The L1 Compact from Bose was one of the most popular line array portable PA systems on the market. But with it becoming discontinued, the L1 Pro 8 is the natural replacement, and it has a lot to live up to. In this review, we look at the L1 Pro 8 in detail to see what it offers.
Bose L1 Pro 8
The Bose L1 Pro 8 is an exceptional line array system with some fantastic features. Below are the top-level pros and cons, but keep reading below for a more detailed breakdown.
The Bose L1 Pro aims to deliver a column line array PA system for various performers. Whether you are a solo artist, a DJ, or a small band, it is an appealing option with the backing of one of the premier brands in the industry.
The original L1 Compact offered fantastic sound quality, but the lower end of the frequency spectrum could have been more robust. With the L1 Pro 8, Bose has managed to reinvigorate low-end delivery. It’s more lively and punchy than the L1 Compact and has noticeably more thump.
The elongated 7-inch by 13-inch racetrack low-frequency driver does a lot of heavy lifting and delivers a satisfying amount of bass. This unit will be more than enough for small venues, and a pair of these is also viable for medium-sized venues with an intimate crowd.
The elongated woofer provides a satisfying thump.
The mid-range is also excellent and lives up to the fantastic tonality of the original L1 Compact. There is ample warmth to bring the best out of instruments and vocals. But at no point does it sound washed out or muddy. The signature Bose level of high-quality sound is on full display.
Stepping into the highs also brings a smile to my face. Crisp and clear with enough definition to ensure high-frequency content hits the crowd smoothly and precisely.
Taking it all into account, it is a substantial improvement over the L1 Compact. If you are considering upgrading from the L1 Compact, you should not hesitate. It is a fantastic unit with impeccable sound. A quality portable PA system that is sure to be a favorite.
I’ll admit it is rare to see complaints regarding the build quality of Bose products. They are premium items that display a high level of technical quality. And for the most part, the L1 Pro 8 lives up to Bose’s lofty reputation.
The cabinet for the woofer is durable and robust and features a rugged grille. All connection points at the rear are perfectly integrated, and the knobs and buttons feel fantastic. But there is one glaring issue that I need to highlight.
The array connections are a little temperamental.
The line array that connects to the base unit doesn’t live up to the level of quality I expect from Bose. The connection points feature an abundance of plastic, and this plastic feels a little flimsy and doesn’t inspire confidence. Whether this will present problems down the track is hard to gauge, but first impressions are not promising.
This connection is also temperamental at times. It is not uncommon to have to wiggle and jiggle the array to ensure it engages. Not something that I experienced with the L1 Compact. So while overall, the build quality is quite good, this minor issue is a little frustrating considering the price tag.
The L1 Pro 8 also sees a noticeable bump in power compared to its predecessor. A full 240 watts of power for the low-frequency driver and 60 watts of Class D power for the high-frequency array.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 is a compact and powerful PA system.
The result is a noticeable jump in both overall volume and low-end fullness. The frequency response of 45Hz-16khz is also broad enough to deliver excellent sound from low to high. A max SPL of 118 dB also highlights the increase in power and delivery. More than enough to fill smaller venues.
The L1 Pro 8 also features a large 7-inch by 14-inch elongated woofer, an unusual choice for a unit like this, but it helps keep the L1 Pro 8 slim. Supporting the woofer are eight 2-inch mid and high-frequency drivers.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 also features a comprehensive array of tuning options to ensure you get the sound you want from the unit.
The main functions are easily accessible at the top of the unit. You can cycle through the various options and apply changes with ease.
You’ll also find quick access to a System EQ at the back of the base. There are four settings available. Off, for when you don’t want any System EQ applied. Live, which is ideal for bands and vocalists. Music is perfect for DJs and general music playback. And finally, Speech for spoken word applications.
Supporting this is Bose’s ToneMatch functionality. This handy feature allows you to instantly set channel one or two to either Off, Instrument, or Microphone. This will help match the channels and minimize the amount of EQ’ing you’ll need to do. An excellent feature for a solo performer that sings and plays or a duo.
App control adds flexibility and convenience.
These functions would already net the L1 Pro 8 a good score in my books, but Bose has taken it a step further. The L1 Pro 8 features Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to manage the system via the Bose L1 Mix App, which is available on Android and iOS devices.
This convenient app gives you complete control over the various EQ settings at your fingertips. Especially useful when you want to walk around a venue and adjust output as required. It is simple to use, and the layout is logical.
If you want precise control over the output, the Bose L1 Pro 8 has you covered.
Bose continues to reign supreme when it comes to aesthetic appeal. The Bose L1 Pro 8 oozes professionalism and style. The all-black unit features smooth curves and refined edges. It is a slick-looking unit that is perfect when you want your gear to look its best.
Beyond appearance, the L1 Pro 8 features a detachable array. The array breaks down into two pieces. The primary array features the drivers, and a connecting extender gives you further flexibility. Coverage is also broad, with a wide 180 degrees of horizontal coverage.
The L1 Pro 8 features signature Bose styling.
As previously mentioned, the execution of the connection could be better. I’ve seen better from other units; even the previous L1 Compact offered a better connection system.
Despite this, you have a flexible and attractive system that looks and sounds the part when everything is connected.
