Is the BOSE or the Boston Aqustics Radios Worth the Money?

dogitniceJune 13, 2005

Is it worth spending $500 for a radio that I listen to most of the day? Are these radios a good value or am I toooo impressed by the hype?

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DH was skeptical, until I bought him one for Christmas.

We now have three...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 4:05PM
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I'm speaking only for the Bose Wave Music System. I happen to be an engineer for Bose and worked on the next generation "radio" that's currently being sold. I might be biased (slightly), but this model is a quantum step beyond the last model sold, the one with the top loading CD. Both speakers are now full range and both feed bass to the waveguide which now fires to the rear instead of the front. The audio from this little box never ceases to amaze me and I have no doubt it will amaze you too. Is it worth five hundred bucks? Let me say this to you. These days when everyone is complaining about "foreign" goods and how nothing is made anymore in the US, I can assure you that this radio was designed entirely in the US by Americans, and assembled in Columbia, South Carolina by Americans. My American colleagues designed the circuit boards that are inside the radio and years (seriously) were spent on this project. This is a home-grown product as most of Bose products are. US labor isn't cheap, so a portion of the price tag is admittedly going to fund my weekly paycheck. I'd suggest you try it. If you don't like it, or get a case of buyers remorse afterwards, you always return it for a full refund. But I'm guessing that after you hear it, you're going to hang onto it. -T-

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 8:01AM
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Hey TwoSeven,

Since you work for Bose, I want to ask you...I'm thinking of buying the Ipod SoundDock product. Do you have any opinions on that? How does it sound? Could I use that as a stereo, to fill a room with music for a party, let's say?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 12:13PM
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The Sound Dock is one of the most popular iPod accessories out at the moment. I understand that that Bose had been selling them as fast as they could make them and have finally caught up to the demand. It sounds wonderful for a small product. Does it produce enough "volume" for a party? Wow, that's a relative question. 8 people or 80, how loud do you like it, you know? I've been to house parties where a Wave radio has been pumping out tunes and it's been perfectly adequate. I'd say a Sound Dock in a living room type party would be fine for my taste, but maybe not for yours. Do you have a Bose store near you? Maybe you could try it out first.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 2:28PM
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Hi TwoSeven,

I live near the Bose headquarters, so maybe there is a Bose store nearby, where I can hear it. By party volume, I didn't necessarily mean ear-splitting nightclub volume, but equivalent to a decent stereo system. Right now, we have the iPod hooked into an old boombox, through a cassette adapter, and it sounds ok, but not great. I am a big fan of Bose products, so I'll have to check it out.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 4:16PM
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If you're near Framingham, there's one in the Jordan's Furniture complex, and one in the Wrentham Outlets.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 9:09PM
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TwoSevenRight, thanks for the informative post. I have an "old" Bose Wave Radio that I got as a gift in 1998. It is the type that does not have the CD in it. Seven years later I still listen to and use it every day. I don't doubt that the new one is better, but this one is still very good. It gets excellent reception on both AM and FM, and has very good sound that will fill a room the way few other portable radios can.

Mwkbear, I just use a patch cord to hook my iPod to my Wave Radio. (All you need is a cord that goes from 1/8" mini phone plug to two RCA plugs.) It sounds great.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 1:27PM
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I have owned a Bose Acoustic Wave System for about 8 years. Like all Bose products I have owned or listened to, the sound quality is mediocre, at best. What Bose is really masterful at is their marketing. That I paid more than $1,000 for what amounts to a CD player and a couple of high-distortion speakers was, in retrospect, kind of silly on my part...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 11:08AM
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Sales of 1 billion dollars says your wrong, rumson. And before you push the "masterful marketing" angle, it's no different than what any other company can do. Folks who purchase our products have a bullet proof warranty and have a no question return option. I have to laugh at statements such as yours. The R&D division of our place is nerd central, packed with PhD's, and general brains. I personally hold a MS in physics from Cornell, and I feel insignificant next to these guys. Any one of them have forgotten more than you'll ever know about audio reproduction and acoustics. Besides the home, we're in Cadillac and most GM's, Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes, Bugatti, Audi, Acura, Nissan, Hummer, Alfa Romeo, Infinity, Maserati, Lancia, Mazda, shall I go on? But of course, none of these people know what you do. Would that be a correct assumption on my part?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 12:27PM
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You don't have to get nasty; I'm an owner of the product and expressing what I hear. And as an employee of Bose, don't you think your opinions might just be a little less objective than my own? I'm a Cornell alum as well (MS 1983, PHD 1985 in EE), so your assertion that I have no basis for my opinion rings pretty hollow. No legitimate fan of high quality audio equipment thinks Bose is worth a damn, at any price.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 12:58PM
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Wow, what a coincidence; 1983? You and I probably attended the same classes. You weren't that a-hole in Professor Wolga's EE class were you?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 5:25PM
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Judge for yourself everyone:

