Tag: Bang & Olufsen

The two-box voice-driven home assistant setup is being made real with Bluetooth


Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 Bluetooth smart speaker press image courtesy of Bang & Olufsen

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Generation Bluetooth smart speaker that works with a smartphone or similar devicce to benefit from Amazon Alexa

B&O Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) Announced With Alexa Integration | Ubergizmo

My Comments

At the moment, there is the latest generation of the Bose QuietComfort 35 noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset that implements a software link with the Google Assistant voice driven personal assistants through its own app. Now Bang & Olufsen have come up with the Beosound A1 Second Generation battery-operated Bluetooth speaker that has integration with the Amazon Alexa voice-driven home assistant platform.

But what are these about?

Bluetooth smart speaker diagram

How the likes of the B&O Beosound A1 work with your smartphone, tablet or computer to be a smart speaker

These are purely Bluetooth audio peripherals that connect to your smartphone which links with the Internet via Wi-Fi or mobile broadband. This is usually facilitated with a manufacturer-supplied app for that device that you install on your smartphone or tablet. You will also have to install the client software for the voice-driven assistant platform if your smartphone or tablet doesn’t have inherent support for that platform.

The Bose solution primarily used their app to “map” a secondary function button on the headset to activate Google Assistant. Then the B&O approach had the Beosound A1 and your smartphone or similar mobile-platform device work together as if it is an Amazon Echo.

Why do I see this as a significant trend for “smart-speaker” and allied device use cases, especially as Google, Amazon and the Voice Interoperability Initiative want to extend their voice-driven assistant platforms to setups based around Bluetooth audio peripherals. Here it underscores the reality that the highly-capable host devices will have Internet connectivity via a mobile-broadband connection or a local-area network.

One is to allow manufacturers to provide a highly-portable approach towards using Alexa or Google Assistant while on the move. Similarly, this approach will appeal to those in the automotive and marine infotainment sector with the idea of end-users bringing their own Internet connection with them while in their car or boat but wanting to use their preferred voice-driven assistant platform there.

Some technology manufacturers may look at the idea of a two-piece setup with a specially-designed Bluetooth speaker that links with a device that is normally connected to the Internet like a set-top box or router and both devices working in a smart-speaker capacity. Here, it can be about a cost-effective smart-speaker platform or to enable the use of battery-operated devices that use battery-efficient technologies.

After what Bose and B&O are doing, it could be about bringing the idea of a two-box smart-speaker setup for voice-driven assistant platforms opening up some interesting pathways.

HP joins with Bang & Olufsen for optimised notebook sound


HP taps Bang & Olufsen for audio tech now that Apple has Beats | Engadget

HP Partnership With Apple’s Beats Officially Ends as HP Moves on to Bang & Olufsen | MacRumors

From the horse’s mouth

Bang & Olufsen

Press Release (PDF)


Press Release

My Comments

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

B&O will start to appear in HP computers very soon

Over the last many years, most of the Windows-based laptop manufacturers have been working with companies in the sound-recording and sound-reproduction space to improve the way these computers have sounded. This is whether through the integrated speakers or when they are connected to external speakers or headphones and was seen as a way to compete with Apple for music recording and reproduction.

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

The knowhow associated with this sound system will affect how the next HP laptop is designed

As I have seen with the Hewlett-Packard laptops that I have reviewed, HP had partnered with Beats by Dr Dre, known for headphones and speakers with a very impressive bass response, to improve the sound from their laptops. But lately Apple bought out Beats and HP realised they couldn’t continue this partnership.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen has been well known for some very impressive hi-fi and video equipment, speakers, and audio accessories that are works of art in themselves for a long time.  For example, I had cited their single-piece music systems such as the Beocenter 7000 series, the Beocenter 9000 series and Beosound 9000 CD changer as being above their peers for sound quality even in their days.

They also have designed the ICEPower power-amplification modules to allow sound to be amplified by a compact device that is efficient with power and heat. Of course, B&O has related to a wide range of music from the classics through jazz and classic rock to current popular music and made their brand have that same kind of appeal as the Jaguar or Range Rover cars. This is where a premium brand like these isn’t just about being a status symbol, but is about enjoying the legendary expertise that the brand is all about.

But they have dabbled with sound tuning for ASUS, initially on a project basis but had applied the technology to a larger range of laptops under this brand.

So B&O have decided to pick up the mantle and offer the sound-tuning expertise to HP. This will also be about sharing the design expertise that is associated with how the Beomaster 1900 or Beosound Ouverture were designed. This includes preventing audio-noise sources like the power supply or other control circuitry from adding noise to the signal path.

