If you purchase the Bose Lifestyle 48 home entertainment system, all you need add is a display. For the Lifestyle 48 includes a disc player, radio, hard disk music server, remote control, five satellite speakers, subwoofer and even all the cabling.
The brains of the outfit is the Media Centre. This has all the processing technology, the radio tuner and so on, while the bulkier power amplifiers are offloaded to the Acoustimass subwoofer. It handles the usual range of discs (including MP3 on CD-R), but what distinguishes it from most such systems is the inbuilt hard disk drive.
Bose refuses to say how big it is, or what format is uses to compress the music, but will concede that its capacity is some 340 hours. Loading CDs is simple: place the CD in the tray and press ?Store?. The great majority of CDs and their tracks are automatically given text titles (including artist and genre) from the built in Grace CDDB. Bose sends you update discs for this periodically so it doesn?t date. You can change the titles yourself if you prefer.
Audio is handled by Bose?s own famous Jewel Cube satellites and an Acoustimass subwoofer (which Bose calls a ?Module?). The Jewel Cubes consist of two tiny speakers able to be swivelled independently so as to provide a wide area of optimal sound quality. The Acoustimass module mounts a pair of 150 mm drivers in a quite large tuned enclosure.
Setup is automatic using the company?s ADAPTiQ system. Don the supplied headset and follow the instructions from the supplied DVDs. This also adjusts EQ (a part of any Bose system).
The video output is available in composite, S-Video or, via the supplied adaptor cable, component video. This can be set to either standard or progressive scan output. You can also use the system as a server to other current Bose components, such as the Wave Radio, using the Bose Link connector, and there is a wireless option available. System control is via an RF remote control.
Is this system worth $8000? For this price you can get better, louder sound by carefully selecting an individual DVD player, home theatre receiver and surround speakers. But you won?t get this compactness, integration, or the sense of space in the surround environment that Bose Jewel Cube satellites deliver.
And when it comes to comparing the Bose Lifestyle 48 to any other integrated system, well, you can?t really. This is because none offer similar levels of integration with anything like the same feature set.
What the Lifestyle 48 delivers is reliable, high-quality performance. Not the very best possible, but still an attractive, encompassing sound that seems to make the listening room feel larger than it is, while widening the optimum listening area. The Acoustimass module is perfectly matched to the satellites in terms of audio balance and output levels, delivering a smooth bass that is quite loud enough, although it doesn?t extend into the extreme depths.
And the music server works like a dream, and provides audio quality quite indistinguishable from the CDs from which the music is extracted.
Reviewer: Thomas Bartlett