McDonalds and Bose: two sides of the same marketing coin. Do you want your purchase dollars spent on high quality, great products or mega-million adverstisements that suck the investment out of product itself. McDonalds burgers and Bose speakers: same damn business model.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 8:06PM
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TwoSevenRight, have the Wave Radios always been made in South Carolina? I was unable to find any markings on mine to indicate where it was made.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 3:41AM
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I would submit that the Bose Acoustic wave system is an original product that does not seem to have many direct competitors; especially built in The USA. Are the drivers built in the USA? The quality of the drivers, has often been sited as suspect.
While not the USA, we have a number of Excellent speaker makers in Canada, including Paradigm, Energy and Axiom. In some cases these are assembled overseas.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 3:06PM
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I have to laugh, I really do....

If you work for Bose, you're obviously going to be full of praise for the products. As well as have absolutely no respect for the opinions of those who think the products are not, shall we say, of the highest quality.

Funny thing about Bose. Most A/V Professionals won't use the line. Wonder why?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 7:04PM
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Sales of 1 billion dollars says nothing more than a lot of advertising has been done, says nothing to me about quality. Bose has sold these things through several magazines that I read, Paul Harvey delivers their advertisements to the masses, they apparently do have a very admirable marketing program. I wish that the company that I worked for was as good at marketing as Bose. I also would expect someone who works for Bose to have nothing but good stuff to say about them, that's the old bread-and-butter kind of thing, you know.

I'd like to hear more from people that have owned a variety of audio equipment, including these Bose radios, not from the people who designed them. It may be that the kind of information that I'd like to see isn't available because knowledgable people don't buy them? Or not...I'd like nothing more than to hear from knowledgable consumers on this.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 9:33PM
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What happened to the original poster's question... "or the Boston Acoustics radio..."?

Well what about the quality of the Boston radio or Boston speakers in general?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 8:12PM
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I have the Boston Acoustics radio. It's a clock radio like the Bose Wave Radio and it works well. It sounds excellent, but it's mono whereas the Bose is stereo. For the money (about $150) it's a good buy. It also offers excellent reception on both AM and FM, right up with the best you can get on any radio. The Wave Radio has many of the same virtues, but it's considerably more expensive.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with someone who works for a company praising its products as long as they state their connection with the company. They can provide some insights into the company and products that no one else can provide. I have no idea how many AV professionals use Bose equipment, but I see it in a lot of cars, commercial locations (restaurants, etc.), so some must like it. AV professionals no doubt have their own set of preferences and biases just like everyone else.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 11:04PM
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Rogerv, as I said above, I've owned a Bose Wave Radio (since 1998) and have been extremely pleased with it, having received thousands of hours of entertainment from it. My dad has an Acoustic Wave music system and he's been happy with it, too, but I will have to say that I do not think it sounds all that much better than the Wave Radio, which was about 1/3 the price. Both of these products are several years old, though, so these comments may not apply to the versions of them that are currently on the market.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 11:16PM
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twosevernright: I'm trying to get in touch with you; I have an elderly friend that loves her Bose Wave Radio with CD (the type that opens on top) but the cd player plays for a while and then just quits. She says it started doing it when she was searching around back and forth on a cd one day. Now, it plays cd's for a few minutes and just stops. I called Bose and waited 30 minutes to talk to a tech and they told me to reset the machine. I did. They then said send them $150 and the radio. Do you have any suggestions outside of these official responses? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 10:26AM
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There is a new Boston Acoustics radio with a CD player.

