Count Bang & Olufsen as the latest company chasing Sonos in the wireless multiroom audio space. Via its B&O Play division established in 2012, the Danish company unveiled its $599 Beoplay M5 wireless standalone speakers with multiroom capability.
The speakers, which were unveiled at CES 2017, are designed by award-winning Danish industrial designer Cecilie Manz. Beoplay M5 is covered in a premium and acoustically transparent wool-blend fabric from Danish manufacturer Kvadrat.
The wool-cover can be replaced to fit a home’s interior design. The speaker uses “delicate multi-colored threads” so the fabric is acoustically transparent.
The speaker top is a disc made from aluminium, which has been pearl blasted and anodized to create a matte finish. The disc is used to adjust volume (by turning), while pressing it down pauses or plays the music. The disc has as viscosity-based tactile functionality with a 15-percent movement in each direction. The disc will rotate itself to its neutral position — not too quickly and not too slowly.
Photo Gallery: Check out B&O Play's funky speaker designs
Underneath the aluminum disc is a body manufactured from rigid polymer to house an acoustic chamber that delivers Bang & Olufsen’s Signature Sound. The unit comes with True360 degree omnidirectional sound that lets the listener enjoy equally perfect sound no matter where he or she is located.
It has three evenly distributed tweeters, a front-facing midrange driver and a 5-inch neodymium-powered downward-firing woofer. Using the Beoplay app, users can set one of three pre-set sound modes based on where the speaker is placed: freestanding, corner or wall position.
In a single-speaker configuration, the unit uses a proprietary Ambient Technology solution to create a stereo sound experience from one single speaker. Beoplay M5 comes with Chromecast built-in to stream music up to 96KHz/24bit lossless from Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora and others.
Chromecast can be used to create a multi-room experience using other B&O PLAY speakers, such as the Beoplay A6 and Beoplay A9. Beoplay M5 also supports Beolink Multiroom, Spotify Connect and QPlay 2.0 and at the same time embraces Bluetooth and Apple Airplay.
“Beoplay M5 delivers perfectly on our vision of speakers for the home that play beautiful music and look wonderful doing so. For people who dream of a home where music flows through every room and speakers double as design objects that are controlled from the comfort of your smartphone or tablet, Beoplay M5 marks the perfect beginning to that journey,” says Jens Jermiin, head of global marketing at B&O PLAY.
Bang & Olufsen recently inked a partnership with Origin Acoustics to design a line of architectural speakers and sell them in its 700 retail stores.
Lenbrook Named U.S. Distributor
Meanwhile, Lenbrook Americas, the North American distributor for specialty A/V brands NAD, PSB, and Bluesound, announced it has been appointed the exclusive U.S. distributor for B&O Play for the specialty A/V channel.
The B&O Play product line-up consists of In-Ear / On-Ear and Over-Ear headphones with both wired and wireless models for each form factor. With a total of 10 unique models, the top-end wireless models (H8 On-Ear and H9 Over-Ear) are also Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and both retail for $499 each. The wired, In-Ear model, the H3, is also Active Noise-Cancelling (ANC) at $249 U.S. MSRP. Additionally, there are 3 Portable Bluetooth speaker products and 3 “One Point” Music Systems. Rounding out the product line is the S8, a 2.1 Sub-Sat system.
B&O Play provides a 2-year international warranty on its products.
“Lenbrook is excited to partner with B & O PLAY as it is a perfect complement to our well-established specialty brands NAD, PSB and Bluesound,” says Dean Miller, president of Lenbrook Americas. “Our Canadian sales subsidiary, Lenbrook Canada, has been the B & O PLAY distributor for the past two years. As such, we already have in place strong working relationships with the B & O PLAY organization and importantly, inventory in our Pickering, Ontario warehouse. So, we are ready to hit the ground running.”
B&O Play will be done via a separate franchise agreement. Additionally, there will be separate authorization for qualified dealers to sell B&O Play products on their own website. Dealers that have a strong retail element to their business, along with a dedication to the headphone / Bluetooth speaker category, will be most successful with this line, according to Miller, adding, “Anyone interested in exploring a dealership opportunity is encouraged to contact their Lenbrook Regional Sales Manager or me directly.”