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B&O Makes Play For Retailers

 New York – Danish design-electronics

Bang & Olufsen (B&O)

has begun discussions with A/V specialty retailers to expand distribution of select
products in the new B&O Play sub-branded line that was first announced at
International CES.

Speaking at a press event here to unveil some of the line’s new
products, B&O executives said several of the new items will be carried through
A/V specialty retailers, Apple Stores and Amazon, in addition to its own consumer
direct website and B&O showroom stores, which the company has relied on
almost exclusively in recent years.

But in an appeal to a younger, more mainstream demographic, the
company has elected to begin recruiting retailers with directed sales floors to
take select B&O Play models to storefronts and online sales.

“What we are doing with the B&O Play brand is trying to cast
a wider net to draw in a larger audience for Bang & Olufsen products,”
explained Dave Zapfel, B&O national product manager. “We are targeting
primarily a younger, more digitally savvy consumer in somewhere from their mid-20s
to early 30s. They are mostly independent, urban-living college graduates with
a job but haven’t married or settled down yet.”

Products unveiled Thursday for the line included a portable iPad
speaker frame, a portable iOS device speaker system with AirPlay functionality,
and the Beolit portable 2.1-channel speaker box with carrying strap, the latter
of which was shown at CES last January.

The company also unveiled for the U.S. market a pair of B&O
Play FullHD LCD TVs to be marketed only through its B&O product showrooms,
due to the need for specialized installation.

Among the new B&O Play-branded products was the BeoPlay A3 ($549
suggested retail) iPad sound system featuring a built-in accelerometer to
optimize tweeter selection and sound enhancement depending on how the system is
positioned in relation to the viewer.

The wedge-shaped BeoPlay A3 wraps around an iPad 1 or 2 (a seating
gasket modification for the newest iPad is in the works) and includes three
tweeters (two of which are activated at any one time) and a subwoofer. The
system’s enhanced sonic experience is continually adjusted for content and
positioning as the device is moved in relation to the listener for music,
movies or video conference calls.

The so-called B&O Adaptive Stereo Orientation system employs
a dedicated motion sensor inside the BeoPlay A3 device to work with the iPad to
help determine up from down, for example. The 2-inch omni-directional woofer is
always in play, delivering bass down to 60Hz. Three half-inch tweeters are
placed in the other three corners of the device. Two are activated at any one
time according to a landscape or portrait viewing orientation.

The black frame is trimmed in aluminum and features a wedge shape
that allows optimal viewing from a variety of positions. It is powered by a
rechargeable battery and will charge a connected iPad when the power cord is

Meanwhile, the BeoPlay A8 ($1,149 suggested retail) sound system extends the
functionality of the company’s previously introduced BeoSound 8 speaker system by
adding Apple AirPlay to connect to iPhones or iPads.

The addition enables listening to music from an iOS device
through the BeoPlay A8 speakers without the need to connect wires.

The system includes a pair of two-way speakers powered by Class D

Henrik Lorensen, B&O Play VP, said the A8 was designed to “let
people connect to their music wherever they want to be.”

It features 5-inch midrange/bass speakers, 0.75-inch tweeters, and
has 70 watts output power.

The sound mode can
be adapted to the BeoPlay A8’s location in the room using a switch. The system
will compensate for wall resonance using three pre-programmed modes: wall,
corner or freestanding positions.

BeoPlay A8 will be available through B&O showrooms, at

and through the B&O Play online store. 

the new LCD TVs include the 32-inch BeoPlay V1 32 ($3,249) and 40-inch BeoPlay
V1 40 ($3,999).

Both sets were designed for high-fidelity sound, including deep
bass, well-defined highs and articulated mid-range tones, the company said.

Like the BeoPlay A8 and A3 speaker systems, the V1 sets will
detect the type of content being played and the viewer’s relation to the screen
to make adjustments for the optimal sound enhancement.

The sets also accommodate the use of extra speakers via an
integrated 5.1 surround module and speaker/subwoofer connections.

The V1 sets have steel, powder-coated cabinets and include a
selection of different color loudspeaker grilles to accent the look of the
display in its environment.

The sets use LED edge lighting with auto contrast control adjustment
to match ambient lighting conditions. Also featured are dedicated film and game
modes, color adjustment settings, a new graphic user interface, and up to five
HDMI inputs and one analog video input using an adapter cable.

The sets are both AirPlay and DLNA compliant and will connect to
a broadband service via Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi (an antenna is included in the
set). The company even includes a space inside the back of the set to allow the
user to install his/her own Apple TV device to access streaming services.

Additionally, the integrated media browser allows viewing photos
and listening to music on a USB drive or NAS server, and it includes a
dedicated universal remote.

The sets ship with a unique floor stand, although B&O will
also offer an optional table stand, wall mount and ceiling-mounted cable hanger
that suspends the TV in mid-air and allow forward-titling angle adjustments.

Meanwhile, the previously shown
BeoLit 12 portable speaker box with AirPlay will be available through B&O
retail partners. It includes a leather carry strap and delivers 120-watt output
and 2.1 speaker channels . It includes a USB connection to iPhones and iPads,
and comes with an aux input to plug in other portable audio sources.