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B&O Expands 4K TV Selection, Plans Learning Music System

Music system’s dual-sided control panel features touch-sensitive wood surface on one side. 1/06/2015 09:15:00 PM Eastern

Las Vegas – Bang & Olufsen came to International CES to expand its 4K UltraHD TV line and unveil what it called a first-of-its-kind intelligent music system, which learns a household’s listening patterns to deliver one-touch playback of the type of music that a household prefers at different times of the day and week.

The luxury-audio company also launched one the industry’s few Bluetooth-equipped noise-cancelling headphones, which appears under the B&O Play sub-brand to expand the company’s customer base to a younger demographic via more affordable portable A/V products.

The intelligent music system is the $2,700 BeoSound Moment, will probably ship in the first half, said audio category manager Theis Mork. Its purpose is to counter a trend in which “people listen to less music than they want and in lower quality that is available because of the many steps and connections you go through” to play digital music, said Marie Kristine Schmidt, director of B&O’s creative center.

The tabletop device connects via wires or wireless to active B&O speakers in the same room and other rooms. It features a wireless two-sided removable interface panel that angles up toward the user. One side of the panel features an LCD touchscreen, and the other side features a flat oak-wood surface said to be the world’s first touch-wood interface. The wood side lacks display but features an engraved circle that, when touched, turns on the system and automatically plays back the type of songs that the system, through a two-week learning process, found household members favoring at particular times of the day and week.

The circle also lets users adjust volume and skip backward and forward.

The side with the LCD touchscreen lets users select playlists of songs via Wi-Fi from a NAS device or networked iTunes-equipped PC. The touchscreen also lets users select Internet radio stations and cloud-based artist stations. The screen also displays artist collections that combine network-stored songs and cloud-based artist stations.

Also through the touchscreen, users select music types by mood via a color wheel with different colors and shades that represent 99 moods.

The system, which can also be controlled from an app, will launch with TuneIn Radio stations and Deezer, but additional services will be added in the future.

The Moment doesn’t aggregate content on Wi-Fi-connected phones and tablets, but consumers can use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to send music to the Moment for playback through the Moment to speakers in the same room and in other rooms. Different songs can be sent to different rooms at the same time.

Within a room, Moment connects to B&O active speakers via a proprietary wired link or via WiSA-certified wireless technology. Music can be sent via proprietary wireless or wired Network Link technology to speakers in other rooms, including the newest variation of the A9 disc-shaped floorstanding stereo speaker with wireless networking and streaming services. The upgraded version, shipping this month, adds multiroom capability and more streaming services. Pricing will remain the same at $2,699.

It supports the high-resolution 96/24 WAV and 96/24 high-resolution Flac formats.

In TVs, the new Ultra HD TV is the $16,995 75-inch BeoVision Avant 75, which joins a 55-inch $8,180 UHD model and an 85-inch $24,180 UHD model in the Avant series. The LED-LCD TVs are the company’s first 4K TVs, the first of which launched last May. The new model ships this month.

Avant TVs come with a motorized stand and motorized wall-bracket options to turn the TV screen to an optimum viewing position. It also features speakers that slide out automatically to the left and right beneath the screen.

All are LED-lit LCD displays, the opening model with edge-lit LEDs and the other two with back-lit LEDs with local dimming. They also feature built-in audio streaming services, 4K YouTube, web browser, and ability to stream video from networked or USB devices.

The noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset is the $499 BeoPlay H8, which this month will join other products in the B&O Play sub-brand sold through Bang & Olufsen-branded stores and other retail channels.

The on-ear headphones feature aluminum and leather construction, 40mm drivers, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, and touch interface on the right ear cup to play/pause music, control volume, control track up/down, accept phone calls, and turn on active noise cancellation.

The replaceable battery’s charge lasts up to 14 hours with both Bluetooth and noise cancellation on, up to 16 hours with Bluetooth on, and up to 35 hours with noise cancellation on and Bluetooth off. An included audio cable with 3.5mm minijack is available for use without Bluetooth. A microUSB-to-USB cable is also included for charging.

At 255 grams, the headset is probably the lightest wireless noise-cancelling headphone on the market, the company contended.

In other introductions, the company added new cosmetic options to two speakers.

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