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Beosound History

What is Beosound?

Beosound was introduced in Bang & Olufsen products in 1992. The first was Beosound Ouverture, a name underlining the end of an era of black boxes and technical products, numbers and technical terms. The conceptual idea behind the product itself was to combine all sources and elements in an all-in-one system. It should stand out in your home environment and invite you in. The first Beosound started as Beosystem 2500. It was a unique and breakthrough product that distanced Bang & Olufsen from the industry standard of black boxes.

  • Beosound 1
  • Beosound 2

From Beosystem to Beosound

Beosystem 2500 introduced innovative audio integration combined with the very first active loudspeakers – presenting an all-in-one solution. The year after, Beosystem 2500 was updated with new technology that included link options. The integrated active speakers were removed, and the audio system could now be connected to any of the new Bang & Olufsen active loudspeakers; Beolab 8000 and Beolab 6000 launched simultaneously. However, as this update was not visible to the customers, it was decided to introduce Beosound as a new family name. Beosound Ouverture signalled a more consumer-focused approach and a pointer to the conceptual idea of the product. Beosound Ouverture – the one that opens up to an experience. Having descriptive names, however, proved to be hard to pursue due to different interpretations in different countries. So, the Ouverture name was replaced by numbers in the following updates; Beosound 3000 and Beosound 3200.

Mastering magic is a Beosound hallmark

Mastering magic is very much part of the Beosound product revolution. Mastering technology alone was no longer enough. Technology must be designed to both respect and challenge the human senses. The emotional appeal should be considered just as important as any technical specifications. By appealing to the basic human needs for pleasure, confirmation and surprise, Bang & Olufsen intended to involve the user in a dialogue. Technology often opens up new possibilities, yet instead of making life easier, it often complicates things as the user is given so many more choices.

The concept of taking well-known technology and turning conventions upside-down has been the signature of many Bang & Olufsen products – but it has always had the customer experience at its centre. One of the great examples of this was Beosound 9000.

What made Beosound Ouverture unique?

From black boxes to visualising technology

David Lewis was the designer of Beosound Ouverture, which became an icon of the Bang & Olufsen product portfolio. Where others were hiding away technology, David Lewis chose to make technology visible and part of the design. He created an upright, all-in-one system with the sources radio, CD player, tape recorder visible behind moving glass doors. The glass doors opened up automatically when your hand approached. He was looking for an inviting and involving approach. He was inspired by glass doors opening up to you at the supermarket inviting you in for shopping. The focus was on creating an inviting and intriguing user experience.

Beosound Ouverture

Helping Philips to develop an upright CD-mechanism

As with many Bang & Olufsen ideas – the concept of Beosound Ouverture was much easier said than done and required a number of innovations. One was introducing an upright CD-player mechanism, something that took Bang & Olufsen engineers a considerable amount of work and a lot of trips to Philips in Eindhoven, who were providing the mechanism. It was an industry first and caught on in many other competing products, but Beosound Ouverture was first.

The art of opening glass doors

Mechanical ingenuity became another hallmark of Bang & Olufsen Beosound products. In Beosound Ouverture, Beosound 3000 and Beosound 3200 - all different versions of the same audio master - it was the opening up of the glass doors and gaining access to the CD player, radio or tape recorder. Two elegant glass doors automatically slide aside when a hand approaches the product. It is a construction based on an infrared reflection principle. Transmitters were sending the IR beam to the receivers through the reflection of the user's skin. An elliptical wheel ensured the smooth, elegant movement of the doors by letting an intriguing wire construction move them slowly, then accelerate quickly to maximum speed and finally slow down again when approaching the stop position. The timing was essential here. Anyone can open glass doors - but in this case, it was a designed motion pattern that made the way you do it unique and surprising. Although it was a fascinating feature that surprised and impressed the user, the glass doors also served another purpose - namely to protect the mechanical parts from dust and dirt and reduce noise from the CD and tape mechanisms.

