Bang & Olufsen is a consumer electronics company for whom design is a major focus, with many of its speakers doubling as works of art when they're not pumping out audiophile-grade sound. The latest offering to spring forth from the company's Danish studios is the Beosound Shape, which takes the art analogy a step further with a modular system designed to be hung on a wall.
The BeoSound Shape takes a different approach to anything we've seen from B&O previously. It's sold in kits, with a base package including a BeoSound Core, four speakers, two acoustic dampers and an amplifier. Each element is contained within its own "tile," and each package is expandable, meaning buyers are able to scale the system as needs (or wants) change.
Perhaps the most important element of the setup is the Core, which acts as a hub. It can stream music using Bluetooth 4.1, Apple AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect or BeoPlay connectivity, and is tasked with shuffling the sound between amps and speakers, while damper tiles are designed to prevent sound ricocheting around the room. Each Core is able to handle 11 amplifiers, and each amplifier can be connected to four speakers, for a theoretical maximum of 44 speakers in the one setup.
One of the biggest drawcards of the system is undoubtedly the way it looks. Because the BeoSound Shape system is broken up into compact, hexagonal tiles, they can be stuck together to create different patterns or shapes on the wall. Although they're not on sale yet, B&O will be launching an online configurator with the speakers, suggesting buyers will be able to mix-and-match colors to create a unique collage.
Having the speakers spread around the wall brings benefits beyond design, too. A unique algorithm has been designed to distribute the sound across all connected speakers, with the goal of creating a wider "sweet spot." According to B&O, the sound should feel like it's coming from directly in front of you, regardless of where you are in relation to the wall-mounted speaker setup.
This all sounds good, but there are few potential hiccups in the B&O setup. For one, the tiles are quite big and heavy – each amplifier tile weighs 2.4 kg (5.3 lb) and the speakers are only 100 g (3.5 oz) lighter. Each tile measures 36.4 cm (14.3 in) across, 32 cm (12.6 in) high and 11.1 cm (4.4 in) deep, with a variety of fabric colors to choose from and mix and match.
Laying out, designing and installing eight tiles isn't work for an amateur, but that probably won't be much of a concern for those that can afford such a system in the first place, or commercial spaces like restaurants and hotel and office lobbies and bars, which the system would also suit.
Pricing for the base kit – one core, one amp, two acoustic dampers and four speakers – will start at €4,000 (US$4,250). It should be hitting the market in August.
Source: Bang & Olufsen