How much do you like CDs? This may sound a strange question to ask in 2012, but when considering Bose's high end yet deliberately retro take on the modern music system it is one that is impossible to ignore.
Bose product refreshes are rare and for that reason alone the 'Wave Music System III' arrives with a significant amount of buzz and media attention. Its modus operandi: a one piece system to play your CDs, the radio and wake you up in the morning… for £600. For most companies this feature/price ratio would be unworkable, but Bose has built its reputation on attracting those who want the very best and are prepared to pay for it. So does the Wave Music System III still have a place in the Android/iOS centric world of today?
Certainly Bose knows how to make an entrance. The Wave Music System III is beautifully packed and at just 369 x 219 x 106mm and 3.9Kg it is compact. Being a stickler for its own tradition (the Wave range has been around since 2004) the design hasn't changed from its predecessor. This is both good and bad. The Wave line's looks are iconic amongst Bose fans (if reminiscent of a blend of school projector and laser printer), but the 100 per cent plastic construction could do with the addition of more premium materials in this era of designer docks.
There is also little change at the rear with virtually identical connectivity: an FM antenna, auxiliary and headphone inputs and a BoseLink connector. The notable addition this time around is that of a DAB tuner and accompanying antenna while Bose also claims to have improved the quality of the FM/AM tuner. The proprietary BoseLink is where additional functionality is added with the 'Wave Bluetooth' (£130), 'Wave Connect Kit' (£130) and 'Wave Multi-CD Changer' (£300) adding Bluetooth streaming, an iPod/iPhone dock and a three CD multi-changer respectively.
On top of this the Wave Music System III has had a tweak of the display so artist and song title metadata is displayed, and about time too. Operation is almost entirely confined to the remote with the touch sensitive top of the unit only switching it on and off. This isn't a big deal though as the remote, while again being a little too fond of plastic, is relatively easy to use thanks to its clearly labelled and logically laid out buttons, though the uniform grid pattern isn't all that practical to use in the dark.
As ever Bose remains hugely secretive of the audio tech inside. According to the blurb, the 'waveguide speaker technology enables full-bodied sound, especially in lower registers, for more natural-sounding bass and percussion instruments' but that is all we get. It has long been this way. What we do know, as the image on the next page illustrates, is Bose sticks to its usual habits of a 2.0 arrangement with bass reflex technology, with its signature warm sound created by bouncing the lower frequencies off an almost intestinal maze designed to filter the signal.