Mechanical innovation led to many unique products.

Many learnings from these first Beosound products, was later used in many other places; the loading of CDs or DVD, the turning and tilting of TVs, the appearance and movement of loudspeakers or driver units in products that came after. Behind it all was a motion concept that stated: Movements may surprise but never shock – they may be heard, but never disturb, they may not start or stop abruptly. – the movement must be controlled completely.

Wire construction was used 25 years later.

One example of re-using ideas is the wire construction and movement concept behind Beosound Ouverture's glass doors. It was re-used in the movement of the speakers in Beovision Avant in 2016, almost 25 years later. Beosound Ouverture was updated many times with new technology over the following years, the name changed several times – Beosound 3000 and Beosound 3200, but the initial concept and design stayed in production for more than 20 years.

Beosound 1 – the first

Certain members of the audio community insist that if you want big sound, you need big loudspeakers. With Beosound 1, launched in 2001, Bang & Olufsen proved this might not necessarily be true. Reaping the benefits of 14 years of experience within the field of active loudspeakers, Beosound 1 featured no less than five individually powered driver units.

Beosound 1

The modern-day compact sound solution

They were hidden, so it looked like a single loudspeaker. Its entire front was perforated in a very robust aluminium cover to get the sound through and allow reading of the display concealed behind it. The original conceptual idea was a movable speaker. Still, clever design tricks providing a compact design allowed for an integrated radio and CD mechanism. Magical mechanical movements were integrated into the CD mechanism and the antenna, and once again, the learnings from the early Beosounds were put into play. This Beosound 1 was a modern version of a transistor radio that a lot of Bang & Olufsen customers had been asking for, for many years.

Beosound 9000 – eye-catching and ear-pleasing

A CD-changer providing jukebox functionality

Central to the Beosound 9000 concept was the wish to introduce a CD-changer to the home, using CDs the same way as the popular record-changer did in the old days, providing an endless stream of music. It became the next in a line of products, where technology was showcased in an eye-catching way. This helped the user gain access to music in a novel and user-friendly way. The design idea of placing six CDs next to one another came from the challenge of knowing which CD was available and which was playing. Walking past a music store in London, David Lewis was inspired by a display of CD covers placed next to one other on a shelf in the window. This was a very elegant way of showcasing the CDs – placed next to one another behind a long glass lid. The six-CD changer was born.

Placement flexibility with the user in focus

With its exceptional placement flexibility offering more than - seven different placement options, - the possibility to physically take out the display module and turn it 180 degrees so you could always read the buttons and text, - and precise positioning of the CD so its cover was always readable, - were some of the exceptional features of Beosound 9000.

From 0-100 km in 5.5 seconds

The movement of the clamper from one CD to the next at a speed similar to that of a Ferrari accelerating from 0-100 km/hours in 5.5 seconds gave the impression of playing different tracks from different CDs as if were they all on the same CD. Doing that continuously for 12 hours without stopping – was why Beosound 9000 became the perfect party machine.

Safety first

Such power and force required exceptional safety features preventing you from getting your fingers cut by the fast-moving clamping mechanism or squeezed under the silently moving glass lid. These were challenges engineers took seriously. This led to a working process called 'storyboarding'. The idea came from the film industry, where filmmakers were trying to foresee what happened in the next scene. It was a way to create user scenarios that could foresee all sorts of things that might go wrong, be unsafe or require severe testing, so the proper countermeasures could be included in the product design.

Beosound 5 – when sources became digital

A one-hand operated, digital music system was the conceptual idea of Beosound 5.

Re-inventing the wheel

Bang & Olufsen had to adapt to the world of digital music. Beosound 5 was a Bang & Olufsen Beosound system that took this task seriously. It presented a rich choice of content in a well-organised way, appealing to those looking for simplicity and easy access in the digital world. Designed by Anders Hermansen it offered a unique mixture of mechanical tactile elements, a solid graphical expression and different placement options. Now you did not have to worry about where you left your favourite CD, or how to enjoy your favourite digital music on something other than inadequate PC loudspeakers. Beosound 5 was Bang & Olufsen's plug-n-play answer to growing demand in the era of digital music: to have all the music available at all times without losing the overview.

