Bang& Olufsen

Thanks to Layer, the Beosound Balance, Looks as Good as it Sounds

I’ve always loved Bang and Olufsen products. I know many people will argue that they aren’t the best sounding audio gear for the price you pay, but you have to admit they make beautiful stuff. Bang and Olufsen’s design aesthetic, choice of materials, attention to detail, and yes, the audio quality in my opinion. Sorry folks my ears don’t hear well enough to play the granular specs game.

Design agency Layer has designed the new “Beosound Balance” for Bang & Olufsen and the look is so nice. The distinctive, sculptural silhouette expresses the speaker’s performance, with a large base unit supporting a textile-covered cylindrical speaker. Controlled with a touch- and voice-activated interface (using Google Assitant) on top. This is sort of Bang and Olufsen’s entry into the smart speaker market.

The result is a room-filling, three dimensional sound from a speaker that takes its inspiration from the design language of domestic objects rather than high-tech electronics products. This is the first project by Layer for Bang & Olufsen and was 18 months in research and development.

The form of Beosound Balance is driven by the speaker’s audio performance, with a simple, cylindrical base unit on which a more expressive form sits. Together, these two elemental forms combine to create a sculptural object – like a plinth supporting a sculpture or vase. It’s this look that sets it apart from the cylinder/block format of most smart speakers in the market today.

The timber base unit contains a large, omnidirectional bass speaker driver, which is positioned with a vertical orientation and topped with a metal mesh screen featuring perforations in a Fibonacci sequence. The bass is reflected off the rounded metal base beneath the top form, maximizing its acoustic potential and providing a room-filling, low-end rich sound. 

The softly sculpted upper unit contains the precise mid-range drivers and tweeters, which complete the warm, well- balanced audio performance. These drivers – which provide directional audio – are positioned under a seamlessly knitted textile cover. 

To reinforce Bang and Olufsen’s positioning of “Beosound Balance” as an object to be looked at as much as listened to, the speaker is crafted from a rich palette of materials that are more readily associated with homewares and soft furnishings than high-tech or audiophile products.

The base unit is made from FSC-approved solid timber, blocked and turned as in furniture production. This material choice not only oozes craftsmanship but also offers quality and superior sound resonance. The upper unit is wrapped textile, with a nod to interior upholstery; while the metal reflector and the interface panel are made from pressed aluminum and inspired by finely crafted tableware. The textile wrapped power cable is long enough that the speaker can be easily positioned around a room as needed, meaning the speaker is not constrained based on power needs. (I love the fact that they used a textile-covered cord. It always seems to be the one thing that gets overlooked.)

Beosound Balance won’t come cheap. It rolls in at $2250.00 dollars. Way more expensive than other smart speakers on the market. It is Bang and Olufsen though, and I’m thinking if you are considering B&O products you can probably afford this price point. You’ll be able to pick this up starting in March of 2020 on their website, third-party retailers and in Bang & Olufsen stores.


Bang & Olufsen and Asus Build a Laptop

Anyone that knows me, knows I have a love hate relationship with Bang & Olufsen. I love their design aesthetics, and I think that they are over priced to the point of stupidity at times (See my post about the 40 thousand dollar TV from last year). So when I saw this I was intrigued. The price point isn’t that bad, it looks absolutely beautiful,  it is a media PC, and the tech specs look really solid.

Computer giant, Asus and stereo giant Bang & Olufsen, are collaborating on a new design for a laptop computer. Commissioned by Asus, and designed by award-winning Bang & Olufsen chief designer David Lewis, Bang & Olufsen  the design department has come up with a signature brushed aluminum laptop dubbed “NX90Jq”.

The laptop includes  a dual touch-pad, another Bang & Olufsen hallmark of their design stylings, which lets you use both hands to simultaneously  control the computer through a multi-touch experience. I’m not sure why they didn’t just go for a touch screen, or a larger single touch/track pad. I would think that the dual track pads which are located on each side of the keyboard would be difficult to use since they go against common user experience models. Although I holding off judgment since Asus has included media software to take advantage of this design concept.  Asus software is called “Rotation Desktop Control”, and provides two-handed control for music and other media.

The new  laptop features a large 18.4-inch screen which is completely covered in glass at 1,920-by-1,080 1080P resolution. The size of this beast might  limit portability of the device, so I’m thinking this might be the kind of laptop that you use more in one location, rather than toting it back and forth from home to office. Sort of a portable home media PC.

The sleek  laptops audio is powered by Bang & Olufsen ICE power speakers which deliver extreme dynamic range for their size, and complement the advanced video hardware within.

The NX90 features an Intel Core i7 CPU (either 7200QM or 8200QM), an 18” 1080p display, Nvidia GeForce GT 335M graphics card, dual hard drives, and a slot-load Blu-ray drive. Expect prices to be in the $1,799 to $2,499 range (probably one of the cheapest Bang &Olufsen devices you could ever own).

The Asus NX90 Bang & Olufsen will be shipping in early march. I wonder if I can “Hackintosh” with OSX?

Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 10 and What were they thinking when they priced it.

beovision-03I love good design. I love beautifully designed products that are examples of great craftsmanship and quality. I also believe in a good value for what you are getting and I really believe that good design does not mean expensive. Today Bang and Olufsen introduced the new BeoVision 10. A wall mounted LCD TV with integrated speakers. This is a 40 inch HD TV in a brushed aluminum case with speaker grills that come in a variety of colors.

In many cases I get the high price for well designed object. I get that a Porsche costs more than a VW, they make less of them and many portions of the car are hand assembled. In addition you are paying for engineering that is in many cases truly cutting edge. I get that a Patek Phillip watch is gonna set you back at least 15 grand. In the case of the watch, you are paying for a hand built chronograph, produced in limited numbers, with rare jewels embedded in the movement though.

What I don’t get is B&O and how they are trying to sell this TV for almost 44 thousand dollars. Lets get something straight people, B&O is using a number of off the shelf components to make this TV. The actual LCD is probably manufactured by Samsung which B&O has been in a partnership with for years. It’s probably the same glass and tuner that are being used in a higher end Samsung TV you can get  for around 3 grand. The electronics are probably sourced from the some of the same top 5 world manufacturers that every other LCD TV maker uses. Yes people, the parts all come from a limited number of vendors. I get that B&O puts them together in a unique way. A way that their engineers have designed in order to create a better viewing experience, but unless this things case is cast in 24 karat gold I am not buying the price tag. There is no way in hell that the picture quality of this 40 inch TV is 30 thousand times better than the leading 40 inch LCD on the market by the top vendors (Sony, Samsung, LG). I’m sorry the price of this, like  almost everything that B&O makes is kind of a joke.

Look, I love the way their stuff looks, and I really love the way they design the end user functionality of the product. In many ways you are buying something that is like a piece of art. If we use the analogy of the Porsche, a 911 would cost half a million dollars using the Bang and Olufsen pricing model. You might sell one or two to people with more money than brains, and at what cost? B&O has always been expensive, it used to be a bit more reasonable though. If you were to buy into this system for your home theater you would end up spending close to 60 grand for a TV, DVD player, and Remote. Now think about how much more you could do with that money.

I know what you are all thinking, “When Wade wins the lottery, he is so gonna buy this”. Who am I kidding. Yes if I were independently wealthy I probably would.