Most Bang & Olufsen audio systems' designs virtually beg for attention in the living room. The company's just-launched combo of two BeoLab 15 satellite speakers, a BeoLab 16 subwoofer and an Amplifier 1 is very nearly designed for the opposite. The entire array can hide in the walls or ceiling, and juts out only when it's tilting to direct sound to a specific area. The Amplifier 1's 195W of total output won't produce the most thundering sound, but this is one time when subtlety is arguably the greater value -- it's more about a discreet background tune than making the house rattle. Just be prepared to deal with the value Bang & Olufsen puts on its stealthy Danish design. You'll need to pay $4,595 for the package when it ships this month, and that won't include the costs of putting holes in the drywall.
Update: We had the chance to listen to the system for ourselves, and it's no slouch even with power small relative to other luxury systems. The test conditions weren't ideal -- the speakers weren't as separated as they could be, and Bang & Olufsen understandably couldn't get permission to carve into hotel walls -- but the BeoLab 15 handled music from Above & Beyond and the Beatles, among others, with a pleasingly warm sound and solid (but not overwhelming) bass. Those who hate the buzz of motorized components will be glad to know the satellites are virtually noiseless when they move, as well. Head past the break for a close-up of the subwoofer.
Bang & Olufsen launches new built-in sound system at CES 2013
Featuring an active and innovative built-in sound system with unique tilt functionality and acoustic balance principle which delivers luscious soundscapes in any room of choice
Las Vegas, January 8, 2013
Bang & Olufsen, the Danish provider of high end, custom-made audio and video products announces the launch of its latest built-in sound system at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The integrated speaker solution is comprised of two-way active speakers (BeoLab 15), an active subwoofer (BeoLab 16) and a rack-ready amplifier (Amplifier 1)-all created specifically for in-wall or in-ceiling placement.
The new BeoLab 15/BeoLab 16 system builds on a broad spectrum of signature Bang & Olufsen capabilities to pack amazing sound into unexpected places. The active speakers harness an array of high-end components to deliver expansive audio performance from very compact constructions. The design and engineering teams have collaborated on a visual identity that is distinct but discreet, with a motorized tilt function that directs the sound where you want it when the speakers are on, then retreats to flush when no longer needed.
"The motorized tilt functionality brings a touch of magic to an in-wall, in-ceiling speaker. It offers something unexpected to the listening experience and also makes the performance and acoustical sound stage so much better," states Zean Nielsen, President of Bang & Olufsen America, Inc. "There is no doubt that the BeoLab 15/16 built-in sound solution will resonate well with the North American consumer. Its design, custom installation and natural aluminum finish makes it second to none in its category."
"This active built-in sound solution was conceived for installations where people want great sound without having to find room for freestanding speakers," says Bang & Olufsen Product Manager, Michael Jensen. "The combination of two speakers and a subwoofer – all built-in, all with drivers powered by separate amps – deliver a premium sound experience throughout the room. Additionally, the motorized tilt adds a touch of practical magic to enhance the listening experience."
Innovative tilt function
The new tilt function on BeoLab 15 lets you aim high and places middle tones right where you want them. Turn on the system, and the speaker automatically tilts out to pre-set angles to direct the sound for optimal listening. Turn off the system, and BeoLab 15 tilts back to flush position.
Each and every driver in the system's active speakers is powered by its own amplifier. This allows Bang & Olufsen to pack high-performing components into compact speaker cabinets that are easy to build into most walls – and still sound amazing. The new system meets international building codes by keeping the amplifiers and speaker drivers separate. The innovative cable compensation feature automatically calibrates all cables at distances up to 328 feet to ensure optimal bass performance.
BeoLab 15 is a closed-cabinet, two-way active speaker with a ¾" tweeter and a 3" midrange, featuring tilt functionality for directing sound up to 45° from the default flush position.
BeoLab 16, the system's active subwoofer, comprises two pairs of 4" woofers in separate sealed cabinets, played in-phase using the Acoustic Balance Principle to enable deep bass without unwanted wall vibrations.
Amplifier 1 contains six separate amplifiers. Two Class D units rated at 2 x 150 watts power up the subwoofer. Each BeoLab 15 gets 150 watts for the midrange, and 45 watts for the tweeter. Adaptive Bass Linearization keeps the deep bass cultivated and crisp all the way down to 45 Hz.
The circular design is discreet but distinct. When switched off, the speakers and subwoofer are flush with the wall, and all you notice is the subtle geometrical composition by designer Anders Hermansen. Turn the music on, and the speakers' motorized tilt function magically directs sound where you want it for amazing acoustic performance. The speakers are available in matt aluminium, with fabric covers in either white or black. The subwoofer is in matt aluminum.
The new BeoLab 15, BeoLab 16 and Amplifier 1 sound solution is available at selected Bang & Olufsen stores from January 2013. Priced at $4595 for the entire solution – pair of BeoLab 15 speakers, BeoLab 16 and the Amplifier 1.
Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 16