Beosound 5

Organised access

It had a magical wheel that quickly whizzed through even the largest music collections at the spin of a finger. The content was conveniently arranged by album, artist, track or your favourites, with cover art beautifully shown on its large display. Although the inertia of the physical aluminium wheel made it possible to scroll quickly through massive amounts of content, the physical and virtual movements of the graphical user interface were 100 per cent synchronised. Beosound 5 had some of its magic experiences coming from how the software was working.

Beosound 5 gave life to a 'More of the Same' invention.

Bang & Olufsen introduced a unique algorithm in Beosound 5. Once the music you had selected had played, it continued to play 'More Of The Same' (MOTS). With MOTS, Beosound 5 always tried to find similar music tracks to give the user the feeling of continuously following a similar style. The MOTS algorithm was tested using 18,000 tracks and was a Bang & Olufsen proprietary technology. Again, a music machine that could play endlessly, but now based on digital music.

A rainbow of sources and genres

Beosound 5 offered easy access to more than 13,000 internet radio stations from all over the world. With every thinkable genre and language represented, you will always be able to find something suitable, regardless of what you crave. In addition to internet radio, Beosound 5 could browse and play music from a plethora of sources; a connected hard disc, a NAS server, a computer, a USB stick or a handheld device. And with the support of music in lossless quality, it was possible to enjoy the full qualities of your favourite tracks. Being a network-based product, Beosound 5 was also an intelligent system, where new features were introduced with regular software updates. For those wanting to clean up the mess of a physical, CD-based music collection, Beosound 5 was an excellent and elegant solution.

Beosound - your music system in a lot of different ways

The first Beosound 2 – a portable MP3 player shaped like a UFO

The first Beosound 2 was Bang & Olufsen first attempt to make an MP3 player that allowed you to take your favourite music with you on the move. It came out in 2002 and was nicknamed the UFO. It was a small, round and unfamiliar object. You organised your music on your computer via iTunes, Windows Media player or Bang & Olufsen proprietary music player Beoplayer. Music was heard on the Bang & Olufsen A8 earphones that were included in the package. The conceptual idea was that you should take Beosound 2 with you in your pocket for a run and be able to operate it blindly – changing tracks and turning up the volume in your pocket.

It was like having a Beosound 9000 in your pocket. The operation was the same to change discs and tracks. It was robust and based on an SD card technology, which could store your favourite collection of music that you wanted to take with you. Beosound 2 had it all. Except for one, as it turned out, all-important feature; the display. The storage was also small, limited by the SD card in those days. It came out simultaneously with the launch of Apple's first iPod – with a display and large storage capacity. After a few years, Apple took over the market for audio streaming on the move.

Beosound 2

Beosound 1 and Beosound 2 revisited – now as connected speakers.

Beosound 1 and Beosound 2 were launched in 2016. They were the successors to the first Beosound 1 - from 2001 - but catering to digital streaming of music that had replaced conventional radio and CD players. This also meant moving from a traditional audio system, as the central focus point in the music setup, to streaming features integrated into loudspeakers.

A music system and a speaker in one

They were born as a stand-alone music system and a loudspeaker in one. One based on Bluetooth streaming and battery technology - Beosound 1 – intended to be moved around from room to room. Designed so compact it could be placed on the table, almost like a thermos, as part of the home décor. Beosound 2 was connected to the mains, providing exceptional wireless streaming performance but still highly flexible with regard to placement. They both provide an impressive and omnidirectional sound performance using the Acoustic Lens Technology, invented and seen for the first time in Beolab 5. They were both remarkable performers compared to their size due to their active speaker designs and many other Bang & Olufsen proprietary technologies, such as Adaptive Bass Linearisation and thermal protection. Both products were characterised by Bang & Olufsen's dedication to exceptional sound performance. It was a time where most people had become accustomed to listening to digital music through the speaker of their phone or a pair of headphones, often with questionable sound quality as a consequence.

