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B&O Readies Networked-AudioProduct Releases

DEERFIELD, ILL. – Luxury brand Bang & Olufsen is expanding its selection of networked- audio products with the launch of a $425 device that adds wireless-network capability to any of the company’s active home speakers.

The Playmaker became available in Bang & Olufsen showrooms at the end of July.

The device, called a receiver, incorporates Apple AirPlay and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) network technology, enabling it to stream music from smart phones, tablets, Mac computers, PCs, and media servers. The receiver plugs into B&O’s active speakers.

With multiple Playmakers in different rooms, consumers can create a multizone audio system, with the same song playing in sync throughout the house or different rooms playing different songs, the company said. When music is streamed from a handheld device, users can adjust volume and mute from the device, from a Bang & Olufsen remote, or from a control on the Playmaker itself.

To connect the receiver to a wireless network, users push a button on the bottom of Playmaker.

Zean Nielsen, president of Bang & Olufsen America, said he believes most consumers who buy a new pair of B&O speakers will opt for the Playmaker.

“We have strong expectations for its sales performance,” he said, “especially among an entirely new customer segment that may have aspired to own world-class B&O loudspeakers but chose not to invest in an audio or video system to drive the B&O speakers for one reason or another.” The Playmaker, he said, “allows these customers to use their own device” to deliver music to B&O speakers.

The launch follows the May launch of multiple networked products, including the $1,149-suggested BeoPlay A8 music system with Apple AirPlay and two new LCD TVs with embedded Wi-Fi, AirPlay and DLNA networking. Early in the year, the company unveiled $799 BeoLit 12 portable AC/DC speaker with AirPlay.