Picture of the front view of the first generation version of the Bose Wave Music System.

Bose Radio CD Player Review

A Bose radio CD player combo, the initial version of this Bose Wave Music System, resembles a more traditional high fidelity stereo component system, in terms of performance, construction, feature set, and price.

Its performance, for its size, might leave even the most seasoned audiophile shocked.  The small speakers makes lots of firm but not muddy bass.

Bose has done an excellent job at packaging a pretty decent component-grade stereo setup into an all-in-one radio and CD player package.  This Bose radio CD player sounds as good as the better boom boxes.  Yet it occupies substantially less space than those.

While this all-in-one stereo radio CD player will not rattle your teeth and vibrate your chest (much), to the ears, it sounds like a discrete component system with much bigger speakers.

This original model is built within a substantial plastic case, and unlike separate hi-fi components, has no buttons on the unit proper that often wear out or break on more traditional stereos.  It features an integrated audio amplifier, stereo FM and AM tuner, a CD player, a clock that can be set to wake you to your favorite radio station or CD, and the much-smaller-than-they-sound speakers, via the folded waveguide technology inside.

This Bose radio CD player is a glorified clock radio, a CD boom box, and sensitive radio tuner, assembled into a single package, and all controlled by the included remote.  We just played with one of these during a vacation trip, and were so intrigued that we spent several days listening, poking, tapping, and just messing around with this cool system.

Picture of the front view of the first generation version of the Bose Wave Music System.
Front View of the Bose Wave Music System, First Generation

Bose Radio CD Player Features, Benefits, Pros

Plays multiple music sources.  Available built-in music sources include a front loading, single-disc-at-a-time CD player, and an AM and FM tuner radio.  Also has one Stereo 3.5 millimeter auxiliary line level input, for playing from an iPod, Zune, Echo Dot, or most any other line level audio program source.

Remembers settings during power failures.  Remembers programmed settings and alarm times for up to 48 hours during loss of power to the unit, such as what might occur during thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Compact, full-featured remote control that works well, even across large rooms.  Controllable functions via this remote include: Power ON OFF, Sleep, Mute, Input Selection, AM FM Band Choosing, Volume UP DOWN, Selection and Setting of Radio Station Presets, CD Player functions including Seek and Track Advance, Play / Pause, and Eject.  The remote also allows tuning of the radio, setting of the clock as well as the wake time alarm, as well as setting the station you’d like to wake up to.

Quiet operation.  Virtually silent clock electronic mechanism when the rest of the system is off.  No hum from either the speakers or any transformers inside was heard, even within inches of it.  Put this sound system as close to your bed as you like, and yet it won’t keep you awake.

AM / PM or military style time modes.  Selectable 12 or 24 hour time-of-day display modes.

Some data CDs supported.  Plays standard as well as MP3 CDs.

TRS AUX output.  There’s also a 3.5mm audio output jack that accommodates today’s headphones and earbuds. Or, the signals here can be fed to a larger amplifier and speakers, for an even greater, all-enveloping sound.

Exceptional bass response.  This Bose tabletop stereo system has surprisingly rich and fairly full high fidelity sound, given its notably small table radio like size.

Powerful onboard audio amplifier.  The integrated amplifier inside well drives the speakers to room filling volumes.  This thing cag play quite loudly; loud enough to completely engulf a ten foot by thirty foot room.  Punchy enough for small dance parties.

Practically no configuration required to play.  Setup is simple, Simple, SIMPLE, and is not required if you just want to tear open the box, plug in this stereo, and immediately start jamming. But when you’re ready to set the current time on the internal clock, set up wake alarms, or establish any radio presets you desire, you can do so via the easy-to-operate remote controller.

Twelve station memories.  Six AM and six FM radio presets provided, that allow you to immediately tune to a so-assigned station, just by pressing a single button.  Works like the presets in a car radio.

Coaxial external antenna port.  75 ohm antenna connection.  In the absence of an external antenna, the radio uses the power cord as an FM aerial.

Bose Link support.  Features a Bose Link port that allows this component to function as part of a multi component sound system.

Detachable AC cord.  Removable, and as such, replaceable power cord.

Auto brightness adjustment.  Automatic dimming and brightening of the big, easy-to-read electronic  display.

Multiple case colors offered.  Available in white and dark gray case colors.

Generous return policy.  If you buy one new, and decide that you do not like it within thirty days, you can return it for a full refund.

Picture of the back of the First Version of the Bose Wave Music System.
Rear View of the Bose Radio CD Player

Bose Radio CD Player Cons, Disadvantages, Limitations, and Problems

Pricey.  At $249 per copy on Amazon Marketplace as of this writing (the cheapest we found), and due to the lack of built-in controls and adjustments, we believe this stereo tuner, amp, and speaker all-in-one system to be overpriced.  Would feel much more eager about paying $149 for it.  But then again, $249 is likely not a terribly high price, as many have paid close to $500 for this Bose product.

Remote needed to fully access music system features.  The sound system itself has no operating controls.  The included remote is required to access all functions therefore. So, do not lose the remote!

Remote easy to misplace.  The remote occupies about the same surface area as a debit card, and is almost as thin as well.  As a result, it can easily slide between the couch cushions or behind the mattress.  Easy to lose due to its thin form factor.

No sound equalizer controls.  No bass, midrange, or treble adjustments provided either on the unit or on the remote.  The only way we could find to attenuate the bass, which can become muddy sounding and overwhelming at higher volume levels, is to turn on the Talk Radio play mode.  This reduces the low frequency output significantly, although it seems to have no effect on the tweeter range frequencies.

No iPod / iPhone dock. You cannot connect iPods without buying an iPod dock to 3.5mm TRS plug.  iPod charging therefore, is not supported on this device.

Somewhat limited audio input options.  There’s only one AUX input.  But with today’s plethora of audio-producing mobile and stationary devices such as media players, DVRs, portable CD machines and so on, at least three auxiliary inputs would benefit this product’s usability.

Small soundstage.  Due to the close proximity of the left and right speakers, the stereo separation and imaging  is only so effective.  Move just several feet away from the Wave Sound System, and you lose all perceptions of stereo sound.  Stereophonic completely melts down into monophonic at less than ten feet away.

No magnetic “phono” level inputs provided.  Can’t play a turntable through this unit without providing additional external amplification, that would boost the very low-level cartridge output signals up to AUX line level; a necessary step for this unit to play the vinyl program material.

Not manufactured these days.  No longer marketed by Bose, as of 2012.

Picture of the Remote Control of the Bose Wave Music System, Original Version.
Remote Control of the Bose Wave Music System, Original Version

Our Rating

This Bose radio CD player is revered for its great sound quality, and on the whole, we’d agree.  With its pushy bass, projecting midrange, and non harsh treble, the unit indeed qualifies as the highest performance clock radio we’ve tested so far, and a pretty good integrated stereo system in general, for an all-in-one unit. The worst objection we can muster, is the high price.  All things considered however, we’d be proud to own this piece of small but still serious audio equipment.  Our product rating therefore, is 93 out of 100.

Picture of the Underside Label on the Bose Wave Music System, First Version.
Underside Label on the Bose Wave Music System, First Version

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Revision History

  • 2017-01-15: Originally published.