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

Bose Radio CD Player Review, Pros, Cons

This is a Bose radio CD player combo. This first version of this Bose Wave music system, acts like a more traditional high fidelity stereo component system.  Very similar in terms of performance, build, feature set, and price.

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

Bose did a great job at packaging this pretty decent stereo system 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 takes much less space than those.

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

This first model they built in a thick plastic case. And unlike separate hi-fi components, this radio has no buttons on the unit proper to wear out.  It has the following key features:

  • An integrated audio amplifier.
  • Stereo FM and AM tuner.
  • A CD player.
  • A clock that you can set to wake you to your favorite radio station or CD.
  • The much-smaller-than-they-sound speakers, via the folded wave guide 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.  You can control all of these by the included remote.  We played with one of these during a vacation trip, and were so intrigued.  In fact, 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. Bose radio CD player.
Front view of the Bose Wave music system, first generation. Bose radio CD player.

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.
  • An AM and FM tuner radio.

This music system also has one Stereo 3.5 millimeter auxiliary line level input. This supports playing from an iPod, Zune, Echo Dot, or most any other line level audio program source.

Remembers Settings Through Power Failures

Remembers programmed settings and alarm times for up to 48 hours during loss of power. Such outages might occur in severe weather.

Small, Full Featured Remote Control

This remote works well, even across large rooms.  Functions in this remote include…

  • Power ON OFF.
  • Sleep.
  • Mute.
  • Input selection.
  • AM FM band choosing.
  • Radio station tuning.
  • Volume UP DOWN.
  • Selection and setting of radio station presets.
  • Clock and alarm setting.
  • Wake up station choice.

CD Player functions include…

  • Seek and track advance.
  • Play / Pause.
  • Eject.

This Bose Radio CD Player Features Quiet Operation

Virtually silent clock when the rest of the system is off.  WE heard no hum from either the speakers or any transformers inside, even when just inches away.  Put this sound system as close to your bed as you like, and yet it won’t keep you awake.

AM / PM or Military Time Display Modes

Selectable 12 or 24 hour time-of-day display modes.

Some Data CDs Supported

Plays standard as well as MP3 CDs.

Tip Ring Sleeve (TRS) AUX Output

There’s also a 3.5mm audio output jack that accepts today’s stereo headphones and earbuds. Or, you can feed the signals here to larger amplifiers and speakers, for an even bigger sound.

Exceptional Bass

This Bose tabletop stereo system has lots of rich and fairly full high fidelity sound, given its notably small table radio like size.

Powerful On-Board Amp in the Bose Radio CD Player

The integrated amplifier well drives the speakers to room filling volumes.  This thing plays quite loudly. It’s loud enough to completely engulf a ten foot by thirty foot room.  Punchy enough in fact, for small dance parties.

Needs Almost No Set Up to Play

Setup is simple, Simple, SIMPLE, and is not needed if you just want to tear open the box, plug in this stereo, and start jamming right away. But when you’re ready to set the current time on the built in clock, set up wake alarms, or create radio presets, you do so via the easy-to-work remote.

Twelve Radio Station Memories

Six AM and six FM radio presets. These allow you to tune to a so-assigned station without searching for it, with a single button press.  Works like the presets in a car radio.

75 Ohm Antenna Input Port

75 ohm coaxial antenna connection.  But without an external antenna, the radio uses the power cord as an FM aerial.

Bose Link Support

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

Detachable AC Cord

Removable, and as such, replaceable power cord.

Auto Brightness 

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

Multiple Case Colors 

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 First Version of the Bose Wave Music System

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


This unit is $249 per copy on Amazon Marketplace as of this writing (the cheapest we found). Plus, due to the lack of built-in controls and adjustments, we believe this all-in-one system is overpriced.  Would feel 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.

You Need the Remote to Access All Features

The sound system itself has no controls on its console.  Instead, you must use the included remote to access these functions. So, do not lose the remote!

The Bose Radio CD Player Remote is Easy to Lose

The remote is about the same size as a debit card. It is almost as thin as well.  So, it can easily slide between couch cushions or behind mattresses.  Easy to lose due to its thin form factor thus.

No Sound Equalizer

No bass, mid range, or treble controls either on the unit or remote.  The only way we found to lower the bass, is to turn on the Talk Radio play mode.  This reduces the low frequency output a lot. But it seems to not affect the tweeter range frequencies.

No iPod / iPhone Dock

You cannot connect iPods without buying an iPod dock to 3.5mm TRS plug.  iPod charging thus, is not supported.

Limited Audio Input Options

There’s only one AUX input.  But with today’s plethora of audio-producing devices, at least three AUX inputs would be nice.

Small Stereo Sound Stage on this Bose Radio CD Player

Due to the close spacing of the left and right speakers, the stereo separation and imaging works only so well.  Move just a few feet away. and you lose all perceptions of stereo sound.  The stereo sound melts down into mono at less than ten feet away.

No Magnetic (Phono) Level Inputs

Can’t play a turntable through this unit without providing external amplification, that would boost the very low-level cartridge output signals up to AUX line level.

This Bose Radio CD Player is No Longer Made

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 for this Bose Radio CD Player

This Bose radio CD player is revered for its great sound quality. On the whole, we agree.  With its pushy bass, projecting mid range, and non harsh treble, the unit indeed qualifies as the highest performance clock radio we’ve tested so far. It’s a pretty good integrated stereo system for an all-in-one unit. Our worst gripe about it, is the high price.  All things taken into account though, we’d love owning this piece of small but serious audio equipment.  Our product rating thus, 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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References for this Bose Radio CD Player Review

  1. Bose Wave Music System   on Wikipedia
  2. Owners Guide
  3. Where to Buy the Bose Wave Music System, First Version 

Revision History

  • 2019-04-22: Added key word targeting, more subheadings, and more tags.  Shortened post URL as well, and fixed broken media links. Shortened sentences.
  • 2017-01-15: Originally published.
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