B&O launches Immaculate Wireless Sound Speakers
By Paul Ridden
October 31, 2013
As promised earlier this month, Denmark's Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has officially moved into the wireless speaker market with the launch of three new WiSA-certified BeoLab digital active speakers. Undeniably stylish and capable of streaming high fidelity, uncompressed audio, the Immaculate Wireless Sound range comprises the BeoLab 17 bookshelf speaker, the BeoLab 18 column floor-standers, and the BeoLab 19 subwoofer.
The Wireless Speaker and Audio Association (WiSA) open platform delivers high fidelity, multi-channel wireless sound over the relatively uncongested 5.2-5.8 GHz frequency range, so shouldn't suffer from interference from other wireless products. If, however, the system detects bothersome noise on the network, it will automatically switch to a less busy frequency. This ensures that there's enough bandwidth to handle the wireless transmission of uncompressed, 24-bit audio at native sample rates (up to 96 kHz). When combined with B&O's audio technology, this becomes Immaculate Wireless Sound.
As WiSA-compliant devices are a bit thin on the ground at the moment (though B&O has updated its BeoVision 11 televisions with an integrated WiSA transmitter), a BeoLab Transmitter 1 has also been announced that can be connected to older model TVs, Blu-ray players or set-top boxes.
Each of the new mains-powered (so the speakers are not entirely cable-free) BeoLab speakers features thermal protection that puts overheating concerns to bed, a room position switch for optimum definition wherever it's placed, and Adaptive Bass Linearization (ABL), which continuously adapts and improves the bass response to the incoming signal, preventing unwelcome spikes in the process.
Within a wedge-shaped cabinet made from a single piece of aluminum wrapped around composite material sit a 6-inch custom midrange driver/woofer and 0.75-inch dome tweeter, each with its own 160 W Class-D amplifier. B&O's proprietary sound engine is reported to benefit from over 40 times the processing power of analog circuitry, and helps the small package create some big sounds.
The 9.8 x 12.6 x 5.5 in (25 x 32 x 14 cm), 12 lb (5.5 kg) speaker can be placed in a floor base, on a high stand, or mounted on a wall, and can be fronted by an eye-popping "broken ice" fascia, or interchangeable black, blue or white fabric covers. The BeoLab 17 will set you back US$3,990 for a pair.
This distinctive floor-standing speaker column is home to an acoustic lens tweeter at the top that's claimed to throw out sounds in a 180 degree even spread, and two 4-inch custom-made bass drivers. A 160 W Class-D amplifier powers both bass drivers, and there's another for the tweeter. The anodized aluminum bass reflex cabinet stands on an inverted aluminum cone that tapers down to a cast iron base, and is fronted by 21 plates made of black composite or solid oak.
A set of two speakers is priced at $6,590 for the black lamella-fronted version (floor base or wall bracket included), but the oak fronts will cost you an extra $1,390 per set.
"Whether you’re a film fan, a Wagner aficionado or into heavy metal, richly cultivated bass adds a visceral dimension that you sense with more than your ears," B&O's Lars Fredsgaard said in a press statement. "We believe the new BeoLab 19 will play its way into many homes that are looking for the acoustic advantages of a high-end subwoofer, but have been waiting for a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing solution."
This bold, 12-pentagon-faced subwoofer features two 8-inch drivers, each with its own 160 W Class-D amp, that are placed back-to-back in separate enclosures, and operate in-phase to eliminate unwelcome vibrations. Unusually, this unit also features the room position switch. B&O explains that, although the human ear is unable to determine the direction of low frequencies, a room's reflective properties may adversely impact an overall sound image. The BeoLab 19 carries a single unit price tag of $3,395.
All of the new BeoLab Immaculate Wireless Sound speakers are due to appear in B&O stores worldwide from November.
The promo video below introduces the three new speakers and overviews their features.
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