Here is a link that might be useful: MicroSystem CD

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 8:25PM
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Not claiming to be a sound expert, however felt I had to comment on this topic. We have 2 of the previous wave radios (cd) which we're very happy with. We additionally have a lifestyle 50 system with both indoor and outdoor Bose speakers that sound great! We are so happy with the wave radios that we recently purchased one of the new wave cd players for a parental unit, they are equally as satisfied.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 8:28PM
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I am not an EE, nor do I have a PhD. I am just an ordinary person, with a decent ear, but certainly not an expert. Sorry, TwoSevenRight, I do not think the Bose Wave radio is very good. I would be OK with it if it were priced the way it sounds, i.e., like a decent clock radio, say $75-100. But the pricing is way off the mark. If I--someone who is not trained, not a musician--can hear the shortcomings of the Bose, I am certain that those with better ears, and more sensitivity, will be very disappointed in this radio at this price.

One other thing I do not like about the Bose, but am not sure whether this is a concern for Dogitnice, is the size of its footprint. When one needs a tabletop radio, typically there is not a lot of room. But the Bose will take up almost an entire nightstand, or a lot of deskspace or counterspace.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:31PM
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Dogitnice, have your heard of the Tivoli Model One Radio? No bells and whistles, just clean and streamlined. No gadgetry to break. Mono sound, but it's big pure sound. 100 bucks at ABTelectronics (free shipping). The radio offers 4 or 5 different finishes to choose from, including classy wood veneers, so it looks really good. Also, a small footprint which can be important as Shannonplus2 pointed out. I've linked to an page so you can see some reviews, but if you surf the web for other reviews of the Tivoli Model One radio, you'll see them overwhelmingly positive.

Tivoli offers other types of radios (e.g. with a CD player, or a clock), including a way-cool satellite receptor radio. But the Model One is their simplest. I have it, and think it's great.

Here is a link that might be useful: for Tivoli Model One Radio

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 1:51PM
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We have a Bose Wave Radio that we bought about 10 years ago. Good radio, not great. I'm glad to hear it is still made in America. That makes it worth the price to me.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2005 at 11:47AM
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Sophie Wheeler

No audiophile will touch one. That's why you can't get an opinion on them from anyone who's "serious".

"No highs, no lows. Must be Bose."

    Bookmark   August 5, 2005 at 5:22PM
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As a former Bose employee, I believe I have a unique insight into some of this debate. As far as marketing, yes, Bose invests a lot of money into marketing and brand image. Entering their stores will allow you to see for yourself how carefully they present themselves. You can even see a 10 minute show which talks all about sound and Bose (its worth it, even if you do go into it knowing its a propaganda piece). However, because Bose is privately operated it is not just there for the stockholders to make money... They invest all of their leftover money right back into research and development which is why (although some might disagree with the quality) they've always been able to innovate. As far as audio professionals not using Bose, its completely true. For the most part, they hate Bose... mostly because they do things so differently. I would say that most audiophiles love the ability to mix and match their equipment, to play with settings, and frequently upgrade their systems. Bose doesn't allow you to do that, which is part of the reason audiophiles hate them. They're designed for people who don't want stacks of components and don't want to mess with settings. Bose owners want to be able to sit down and enjoy a good sounding movie by pressing and doing as little as possible. Additionally, all Bose products attempt to play a very specific frequency response which Dr. Bose himself believes provides the best sound experience. Some people prefer this equilization, some people don't. In my experiences with many Bose customers and products, I'd have to say classical and jazz music listeners probably prefer this equalization more than most because it focuses on precision on the higher end of the listening spectrum. On the other hand, their professional products are a great deal better than their home products. Many restaraunts and venues including churches and stadiums and amusement parks utilize their speakers. Really, it comes down to a personal preference. If you have the money to spend, I feel the Bose or Boston Acoustic machines are decent sounding machines that will be able to outpreform anything else of their size. However, if $500 is just above what you're willing to spend and you're wondering whether its worth it to expand your budget for it, I would say you probably wouldn't be able to qualify the $500 radio being twice as good as a $250 radio.

Also, I've heard "No highs, no lows, must be Bose." and "All highs, all lows, must be Bose." If you're going to make fun of a product, make up your damn minds people. On an objective level, I'd have to say the latter is more accurate.

