Skip to main content

Bose Wave SoundLink Music System Review

Bose Wave SoundLink Music System
MSRP $599.00
“You should be able to find plenty of competitors offering similar solutions at a fraction of the cost.”
Pros
  • Good sound quality, flexible design
Cons
  • Insane price, USB sticks out, only provides volume control for PC sources
bose-wavelink-counter

Introduction

Love or hate Bose, the manufacturer has built quite a little empire around its Wave Music System. Maybe it’s the convenience of good sound in a small package. Maybe it’s the little kiosks at the airport. Whatever it is, many manufacturers have tried to copy the company’s flagship tabletop without much success. (Good luck—it’s shrouded in more mystery than McDonald’s special sauce.) But while others are preoccupied working on the method, Bose is busy taking the tabletop beyond its radio days. The Wave SoundLink combines the company’s greatest hits (radio and CD playback in the infamous Wave chassis) with wireless audio streaming from any computer, much to the device’s benefit.


Features and Design

The SoundLink comes in a big package, but has very few pieces. This makes setup a snap. Inside the box, there is the Wave unit, the SoundLink adapter, a USB key for your computer, a remote control, and the Wave’s power cord. The manual and other miscellaneous papers are packaged in a nice big envelope, which has the quick start guide right on the back. The SoundLink also has its own chunky manual, because existing Wave users can purchase an upgrade kit separately ($149.95). Also, the company was also nice enough to include a test disc, with six demo tracks.

Weighing in at about 8lbs, the Wave is a bit of a beast. It’s obvious that Bose doesn’t want to mess with its flagship product, so it builds them to last: You’d need some heavy hardware to crack this chassis. The back panel, however, is not so tough to comprehend. There’s the power jack, a slot for an FM antenna (not included), headphone and auxiliary inputs, and a spot that says BoseLink.

The SoundLink adapter has a cord permanently affixed. To get started with it, simply plug the cord into BoseLink jack and the Wave into an electrical outlet. Afterwards, plug the USB key into your computer and fire up your music program of`choice. Then press the AUX key on the remote and you’re in business. It’s that easy to get up and running.


Performance

All of our content from iTunes streamed extremely well, with no drops or other issues. We streamed everything from Herbie Hancock to Hank Williams in terms of music selections as well as several videos we had downloaded from the service. We checked out movie trailers on IMBD.com as well as our punk rock channel from Pandora. Whether or not you’d need it, it’s very nice that the system can stream any and all audio – there are no file or format issues to deal with.

Even better still, the system sounds good when used to play back a variety of genres, and at a selection of sound levels. This is appreciated because you can actually sit in front of the unit and enjoy music at both an everyday listening volume and one that might make your hair move as desired. If you decide to go into the kitchen, the bedroom or out to the backyard, you can crank up the Wave and still enjoy music without getting any kind of feedback from the unit as well.

To test out overall volume levels and clarity, we popped in the demo CD. Each of the tracks included are designed to show you what the unit can do, as well as completely freak out any pets you may have. The disc jacket says that the material is best enjoyed at volume level 80 to 85, a setting at which the music proved quite enjoyable. Granted, the rooster and horse noises featured on the disc came across as a little loud, but were also impressive. Overall, we received excellent sound quality, which is par for a Bose product. Worth noting: Some of the videos’ volume settings needed to be turned up a few notches for better results. However, across the board, music seemed consistent and clear.


Conclusion

As a manufacturer, Bose has its lovers and haters. Small wonder: We like what the Wave SoundLink does, but its $599 price tag is a kick in the teeth. There’s no denying that the Wave SoundLink would be a fun addition to any office, bedroom, kitchen or other area that could need a little musical lift. However, unless you’ve got serious loyalty to the brand, let’s be realistic: You should be able to find plenty of competitors offering similar solutions at a fraction of the cost.


Highs:

• Sturdy, surprise-free design

• Very good sound quality

• Can be added to any existing Wave system


Lows:

• Insane $599 price tag

• USB sticks out like sore thumb

• Only provides volume control for computer sources

Editors' Recommendations

Rachel Cericola
Former Digital Trends Contributor
LG updates its XBoom 360 speaker with better sound, battery, and water resistance
LG XBoom 360 X03 speaker.

We were pretty impressed by LG's XBoom 360 portable party speaker when we put one to the test earlier in 2022, but despite the good tunes and fun lighting, we noticed a few places where it could improve. Battery life, at just 10 hours seemed meager, and what's a portable Bluetooth speaker without the ability to take a splash or two?

Looks like LG took our comments to heart. The latest addition to the XBoom family is the $300 XBoom 360 X03, a much more robust speaker in every way, that still keeps the original's unique shape, 360 sound, and customizable light effects. LG says it's available to order immediately from LG's website and authorized retailers, but at publication time, we couldn't find any links to do so.

Read more
Edifier MP230 Hands-on Review: The pint-sized, retro Bluetooth speaker brings a vintage vibe
An Edifier MP230 Bluetooth speaker is sitting on a mantle next to a plant and some decorative letters.

If you look too quickly, you might think the Edifier MP230 Bluetooth Speaker is actually a bedside radio from the ‘60s. While visually, that’s by design on Edifier’s part, the performance of this handsome little Bluetooth speaker is more than its surface-level aesthetics.

In general, Edifier has carved out a nice little space for itself in the market -- developing high-design speakers that punch reasonably well above their price point in terms of audio performance. While the brand is known for unique designs going as far back as 2014’s e25 Luna speakers that look like something out of a Jetsons episode, the MP230 is taking a page out of the old and trying to do something reasonably new.

Read more
Astell & Kern’s first BT speaker offers hi-fi sound for $499
Astell & Kern Acro BE100 speaker.

Want a decent Bluetooth speaker for portability or beach parties? There's no end of choices at a wide range f prices -- Amazon literally has hundreds to choose from. But if what you want is a high-end speaker that also offers the convenience of Bluetooth, we're now down to a much smaller group of products. As of February 25, you'll have one more to consider. That's when Astell & Kern (A&K) starts taking pre-orders on its first-ever Bluetooth speaker, the $499 Acro BE100 -- a sharp-looking device that comes in both black and white to fit in with most decors. It starts shipping on March 7.

Now $499 is a pretty hefty price to pay for a Bluetooth speaker, especially when you consider the Acro BE100 isn't fully portable (there's no battery), it doesn't double as a Google- or Amazon-powered smart speaker, and it can't connect to Wi-Fi or even connect to other Acro BE100s for stereo or multiroom sound. That means the BE100 will have to offer something pretty special to draw potential buyers away from more capable options like the $549 Sonos Five or the $349 Bose Home Speaker 500.

Read more