With today’s tech world obsessing over the different ways to propel our homes into the future, Danish audio experts Bang & Olufsen have once again dreamed up a whole new reality for audiophiles, effortlessly closing the gap between function and design yet again.
Since Bang & Olufsen’s early days, the brand has always pushed technological boundaries, making the seemingly impossible possible, with striking designs that leave lasting impressions. Take, for instance, the Beogram 400 record player, the first electronically controlled turntable and a symbol of the finest, purest sound available — it’s a sleek machine even today. Similarly, the Beosound 9000 (above) was the world’s first six-CD-player, a sculptural feat that also boasted the fastest speed at the time for switching CDs without lag in between songs. It was the Ferrari of CD players.
Bang & Olufsen’s latest product, the Beosound Shape, gives audiophiles the chance to beautify their living space even more than its predecessors have, while still being able to enjoy B&O’s trademark sound quality.
Instead of your conventional home audio setup, with just left and right speakers, the new Beosound Shape is a wall-mounted modular sound system made up of clean-cut hexagonal units, promising an ‘immersive sound experience’ thanks to the multiple speakers and additions that work to improve a room’s acoustics.
You might be expecting an orchestral effect, where different instruments and sound layers come individually from different tiles. Instead, a full Beosound Shape fixture is made up of speaker, damper, amplifier and empty ‘core’ tiles, but thanks to Bang & Olufsen’s intelligent upmixing algorithms, the sound comes together to create what B&O dub the ‘band on the wall’. It’s made to feel as if a band is literally standing up against the wall and giving a live performance, with vocals in the spotlight and instruments to the side.
At a recent demo of the Shape, this was clear when listening to lyrical songs, but even with instrumentals, each cello, drum and piano is crisp and clear cut, with sound beaming towards a spotlight just in front of the speakers. One complaint would be how much a less-than-perfect Bluetooth connection still toys with the sound quality, but that’s unfortunately to be expected with streaming through thin air.
In today’s wireless world, being able to stream music from a device is pretty much a dealbreaker, and with the Beosound Shape it’s done smartly and invisibly. Within one of the ‘core’ tiles will be the core connectivity hub, essential should you want to play tunes from AirPlay, Chromecast, or simply just via Bluetooth connection. (For sticklers for analogue sound, there are also ways to link up to your traditional devices, of course.) The Beosound core also has functions for playing different music in different rooms, or allowing all your speakers to join together at once.
With the addition of dampeners, the Shape also quietens the room from noise even when not in use, which makes it ideal for multipurpose rooms and even settings outside of the home: offices, hotel lobbies, conference rooms and more.
Configuration is completely customisable via an online shape configurator tool, which takes you from design to printing out your installation guide in as little as 15 seconds. It not only helps you visualise how the sound system will look in your home, but it also formulates the exact number and placement of each component needed for the sound profile — as in, the noise reduction and sound performance — you’re looking for.
While you can personalise the Beosound Shape however you please, there is a maximum configuration of 44 speakers and 11 amps, with a free damper for every amplifier. Sets can start from at least six tiles; the number needs to increase in doubles to make sure sound components are always perfectly balanced.
Each tile is available in an array of six Bang & Olufsen colours, and four more wool fabrics made by the brand’s frequent collaborator and fellow Danish textiles brand Kvadrat — so you can easily mix and match to decorate your chosen room to your heart’s desire.
The Beosound Shape is priced from HK$40,000 for a standard setup.