Written under the nom de plume, M.L. Gneier
There are more than two ways of bringing music to the desktop, but the Role Sampan FTL and the Bose Companion II Series 2 are among the most compelling that I have found so far. I have never liked a product that was mode by Bose until now. Their most diminutive and humble product, the Companion II Series 2 really does a lot to like. Oh sure, there’s plenty of the classic Bose sound (think a little beamy and soft on top and a bit of a boom down below). But, they capture the midrange surprisingly well. There’s a sense of organic presence that one would not expect of two plastic boxes that cost about $100 a pair.
Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone so I just had to do a side to side shoot-out with the Role Audio Sampan FTL.
Yes, the Sampan FTL costs more than the Bose and yes they need their own amplifier but that’s life: I intend to compare their sound and their musicality. It’s up to each user to determine what sort of configuration works best in their own office/computer system.
There’s a kind of science to the sound of the Bose. Their balance is a purposeful one. I can almost imagine a room full of engineers and marketing guys. The marketing guys are telling the engineers what their research says that little computer speakers should sound like and the engineers are taking it all in and trying to figure how they’re going to achieve the goal in a self-powered speaker that costs less than a pair of decent high end interconnects.
The result is smooth, fairly seamless and very easy to listen to for long stretches. The Bose will not subject the listener to a lot of fatigue yet they achieve a good quantity of detail. That said, the detail is a more than a bit homogenous. Harmonics are generic, if you will and the difference between recordings are minimized greatly.
The Bose-Bottom is a tad on the tubby side with little pitch definition. It would seem that the engineers were so enamored with what they could get out of the little plastic box that they went for a bit too much and the low frequency suffered as a result.
Moving the Role Sampan FTLs into position was a simple matter since they are scarcely larger than the Bose, just a bit deeper. There’s more than greater physical depth when it comes to the Roles. These are speakers designed to play music. The is no hive-like collective behind their development, just the mission of one guy who has a lot of good ideas.
The Sampan FTLs reveal what the Bose hides and then some. They will play at ridiculously high volumes without strain and plumb the low frequency depths in a way that makes their tiny footprint nothing short of unbelievable.
More than that, the Sampan FTLs breathe life into music the way a music lovers speaker should. You can again hear subtle differences in recordings that were lost with the Bose. And, while their top end would not seem to be quite as extended as that of the Bose, the Sampan FTL’s top end is far more musically integrated than with the Bose.
Do the Role Audio Sampan FTLs win the title of world’s greatest computer speaker? I can only say that I have yet to hear better. The funny thing is that they are so room filling that I am actually using them in a third system that feeding my breakfast area and kitchen for when I am cooking up my latest masterpiece. There’s no way I can convey just how well these tiny speakers play. Things can get pretty wild with the vent hood on, the pots and pans a rattling, and all of cooking’s other seranades. The little Sampans still handle it without a hint of discomfort. They are truly some of the most amazing dynamic speakers that I have ever used. You really owe to yourself to try a pair. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself listening to them more than you ever imagined and in far larger rooms than you might believe possible.