Whatever your opinion on Bose may be, there's no denying the company's products are expensive, which is why we couldn't include a Bose system in our recent roundup of 5.1 speaker packages for under $500. The Bose Acoustimass 6 Series III ($700 street price) was the closest we could get and we compared it with its more affordable competitors.
For all the vitriol hurled Bose's way, the Acoustimass 6 Series III held its own in head-to-head testing, especially considering its satellite speakers are among the smallest we've seen. On the other hand, it's hard to justify its $700 price, especially when an excellent alternative like the Energy Take Classic 5.1 system is available for just $400. The Bose Acoustimass 6 Series III definitely isn't our top choice for a budget 5.1 speaker system (especially for value-conscious buyers), but those who have to have the Bose name won't be disappointed.
The Acoustimass 6 Series III is a six-piece system: five "virtually invisible" (that's Bose's term) satellite speakers and a large subwoofer. The satellites are perfectly visible to our eyes, but they are tiny at a mere 3.1 inches high, 3.1 inches wide, and 4 inches deep. Each sat houses a single 2.5-inch "Twiddler" driver, but no separate tweeter. The black plastic speakers weigh 1.1 pounds each; the cabinets are attractive and have non-removable black cloth grilles.
We were disappointed with the quality of the sats' spring-clip wire connectors. The spring clips' grip on the wire is even less secure than for most connectors of this type, so a moderate tug may dislodge the wire. However, once the sats are in position the wires will stay in place. The clips only accept skinny bare wire ends, which is fine in this case since Bose supplies all the speaker wire.
The matte black, vinyl-covered powered subwoofer has a single 5.25-inch woofer mounted on its bottom panel and a large rear-mounted port. The cabinet appears to be constructed from medium-density fiberboard, but the front and rear caps are molded black plastic.
The Acoustimass subwoofer module's cabinet is definitely bigger than most of the competition's subwoofers; the mighty Bose is 16.33 inches high, 8.13 inches wide, and 22.33 inches deep and weighs 27 pounds.
Many packaged 5.1 systems come with hookup wire, and so does the Acoustimass 6, but the bad news is that it comes with twice as many wires as other systems. With the Acoustimass 6 you need to run the included 20-foot flat, ribbon-type wire between the Acoustimass module and your receiver's five speaker and subwoofer outputs. That proprietary cable is fitted with a multipin connector that plugs into the Acoustimass module; then you run another proprietary set of wires between the Acoustimass module and each of the five sats. The only reason we can think of for this unusual arrangement is that Bose is performing some additional sound processing in the subwoofer. That's fine, but be prepared for all the wires.