B&O Find Their Mojo Again With New $20K+ Wireless Speaker Release
Bang & Olufsen appear to have their mojo back, reporting profits for the first time in 12 months, along with the release of several new products including a $20K pair of Beolab 28 tower-style wireless speakers that can be floor-standing or wall-mounted.
Last week they launched new networked bookshelf speakers that actually look like a book. This week the Company has gone back to their roots with the release of optional fabric or wood covered speakers that come in natural silver, black anthracite, or bronze tone aluminium for the Beolab 28’s body, two tons of fabric (grey and grey melange), and four choices of wood covers — light oak, oak, smoked oak, and walnut.
The Danish Company claims that the Beolab 28 speakers are slimmer, smarter, and more surprising than any stereo speaker you’ve experienced before. “Position it anywhere in the home, stream anything you want instantly, and be immersed in powerful studio-grade sound that automatically adapts to your space. All in a beautifully elegant form that can be controlled with a touch ‘executives claim.
Beyond the traditional B&O design of the speakers themselves — is the motorised “curtains” that run almost the full length of the Beolab 28’s slender, cylindrical body.
These curtains (made from fabric or wood, depending on your choice of materials) open automatically when the speakers are turned on and close again when they’re off. But they’re not just for bragging rights: The curtains also play a role in the Beolab 28’s Beam Width Control feature, which can modify how sound is directed around the room.
In “narrow mode,” sound is highly directional. B&O claims that this minimizes the interference of side wall reflections and helps to achieve a sweet spot when listening. In “wide mode,” the speakers open up, diffusing the sound in a more general pattern that should create optimal listening without needing to stay in one spot.
The top panel houses the speaker’s touch controls, which illuminate when they sense someone is nearby.
The Beolab 28 come with Bang & Olufsen’s latest-generation Active Room Compensation, which adapts the bass response to the room.
You’ll be prompted to tune the speakers when you first set them up, but you can do it again at any time if you relocate them.
Users can connect over Bluetooth or Apple AirPlay or Chromecast and you can add the speakers to the Google Home app.
This also enables smart speaker functionality with Google Assistant, due to the built-in microphones.
The Beolab 28 feature an upgradeable connectivity module that can be swapped out if standards change over time.
Music control can be done through one of these wireless protocols using streaming apps on your smartphone, or you can hop into the B&O app and control your music or add the speakers to a multiroom setup (available in the fall via a firmware update).
The speakers sync with one another over B&O’s Wireless Power Link 24-bit/48kHz protocol, but they are also compatible with the WiSA wireless standard for delay-free, 24-bit/48kHz streaming from WiSA transmitters (see our full WiSA explainer for the details).
For those who want a wired connection, there are two options.
A hybrid analogue/optical input on the back of the speakers lets you connect virtually any audio source, while an RJ45 jack lets you connect to older B&O systems via the wired Power Link cabling system. Finally, each speaker has a dual set of 10/100 Mbit Ethernet ports for wired network connectivity.
Last week Bang & Olufsen backed it’s full-year revenue and operating profit guidance due to the launch of new products after swinging to a fiscal third-quarter net profit due to cost cuts, new product launches, and high demand for home-entertainment equipment due to COVID-19.
The Danish consumer electronics company posted a net profit of US$2.1 million for the three months to Feb. 28 compared with a loss of US$10.6M a year earlier.
“The cost-reduction program progressed as planned, core markets grew across all key channels, and we continued to strengthen our digital focus, which enabled us to more than double our online revenue and enhance the consumer experience,” said Chief Executive Kristian Tear.