It isn’t all that easy keeping up appearances, even when you’re in your comfort den. While my collection of vinyls may seem noteworthy, the idea of truly fitting in the jargon of the geek-age seems to be an uphill task. Modern, contemporary and sleek are naught but mere terms to describe a line of vanilla designs in the home entertainment space. Things that seldom work the trick for me. While the ‘home entertainment’ category has seen a consistent improvement in specifications and performance of speakers, the proportionate development in the style of construction has often been lacking. This could well be put to rest by a single release by Bang and Olufsen, the Danish consumer electronics giant founded in 1925,
Cutting the clutter in design
As I sifted through the thoroughfare of elegant black boxes and inter-galactic themes, the BeoPlay A9 instantly peaked my interest. It arrives as a testimonial for the many possibilities that could, and should, be explored in the home entertainment space. The unit blends into even the most complex abstract interiors without an effort, thanks to the unique design that doesn’t make it look like a traditional speaker system to start with. In fact, it guises itself up as an attractive piece of modern art, until you hear the crystal clear sound. That rare moment when a minimalist design looks like it isn’t trying too hard also becomes the nucleus of all interactions in your living space. I, for once, strongly consider moving my bar cabinet closer to the speaker. The 700 mm diameter, perched atop aesthetic wooden legs, surely contributes to the great design. Being wireless surely completes the illusion of this looming beauty.
Where conversations begin
It’s strange how magnetic this large disc-like illusion seems to be. Folks visiting my home simply choose to hang around this audial companion rather than strut their stuff around my elaborate teak bar cabinet. I can assure you that it will soon be the conversation-starter you’ve always sought. Thanks to the three pre-set sound modes you adjust the acoustics of the speaker to suit your location or living space. In addition to DLNA the speaker also has optical and phono ports that make it a breeze to connect and sync with your home theatre system. It almost makes the absence of the 3.5 mm jack unfelt. Two 0.75-inch tweeters and a two 3-inch midrange units deliver the sound while the 8-inch bass unit delivers the lows rather well. It is powered by a 160W amp that will make you feel the boom of the bass all around you. The bass is delivered distortion free, such that, you’d feel the kick of the bass drum right beside you. If it’s Hindustani Classical that suits your palette then the sound of a tabla would make you feel like you’re right in front of an ustaad. There’s little left to the imagination when it comes to decorating your home with such sound and style. The benefits of which, I seem to reap aplenty.
A number of connectivity options make the speaker an endearing addition to your home entertainment setup. It comes with a USB iPod/iPhone/iPad connector, a single line-in and an Ethernet connector. Other than this, the wireless setup supports the aforementioned DLNA wireless streaming, support for Bluetooth 4.0, Apple AirPlay and Wireless LAN. All of this, and the speaker still consumes a mere 23 Watts of power on a regular play day and just 0.4 Watts on standby mode.
Convenience at the tip of your fingers
The touch-sensitive controls on the back of the speaker make the need of a remote obsolete. It gives you the very excuse you may seek to enjoy the tangible delights of this sound-piece. Simply stroll to the speaker and bedazzle your guests as you toggle the volume and the sound while they look on. And who needs a remote control when you have a smartphone at hand, always. The Bang & Olufsen smartphone application is available for free and works on both, smartphones and tablets. The brilliance of the app extends beyond a single speaker. If you have the luxury of money to buy more of these beauties, you can control all of them with the same app. A petite little damsel who perched herself at the window sill, right besides my A9 exclaimed, “If only I could capture the sound of this one as well”, as she clicked her way to a full memory card.
Intelligence reflected through gestures
While the selfies and the stories did their part, the real barrage of “oohs” and “aahs” came when I showed of the gestures on this one. While touch interfaces may seem satisfactory, there’s nothing more impressive than the ability to swipe your hand across the top of the speaker to increase or decrease the volume. You can mute the sound by simply placing your hand on the top sensor for a while and like a tame, intelligent companion, the A9 will mute the music. Even toggling the shuffle is an interactive experience. You can tab to the right of the speaker to play the next songs and on the left to go back to the previous track. A gentle tab on the center can take you back to the last played source of music, should the current source suddenly go out of range or turn the music off. This is the kind of physical romancing that the speaker demands and thanks to the aesthetic design, you wouldn’t find it too difficult to replicate the same, without looking silly.
The speaker has been designed by Øivind Alexander Slaatto. It sports legs in oak, walnut or walnut. You can also set it up on the wall, thanks to the wall bracket that is available as an accessory.
Quality does come at a price the Bang and Olufsen A9 MKI is available for Rs 2.5 lacs.
[ Available at – Bang and Olufsen ]