Bang & Olufsen is known for its high-end audio products and its bold, showy designs. The BeoSound Essence music system focuses instead on simplicity - the small wall-mounted aluminium controller and a separate box combine for a subtle, almost hidden concept for controlling your music.
It was presented on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 by Tue Mantoni, the company’s CEO, who explained the concept was to make listening to your favourite music as easy as putting the coffee on in the morning. A single touch of the controller is all that’s needed.
At its core the Essence is a simple product. The controller can be wall or tablet-mounted and has a rotational dial to adjust volume and a four-way directional pad to jump between tracks, pause and play. Sounds like little more than an expensive controller then? That may be so, but it does look top-notch as ever, thanks to that classic B&O design. The way the dial rotates is silky smooth and there’s good feedback to pressing the directional buttons.
The main part of the system is a box that’s not designed to be the visual focus. This is the hub and handles all manner of audio. It’s DLNA compatible so whether you want to link up Spotify, or source music from a NAS drive or your smartphone then you can.
The box looks a bit like a router in some respects, and is made from plasticky materials. Who’d have thought it - a B&O product designed to be hidden away.
Still, wire up some good speakers - we listened via a pair of BeoLab 18 speakers and the BeoLab 19 subwoofer - and Spotify was sounding pristine. B&O will ship its own BeoMusic app to handle the DLNA, internet radio and all available sources - but that wasn’t available to preview at the event. Instead it was the Spotify app only.
If you want music to be as easy to play back as flicking a light switch then we see what Bang & Olufsen has done here. Revolutionary? No. But we still rather like it.
BeoSound Essence will be available this spring priced at $995 (£610).