the system, the volume of the subwoofer will drop off faster than the line array. See Bass Outdoors for a discussion of the concepts.

You can scale up the bass to meet the needs of your situation (two Sub1 instead of one or two Sub2 instead of one).

Other Benefits of the Longer Array

The L1 Pro32 has a much more gradual drop in volume over distance compared to the L1 Pro16. You don't have to be playing loud or to a distant audience to experience the benefits.

Use the L1 Pro32 for the even volume from the front to the back of the venue. This means you can run at lower stage volumes, play at moderate levels (not blast people close to the stage), and lower the likelihood of microphone feedback.

The Bottom Line

If you have an L1 Pro16, there's no need to get an L1 Pro32 unless you need:

  • The ultra-portability of the L1 Pro32 (35.5 pounds for the Sub1 vs. 43 pounds for the L1 Pro16 power stand)
  • The tight vertical coverage (limited projection above and below the stage). See the chart below.
  • The significantly greater Throw Over Distance.
  • More even volume from the front to the back of a venue.
  • Running at lower stage volumes. This means more projection/coverage before feedback.

Comparison Table

Questions and comments or LinkedIn @STPro.Thank youST.
Feature Bose L1 Pro16 Bose L1 Pro32
  L1 Pro16 w Coverage 221x200.jpg L1 Pro32 with subs w Coverage 305x205.jpg
Feature Bose L1 Pro16 Bose L1 Pro32
Horizontal dispersion 180 degrees 180 degrees
Vertical dispersion 0/-30 degrees (J-shape) 0 degrees (straight shape)
Output 118 dB / 124 dB peak  With Sub1: 117 dB / 123 dB peak
With Sub2: 122 dB / 128 dB peak
Audience not specified not specified
Speaker Array Sixteen 2.00" (51 mm) articulated cricket drivers Thirty two 2.00" (51 mm) articulated cricket drivers
Woofer One 10"x 18" neodymium racetrack transducer in the power stand Sub1:One 7" x 13" neodymium racetrack transducer
Sub2:One 10"x 18" neodymium racetrack transducer 
Low Frequency 42 Hz - 3dB With Sub1: 40 Hz - 3dB
With Sub2: 37 Hz - 3dB
Crossover 200 Hz 200 Hz
Power to speakers Biamped
  •  250 Watts RMS mid-high array
  • 1000 Watts RMS to sub
  • 1250 Watts RMS total
Biamped
  • Power Stand 480 Watts RMS mid-high array
  • Sub1 480 Watts RMS (960 Watts RMS total)
  • Sub2 1000 Watts RMS (1480 Watts RMS total)
Weight Total system weight 18 kg (54.9 lb)
  • Power Stand: 18.8 kg (41.4 lb)
  • Mid-High array and extension: 6.1 kg (13.5 lb)
Total system weight with
Sub1 29.1 kg (64.1 lb)
Sub2 36.4 kg (80.3 lb)
  • Power Stand: 5.9 kg (13.0 lb)
  • Mid-High arrays (2) 7.1 kg (15.6 lb)
  • Sub1 16.1 kg (35.5 lb)
  • Sub2 23.4 kg (51.7 lb)
Dimensions (H x W x D) 201.2 x 35.5 x 45.6 cm
(79.2 x 14.0 x 18.0 in)
L1 Pro32
213.5 × 34.5 × 55 cm (84.1 × 13.6 × 21.7 in)
Sub1 53.0 × 25.0 × 53.0 cm (20.9 × 9.8 × 20.9 in) Sub2 69.0 × 30.5 × 55.0 cm (27.2 × 12.0 × 21.7 in)
Footprint (floor space required)
L1 Pro32 with Sub1 (W x D) 59.4 x 55.1 cm (23.4 x 21.7 in)
L1 Pro32 with Sub2 (W x D) 65.0 x 55.1 cm (25.6 x 21.7 in)
Power Stand Height (front | rear) 66 front | 62.23 rear cm
26 front | 24.5 rear inches
10.16 front | 10.16 rear cm
4 front | 4 rear inches
Sound Projection L1 Pro Throw over Distance.jpg
Everything below this bar is the same for both
ToneMatch® Presets Channels 1 and 2
Full suite of ToneMatch Presets available in the ToneMatch mixers, built-in. Set using the L1 Mix App.
Channels 1 and 2
Full suite of ToneMatch Presets available in the ToneMatch mixers, built-in. Set using the L1 Mix App.
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
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
Tone Controls Channels 1 and 2 * Bass / Treble Channel 3 * None Channel 1 * Bass / Treble Channel 2 * None
Line Out XLR balanced XLR balanced
Bluetooth input Yes: Channel 3
Supports Bluetooth 5.x
Yes: Channel 3
Supports Bluetooth 5.x
Reverb Channels 1 and 2 Yes
Channel 3 None
Channels 1 and 2 Yes
Channel 3 None
ToneMatch Port Yes full support for T4S/T8S
power only for T1
Yes full support for T4S/T8S
power only for T1
System EQ Yes
Live/Music/Speech/Off
Yes
Live/Music/Speech/Off
Scenes Yes
Store/recall system settings via Bose L1 Mix App
Yes
Store/recall system settings via Bose L1 Mix App
Bose L1 Mix App Yes
Wireless control over volume, tone, reverb and system EQ
Yes
Wireless control over volume, tone, reverb and system EQ