Let’s not forget the way they have designed their speakers, headphones and similar equipment where they use a special cubic room for measuring the acoustic characteristics for the device they are designing. Here, this could lead towards being able to answer the question about how a laptop or tablet’s integrated sound system can be improved upon, making for a product that is more listenable.

The “Bang & Olufsen” brand will appear on the premium HP computers such as the Envy, Omen and Spectre lineups while the B&O Play lifestyle-focused brand will appear on the Pavilion computers, the tablets and accessories. Here, the B&O influence will affect HP computers that are being released through this year onwards.

I would see this partnership celebrate the expertise that both HP and B&O are about when it comes to their proficiencies rather than the bragging rights that is associated with a particular brand. Could that newer HP Envy or Omen complement that Beocenter?

Gift List–Mother’s Day

Sometimes you may be stuck for technological gifts to give Mum on her special day. Here, I have assembled a list of ideas to get you going, especially when it comes to high-value gifts where you can pool resources together to fund these gifts rather than buying many low-value gifts.


Small size for the purse

Toshiba Thrive AT1S0 7" tablet

Toshiba AT1S0 7″ Android tablet

The small 7” tablet computers come in to their own if the main goal is to have it on hand in your coat pocket. They can also fit comfortably even it to mid-sized handbags to use as an electronic notebook or electronic reference book.

To keep in the handbag, at home or the office

Toshiba AT300 10" Android tabletA 10” tablet may come in to its own if the main goal is to read or view online content while relaxing in that armchair or in bed. Similarly, they could come in to their own with a larger handbag or shoulder bag.

No tablet computer is complete without a matching accessory cover or wrap that suits Mum’s taste. If she owns a tablet computer, you may offer her a newer cover or wrap, perhaps to replace that tired old one that she has on that tablet.


Small ultraportables

HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet-notebook computer

HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet-notebook computer

Small ultraportable computers that range from 11” to 14” can earn their keep for “on-the-go” computing tasks. This is more so if Mum wants to create a lot of content like typing up many email letters, writing memoirs or simply working a blog.

Larger laptops

Toshiba Satellite P870 desktop-replacement laptopOn the other hand, a standard-size laptop or “desktop tablet” computer may come in handy if the goal is a computer that is mainly used at home and the desire is to store it away neatly when not in use.


The “all-in-one” desktop computer, with the computing power, screen and storage in one slender box, can become an alternative computer option if you want an elegant desktop computer. They are also becoming increasingly capable rather than glorified “kitchen kiosks”.


HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer

HP Photosmart 7510 multifunction inkjet printer – predecessor to the Photosmart 7520

As for printers, it may be worth looking towards a durable network printer that is cost-effective to run. Be careful of the printers that are cheap to buy because these units will be expensive to run due to short-capacity inks and toners, with situations where the cost of replacing ink or toner is as much as buying a printer of the same standard.

HP Photosmart 6520 or Photosmart 7520 desktop printers

HP Envy 120 – a neat aesthetically-pleasing printer for low-demand applications such as being a secondary printer

Brother MFC-J825DW or DCP-J725DW / DCP-J925DW

Small music system

1-piece including speaker docks and wireless speakers

Marantz Audio Consolette speaker dock (Photo courtesy of Marantz / Gap Marketing)

Marantz Audio Consolette speaker dock

These single-piece systems, including speaker docks and wireless speaker systems, typically have a small footprint and can fit well on the kitchen bench or on the sideboard. Some of these may offer a “full” sound that encompasses te bass notes and the treble notes properly.


Sony CMT-MX750Ni Internet-enabled micro music system

Sony CMT-MX750Ni – an example of a DLNA-compliant music system for a hotel room or serviced apartment

A three-piece system with separate speakers has increased flexibility. Here, you can keep the main unit on the sideboard and position the speakers further away, including mounting them on the wall or having them flank a fireplace or feature window.

Earphones and headphones

Creative Labs MA930 in-ear mobile-phone headset

Creative Labs MA930 in-ear headset

I would suggest that you look towards a few sets of headphones that suit different activities. For example, a pair of lightweight supra-aural headphones can work well for jogging or walking with good examples being provided by B&O (Form 2review), Bose, Denon, Sennheiser and Sony.

Earphones can also work well for public transport and other noisy environments especially where discreet use is required. Similarly a pair of good circum-aural headphones can go a long way for detailed music listening at home or in noisy environments.

It is worth having a look at this buying guide to be sure that the headphones fit yours and Mum’s desires.