Compact Line Array systems tend to offer a relatively modest footprint. But the Bose L1 Pro 8 is exceptionally narrow thanks to the racetrack woofer that allows the width to be dramatically smaller than comparable units.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 is slim and lightweight.
The unit is relatively lightweight as well. The base unit comes in at 30.9 lbs. (14 kg), low enough to carry with one hand via the convenient handle. The additional array components come in at 8.9 lbs. (4 kg). The total weight is 39.8 lbs. (18 kg), which is very reasonable for a compact and powerful portable PA system.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 also features a capable set of connection options. Line 1 and 2 feature a combo jack for XLR or TRS connections. This will be able to cover the vast majority of gear that you’d want to plug in.
Line 3 offers a suite of additional connection flexibility. You can use this line for Bluetooth pairing, enabling you to stream to the unit. Perfect for backing tracks or warm-up playlists. You’ll also have access to a ⅛-inch AUX option and a ¼ inch line input.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 offers a broad range of connection options.
Output options include an XLR line out for connecting to an external subwoofer system. While the L1 Pro 8 already features a healthy low-end, you’ll want to add a sub for larger venues or parties where the bass is the priority. One of the best options is the Bose Sub 2.
A further port is available if you wish to connect a T4S or T8S ToneMatch mixer. This expands the potential for the L1 Pro 8 to be a part of a more comprehensive setup with multiple units.
Once again, the selection of connection options available is a noticeable improvement over the L1 Compact. Bose has developed a comprehensive portable PA system that is ideal for various gig types.
There is no denying that the Bose line of products does come with a brand name premium attached to it. Bose has a stellar reputation and can comfortably ask for more than some competitors. Usually, I wouldn’t say I like this type of cost inflation for a brand, but in the case of Bose, it is often justified due to the quality on display.
The L1 Pro 8 is a premium bit of kit, and despite the slightly flimsy array connection, it is among the best portable line array systems on the market.
But there is one minor nitpick that is worth mentioning. The original L1 Compact came with a bag for the array components and a bag for the base unit. But the L1 Pro 8 only comes with a bag for the array sections. Not a dealbreaker but a little disappointing, considering the previous model offered both.
The Bose L1 Pro 8 has proven to be one of the most popular portal PA systems available. Multiple 4 and 5-star reviews highlight the improved audio performance and the meatier lower end. A few mention the frustrating array connection, but the unit still scores highly due to its versatility and overall build quality.
The Great Outdoors
A portable PA system like the Bose L1 Pro 8 is a fantastic option if you want to play outdoor events. The wide coverage and directed output can cover a broad area with high-quality sound. Line array systems, in particular, offer superb coverage thanks to the directionality of the mid and high-frequency drivers.
Wide dispersion is critical for outdoor events.
These units are ideal for outdoor weddings, small parties, or events. But as with all electrical equipment, be sure to protect your gear and avoid some of the common pitfalls that can turn your brand-new system into a pile of worthless junk.
There are two main things to avoid. Direct sunlight is the bane of any system, even more so since the bulk of portable PA systems are black, which only helps to amplify direct sources of heat. The second is liquid of any variety. This could be rain or over-eager patrons with drinks.
But as long as you take the appropriate precautions, there is no reason why you can’t experience the great outdoors with a portable PA system like the L1 Pro 8.
If you need a portable PA system, there are plenty of options available. Below we list some alternatives to the Bose L1 Pro 8 that are worth your attention.
EV Evolve 50 Review
If you want a system with some more grunt, the Evolve 50 from Electro-Voice is worth considering. It’s an exceptional array unit with a monstrous max SPL of 127 dB.
- Exceptional sound quality with thumping bass, excellent mids, and lush highs.
- The loud output and broad projection make it an enticing solo unit.
- The price tag of this portable PA system is relatively high compared to the Bose L1 Pro 8.
Electro-Voice Evolve 50
Turbosound INSPIRE IP2000 V2 Review
Another portal PA system worth adding to your shortlist is the INSPIRE IP2000 V2 from Turbosound. This reasonably priced system packs a powerful punch.
- Impressive sound quality with punchy bass that will satisfy.
- Detailed tuning options give you maximum control over the output.
- Not as comfortable to transport since it weighs 68.1 lbs. (30.9 kg).
Turbosound iNSPIRE iP2000 V2
Bose S1 Pro Review
Not everyone wants or needs an array system. If that is you, then the S1 Pro from Bose is another contender. This lightweight battery-powered unit is a versatile choice for intimate gigs.
- Excellent clarity at all volume levels and a more neutral sound profile.
- With 6 hours of battery life at full blast, this unit is perfect for when you don’t have access to a power supply.
- Like most Bose products, it isn’t the best value for money.
Bose S1 Pro
Should You Buy?
The Bose L1 Pro 8 is a fantastic portable PA system and improves on the previous go-to option in nearly every way. It’s loud and clear with a satisfying sound profile. Versatility is another highlight, thanks to the comprehensive selection of connection options and tuning flexibility.
A few minor issues hold it back from being a perfect unit but even with those small nitpicks; this is still one of the premier options if you want a portable line array-style PA system.
Bose L1 Pro 8