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Image credit: Bang & Olufsen

B&O’s upgrade for old speakers requires some heavy tinkering

And you'll have to supply your own Raspberry Pi.
Billy Steele
02.15.18 in AV
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Bang & Olufsen

In 2018, most new speakers come with WiFi and/or Bluetooth as standard options. Let's face it: Almost everyone is using their phone to access music these days, so wireless connectivity is a must. However, if you invested in a set of non-connected speakers before the wireless craze hit, you may not want to shell out more money to replace them just yet. For older passive speaker setups, Bang & Olufsen has an option for getting that connectivity thanks to a collaboration with HiFiBerry. You'll have to get your hands dirty, though.

The $189/£149 Beocreate 4 channel amplifier is a development-style board that can be added to those older speakers to bring them new life in 2018. We're talking about models like the Beovox CX50 and CX100 that haven't been made for years. And as you might expect, B&O and HiFiBerry say the Beocerate will work with "any generic loudspeaker" in a similar fashion. The add-on brings up to 180 watts of power, enough for up to four 4-8 Ohm speakers. It also packs in a four-channel DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and runs on a 12-24 volt power supply.

B&O's Beovox CX50

Here's the catch: You have to supply your own Raspberry Pi to make the most of the Beocerate 4. If you don't, you only get the benefits of the amp without the WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. This also means that you won't be able to tap into included software, even though HiFiBerry warns only experienced DSP tinkerers should make any tweaks there.

Beocreate is a very specific option for passive loud speakers that you're likely already using with a receiver. Chances are that setup also has an audio jack that can accommodate a device like Chromecast Audio -- which provides the aforementioned connectivity for older gear with a lot less fuss. B&O and HiFiBerry are turning those passive speakers into standalone connected devices which (unsurprisingly) takes more effort. Sure, this is for experienced audio nerds, but for those who don't have the time or skills required, easier (and cheaper) options do exist.

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