Massachusetts-based audio equipment manufacturer Bose launched a range of speakers and accessories earlier this month, including its QuietComfort 3 noise-cancelling headphones, an Acoustic Wave integrated music system and three desktop speakers under its Companion brand. However, the pinnacle of the launch -- in both sound quality and price point -- was the Lifestyle 48 Series III.

At the heart of the 5.1-channel Lifestyle 48 Series II home theatre system is again the media centre component -- not to be confused with Windows Media Center -- which houses a CD/DVD tray and a hard drive that can store up to 340 hours of music (although Bose wouldn't tell us what bit rate at which songs were compressed or the actual capacity of the disk). Music pumps out of the media centre to four tiny Bose Jewel Cube speaker arrays, the centre speaker (which has a horizontal design in Series III to compliment flat panel TVs) and the Acoustimass module (Bose's fancy name for the subwoofer).

In our review of the original Lifestyle 48, we noted that the Acoustimass module left quite a large footprint in your living room, measuring a massive 41cm by 64cm by 21cm. Bose has trimmed it down 30 percent in size to a reasonable 33cm by 55cm by 20cm this time around, making it easier to hide away. Although it's a lot smaller, Bose says the Series III system still delivers an equivalent level of bass.

Bose representatives told the entire system can be set up in around 10 minutes, with colour-coded connections making the job easier. The easy-to-use ADAPTiQ audio calibration system is still bundled to adjust the Lifestyle 48's output for the best possible sound, regardless of a room's acoustics.

While the Lifestyle 48 Series III features subtle improvements, the lack of HDMI connections, Blu-ray or HD DVD means the system is not as cutting-edge as we'd have liked.

While Bose promotes the irregularly shaped media centre as an elegant alternative to a rack of components, we've found in the past its domed top hinders the stacking other devices that need to slot into your home entertainment cabinet.

With a price tag of AU$7,999, there's no doubt the Lifestyle 48 Series III -- available in black or white -- is a prestigious system aimed at big spenders and home entertainment enthusiasts. Bose also sells its AU$599 SC2 Wireless Surround Link which eliminates the need for cables running from the front of the room to the rear speakers.