When it comes to Bang & Olufsen, you never get what could be called a traditional speaker design. From the dish-like Beoplay A9 to the wall-mounted Beosound Shape, it always pushes the boundaries in its aesthetic approach.
At IFA 2018, the tradition continues with the Beosound Edge, a striking speaker that draws inspiration from the humble British Pound coin.
Priced at £2900 (around $3,765 or AU$5,225), it hits stores in November 2018. Here’s what we thought of it from a brief demonstration at the Berlin showcase.
The Beosound Edge looks quite unlike any speaker you will have seen before. Circular in design and disc-like in shape, it has drivers pumping sound out of either side of the speaker, with an aluminium ring wrapping around its outer edge.
It’s designed to be positioned in two ways. Either like a standing coin, resting on its edge (hence the name), or hanging from a wall like a railway clock or bar sign. Measuring 50.2cm across in diameter and 13cm wide it’s quite an imposing size, and would suit minimalist decors.
The unusual design extends and informs the speaker’s control system. Rather than relying on your usual hardware volume controls to raise and lower the sound, rocking the speaker controls the output level. The more intense the rock (as measured by an onboard accelerometer), the more sharp the increase or decrease in sound, kept from toppling over by a stopper at its base.
A touch sensitive panel is also used, with taps to pause, play and skip tracks. A proximally sensor lets the touch sensitive area light up automatically as you approach, leaving you with no question as to where to touch it.
The Beosound Edge, from a brief listen, appears to have sonic performance to match its good looks.
It’s equipped with a patented active bass design, with a mechanically widening aperture that pushes the deepness of its bass level to match increase in volume. As a result, you end up with room rocking sound, with two 3-quarter inch tweeters, two 4-inch midrange drivers and 10-inch woofer, supported by six Class D amplifiers.
Those discrete amplifiers also give also have the option of making the audio directional, from either the right or left side of the speaker rather than being from both sides. Bang & Olufsen’s design team see this speaker as being well suited to open plan living spaces, where it may be more convenient for the intensity of the volume to be directed towards just one space at different times.
Taking tracks from either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sources (there’s also an Ethernet port if required), the speaker supports the AirPlay 2 and Chromecast standards, letting you beam your tracks from across the room.
There’s no denying the Beosound Edge is a showstopper in terms of looks, and its good to see its sound live up to its design – and price tag. But will those controls prove convenient once the novelly wears off? And how practical is it to have a speaker that requires a living area where both of its sides ideally should face an open space? We’ll be excited to find out as we hope to spend more in-depth time with the speaker in the coming weeks and months.
- IFA 2018 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.