Bang & Olufsen, the design-centric Danish high-end AV electronics manufacturer, revealed Thursday it is preparing to release updated Beosound luxury smart speakers based on Google Assistant voice control and Apple Airplay 2.

When the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected speakers arrive in B&O store locations and partner retailers around mid September and early October, the new Beosound 1 and Beosound 2 will be some of the most expensive smart speakers in the market. The Beosound 1 will ring in at a cool $1,750 and the Beosound 2 will be $2,250. But they do feature the high-end styling that made B&O famous along with a number of slick features you won’t find in cheaper Google Home varieties.

Both models are equipped with 360-degree designs using a conical shape that places the larger-diameter woofer in the widened base with smaller tweeters placed further up on the tapered top. The updated models also will be equipped with five separate far field mics and echo-canceling technology to pick up spoken commands hands free from across a room without confusing sounds emitted by the unit’s own speakers. For those who don’t like the idea of having live mics listening in all the time, B&O enables deactivating them with a push-button switch on the unit’s base.

B&O said it developed the speakers to address the different ways people listen to music. The Beosound 1 is a portable speaker with a rechargeable battery for take-anywhere use. This will require the use of a docking station that us sold separately for $175. The Beosound 2 has a power supply and plugs into the wall to generate enough power for audiophile grade sound quality in a dedicated location.

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In addition to voice control, the speakers will take commands from a smartphone or tablet. They also are equipped with a  highly cool top-mounted touch-sensitive control dial.

It works like this: B&O equipped the speakers with sensors that auto detect by sound the user’s position in relation to the device and adjusts the control dial orientation to the user’s position in relation to the speaker. This way swipe commands remain in a consistent direction, regardless of the controlling hand’s angle of reach.

Both models are equipped with four “favorite” buttons that can be assigned to perform frequently used tasks, such as retrieving a weather report or finding a favorite internet radio channel.

Users will find the speakers equipped with both Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s Airplay 2 to simplify playback of streamed music from favorite apps on a smartphone or tablet.

In addition, the Google Assistant platform enables using the speakers to control other compatible smart home devices, like Google Assistant supporting televisions (from B&O, LG, Sony and others), Nest thermostats and compatible appliances, via spoken commands.


By Greg Tarr


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