In the pantheon of Bose audio/visual, it’s perhaps the iconic AM/FM CD clock radio, otherwise known as the Wave Music System, which is best known. Visually not much has changed in over a decade, it still appears fresh and modern with its gently curved fascia, dominated by a large and friendly LED readout. Functions are about as comprehensive as you’d want for something designed to sit next to your bed. It features an AM/FM tuner with six presets on each band, clock and alarm which will wake you to your choice of CD or radio, and a slot-loading CD player, now capable of reading MP3 files ripped to either CD-R or CD-RW discs. In the rear is a stereo auxiliary input, through which you can directly connect an iPod. There is an output for a pair of headphones, an input for the included FM antenna and a Bose link, which can be used to hook the system into one of the company’s own Lifestyle systems. The package is completed by a nifty credit-card sized remote with membrane-style buttons.
Sound is solid and punchy, not least because of the waveguide system used behind the speakers. When the speaker cone fires, sound waves are directed backwards through an intricate maze of channels inside the unit. In much the same way sound that is amplified in a French horn through a coil of ever-increasing tubes, so too does the sound of the Wave Music System increase, as it works its way through the waveguide system. Bose doesn’t publish how many watts the amplifier in the system produces, but it hardly matters. The waveguide takes the speakers’ modest output and builds it into a sound capable of filling a room with music. Playing a Jay-Z album, lyrics were defined and clear with bass that was tight and tuneful. Whether it becomes the primary music system in your dwelling is going to depend on just how much space you plan to fill with sound. For an apartment, the Bose Wave may suit perfectly, but you’d be better off stepping up to a full-size system for a house.
You can of course use it in any room of your house, but with its alarm function, the bedroom is an obvious choice. That’s where I’ve had it during the review period and it hasn’t let me down once, gently raising me each morning to whatever CD I went to sleep listening to the previous evening. A useful inclusion is a sleep function that turns the music off once you’ve nodded off. The problem I found came in the morning when I inevitably wanted to hit the snooze button, to delay the start of the day for five more minutes. The only way to do so is to find, then press, the correct button on the remote. This isn’t straight-forward in broad daylight and I found it nearly impossible first thing in the morning.