The Sonos networked music distribution system is facing a challenge, this time from Bang & Olufsen. This Danish name, associated with design masterpieces that yield high-quality sound and pictures, is now showing up a music system that can have the same navigability and control that the Sonos has been known for.
Infact B&O have worked on hard-disc-based music systems since the late 90s with the Beosound 3300 which uses a hard disc for storing favourite CDs. They have also worked on the concept of multi-room control of audio equipment since 1981 with their Master Control Link setup which had remote-control receivers associated with secondary speakers that are connected to a music system. This is in addition to being the first company to provide interlinked operation of “multi-box” AV systems.
But they have been holding back on integration with the home media network This is even though a few other European-based premium-audio names like Linn and Naim have presented network-capable audio equipment, typically in the form of network media receivers or CD receivers with network media and Internet radio functionality. Most likely, they had held back on networked AV until they were sure that it was going to work and work in an elegant and easy-to-use manner befitting of their name.
This Danish design piece is in the form of a control panel that has all the connections to the network, 2 USB storage devices, a line-level input as well as a pair of B&O Beolab speakers. It can work as a client device to an existing Beosound 5 / Beomaster 5 hard-disc-based music system It can be connected to an Ethernet network or a 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi segment and can play music held on a DLNA-capable media server or stream through Internet radio.
There is a question worth asking about this setup in relation to use with established B&O music system setups. It is whether the unit can work with an existing B&O Beolink multi-room setup, especially in the form of gaining access to the network and Internet sources through the remote speakers of that setup.
This is now showing that the Beosound 5 Encore is providing those Beo-enthusiasts access to DLNA-based network audio in a manner that befits the heritage that they have always valued. It may even be something that the trendy inner-urban cafe, wine bar or beauty salon may consider for their music system.