Last time, we talked about the new Bose RoomMatch speakers and I concluded they were pretty solid options. What ended up being the sleeper announcement is the new amplifiers, the PowerMatch PM8500 and PM8500N. As you can guess, the N designation indicates network connectivity.
The PM8500 is a 8 channel Class-D amplifier that can be bridged in multiple configurations. Essentially, you have 4,000 watts available, and you get to decide how to divvy it up. You can run two 2,000 W channels, four 1,000 W channels, or eight 500 W channels. You can also do other interesting things like set it up for four 500 W channels and two 1,000 W channels. I don’t recall all the options (I know it was not a “whatever you like” thing), but there were lots of ways to utilize all the power.
When paired with the RoomMatch system, you can power four boxes from a single amp (and the boxes are bi-amped) and run said amp off a single 20 A circuit. That’s pretty efficient. And, just for fun, you can configure channels to drive a 70V or 100V low-impedance speaker system.
That would be pretty impressive on it’s own, but they also included quite a bit of DSP. According to a quick read of the manual, you have a 5-band PEQ, the Array EQ, Band Pass filters, Speaker PEQ, Limiting and Delay on each channel. And I was told that you can turn it all on and not run out of DSP. That’s something I really appreciate.
For simpler rooms, this is likely all the DSP you’ll need; and when combined with the ControlSpace Designer software, it’s easy to access all that power. All of this fits into two rack spaces and has a price of around $3,000. The amp has been selling like hotcakes according to our Bose rep; even for systems not using the RoomMatch speakers.
How did it sound? Well, when driving the RoomMatch system, it was pretty solid. They did a rapid-fire bass test to show off how well the power supply holds up to repeated low-end hits (eight notes on the kick) and the hits just kept on coming. We heard no drop in volume even after 5-7 seconds. They call it PowerBank, and it’s a “regenerative 4-quadrant power supply with fast-tracking PFC that supports high efficiency while improving the peak burst power for superior transient response and current reserve for bass impact.”
Basically, it can stand up to lots of low end. And it sure seemed to. There’s a lot to like here in a small package, whether you’re looking at the RoomMatch speakers or not. For $3,000, it’s a real deal.
And now a word about Bose. I know some are very opposed to any and all things Bose. I understand this sentiment; as I said yesterday, their earlier systems were less than optimal. But times change, and I really believe Bose has put a lot of energy and effort into producing a really solid product here. Having been in this business for over 20 years, I've learned that change happens. Some brands that used to make really good stuff now make crap and others that once were not considered viable options are now very worthwhile.
If you limit yourself to companies that have only always made nothing but high quality products, you may well miss out on a lot of great stuff. Heck, even Apple once made the LC575. But that doesn't stop us from rushing out to buy the new MacBook Pro does it? Personally, I prefer giving new products a chance before I condemn them. My advice is to give them a listen and see if it's a product worth investing in.