Cast your mind back to the end of September, and you might remember Bang & Olufsen teasing us with its forthcoming wireless platform. Today we get to see them in the flesh, and there are in fact three new models to consider. All of them support the WiSA standard (5.2-5.8 GHz with 24bit audio, up to 96KHz), and are the first commercial speakers to do so. These are also the first wireless speakers ever from the Danish company, testament, we hope, to its intentions to focus on maintaining a high standard of sound -- something that has often been been a tradeoff when losing the wires.
The three speakers we see today are the BeoLab 17, 18 and 19. Working up the numbers, the BeoLab 17 is a "place-anywhere" aluminum-housed compact speaker with interchangeable facias, and a choice of mount options. The new BeoLab 18 is a newly re-imagined version of the company's long-serving BeoLab 8000 floor-based tower speaker, while the BeoLab 19 is a new beefy subwoofer. Scoot past the break for the low down on each device.
The first speaker to have the wraps taken off was the BeoLab 17. Essentially a shelf-speaker -- though Bang and Olufsen was hesitant to describe it as such -- it has an aluminum body forged into a curious, but smart circle-square-triangle design. The speaker cover is removable, with a choice of three color options at launch -- blue, black and white. Behind that cover is a custom two-way 6" midrange driver and 3/4-inch tweeter resting on top of a pair of 160-watt amplifiers.
The second offering was the BeoLab 19, a geometrically designed subwoofer. It's armed with a pair of 8inch drivers, each with its own chamber and 160-watt amp for pushing out those low frequencies. The amps are also placed back to back -- a configuration designed to minimize interference and phase.
Last up is the BeoLab 18, which is something of a big deal for Bang & Olufsen, as it's a rework of the company's most successful floor-standing speaker -- the BeoLab 8000. The new BeoLab 18 shares a lot of the 8000's design DNA, but with more than a dollop of its own identity. Most notably, that distinctive front panel, which is made up of 21 wooden "lamellas" and will come in three finishes -- black, white and solid oak. The BeoLab takes a slightly different configuration than the other speakers announced today, having two 4-inch midrange/woofer drivers, but the same 160-watt amplification.
As already mentioned, these are the first speakers we've seen that use the WiSA audio standard, which means they will also be compatible with any other certified device, should you wish to cherry pick from different manufacturers for your own personal preference. However, if you want to keep things B&O, the good news is that the company also announced today that it's BeoVision 11 TV will now also come with WiSA certification. For those older sets, there is also a soon to be released adapter that will effectively bring all its legacy products into the wold of WiSA. This includes generic connections such as toslink and phono.
If you like what you see (and eventually what you hear,) then the three devices will be available in November. Anyone familiar with the danish firm's products knows they come at a premium, and there's no change here. The BeoLab 17 will cost (per set) $3,990/£2,590/€2,990. If you want some low-end love the BeoLab 19 can be yours for $3,395/£2,195/€2,695. Fancy a those BeoLab 18's? Then that's $6,590/£3,990/€4,790.
Bang & Olufsen introduces a major breakthrough in wireless sound with three new design icons
Bang & Olufsen announces the launch of a new range of high-end wireless speakers. All three are distinctive proponents of Bang & Olufsen's unique design idiom – and unlike anything seen before. The all-digital active speakers leverage the new WiSA standard for multi-channel wireless sound to provide acoustic performance beyond anything you have heard without cables. The untethered flexibility means that adding stunning sound to any room has never been easier.
Wireless audio just got serious – and now sounds seriously good.
Struer, 30 October 2013
With the launch of three new wireless speakers, Bang & Olufsen once again confirms the brand's dedication to outstanding acoustics, uncompromising design and craftsmanship as well as technological innovation that makes life simpler for discerning users.
The new wireless line-up includes BeoLab 17, a place-anywhere compact speaker with outsize sound; BeoLab 18, the latest incarnation of Bang & Olufsen's sculpturally iconic audio columns for walls or floor; and BeoLab 19, a radically redesigned subwoofer that pumps refined bass with a visceral punch – and looks too good to hide.
"These new speakers are at the vanguard of a new era of high-end sound," says Lars Fredsgaard, Speaker Category Director at Bang & Olufsen. "Until now, speakers with this level of performance had to be wired. Our latest launch uses a robust wireless standard with enough bandwidth and channels to deliver a listening experience the way the artist intended it. Upgrading to premium sound – without downgrading your décor – is now available in three ways."
All-new, inside and out
While they have integrated the WiSA standard into the new speakers, Bang & Olufsen has also rethought nearly everything about exterior design, custom-made components and dedicated digital sound engines.
With an acoustic lens tweeter and 21-lamella front, available in solid oak as well as black or white, BeoLab 18 marks a quantum leap in the evolution of Bang & Olufsen's signature column speakers. BeoLab 17's wedge-like form makes it easy to place anywhere from bookshelves to walls and the BeoLab 19 draws on the extraordinary rigidity of a 12-faced dodecahedron and two drivers operating in-phase to eliminate unwanted vibrations.
All three speakers come equipped with new sound engines that include thermal protection, Adaptive Bass Linearization and a room position switch, so they deliver crystal-clear definition whatever you play on them and wherever you place them.
Immaculate Wireless Sound
Bang & Olufsen is launching the three new speakers under its Immaculate Wireless Sound concept.
Sound that is reproduced as the artist intended it to be has long been a Bang & Olufsen hallmark. With Immaculate Wireless sound, Bang & Olufsen brings this tradition of acoustic authenticity into the wireless age for the first time ever.
WiSA – the new wireless standard
Since they run on the new WiSA standard, all you need to do is plug the active speakers into the mains in a room with any WiSA-compliant transmitter in order to link wirelessly to your TV, Blu-ray player or set-top box.
For example, all Bang & Olufsen Immaculate Wireless Sound speakers work seamlessly, simply and spectacularly with the WiSA-updated BeoVision 11 television. With WiSA-compliant transmitters and receivers integrated into the physical and digital design, Bang & Olufsen now delivers unparalleled acoustic performance in a wireless surround setup. Of course, you can also connect the new speakers with wires, just as you can add wireless speakers to an existing wired setup if so desired.
The Wireless Speaker and Sound Association (WiSA) platform utilises the relatively uncongested 5.2–5.8 GHz range to avoid interference from other signals, and to provide enough bandwidth to stream 24-bit, uncompressed music at native sampling rates. WiSA is the first wireless system in the U-NII band that provides multi-channel performance – up to a full 7.1 surround configuration.
BeoLab 17, 18 and 19 wireless speakers will be available during the month of November at Bang & Olufsen stores worldwide.
BeoLab 17: Priced per set at DDK19.990/€2.990/$3.990/£2,590
BeoLab 18: Priced per set including black lamella fronts and floor base or wall bracket: DDK33.990/€4.790/$6.590/£3,990
Solid oak lamella front (per set): DKK7.990/€990/$1390/£790
BeoLab 19: Priced at DKK19.995/€2.695/$3.395/£2,195