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5 Reasons to Avoid a Bose 161 Speaker System at All Costs

Bose logo on a black speaker.

5 Reasons to Avoid a Bose 161 Speaker System at All Costs

Key Points

  • The Bose 161 Speaker System is a set of bookshelf speakers that are convenient for small spaces but lack in sound quality.
  • One reason to avoid the Bose 161 Speaker System is that they are not self-powered and require additional equipment and wiring.
  • These speakers have limited sound output and low bass output, making them unsuitable for larger rooms or those who enjoy deep bass frequencies.
  • The Bose 161 speakers cannot be directly used with a TV or computer and require an amplifier or receiver for power.
  • The limited customizability of the Bose 161 speaker system, including the need for speaker wire and potential wire visibility, is another reason to avoid them.

Everyone wants the best entertainment setup for their home or office nowadays, but how do you choose from the tons of options? Different types of speakers are available to fill every niche and need, and the choices can be confusing. We want to help by revealing five reasons to avoid a BOSE 161 Speaker System at all costs. 

Most consumers are not sound professionals trained in the nuances of audio technology. They know they want good sound quality, an easy setup with versatile employment options, and an affordable price. Beyond that, the finer points of building a sophisticated audio system are an unknown language. 

Our reasons to avoid a Bose 161 speaker system focus on why the average consumer with limited sound technology knowledge will find these speakers a poor choice. Those who want a simple speaker set to plug in and enjoy with music, TV, and movies should browse our alternative options later in the article. 

Do I Really Want Bookshelf Speakers?

The Bose 161 Speaker System is a set of two bookshelf speakers. These popular speakers fit on shelves near your sound system or TV or are mounted on the wall. Their primary draw is convenience. You can place these smaller speakers in unobtrusive locations so they don’t require precious floor space. This is ideal for space-limited rooms or dwellings like apartments, offices, bedrooms, or smaller living rooms. 

Unfortunately, their main benefit is the main reason for avoiding bookshelf speakers. Their smaller size limits the sound quality they can deliver. The benefit of saving space means you get a smaller speaker. Let’s face it — you can only deliver so much sound quality from compact components, even with advanced audio technology. 

Bookshelf speakers offer acceptable sound quality in an average-sized room for an affordable price while saving space. Most models do this admirably. Discerning sound critics will find them far below other larger, more sophisticated speakers. The average consumer may find them acceptable, but our five reasons to avoid a Bose 161 speaker system demonstrate this set’s unsuitability. 

5 Reasons to Avoid a Bose 161 Speaker System at All Costs
Bookshelf speakers are designed to offer acceptable sound quality in an average-sized room. They offer an affordable price while saving space.

Reasons to Avoid a Bose 161 Speaker System 

There are no high-end discussions of precise sound variables here, only issues the average consumer will have if they buy these speakers. Our reasons are practical and focused on how everyday people with no audio background judge sound quality and ease of use. 

They Are not Self-Powered

One of the most prominent reasons to avoid a Bose 161 Speaker System is that they are not self-powered. Many bookshelf speakers are self-powered; plug them into your sound system, computer, or TV and enjoy the sound. The Bose 161 speaker system is not self-powered. You must connect it to a power source like an amplifier or receiver with a speaker cord. 

Bose 161 speakers do not include plug-and-play speaker cords. You must purchase the correct gauge speaker cord separately. Users must know the right type and be sure to acquire the correct length for where they intend to install the speakers. You must use a thicker gauge wire for longer distances from the amplifier. You must know something about wiring to install the correctly and prevent interference or other problems. 

Smaller Sound Output

Speaker manufacturers can only cram so much audio capability into a small space. At 8.5 pounds and 5 x 11 x 4.2 inches, these Bose 161 speakers have little room for large components. They boast a range of 10W-50W per speaker for a total of 100W, with 4-8 Ohms impedance. We seriously doubt most will realize that range of sound output. There simply isn’t enough size and wattage to fill a large room. Smaller speakers like the Bose 161 have smaller drivers that simply cannot compete even with other bookshelf speakers. 