Gaining the most out of the Internet experience

Internet setup

If there isn’t a broadband Internet service at Mum’s home, it could be a good gift idea to set up one there and install a good-quality router for the network as in the article that I had done about the “family house”.

To the same extent, optimising the home network with at least 802.11n dual stream coverage everywhere, preferably simultaneous dual-band 802.11n dual-stream Wi-Fi. As well, I would make sure that there is a HomePlug AV powerline segment in that network even if there is Ethernet in the house. This is to cater for ad-hoc wired-network setups.

The reason I would think of this is that you may be dealing with increased use of multimedia from online sources at the TV, laptop or mobile devices and you want reliable operation from these services.


Similarly, you may pool resources together to give Mum access to IT education and support programs/ This is more so if she hasn’t got much in the way of computer skills.

Online content

As well, pooling resources to an online content service such as Spotify, Netflix, Hulu or QuickFlix may be a way to give her access to the music and movies that these services provide. In the case of Spotify, this may be about using it as an online music library or as a “music tryout” service that can be part of her complete music experience.

These services are not about replacing the existing content library but about hunting for new content that may be of interest.


I wish you all a very happy and prosperous Mother’s Day with lots of fun, with you using this as a way to choose the right gift that will be value for money.

Another step in the DLNA direction from the Danish king of design


Bang & Olufsen unveils Playmaker wireless audio bridge, makes sure AirPlay and DLNA speak Danish – Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Bang & Olufsen – Product Page

My Comments

Previously I had touched on Bang & Olufsen launching the Beosound 5 Encore which is their first DLNA-enabled music system that put Sonos on notice as far as “cool” hard-disk-based music systems were concerned. Again B&O have launched another music system which, this time, can be driven by a computer or a mobile device, achieving this same goal of effectively putting Sonos on notice.

This device, known as the Playmaker, can connect to any B&O Beolab active speaker system and works to the AirPlay or DLNA Media Renderer standards, thus being able to be under the control of a computer running iTunes, TwonkyMedia or similar software. Even your iOS device running its stock iTunes implementation or your mobile device running a DLNA controller app like TwonkyMobile or PlugPlayer can be the control point. Of course, you could adjust the volume or move between tracks using a Beo4 or Beo6 remote control.

Like an increasing array of network media players made by companies who have their feet planted in good sound, the B&O Playmaker supports FLAC and other codecs considered as part of high-grade sound reproduction. This is in the same manner as what I was often seeing at the Australian Audio & AV Show at the Melbourne Marriott Hotel where all of the network-capable audio systems were working to DLNA setups and using FLAC and other high-grade audio codecs.

Here, this Danish design king has provided two paths for DLNA-based audio – a system with a local control surface and display in the form of the Beosound 5 Encore and a system that is managed entirely from remote control in the form of the Playmaker. These are another example of “audio companies of respect” embracing standards-based high-grade network audio reproduction.

As I have also said before in the article on the Beosound 5 Encore, this is one design masterpiece that would come in to its own playing that piece of European chillout music in that trendy inner-urban café, wine bar or beauty salon.

What is the sound-tuning that is now implemented in laptops all about?

HP Pavillion dv7-6013TX laptop - keyboard highlightedA trend that I have seen with laptop computers and some all-in-one desktop computers is for them to have their sound output “tuned” by a company involved in the recording or reproduction of music. In a similar vein to how a motor-racing team will work a car destined for street use to improve its performance, these firms, such as Harman (JBL), Bang & Olufsen or Dr. Dre’s Beats Audio,  will work on the sound-reproduction systems to improve the computer’s sound reproduction, whether through its integrated speakers or through headphones attached to the computer.

The main issue that these efforts are trying to conquer is the tinny sound that emanates from the typical laptop speakers. Previously, these computers used just a pair of small speakers installed in their small chassis that didn’t yield good bass or midrange reproduction and they were driven via a low-power stereo amplifier in the computer. The setup was just good enough for audio prompts and, in some cases, speech from people without accents, yet did a horrendous job at reproducing music or sound effects in video or game content.  This is compared to the way even a cheaper portable radio or tape player that is equipped with the traditional 3” cone speaker can reproduce most frequencies “across the board”.  It is made easier due to these sets having a larger cabinet that isn’t crammed out with circuitry and reproducing sound through a larger speaker with a deeper cone. End-users are asking a lot more out of their computers as they use them as personal jukeboxes, movie players and games machines or businesses make heavy use of them as voice and video telephony endpoints.

