Experts and users agree that if the best sound quality is first, second and third on your list of must-haves for a table radio, the Bose Wave Music System should be a top consideration. Despite the sound quality and attractive styling, however, the price tag is hard to swallow. Other radios -- including table models with impeccable sound quality like the Tivoli Audio Model Two (*Est. $300) -- cost notably less, although to be fair the Model Two does have fewer features than the Bose.
That said, the Wave Music System isn't particularly feature-rich in the first place. There's a single-play CD player, a powerful AM/FM tuner and an easy-to-use clock radio, but not much else. Most controls have been moved from the radio itself to the included remote control, which adds to the radio's sleek look but could be an issue if the remote is misplaced. Available accessories include an iPod dock (*Est. $100), a multi-disc CD changer (*Est. $250) and a SoundLink upgrade kit (*Est. $150) . The latter gives the system the ability to stream music from a computer and is also available in a bundle with the table radio (*Est. $600). Each accessory adds functionality to the Bose, but also adds significantly to its already high bottom line.
If you can stomach the price, the sound produced by the Bose Wave Music System is sweet indeed, reviewers say. That it produces crisp, clear audio at normal volumes isn't necessarily a surprise, but it can do the same when cranked to the max -- loud enough to fill even a large room with terrific sound.
If you don't need a CD player, the Bose Wave Radio II (*Est. $350) is largely the same table radio minus that feature. The Acoustic Wave Music System II (*Est. $1,100) is a more powerful version marketed more as a stereo-system replacement than a table radio, but reviewers are lukewarm on its performance and value.
The Bose Wave Music System has been available for some time and although reviews are on the old side, they remain valid. The most complete come from CNET and the PC World (Australia) Good Gear Guide. DigitalTrends.com weighs in with a more recent report on the Bose Wave Music System with SoundLink upgrade. PCMag.com's evaluation is all of a paragraph but contains a few useful observations. Amazon.com is the best destination for user reviews.
CNET gives the Bose Wave Music System a "very good" rating. Value is an obvious concern, as is the absence of bass and treble controls. Sound quality -- even at loud volumes -- receives kudos, as does design and ease of setup and use.
Review: Bose Wave Music System, David Carnoy, Sept. 7, 2006
Ross Catanzariti tests the Bose Wave Music System and comes away impressed -- until he learns its price. Still, he notes, even when pushed to its limits, this table radio's sound quality doesn't disappoint. Styling is also a plus.
Review: Wave Music System, Ross Catanzariti, March 26, 2006
DigitalTrends.com reports on the Bose Wave Music System with SoundLink bundle. The add-on performs flawlessly and can handle a variety of file formats without issue. Like others, Rachel Cericola says the radio itself sounds great and that "you can actually sit in front of the unit and enjoy music at both an everyday listening volume and one that might make your hair move as desired." Value is again a concern.
Review: Bose Wave SoundLink Music System Review, Rachel Cericola, Nov. 18, 2009
The Bose Wave Music System gets more than 300 user reviews over all of its color variations, although the majority comments on the graphite gray version. While the table radio draws good but not great overall ratings, some owners do give it 4 or 5 stars, with good sound quality drawing the lion's share of praise. Those who are less pleased list issues with ergonomics, durability and, of course, price.
Review: Bose Wave Music System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Feb. 2012
This is among the shorter write-ups -- just a single paragraph -- that we've seen from this normally more detailed review source. Still, Bill Howard notes that the Bose Wave Music System offers improved sound quality over its predecessor. He gives it 4 stars out of 5, adding that it "makes a fine apartment or office music system." The issue of value isn't addressed.
Review: Bose Wave Music System, Bill Howard, April 20, 2005