One notable drawback of most bookshelf speakers, particularly these Bose 161 speakers, is their inability to produce the large, booming sound that fills a room. Small bedrooms may be a good application for them, but certainly not a large living room or entertainment room. If you are designing a home theater surround sound system, choose a complete system that includes all the speakers you need or at least a high-quality sound bar and floor-standing speakers for better sound quality. 

Low Base Output 

Yet another of our reasons to avoid a Bose 161 speaker system is its low bass output. There is no built-in subwoofer, so they struggle to produce deep bass frequencies. Underpowered bass results in muted bass tones, especially noticeable with hip-hop music or punched-up movie scores. Users wanting better base sound need to add a subwoofer to the room’s mix, particularly if they enjoy music or movies with large booming bass.  

Cannot Be Used Directly with Your TV

Bose 161 unpowered speakers are also more complicated to use with your TV or computer. Unlike a plug-and-play powered bookshelf speaker, they receive power from an amp or receiver. This adds another layer of complexity to your sound setup. They cannot be plugged into your TV or computer directly. You must run the TV or PC through an amplifier or receiver that is connected to the speakers to enjoy any sound. Your TV and PC must have the correct audio output and be compatible with your chosen amplifier. 

Limited Customizability

Bookshelf speakers are standalone units. They typically have a narrow soundstage and are not meant for use in a surround sound system. But the Bose 161 speaker system restricts your customization options even more. Your wired speakers require planning for how and where to run speaker wires when placing them. Locating them further from the amplifier requires heavier gauge speaker wire. 

Bose also advertises that their 161 speaker system can be wall-mounted and even includes mounts in the box. But who wants to string speaker wire up the wall and create an unsightly spider web in full view? Unless you employ some imaginative creativity to hide the wires, your speaker setup will look like a kindergarten drawing. 

Electric wires isolated on white background, copper lead suitable for speaker signal, wire connection broken
Wired bookshelf speakers limit your placement and customizability options.

Alternatives to a Bose 161 Speaker System 

After reviewing our five reasons to avoid a Bose 161 speaker system at all costs, you may wonder if any bookshelf speakers are worth owning. They are widely used, and many models deliver admirable sound quality. Check out our alternatives to the Bose 161 speaker system below if you still need bookshelf speakers. 

JBL Stage A120 Bookshelf Speakers 

Fill Large Rooms with Sound
JBL Stage A120 Bookshelf Speakers
  • 4.5-inch polycellulose low-frequency woofer for deep bass
  • 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter
  • 60Hz–40kHz frequency response
  • 125W max output
  • Impedance 6 Ohms
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

JBL is a huge name in the speaker space, and its Stage A120 Bookshelf Speakers are impressive. These speakers feature a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter, a Hi-Definition Imaging (HDI) Waveguide, and a 4.5-inch Polycellulose woofer for impeccable sound quality. With a frequency response of 60Hz–40kHz and a maximum of 125 watts of power per speaker, they can fill even large rooms with sound. 

Fluance Ai40 Bookshelf Speakers

Versatile
Fluance Ai41 Powered 2-Way 2.0 Stereo Bookshelf Speakers
$249.99
  • 5-inch drivers
  • 90-watt amplifier
  • Compatible with TV, PC, Phone
  • Subwoofer output
  • RCA and optical inputs or connect via Bluetooth 5.0
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/17/2024 10:32 am GMT

These Fluance Ai40 Bookshelf Speakers offer the versatility of wired or Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Either way, users enjoy the incredible sound from a one-inch silk dome tweeter, a five-inch woven glass fiber composite woofer, and a 90-watt built-in amplifier. Sealed instead of ported, Ai40 bookshelf speakers deliver clear, clean sound without excessive bass boom, making them perfect for smaller or medium-sized spaces. 