HP Pavilion dm4 BeatsAudio Edition laptop at a Wi-Fi hotspotThe challenge is to keep these computers slim yet yield a proper and desirable sound across the audio spectrum. Typically the modifications will focus on the sound-reproduction and amplification circuitry as well as the integrated speakers. For example, there will be digital-sound-processing circuitry that works as a tone control for the computer, with the ability to improve the tone for the integrated speakers.

There will be the implementation of Class-D power amplifier circuitry that is designed by people in the audio industry and the sound will emanate from a multi-way speaker system. An example of this is the ASUS Ultrabooks implementing Bang & Olufsen ICEPower audio amplification. Most systems will use a 2.1 speaker setup with a separate bass driver that may be separately amplified, but some may use a multi-way speaker setup with many speaker units to achieve the sound of larger traditional speakers. As well, there would be some work on planning out the speaker-enclosure area to allow the sound to come out of the system properly.

From what I have noticed when I reviewed many of the laptops, I have come across some setups where the speakers can be muffled easily when you rest your hands on the palmrest, or some computers may sound better when placed on a harder surface. I have also noticed that the screen area isnt necessarily used on most laptops as a place to locate speakers because when you have speakers there, you can improve the stereo separation and sound localisation there.

There are still the many challenges ahead for these sound-tuning projects, where there is an expectation to yield that punchy bass from the built-in speakers. This is usually the kind of stuff that the marketers hype on about when they promote the computers that are equipped with these sound-tuning efforts. Other than that, these efforts have succeeded in putting the life back in to sound reproduction from the larger “new-computing-environment” laptop computers.

25th Anniversary of Bang & Olufsen’s Form 2 headphones

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Form 2 – new colours – Bang & Olufsen

Product Review – HomeNetworking01.info

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

My Comments

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Now Bang & Olufsen are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their Form 2 lightweight headphone design which I have reviewed on this site. These had the earpieces anchored to the headphone using a connection that wouldn’t look out of place on a nice watch; and were known for very good quality sound.

They have now been released in different colours rather than just the black finish that was associated with them. Here you can choose to have them in red, orange, yellow or white as well as black. The press photos on the B&O site also have images of them having the classic B&O logo on them, which would be similar to the trend that I have seen with other desirable brands where the logo is clearly visible.

It is also worth noting that I heard from B&O sales staff that these headphones are one of the few premium-priced headphones that are optimised for use on portable devices as well as home or professional audio equipment. This is compared to a practice associated with some other premium headphones where the impedance is suited for the headphone jack of a hi-fi amplifier, CD player, tape/MiniDIsc deck or mixing desk; and wouldn’t have the full volume from an MP3 player, smartphone or laptop computer.

This is definitely one of Bang & Olufsen’s classic designs that makes me think of their products being like the Jaguar cars. Here, these products aren’t about a label that only represents a status symbol, but are about something you enjoy using because they deliver the performance. You expect the clear treble notes and vocals while you hear a tight bass line when you hear music through them.

Now the Danish king of design approaches the DLNA Home Media Network

Product Information

BeoSound 5 Encore – Bang & Olufsen

My Comments

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.

I have previously covered this brand on HomeNetworking01.info through their “working” of the sound subsystems in ASUS premium and multimedia laptops as well as reviewing a pair of Form 2 headphones.

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.

Product Review–Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones


I am reviewing the Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones which are a very stylish set of premium lightweight headphones that are suitable for use with your portable media player, smartphone, or laptop. Here, these headphones are designed and made by a company that is one of a few “names of respect” when it comes to audio-equipment and speaker design. I have even raised this name in this site in connection with their involvement in designing the sound system for some of the ASUS premium laptops.

HP Envy alongside B&O headphones

HP Envy alongside some premium B&O headphones

Regular followers of this site may have noticed these headphones as a prop in a picture that I took of the HP Envy 15 laptop, where I was emphasising the “Black Label” positioning of this premium laptop.

These “over-the-head” headphones sell at B&O stores for $199 and if the earpads wear out, you can replace them for $10 a pair but I had received this pair from some close friends as a 40th birthday present. As you will read further, you will find that they are a real treat to use.


Like with all B&O products, the style of these headphones is a very strong point. Here, there is a large black aluminium headband with the square earpads anchored to the headband by bands that look as though they are part of an elegant watch’s band.

Even the plug is designed to match the look and positioning of these headphones. Here, it is a small plug with gold-plated contacts which are known to provide the high-quality sound transfer.


Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

This has allowed for a snug comfortable fit on the user’s head with the earpads pressing in on the user’s ears. As well, they are not too heavy and will not fall off your head too readily unlike a lot of cheaper headphones.

