Bose Wave Music System III - Performance & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

How does the Wave Music System III sound? In fairness much like all Bose audio: a foundation of deep bass and thick radiating midrange coming somewhat at the expense of clarity and detail in the higher frequencies. There is no denying this approach is a crowd pleaser. It is a thick, rich sound signature in which you could almost stand up a spoon. This works particularly well for rock, hip hop and dance where it adds an extra layer of emotion. What it isn't is particularly accurate and while Bose has an uncanny knack of projecting audio across a room, it doesn't sound at its best at higher volumes where there is a sense of something missing.

Bose Wave Music System III 2

This 'something' is treble and its sharpness and detail hold music together when you're doing your best to blast out the windows - not that you may notice in such a party-like atmosphere. What you do become aware of over time, however, is that your music sounds rounded off - you are not hearing everything that was recorded - and when positioning a product at this section of the market missing out on that is controversial. Equally controversial is the Wave Music System III doesn't use a DAC for external sound sources so your £600 system takes its audio processing straight from your MP3 player or phone's circuit board. Not ideal.

Bose Wave Music System III 5

All of which brings us to price. That the Wave Music System III sounds good is beyond question, but the unit is not judged in isolation and where it stumbles is against the ruthless pricing of today's class leading docks. The likes of the excellent Arcam rCube and Monitor Audio i-deck 200 (with integrated DAC) were £500 and £400 respectively at launch, but received official price cuts to £350 and £250 and easily match if not best the Wave Music System III's audio. These docks may lack CD and radio playback, but do you need either when our music sources are typically devices capable of playing back lossless audio and Internet radio?

Step further up the range and you have the hugely popular £500 Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air and £600 Libratone Live, both with integrated AirPlay for wireless audio streaming and the latter whose casing is constructed from wood, chrome and cashmere. So again we ask the question: how much do you like CDs?

Bose Wave Music System III 6

Verdict

In isolation it is difficult to dislike the Bose Wave Music System III. It has a warm, powerful and crowd pleasing sound while the flexible BoseLink connector adds in Bluetooth, an Apple dock or CD multi-changer functionality. The trouble is the Wave Music System III is not judged in isolation and its audio performance is bested by products half its price which also pack in more functionality. Bose has long traded on premium performance at premium prices, but in today's brutally competitive audio sector those prices will need to drop if the halo long held above its brand isn't going to slip.

Overall Score

6

Scores In Detail

  • Design 6
  • Features 5
  • Sound Quality 7
  • Usability 8
  • Value 5

Denise

December 17, 2012, 5:03 am

Bose or Sonos?

MikeO3

December 26, 2012, 3:26 am

This review is too much Apple Fan Boy for me... I beleive the author is biased and I shall seek opinion elsewhere.

Mario Boisvert

June 14, 2013, 2:33 am

I love my Bose radio,it does fill the room....but the Mid Range Is weak. The bass and highs are great. C'ant ask too much from such a small box. My reference is a DIY ,4 crosvers , 17 to 20K home speakers. 15 inch woofers (Eminence) 2 mid range ( Pioneer) 1 horn and 1 dome tweeter ( Minolta))

Damon

August 11, 2013, 3:40 pm

I have this Wave 3 yes it's a fantastic piece of kit,but I bought it to fill my salon which it does to a degree(salon is like a church hall! Massive) but I really could do with extra speakers or certain areas and the price for all the add ons are ludicrous,so I shall be selling it a just buy a mid range "midi system" any offers let me know hahaha!8)

Paul

September 1, 2013, 2:31 pm

What is the wattage of the wave 3 speakers

Susanna

September 3, 2013, 5:50 am

I have the Bose extra for my Ipod and it keeps dying after an hour. I have had it replaced and I have had the Wave 111 replaced and it has made no difference. I found if I disconnected it for a day it would work again for an hour or two but now it has just stopped completely. I am fed up as I like to listen to podcasts. Any ideas?

Rohit Pai

November 10, 2013, 5:45 pm

absolutely lousy system, why do people give it such rave reviews?? flat bass rich sound...the worst, it is the most sensitive system....my CD plays and stops in within 2 minutes...NOTHING in the book sorts out the problem. NOTHING on the net to sort it out either.

Suke Madiq

December 15, 2013, 1:35 am

Probably about 3 watts max

Suke Madiq

December 15, 2013, 1:36 am

The Cambridge soundworks radio destroys the Bose for half the price. Too bad the company got bought out and the quality went down.
Look up Nanohifi though, that looks impressive for less than the Bose it has a real amp, 2 way speakers with real crossovers.

Suke Madiq

December 15, 2013, 1:38 am

The bass and treble barely exist... Bose is all midrange.

TwoEars

February 21, 2014, 4:14 pm

Nobody seems to be interested in revealing the complete lack of stereophonics that these systems deliver. The sound quality isn't too bad, but unless you only have one ear, you'll notice that there is NO USEFUL STEREO SEPARATION! The binaural field is simply not able to reproduce positional information of audio sources. The whole idea of two or more channels is to present this phenomenon. Excellent bandwidth fidelity can be monaural, but in this case the two channels do NOTHING for stereo, and, simply put, the treble is not nearly as crisp as the price! Folks should spend their money elsewhere.

4242dickmac

June 21, 2014, 11:00 pm

I purchased a Bose radio a while back and I am very disappointed with the system. I tried placing it on my table and it does not work. The static is overwhelming . I tried moving to other sites and the reception was also bad. A paid $500 + and again disappointment.

Kamal Datta

September 15, 2014, 1:24 pm

I bought a Wave Music System on !1/11/2011 in New Delhi. The CD player in the system is terrible. After a few days use it rejects 75% of CDs as unplayable when the same discs will play on any other system. I have twice had the CD system replaced (at a cost of about 2700/- plus service tax( on one occasion)) with no better results. I have now been told that the slatted openings at the rear top and back let in dust and ruin the player. Clearly then the design is faulty and unsuited for sale in India because covering those openings will ruin the sound and cause the system to retain heat.Those planning to buy such a system should think twice

James

January 21, 2015, 9:19 am

I am very interested to read this review and relative discussions. I was leaning towards a Bose Wave Music System III but am now realising that there is other equally good systems at perhaps a more reasonable price. I am looking for a system with CD player, Radio and bluetooth features for playing ipod's / MP3 players though. Any recommendations?

Steve a

February 7, 2015, 9:40 pm

They are great for radio but the CD player is the worst I've seen.i took mine apart to get a stuck cd out and if you could see all the sharp metal that is mm away from your CDs as they enter, you would not use it.

Fivish

February 24, 2015, 9:09 pm

Sticking a small speaker through a pipe is completely wrong by any standards. A large speaker cabinet with a port is something else. Dr Bose apparently can sell overpriced stuff to cloth eared people with more money than sense! Please don't buy Bose.

Peter Lewis

September 24, 2015, 1:24 pm

The thing i find the most gut wrenching, apart from the high price, is it's all plastic construction.

We all know Bose have a great reputation for sound quality, well so do other competitors in this upper price category, but if truth was told, the cost of manufacture of each unit, is fairly small.

Reputation is one thing, but cheap manufacture is another.

Paying over £600 for an all plastic construction, is asking too much.

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