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Bang & Olufsen Targets Digital-Music Complexity

Las Vegas – Bang & Olufsen came to International CES with the avowed intent to make it as easy to access music at home from the cloud and from networked sources as it is to turn on a light.

The company also expanded its selection of WiSA-certified home-audio products with the addition of a $265 wireless receiver that turns a wired active B&O speaker into a wireless speaker. And the company expanded its headphone selection under the B&O Play subbrand with the subbrand’s first on-ear headphone, which features a polycarbonate head band in five colors and costs $129.

To make it easy for any family member to quickly access digital music at home, the company launched the $995 BeoSound Essence system. It consists of a round wall-mounted Essence Remote controller that can be placed near the front door, the entrance to rooms, or other convenient locations. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy to control a hide-away component that incorporates Ethernet connection, AirPlay, DLNA, Spotify Connect, and access to thousands of Internet radio stations.

The hide-away component in turn connects via the company’s wired Power Link connector to send audio and control signals to B&O’s active speakers.

Pressing the remote starts the music. A movable aluminum ring around the remote controls system volume, and next and previous buttons select favorite Internet radio stations, Spotify playlists, songs on a Spotify station, and songs and playlists stored on a Wi-Fi-equipped mobile device or on a networked computer or NAS drive. The remote also mutes the music.

When turned on, the system automatically launches the last-played source, and if that source – such as a smartphone – isn’t detected, it will launch the source played before that.

Up to three Essence Remotes can be installed in a room to control one hide-away component. Additional wall-mount Remotes and a tabletop version cost $200 each.

Consumers use a B&O app for iOS and Android devices to program Internet radio-station favorites, create Spotify playlists, and create playlists from music stored on PCs, NAS drives, and mobile devices. The app must also be used to launch AirPlay or DLNA playback if AirPlay or DLNA sources haven’t played for more than an hour.

The app also gives users fuller control of Spotify, lets users access all of the system’s Internet radio stations, and provides direct access to individual songs and albums stored on a mobile device or on a networked PC or NAS drive.

All new products ship in February.