Bose Wave Music System III - Performance & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly



Our Score:


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


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


Scores In Detail

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


December 17, 2012, 5:03 am

Bose or Sonos?


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))


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)


September 1, 2013, 2:31 pm

What is the wattage of the wave 3 speakers


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 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.


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.


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


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.


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.

John Miller

June 8, 2016, 3:12 pm

In your comment, you mention your dislike of those with more money than sense. Perhaps you are just jealous at those who have the money to buy these products, and given the money, you too would buy the same products. This is my impression of the situation.


June 8, 2016, 3:41 pm

As I have a Spendor BC1 based system, money is no object! I am also a member of the AES. Have you actually listened to this Bose stuff and compared it to a 'proper' system? Probably not.


June 8, 2016, 3:43 pm

They must use the huge profits to pay 'reviewers' to praise the stuff. But in reality its rubbish and for a lot less money you can buy something descent.


June 8, 2016, 3:45 pm

As it shoves the sound down a pipe its tuned to a small range of frequencies and harmonics. Basic physics which Dr Bose (does he really have a doctorate and if so in what) does not understand.


June 8, 2016, 3:49 pm

"a great reputation for sound quality," They certainly have a lot of self promotion and paid reviews. Sound quality is poor due to the pipes which colour the sound and the closeness of the speakers which eliminates any sound stage. You can buy much better for a lot less money.


July 17, 2016, 1:38 pm

You can't ask more for a speaker this size. They don't go as low as I would like that's pretty true, but can you pit up a second system of this size that reproduce low frequency like WAVE does?

John Doe

September 11, 2016, 10:05 pm

This review is pretty accurate. One thing it should have mentioned is not that it is made of cheap plastic but the fact that the manufacturing process is also cheap. Just a close inspection of the speaker grills will tell you a lot about Bose's priorities. The grill looks poorly designed and cheap. There was no effort made to design a speaker grill that would enhance the appearance. This unit does have a powerful bass but the bass itself is lacking definition and is not tight. When I listened to the unit I found that it reminded me of the old boomboxes from the eighties with their super bass horns (think JVC). Then there is the frequent issue of the cd player breaking withing a year or two. It just tells you a lot about how much Bose put into the quality of the unit. For a premium sound system you would expect a premium cd player but you get a cheap unit with a mechanical system that will break down on you sooner than a lot of mass-market units. Then there is the use of cheap paper speakers that they call "twiddlers" which explains why there is no clarity. They have sacrificed the highs for speakers that are actually mid range speakers that serve as tweeters, mids and lows. The lows result from the bass reflex horn that try to compensate for a small set of speakers in a small unit. You can't compare the sound to a full fledged set of towers in a home system but this is a clock after all. I own several Bose products including their theater system and I notice that they are manufactured in Mexico, not in the USA. That tells you even more about Bose's dedication to our economy. It's all about Bose maximizing profits at the expense of the consumers who may not be too well informed about audio products but rely wholly on marketing schemes. And Bose is a master of advertising with their slick infomercials and glossy ads. If there is something Bose is good at, it is in this department. Unfortunately, it does not trickle into their quality.

Michael Russell

October 31, 2016, 5:21 pm

You cant that is true, which means they should be priced appropriately as the rubbish they are. Its a shame that this company, bose, has long ago deviated from the experimentation that Professor Bose lived to experience. Liked the mans ideas. Didnt like his namesakes junk speakers. Still dont. They make my RTA bleed when i feed them pink noise.

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