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Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9 Sound System

The wireless all-in-one sound system merges the two worlds of hi-fi sound and design-minded furniture

by Largetail in Tech on 19 December 2013

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Working in an office environment, a continuous stream of music is essential to keep the vibes up and is the best way to discover new favorite artists. While the latest interior design style has been to keep speakers inconspicuous and blended into the background, hidden away in a corner or shelf, Bang & Olufsen raises the bar with their futuristic-looking BeoPlay A9—a wireless all-in-one sound system that deserves to be shown off as soon as guests walk in. And it's a conversation starter for sure—every guest who has visited CH HQ over the past few days could not help but comment on the flying saucer of sound that stands about three feet high.

This is the type of innovation that Danish company B&O has aimed for since it started in 1925. But the BeoPlay A9 isn't just avant-garde aesthetics; it merges form with function as its round shape houses five powerful speakers that offer high-quality sound—an appealing (and rare) alternative to equally hi-fi systems that are massive, bulky and take up more space than the living room couch.

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The speakers are hidden behind a soft cover, which is removable and interchangeable with other colored covers—which is handy, in case you decide to redecorate. (Although we strongly advise to think twice before taking the cover off on a whim; we still haven't figured out how to put the cloth cover back on without enlisting extra pairs of hands.)

The black spiral on the grill is visually hypnotic, as the designer was inspired by the Fibonacci sequence. Underneath lies five power amplifiers; one is a 160 watt class D amp that exclusively powers the 8" bass unit—resulting in some surprisingly deep tones, which didn't seem possible from such a sleek product. There are also two 3" midrange units and two 3/4" tweeters, which also have their own dedicated amps.

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There are three options for wireless connectivity: Apple AirPlay, DLNA and a recent addition; built-in Spotify Connect. The latter promises no range restriction and the ability to answer phone calls without the music ever stopping. If your Wi-Fi is ever busted, there is a line-in option available as well as well as USB port (for iPod/iPad/iPhone) and ethernet connections, hidden in the lower back of the BeoPlay A9 behind a small removable "hatch." The power cable also runs discreetly out of the back so as not to disrupt the aesthetic. Further up on the back side, there's a small hollow area that serves as the bass reflex port but also doubles as the wall mount. As always, B&O gives you the option of flexibility—the BeoPlay can stand on its three wooden legs or can be hung on a wall.

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The best aspect of the BeoPlay A9 is the lack of buttons (and an extraneous remote)—there's only one button on the back—the power button. Volume is controlled by sliding a finger over the ridges on the top back: Slide to one side to make it louder, slide to the other to reduce volume and even mute. When you need to make an important party announcement, simply lay a hand on top of the speaker, which pauses the music.

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All visuals aside, it was the quality of the speakers that made our jaws drop. While rocking out to Beyoncé's new self-titled album on full blast, the bass was thumping and there was nary a hint of distortion. Furthermore, the sound fills up the room in a way that you're never conscious that it's coming directly from the BeoPlay A9 (quite a different experience when your iPhone is docked onto a smaller, lower-end portable speaker). It's almost convinced us to toss out our headphones and to listen to music exclusively in the open, the way producers intended us to hear it.

CH put together a playlist to listen to on the BeoPlay A9, made up of songs perfect for staying indoors on a cold, gloomy winter's day.

The BeoPlay A9 is available in an array of different colors (including the wooden legs) and retails for $2,699 from B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen, and comes with a three-year warranty. We recommend checking out the illustrious gradient colors available in the Nordic Sky sets of covers and legs.

Photos by Largetail

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