Here, this allows for use of these headphones over a long time, yet you can still slide them aside if you need to talk to someone nearby while you are wearing them.

Sound quality

The real story with these headphones is in the sound quality, whether you are listening to music or audiobooks, watching movies, playing computer games or using them with a microphone adaptor for handling phone calls with your mobile phone, This has been based on B&O’s reputation in designing speakers and headphones that go with their stylish and luxurious hi-fi systems.

It is very much what you would expect from true hi-fi headphones. Here the sound was clear and tight and not boomy and it didn’t matter if the headphones were fed with music or sound effects from a movie or game. For voice applications, including telephone calls, the Form 2 excels on the voice clarity and could be suitable as part of a headset system for wideband telephony setups.

These headphones don’t have any noise-cancellation circuitry and are of the kind that sit on your ears. These factors may be a limitation with using them in noisy environments like aeroplanes, buses or diesel railcars but their snug fit reduces the noise impact from these environments slightly.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones - earpad and watchband styke bracket

Earpad and watchband-style bracket

Points of improvement

There aren’t really any points of improvement except for B&O to make a derivative headset that has an integrated microphone for use with smartphones and other telecommunications applications. This would be of importance when it comes to designing a headset fit to be used with HD Audio and other wideband telephony setups.

As well, they could provide a “travel-kit” as an accessory for these headphones and other headphones in their range. This would consist of an elegant storage case, an active noise-cancellation module and a “jet-plug” adaptor to connect these headphones to inflight-entertainment systems.


I would recommend these headphones if you value good-quality sound, style and comfort from a set of “over-the-head” headphones. Even if you can’t afford a set yourself, it may be worth wish-listing it as a gift for an upcoming major birthday or anniversary. As well, once you use them, your ears will certainly know the difference between good headphones and cheap headphones.

I would even say that these headphones are a good partner accessory for a premium laptop like the Acer Ferrari or the HP Envy laptops.

A laptop that will directly please the Beo-enthusiasts

ASUS NX90: Bang & Olufsen ICEpower Laptop [CES 2010] | Laptop at Hardware Sphere

Dual-touchpad laptop from Asus and Bang & Olufsen – CNET Crave

My comments

Beosound Ouverture There are those of you who may own or have used Bang & Olufsen hi-fi systems or TVs and have become amazed at the beauty of these Danish design masterpieces. Then when you switch on any of these masterpieces, your experience with them is so special, with such benefits as high-quality sound and pictures and a distinct “feel” and user experience.

You may be wondering when this kind of experience will appear on your computer and may have thought of using the Apple Macintosh as a way of coming closer to this experience.

Now Asus have brought this experience closer to the Windows PC user through the release of a laptop computer that has been designed in conjunction with this company. David Lewis, who is a freelance industrial designer who has designed most of the classic B&O masterpieces such as the Beosound 9000 music system and the Beovision LX and MX series of television sets, has been responsible for the key aspects of this design. Similarly, the pictures of this computer when it was open reminded me of the Master Control Panel that was part of the Beosystem 6500 music system, especially with the black keyboard area and the polished-aluminium palm rest. The screen bezel had the speakers integrated in it and was wider than the keyboard area. This made it have the look of one of B&O’s newer flatscreen TVs.

None of this design is complete without there being improvements in the sound-reproduction department. Here, they also used the B&O’s ICEPower Class-D switch-mode power amplification technology, which is known to be one of the few amplifier designs of this type that yield high-quality sound.  The main reason that the speakers are in the screen bezel, rather than facing upwards from the keyboard area, are to focus the sound at the user. This is the common setup practice for sound playing to the audience and is used for hi-fi, TV sound, desktop PCs and other common speaker-based sound reproduction tasks.

With Asus becoming involved with one of the few “audio companies of respect” to design a high-end laptop computer, this certainly shows that there is effort being taken in improving the sound quality of these computers. If this happens further, the quality of the sound that emanates from this class of computer could be improved rather than us having to stick with the usual weak tinny sound or connect these computers to external speakers for better sound reproduction.

These computers also used a “dual-touchpad” design which is often described as being similar to how a master DJ cues up records on his two turntables. This then allows for increased control of the computer, especially when scrolling through material.

Of course, the specifications and software provision are not dissimilar to a high-end multimedia laptop running Windows 7.

This also means that people who work with the Windows operating system can still benefit from classy and elegant computer designs. Once we see computers like this appearing on the market, there will be the desire to offer something that bit extra when it comes to the business-personal laptop computer.