Klipsch RP 600M

Rich,
Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Speakers
$349.00
  • 6.5-inch spun copper cerametallic woofers
  • Bass reflex through rear-firing Tractrix port
  • Dual-binding posts for bi-wire/bi-amp
  • 1-inch titanium vented tweeter with hybrid Tractrix horn
  • 100W max output power
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/16/2024 12:47 pm GMT

The Klipsch RP 600M is the way to go if you prefer wired bookshelf speakers. They produce absolutely dynamic sound quality from the highest ranges to the lowest booming bass. Featuring one-inch titanium vented tweeters, 6.5-inch spun copper woofers, and a sophisticated bass reflex design, this pair of RP 600M bookshelf speakers will fill even large rooms with rich, robust sound. 

Summary 

Bookshelf speakers are all the rage for a number of reasons, but at the very least, you want them to hook up easily, allow you to place them wherever you want them, and sound great. Sadly, our reasons to avoid a Bose 161 speaker system reveal that they lack in all three of those critical areas. Other bookshelf speakers are easier to install, more versatile, and sound better for a similar investment. 

Moreover, consumers wanting better sound quality and more expansive use options may need to consider a full-blown surround sound system that can be strategically placed throughout a room’s layout for a truly cinematic sound experience. At the very least, good quality stand mount speakers or tower speakers can produce much better sound that fills the room and reaches impressive frequencies. 

Alternative Choices to the Bose 161 Speaker System 

1. JBL Stage A120 Bookshelf Speakers 
2. Fluance Ai40 Bookshelf Speakers
3. Klipsch RP 600M Bookshelf Speakers 
  1. JBL Stage A120 Bookshelf Speakers
    • 4.5-inch polycellulose low-frequency woofer for deep bass
    • 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter
    • 60Hz–40kHz frequency response
    • 125W max output
    • Impedance 6 Ohms
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

  2. Fluance Ai41 Powered 2-Way 2.0 Stereo Bookshelf Speakers
    $249.99
    • 5-inch drivers
    • 90-watt amplifier
    • Compatible with TV, PC, Phone
    • Subwoofer output
    • RCA and optical inputs or connect via Bluetooth 5.0
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/17/2024 10:32 am GMT
  3. Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Speakers
    $349.00
    • 6.5-inch spun copper cerametallic woofers
    • Bass reflex through rear-firing Tractrix port
    • Dual-binding posts for bi-wire/bi-amp
    • 1-inch titanium vented tweeter with hybrid Tractrix horn
    • 100W max output power
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/16/2024 12:47 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

What are bookshelf speakers?

Bookshelf speakers are smaller speakers designed to offer acceptable sound quality in an average-sized room for an affordable price while saving space. They can be placed on a bookshelf, desk, or table or mounted to the wall. 

Will a Bose 161 Speaker System fill the room with sound?

No. One notable drawback of the Bose 161 speaker system is its inability to produce the large, booming sound that fills a room. Small bedrooms may be a good application for them, but certainly not a large living room or entertainment room.

Is the Bose 161 Speaker System plug-and-play?

No. Many bookshelf speakers are self-powered, meaning you can plug them into your sound system, computer, or TV and enjoy the sound. The Bose 161 speaker system is not self-powered. You must connect it to a power source like an amplifier or receiver with a speaker cord. 

Can I plug the Bose 161 speaker system directly into my TV or PC?

No. Bose 161 speakers cannot be plugged into your TV or computer directly. You must run the TV or PC through an amplifier or receiver that is connected to the speakers to enjoy any sound. Your TV and PC must have the correct audio output and be compatible with the amplifier you choose. 

Does the Bose 161 speaker system produce heavy bass?

No. The Bose 161 speaker system has a low bass output. There is no built-in subwoofer, so they struggle to produce deep bass frequencies. Underpowered bass results in muted bass tones, especially noticeable with hip-hop music or punched-up movie scores.

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