Bang & Olufsen is a brand synonymous with quality. For its 94 years, it has positioned itself at the cutting-edge of consumer electronics. However, for Bang & Olufsen, it’s not simply about the way a product performs. How it looks is equally important. The design philosophy for products from Bang & Olufsen is aesthetic first and function second.
Knowing this, I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of the brand-new Bang & Olufsen flagship store at Chadstone. At the event, B&O demonstrated the new Beovision Harmony and Beosound Stage.
According to B&O, the Beovision Harmony is “a TV experience that elevates the design of any living space and fills it with spectacular sound. Designed and crafted for those who live for musical moments, Beovision Harmony is the pinnacle of luxury entertainment.”
I was sceptical at first but after seeing it in action, I’m a believer.
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Beovision Harmony is Bang & Olufsen’s entrant into the new world of disguising ever-growing television screens. While some manufacturer’s opt for camouflage or displaying artwork, B&O’s Steve Devonshire explains that these solutions still aren’t perfect.
Instead of trying to make the TV screen disappear altogether, Bang & Olufsen is instead, making it something that looks good even when not in use.
Designed by Torsten Valeur, the Beovision Harmony’s design is based on mid-last century television designs that would be featured inside wooden cabinets. “These cabinets would hide the TV and radio behind delicate blinds to fully integrate with the living room.”
The two included speakers move and rotate at the press of a button. When it’s turned off, the speakers rotate into a vertical position to “hide” the screen. When turned on, the Beovision Harmony rotates and the speakers move to underneath the screen.
Whether in a vertical or horizontal position, the speakers come together to form a three-channel stereo, 450W, 7.1 sound system. Best of all, when the TV is off and in the lowered position, you can still use the sound system.
While it wasn’t fully functional at the event, Devonshire said that when the Beovision Harmony is released, the top portion of the TV screen, not hidden by the speakers, can be used to display metadata when playing music.
While there’s a great deal of art and engineering that’s gone into creating the Beovision Harmony, it’s not really hiding the TV. Sure, it obscures parts of the screen, but in reality, it’s far more eye-catching than your standard black mirror.
To me, the Beovision Harmony looks more like a fireplace.
Devonshire said that part of the appeal of the Beovision Harmony’s design was that it was open to interpretation. He added that the idea of it resembling a fireplace was pleasing as before the TV, the fireplace was the focal point of the living room.
With Beovision Harmony, Bang & Olufsen is attempting to do more than simply produce a great product. It’s trying to be a storyteller.
Devonshire demonstrated the Beovision Harmony’s storytelling abilities by showing a clip from Blue Planet II. The vision is incredible and LG’s 4K OLED screen looks phenomenal. Unfortunately, motion smoothing was turned on so everything looked a little too good but I was still able to appreciate the quality of the imagery.
However, Devonshire’s point was that sound is at least 50% of your viewing experience, maybe more. In the Blue Planet II clip, the drama, emotions and tension all come from the music. Devonshire stated that as improvements to visuals and imagery in TVs grows smaller, the next battleground is in sound.
That’s an area Bang & Olufsen excels. And so too does the Beovision Harmony. The included speakers produce some incredible sounds and can be paired with additional speakers and a subwoofer if you like.
Best of all, Beovision Harmony is platform agnostic so users can watch content via all manner of streaming, app and systems. At a cost of $30,000 AUD for the aluminium version and $33,000 AUD for the wood one, the Beovision Harmony is an investment, to say the least.
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For people who are already satisfied with their TV, Bang & Olufsen has an audio-only solution. The Beosound Stage is Bang & Olufsen’s first-ever Soundbar.
Bringing together ” brings the rich and powerful Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound to any TV” the Beosound Stage is an all-in-one speaker that features 11 speaker drivers, Dolby Atmos 3D and multiroom streaming.
Designed in collaboration with Danish studio NORM Architects, the Beosound Stage has been designed to look simple, yet elegant.
The focal point of the soundbar’s design is its simple, elegant frame, which is available in natural aluminium, bronze tone aluminium or smoked oak. The frame runs all the way around the speaker and houses a seamlessly integrated engraved sensory control panel.
The 2mm gap between the frame and the fabric speaker cover gives the illusion that the speaker is floating within the frame and creates an exciting contrast between the rigid exterior and the soft, acoustically transparent textile.
Devonshire gave us a demonstration of the Beosound Stage and it sounded phenomenal. It’s hard to believe that such incredible sound quality could come from such a small device. Playing a track by The Weeknd, the Beosound Stage pumped out crisp, clear sound with deep bass, despite not including a subwoofer.
When used with movies and TV, the Beosound Stage is compatible with Chromecast (built-in) AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth. The Dolby Atmos functionality means that when media has been designed for 3D sound, the Beosound Stage will play it correctly.
Finally, Beosound Stage comes equipped with Bang & Olufsen’s ToneTouch. With the press of a button, users can ensure that the sound is playing at a setting that best suits.
Bang & Olufsen Flagship Store
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The unveiling of these products coincided with the opening of Bang & Olufsen’s flagship store at Chadstone in Victoria.
Devonshire spoke to me about the “cult of B&O” which, much like the cult of Apple, is comprised of a dedicated group of fans. The Band & Olufsen flagship store in Chadstone feels like an invitation to join that cult. Minimalist, sleek and very stylish, the store is an extension of the design philosophy of the brand.
When you enter you’ll be bombarded with the smell of wood, which is odd for a tech store. And instead of shiny, cold surfaces, everything in the store feels warm, inviting and homey. With an air of class mind you.
Whether you’re looking for new headphones, a standalone soundbar, speakers or a TV, the Bang & Olufsen store will have you covered.
Leo Stevenson attended an event as a guest of Bang & Olufsen.