What inspired the design of Beosound 2?

The cone design came from the specifications to the performance. To achieve the required performance, a relatively large bass, two midrange drivers and a tweeter were needed. The prominent bass unit was placed at the bottom. Due to its size, it provided a solid base allowing Beosound 2 to stand firm, and by turning it downwards, you could use the floor or table it was placed on to increase the bass performance. The midrange drivers in Beosound 2 were placed back-to-back at the centre and the acoustic lens tweeter at the top. By turning the tweeter, so it was pointing downwards, the top could be used for the user interface. The placement of the speaker units gave a hint to a triangular design. However, the wish to move it around and place it anywhere made it into a cone. These rather practical decisions lead to several design additions. The grills were necessary to allow the midrange sound to come out. They were cut out, and the walls were anodised black, giving character to the otherwise large and rather dull aluminium surface. Using aluminium for the cabinet allowed for a thin and yet rigid cabinet reducing the size of the product to an absolute minimum.

A music system that knows where you are

may not sound nice, but it is a convenient thing. At the top, the volume control was integrated so it could be turned up and down like a conventional knob, adding a bit of traditional mechanical movement to the speaker. An elegant user interface at the top allows you to start and swipe between tracks or stations. A direction sensor registers where the user is placed and turns it towards the user. Since the launch, Beosound 2 has been updated several times, so it now offers speech control and can be paired with another Beosound 2 and provide what is almost like a conventional stereo setup, or at least, so the sound from both speakers is synchronised.

Beosound Moment – user-centric wireless streaming

Beosound Moment came in 2017 and was the successor to Beosound 5. Once again, Bang & Olufsen turned conventions upside down. It introduced a new way to access music – based on your mood instead of looking up a specific song: no menu, no instruction, just a so-called MoodWheel on the display side of the sound system.

It was about being in the moment

Beosound Moment was a digital audio master with a hub and separate touch interface you could bring along. But the new Beosound Moment introduced a touch-on-wood operation and the MoodWheel. The MoodWheel was a way to access a mood rather than a specific piece of music. Studies have shown that not many people are active listeners most of the time. Music was mainly used to create an atmosphere. Moment – being in the moment – was conceptualised from that learning.

The MoodWheel provided simple touch access to music from your music collection based on the mood you wanted. In the MoodWheel, music that created the same kind of atmosphere or mood was grouped. You could select between bright or dark – relaxing or energetic moods. By touching anywhere on the MoodWheel, Beosound Moment would create a continuous stream of music for you.

Using AI to understand your behaviour

Beosound Moment also included another intelligent feature: PatternPlay - a learning feature based on artificial intelligence. PatternPlay is a smart algorithm that, over time, learns the rhythm of your home. It tracks what your Beosound Moment is playing, what day of the week and what time of the day. PatternPlay learns from every interaction, and the more you use Beosound Moment, the smarter it gets. The software was developed based on a collaboration with an Austrian institute working with artificial intelligence and research made by musicologists studying music patterns.

Lossless, wireless streaming

Sound-wise Beosound Moment was an audio master that provided high-quality lossless and wireless streaming based on the WiSA technology. It was still a conventional Beosound audio master, as it required connection to loudspeakers and as such still would be placed as the centre of the living room. It turned out that Beosound Moment became the last dedicated sound system in the Bang & Olufsen product portfolio, where you had separated the sources from the loudspeakers.

Beosound Core

Beosound Core – when Beosound turns into a hideaway box

From the centre of the living room to a hideaway box. When introducing Beosound Core in 2017, Bang & Olufsen turned the conventional audio master into a discrete hideaway device connecting to any Beolab loudspeakers. It introduced the Bang & Olufsen App and allowed you control of all your content from your smartphone or tablet. It was an access and control point for music on mobile devices and cloud music. It had built-in access to music services, your home-hosted media and thousands of global internet radio stations.