Let me just leave you by saying buy what you like. Don't let others tell you what sounds good and what doesn't. Sure, its what the people in the Bose stores would say, but its probably more true than listening to some high end audiophile tell you that all Bose is crap, because its not true.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 11:33PM
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You should consider the Cambridge Soundworks radio.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soundworks Radio

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 12:09AM
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I was at a car show recently, and I noted that the Mercedes 500 has Bose speakers in it. The stereo was on, and it sounded excellent. Surely the engineers designing sound systems for an $80,000 car, and selling that car to some of the most discerning consumers in the world, would be able to tell the difference between a good speaker and an inferior one. Or maybe Mercedes has, along with all other Bose customers, been sucked in by the massive Bose marketing effort. I doubt it, though.

You don't sell products which remain unchanged for 20 years, as many Bose products have, if they're junk. You can fool people for a while, but if a product is no good, eventually people quit buying it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 8:16AM
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I'm sort of a small table radio collector. Or perhaps more accurately an "acquirer" because though I don't have an organized collection, I've owned many radios over the years.

I had an original Bose Wave radio for about five years. I listened to it every single day. My impressions: it's a very good radioÂvery good sound for such a small footprint. In my opinion sound quality on my particular specimen was very good, mainly because of its exceptionally wide stereo image and good bass response. FM reception was average.

But there are several other much less expensive radios offering much better value and sound.

Probably the best kept secret in a small table radio is the Sangean WR-1. J&R sells it for $80. This radio is OUTSTANDING if your priorities are small size and excellent sound quality. It's strictly analog--monophonic--no clock--no bells and whistles. It's admittedly a bit bass heavy. Its very small size and high quality put it at the very top of my best *value* list. ItÂs my favorite and an absolutely fantastic value for $80 (check J&R).

But, easily, the best sounding, but large, table radio I've ever heard is the Cambridge Soundworks 88CD, which is probably no longer available. I remember paying about $150 for it a couple of years ago. But it's worth much more. Also a bit heavy on the bass, this larger radio could definitely replace an entire stereo system.

I know this won't go over well with the Bose people, but both of the above radios sound better than my Bose Wave. At least to my ears. And I did an actual side by side comparison.

But dollar for dollar, and for its size, if you're into good sound performance and don't need the "extras," in my opinion the Sangean WR-1 has no equal.

And, no I donÂt work for Sangean or any other electronics or advertising concern.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 12:36PM
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No, I would agree with you that dollar for dollar, you do pay a lot for a Bose product. But I just can't agree with those who say they're junk, because I currently own a Bose Wave Radio and I'm quite happy with it.

I've tried a few of the mono table radios such as the Tivoli Model One (good radio and good sound but practically no AM reception), and the Boston Acoustics clock radio (good AM and FM reception, good sound) but I do think that the Bose provides fuller sound than those models when you're sitting 8 or 10 feet away from it. In the instructions for the Wave Radio, they tell you to place it on a table a foot or so from the wall, and this does help the sound considerably because you get the sound that comes out the back of the unit reverberating off of the wall, and it fills the room more this way. But sound tastes vary, and I can understand why not every person likes the Wave Radio or any specific product.

However, I want to ask you, does the WR-1 get good AM reception? If so I may buy one.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 11:21PM
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Yes, the WR-1 is very good on AM. The radio is quite "retro"---it looks very different from other modern radios. Personally, I like its appearance just as much as its sound quality. Some people are put off by this radio's strong emphasis on bass but I love it.

If you're looking for the best AM reception for not much money, consider a GE Superadio III. Actually, the original Superadio is better still, but very hard to find. The Superadios won't win any awards for build quality or looks, but are famous for DX
(long distance) AM reception.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 12:10AM
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Thanks for the information. I've had a couple of Superadios in the past; one quit working, and another I gave to an elderly relative who was looking for a radio that had good sound quality on talk shows. I should probably just get another one. You're right that they have excellent AM reception. However, I do have a Grundig S350, and from what I can remember of how the Superadio performs, it's quite similar to the Grundig. I am interested in the Sangean because it looks nicer and would probably sound better than the portables.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 1:50AM
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I also have a Grundig S350, and even though it has some irritating quirks, on the whole I very much prefer it to the Superadio (I have two). I think the S350 is just as sensitive and selective on AM, and much handier than the GE. What I dislike about the S350 is the AM and SW frequency drift until it warms up, and the relatively weak volume. It sounds good, but you've got to turn it up. But it's a nice size radio, and once it warms up is a very good SW performer.

