Bose Wave music system III

Bose's long-lived Wave finally gets DAB+ digital radio

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Bose Wave music system III - digital
  • Bose Wave music system III - digital
  • Bose Wave music system III - digital
  • Bose Wave music system III - digital
  • Expert Rating

    3.00 / 5

Pros

  • Rich sound
  • Slim profile
  • Now has DAB+

Cons

  • Excessive price tag
  • iPod dock is an expensive extra

Bottom Line

The addition of DAB+ digital radio to the Bose Wave music system is a small breath of life for the aging system. Apart from its lack of iPod connectivity, it’s the perfect all-in-one mini hi-fi... until you look at the price tag.

Would you buy this?

In one way or another, Bose’s Wave music system has been around for almost thirty years. The original Acoustic Wave was released in 1984 with a stereo AM/FM radio tuner and cassette player. Over a dozen improvements later, the Wave music system III is the current premier mini hi-fi in the company’s arsenal.

Bose Wave music system III: Design

The design of the Bose Wave hasn’t changed a great deal since the Wave Radio in 1993. The original Wave ‘music system’ in 2004 adjusted a few elements, but the design remained the same. Things haven’t changed since then: the Wave III has a low profile, sitting exactly 10 centimetres tall. It’s 37 centimetres wide at the front and 25 at the back, tapering gently to an almost-trapezoidal shape.

Two speaker grills dominate the front panel of the Wave, broken up by a long LCD panel and slot-loading CD player. The Bose logo and light grey surround for the CD player look great against the dark grey of the rest of the Wave; the design may be twenty years old but it’s stood the test of time.

In addition to the two speaker grills at the front of the Wave, there are two small vents at the top rear of the mini hi-fi that handle bass duties. Internal guides and baffling within the shell of the Wave III make sure that bass is reflected, channeled and boosted appropriately.

Bose Wave music system III

There are no buttons on the body of the Bose Wave III, but you can brush a hand along the system’s top to toggle the power on and off. Beyond that, you’ll have to use the credit card-style remote control, which has clearly labelled buttons arranged in a six-by-four grid, with additional power and sleep buttons up the top.

Bose Wave music system III: Features

This iteration of the Bose Wave music system III has a DAB+ digital radio built in, as well as the pre-existing AM/FM radio and CD player. This is a $100 premium over the standard Wave music system III without DAB+.

Beyond that, you can plug in an auxiliary device through the 3.5mm audio input — like a smartphone, MP3 player, or Bose’s $169 iPod dock. There’s also a port to plug in a $219 Bluetooth adapter or $219 PC adapter. These are extremely expensive adapters to add functionality that exists as standard in much cheaper mini hi-fi systems — to get a Bose Wave that can handle DAB+, CDs and iDevices in the same way as a $400 Panasonic mini hi-fi, you’ll have to spend almost $1000.

The CD player of the Wave III works quickly and quietly, although we could hear the disc spinning if we listened carefully with the system’s volume turned down.

Bose Wave music system III: Sound quality

Given the Bose Wave’s small size, it produces good sound that’s rich, appropriately bassy and room-filling — along the same lines as the Sonos Play:5 or B&W Zeppelin. The internal bass baffling means that comparatively small speakers can produce big sound.

Treble is reasonably clear at low and moderate volumes — the kind of volume that you’d use if you had the Wave III in a bedroom, small study or home office — but louder volume levels do cause treble to be overpowered by mid-range and bass booming.

Bose Wave music system III

Mid-range is generally a little boomy at low and moderate volume levels; the system has a rich and brassy vibe to it but this comes at the cost of some detail in acoustic instruments and male vocals.

Bass is, as we’ve come to expect from Bose products, strong for a mini hi-fi unit. At louder volumes it’s a table-shaking, floor-thumping little speaker system, so if you’re listening to anything with strong bass kicks — house, drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep — it’s one of the best small speaker setups we’ve heard for this purpose.

The Bose Wave music system III is distortion-free at any volume level, and apart from a slight loss of treble clarity at higher volumes, the system maintains its character consistently whatever volume it’s operating at.

Bose Wave music system III: Conclusion

Bose’s Wave music system III keeps up with the times (mostly) with the addition of DAB+ digital radio. We do take issue with the fact that it’s a $100 premium over the standard Wave music System III though, and the lack of integrated iPod dock is another serious flaw. It’s a mini hi-fi that sounds great for its size at most volume levels, but it’s extremely expensive for what it is.

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