Instant gratification combined with a high-quality music experience was in focus. It allowed you to use Google Cast, AirPlay, Bluetooth, UPnP and other music services and digital radio stations. The device itself became 'irrelevant' and was seen as an access point only, so the design was discrete and directed at becoming invisible.

High-resolution streaming to loudspeakers

With Beosound Core all Beolab loudspeakers could become networked speakers with built-in sources and different wireless connectivity options. Beosound Core rendered music at high-resolution – in an end-to-end digital manner – so now you could get to hear even the finest details of the recording. It was a first mover in wireless digital streaming quality for Bang & Olufsen. Beosound Core came in several different generations. Eventually, it moved in behind the tiles of Beosound Shape launched in 2017. Here it works as the device providing access to all your streaming services. It is the brains of Beosound Shape that also integrates both speaker units and amplifiers, all hidden behind the beautiful tiles. In Beosound Shape, the audio system now turned into a work of art on the wall. It was a novel approach to the concept of Beosound as a music performer, as it created both musical experiences in the room and functioned as an acoustic dampening of hard surfaces.

Beosound turns into Beoplay

In 2010 Bang & Olufsen launched its first speakers that semi-integrated its sources by functioning as a docking station and charger for an iPhone or iPad. With iPhone and iPad, new habits for music listening became widespread. With the phone as your primary audio master, the sound quality was suffering. Bang & Olufsen offered two different solutions to correct this: Beolit 12 and Beoplay A8. The Beolit name was introduced to honour a previous success as far back as 1939 – the Beolit radio – a small compact and groundbreaking radio for the younger generation. It had some of the same features and appeal as this entirely new generation of music systems. The Beoplay category name was introduced to appeal to a younger audience, and some of the early products were highly focused on informal listening, AirPlay streaming and the combination of a speaker and music on your phone. They were a step away from the conventional dedicated audio master. Both Beolit 12 and Beoplay A8 were very popular in the younger generation and was mainly seen as relevant in the teenage room, the office or on the move, where you were listening to music as a secondary activity.

Beoplay A9 - all in one sound system

Beoplay A9 was the first audio product that had both sources and both stereo speakers in one unit and one unit only. Beoplay A9 was launched in 2014 as the top-end version of the Beoplay portfolio. Based on the concept of - sound systems should not clutter the room. It should be simple to install and flexible in both placement options and colour. It provided an elegant and magic-like user interface and a fantastic sound performance from one single unit – so the concept of an audio master and stereo speakers was completely abandoned in this project.

Cool presence and minimal fuss - designed to last

Designed by Øivind Alexander Slaatto, Beoplay A9 attempted to reduce the physical design to a minimum. It is about going back to the basic shape of a circle with no disturbing elements at all. Uncomplicated and convenient, standing out and fitting in at the same time. Using basic materials such as fabric and wood that can easily be changed and applying basic shape like the circle made this product extremely long-lasting. All the performance technicalities such as bass port, driver units, user interface are hidden in the elegant design. The bass port is integrated into the handle on the rear. The driver units are completely concealed behind a perforated plastic cover in a unique pattern to allow sound to come out. Again, concealed behind whichever fabric front you choose. An invisible user interface using touch activation of the aluminium ring. Once again, a music performer that fits into any environment providing many innovative features for you to discover.

Back to Beosound

After Beoplay A9, it was decided to use Beoplay exclusively for the headphone category abandoning the name for sound products. Bang & Olufsen returned to the more descriptive and well-known family name, Beosound, which had been the origin of the audio master family back in 1994. Today Beosound is used in the connected speaker category – compact speakers where the sources are integrated. Here you find products such as Beosound Emerge, Beosound Edge, Beosound Balance. All wireless speakers with audio sources integrated, but all in their way represent unique designs and performance characteristics.

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