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Bose bows Acoustic Wave Music System II

Bose bows Acoustic Wave Music System II

When it comes to product demonstrations, Bose has a flare for the dramatic. It's also a rather secretive company--think Apple, but ratcheted down just a couple of notches--and doesn't like the idea of preconceptions. So when it demoed its next-generation Acoustic Wave Music System in a suite at New York's Peninsula Hotel, it kept the one-piece music system behind a black curtain while that system boldly belted out a little jazz ditty.

After the first tune, the well-spoken presenter pulled back the curtain to reveal--poof!--the new Acoustic Wave System. It doesn't look too different from the old model, but the key is that Bose is using digital signal processing rather than analog processing. The result, according to Bose, is this system sounds significantly better than the original. Oh, and Acoustic Wave System plays MP3 CDs--the original only played audio CDs--and pairs with an optional Bose-specific iPod dock ($129). The Bose rep, emphasizing its plug-and-play capabilities, also showed how it can easily be picked up and carried from room to room.

Like its predecessor, the system is designed for buyers who crave that elusive combination of a stereo system that mixes an elegant, compact design with ease of use and excellent performance. At first look and listen, the Acoustic Wave System II appears to succeed in that mission, but that success comes at a cost--namely $1,079, the same cost as the earlier model. It will be available in either of two colors--Platinum White and Graphite Gray--as of September 5.

While I admire Bose for sticking to its focused vision, I do wish the company would've added a few more features. A digital input to go along with the single analog input would have been nice, and HD Radio support seems like a natural choice for a new high-end tabletop CD player/radio--it has only standard AM and FM. But I guess we'll have to wait for Acoustic Wave System III for that.