Danish audio maker Bang & Olufsen is known for its high-end materials and finish in its products. That's something the BeoSound 35 soundbar-esque multi-room music system strives to achieve, but with a somewhat harsher-looking pentagonal form than the flowing designs its BeoSound family is perhaps better known for, does it achieve the status as the ultimate all-in-one system?
We knew that a B&O system was going to arrive at CES (the world's largest consumer electronics show), but didn't know exactly what it would look like. So when the cloth was pulled back in a preview briefing behind closed doors we were a little surprised at the angles and pentagonal design choice. B&O described it as like as akin to a “brush stroke” on the wall; we thought it looked more like an industrial designer's take on that idea.
From afar the BeoSound 35 fails to exude the quality that's apparent upon closer inspection. Yes it's an aluminium frame, but the way the black mesh cover greets the centre OLED display panel looks, well, dull and unimaginative. Like any hotel bedside radio.
Look closer and those keener design flourishes can be seen: the way the pentagonal shape is curved along each side; that the metal frame lips out the greet the "floating" mesh front; the press-and-drag volume control to the centre panel; and more. And yet, still, the overall look as a wall-mounted object is firm, harsh almost.
But all is forgiven when committing sound to this metre-long beast. Beneath its mesh exterior are two 4-inch woofers (with 80W amps powering each) and two 3/4-inch tweeters (again, with their own 80W amps powering each). In addition two bass units to the centre to cater for the low-end, delivering the chest-punching stuff down to 45Hz.
Here's where the pentagonal design begins to make more sense: as it points on axes angled upward and downward, rather than just straight forward like many soundbars, it gives a wider soundscape. It's a big one too, easily able to cater for a large room without holding back on volume or clarity.
Connectivity options are in abundance, with Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, DLNA covering the streaming formats; Spotify Connect, Deezer, QPlay 2.0, TuneIn radio all available as integrated music services; and an Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi (2.4/5Ghz), optical and RCA inputs catering for wired connections.
There's not much missing there, except an HDMI if you did want to use the BeoSound 35 as an actual independent soundbar (which isn't what this product claims to be, much as it looks like one). Oh, and then there's the price: at €2,295 (no UK price just yet) it's a lot of money. We think the clincher is whether you like how the BeoSound 35 looks or not.