I think you'll like the Sangean WR-1. If you do get it, give it at least ten hours to break in and keep it away from the wall and any corners. Otherwise, the bass will be too heavy. It's a lot smaller than you might expect, by the way. One of its best qualities, in my opinion. But it sounds better than the Bose Wave, although bear in mind that the WR-1 is monophonic. No stereo. But it sounds great.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 8:36PM
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Thanks for the information. Based on your recommendation, I bought a Sangean WR-1 today. You're right, it's a very impressive radio. I've only used it for about 30 minutes so far, but I can already tell it gets better AM and FM reception than the other two wooden table radios I've tried (Tivoli and Boston Acoustics). I'm especially impressed with the FM reception it gets just with the line cord antenna. AM reception appears about even with the S350, which is to say, excellent.

I'm not sure whether it sounds better than the Wave Radio or not. It sounds very good, and so does the Bose. The two have a completely different character to their sound, with the Sangean being much heavier on bass. I can definitely see where some listeners would prefer the sound of the Sangean to the Bose, but I might give the Bose a slight edge due to it being stereo, and you do get a really impressive stereo effect on it when you sit about 10 feet away and it's near a wall.

However, the FM reception of the Sangean is better. This isn't too surprising given the fact that it's mono. The Bose needs a mono/stereo switch so you can shut off the stereo when you're listening to a weaker station. I'd much rather have a clean mono signal than a stereo signal that has has hiss in it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 10:07PM
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I'm glad you like the WR-4. It's a great bargain. I agree the lack of stereo will put many people off. If I had only one radio, the lack of stereo would be an issue I suppose. But the Sangean is an audio marvel for its size.

I'm not clear on whether or not you still own the Bose Wave. If so, I suggest you do an A-B comparison (as I did last year), side by side. You may be surprised at what you hear. But give the WR-4 a few hours to break in first.

It's good that there are still some discriminating listeners out there. I hope you like your new radio.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 12:11AM
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Thanks -- I do like it very much.

I do still have the Bose and my comments above were from a comparison of the sound from the two of them. But I'll try it again after I've had the Sangean for a while and it's got a few hours on it.

Regardless of what that comparison shows, there is no doubt that the WR-1 is both an excellent radio and an excellent value for the money. As you have already pointed out, the bass on the Sangean is very strong, so any listener who likes a very "full" sound in a radio should definitely check it out. It's somewhat reminiscent of the old tube-type radios of 50 or more years ago, although I have a few of those around, too, and the Sangean sounds a lot better than they do.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Well thank you all so very much! Everything that I have considered has been mentioned here with the exception of the Tivoli Model 2. I use the radio primarily for listening to NPR, which broadcasts in AM; and classical music on FM. NYC high-rise reception is almost non existent. I am going to check out the Sangean. You have convinced me that the Bose and the new Boston Acoustics are not worth the price. Does the Sangean have a remote?
These are I beleive are the remaining choices; WHAT TO DO?
*Tivoli Model 2 stereo $199
*Sangean WR 1
*Cambridge SoundWorks (the$199 and the $350 models) Stereo
*Boston Acoustics the $150 table mono model

HAVE YOU GUY'S HEARD ABOUT HD RADIO WHICH IS ON ITS WAY and on it's way and on it's way.

Thank you all again for a dynamic and vibrant discussion. It has been very informative.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2005 at 9:32PM
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I have been looking for a small table radio for an apartment that has decent sound, no frills and decent reception. I listened to my friend's Bose radio and I thought, that sounds OK but no way would I spend that kind of money for a table radio. I did a lot of online research and decided to buy the Sangean WR11. I bought it online for $80 no tax free shipping. I am very pleased with this radio. It sounds great for its size,very small footprint, no bells or whistles just plays AM/FM, has good reception and a real wood veneer cabinet that looks great. It is mono but in an apartment where you can't blast the music anyway who cares. I think its a great alternative if you don't want to spend a lot of money.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 4:15PM
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