For Bang & Olufsen, design is everything, pairing quirky and original designs with high quality materials and superb sound quality. Take the Beosound Edge for example, a speaker that's unlike any other, inspired, B&O tells us, by the British pound coin.
The Beosound Edge is the first speaker design for B&O from Michael Anastassiades, and the aim was to create something as far from a boring speaker box as possible. The result is a speaker in disc form, standing on its edge as a showpiece - and exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from B&O.
The outer ring, the edge, is formed from a piece of aluminium, curved and polished to a high shine, inviting you to touch it. It's not designed to be something you look at and ignore, it's a visceral design, something that will very much become the interface with the technology within it.
To add some scale, the Edge measures 50cm in diameter and weighs 13kg.
Adding a touch of magic
B&O referred to "magic" plenty of times when presenting the Beosound Edge to us. The fact that it solidly stands on its edge, making a statement, is just the start. The fact that you can roll it to adjust the volume is the pièce de résistance. It's the party piece you're going to be showing off.
While the Edge is round, it's not without a top and a bottom. There's a base, naturally, where the power cable attaches and there's a foot of sorts (when sitting on the ground) to ensure that you're not going to roll your £3000 speaker across the room like an old tyre.
But this base also provides some freedom of movement so you can rock the Edge to change the volume. This comes thanks to onboard sensors which will detect how the speaker is moving, and adjust the volume accordingly. Thought that accelerometers were just in your phone? Think again.
It's easy to do too, the wide expanse of metal feeling wonderful to touch and a gentle push sending the volume soaring. In our tests at the reveal of the Beosound Edge it didn't feel quite as direct as we might have liked, but without testing it in a home environment, we can't really pass judgement on how practical this will be as a control method on a day-to-day basis.
You can, of course, control the Beosound Edge with the Beosound Essence Remote or via smartphone app, so you've not limited to touching your speaker all the time.
It works on the wall too
What's perhaps surprising is how well the Beosound Edge wall mounts. Moving it off the floor will mean your dog won't be tempted to cock its leg and shower it in glory, making it a statement piece for any room.
Once on the wall, it looks a little like a station clock. Of course, you'd have to figure out how to hide the cables, so it's probably a proper install job rather than something you'll just throw up on afternoon.
But once on the wall you still get that movement to give you volume controls, with the ability to roll up and down a little on its mount. It's very clever and it doesn't feel awkward or unwieldy, it feels well engineered. That's par for the course for B&O, that's what the company is all about.
It also sounds superb
While we haven't had the chance to see how the Beosound Edge performs in the home environment, from the tests we've heard this is a high quality speaker. Inside the centre of that disc you have a 10-inch subwoofer, two 4-inch midrange woofers and two 3/4-inch tweeters.
These are arranged to give you proper 360-degree sound, so your Edge can sit in the middle of the room or at the edges. You'll be able the shape the soundscape too, so if you only want 180-degrees of sound (i.e., from one side) you get the option to do that. It will mean you can cater the speaker to open-plan living spaces.
There's also an innovative active bass port. This is a port with a powered gate which opens and closes depending on how much bass is needed. That's governed by the volume of the speaker, so at low volumes it closes and the bass doesn't run rampant through the rest of the sound track.
At higher volumes, perfect for parties, the active bass port opens to spread that deeper thumping bass. It's very clever, but fully automated and controlled by the speaker - so it just works. Certainly, this is a speaker that has no problem filling a space with great sound.
Connections and supported formats
One problem that the design presents is how to neatly connect to this speaker. There's the power cable, of course, as well as the option for Ethernet and a line in. It also offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with wireless connections being the neatest option. If you're going to install it or wall mount it, we'd be tempted to include a hard-wired Ethernet just so it's a rock-solid connection.
In terms of formats, the Beosound Edge will support Apple AirPlay 2, so it will not only play nice with your Apple devices, but will happily be part of a network of AirPlay 2 speakers in a multi-room configuration. It also supports Chromecast, so Google users can easily cast to it too. BeoLink Multiroom compatibility is also included, as well as DLNA.
There is, however, no support for voice control like the recently-updated Beosound 1 and 2.
The Beosound Edge will be available from mid-November, priced at €3250. We're still awaiting confirmation of UK prices.