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

Bose Wave Music System First Generation Review

Here, we offer our Bose Wave music system first generation review.  This, the first version of the Bose Wave system looks like a more traditional hi fi stereo outfit, in terms of performance, build, feature set, and price.

Its performance, for its size, might leave even the most seasoned audiophile breathless.  The small speakers makes lots of firm but by no means muddy bass.  While this all-in-one sound system will not rattle your teeth and shake your chest (much), to the ears, it sounds like a discrete component stereo with much bigger speakers.

This original model is built within a thick plastic case, and unlike separate hi-fi components, has no buttons on the unit proper that often wear out or break on vintage stereos.  It has an 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.

Bose has done a great job at packaging a pretty decent component-grade stereo setup into an all-in-one music sound system package.  It sounds as good as the better stereo boom boxes, yet takes up much less space than those.  This Bose Wave product is a glorified clock radio, a CD boom box, and sensitive radio tuner, put all together into a single package, and all controlled by the included remote.

We got to play with one of these during a vacation trip, and were so intrigued with it that we spent several days listening, poking, tapping, and just messing around with this cool system.  Find out what we found below.

Picture of the Bose Wave Radio, Front View.
Front View of the Wave Radio from Bose.

Bose Wave Music System First Generation Review – Features, Benefits, Pros, Advantages

Compact, Full-Featured Remote Control

The remote 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

Silent clock when the rest of the system is off. We heard no hum from either the speakers or from inside, 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.

Plays Several 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 aux  line level input, for playing from an iPod, Zune, Echo Dot, or most any other line level audio program source.

The First Gen Bose Wave Music System Supports Some Data CD Formats

Plays standard as well as MP3 CDs.

TRS AUX Output

There’s also a 3.5mm audio output jack that accepts today’s headphones and earbuds. Or, the signals here can be fed to a larger amplifier and speakers, for an even bigger 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 the Bose Wave Music System First Generation Player

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.

The Bose Wave Music System First Generation Features a Detachable AC Cord

Removable, and as such, replaceable power cord.

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

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 First Version of the Bose Wave Music System

Bose Wave Music System First Generation Review – Concerns, Disadvantages, Cons, and Problems


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 for Full Access to 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.

The Bose Wave Music System First Generation Has 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.

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 Sound Stage

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

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 Built 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 for the Bose First Generation Wave Music System

This, the  first generation of the Bose Wave Music System, 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 certainly qualifies as perhaps the highest performance clock radio we’ve tested so far, and a pretty good integrated stereo system in general. The most serious objection we can muster, is the high price.  All things considered however, we’d be proud to own this piece of 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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References for this Bose Wave Music System First Generation Review

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

Revision History of this Bose Wave Music System First Generation Review

  • 2019-02-16: Adjusted the formatting and added key phrase optimization.
  • 2016-12-26: Added more content and tags.
  • 2015-11-13: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2014-10-29: First published.