Bose 3-2-1 Series III review: Bose 3-2-1 Series III

  • 1

CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Pricing Unavailable

The Good Convincing 2.1-channel pseudo surround. Easy to set up and use. 1080p DVD upscaling looks good.

The Bad Flat musical performance. No Blu-ray playback. Limited decoding/DSP options.

The Bottom Line If you’re short on living space and don’t need a Blu-ray player, the Bose 3-2-1 Series III home theatre system has plenty of "lifestyle" appeal.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

For many, Bose is perceived as the ultimate audio visual brand. In reality, this simply isn't the case, but there's no denying the hugely successful niche Bose has carved out for itself, having virtually invented the "lifestyle" AV system. Its Acoustimass speaker technology is almost legendary in hi-fi circles and spawned many imitators over the years.


Carrying on from the Series II system, the latest incarnation shares much of the same physical design, but adds HDMI connectivity and 1080p upconversion of DVD. This is a 2.1-channel system, meaning an active subwoofer and single pair of satellite speakers, so it's not a true surround sound system in the 5.1-or-higher multichannel sense.

The disc-spinning, AM/FM radio media head-unit attaches via a dedicated umbilical cable to the Acoustimass subwoofer module, which houses all the amplification. The electronic wizardry that attempts to fool your ears that there are more surround speakers is called TrueSpace — a digital signal processor that works with any source, from mono audio to CDs and DVDs.


This system will play most current disc formats, except for Blu-ray. Unlike a lot of alternatives at this price point, Blu-ray is yet to be included in Bose's playback repertoire, but that's expected to change later in the year when it finally releases a BD-playing system.

DVD is unconverted to 1080p and output via HDMI, plus there are three inputs for external sources, such as a set-top box or satellite receiver. Additional video outputs include the norm, with a single of each — component, S-Video and composite. A Boselink connection allows multi-room connection and integration with other Bose components, such as its Wave radio and outdoor speakers. The media unit itself only sports six buttons — the learning remote control is definitely needed and it's a well laid out device. One of the niceties of this system is its ease of set up and use; they don't get much simpler, and Bose supplies all the necessary instruction and cabling in the box.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Sony STR-DN1050

    Starting at: $996.00
    4 stars

    The Sony STR-DN1050 offers almost everything you could want in a midrange receiver with...

  • Marantz SR5009

    Starting at: $1,258.00
    4 stars

    The Marantz SR5009 looks and feels more upscale than the competition's receivers, and...

  • Marantz NR1403

    4 stars

    The Marantz NR1403 is a slim, handsome AV receiver with excellent sound and plenty of...

  • Onkyo TX-NR636

    3.5 stars

    The Onkyo TX-NR636 offers a compelling mix of features and performance with "future proofing"...


Discuss Bose 3-2-1 Series III

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Bose 3-2-1 Series III

Part Number: CNETBose 3-2-1 Series III

Typical Price: $1,299.00

See manufacturer website for availability.