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Tech News

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 28 adaptive wireless speaker looks like artwork

When it comes to high-end audio solutions, one of the biggest names is Bang & Olufsen. The company makes high-end audio gear ranging from small connected speakers up to massive home theater systems and car audio with some major automakers using its hardware. The company has introduced a new advanced connected speaker called the Beolab 28.

Beolab 28 is an adaptive, wireless speaker combining advanced acoustic innovation with smart speaker features. The speaker is designed to be positioned anywhere in the home using a slim form factor and stream content instantly with studio-grade sound that’s automatically adapted to the space. The wireless connectivity features allow users to stream music from any service they want.

Beolab 28 is designed to allow the user to feel and hear bass using a built-in subwoofer based on a custom 6.5-inch driver. That driver has a large excursion to obtain powerful and precise bass. Beolab 28 incorporates the company’s latest generation Active Room Compensation technology that adapts sound to the room allowing the speaker to be placed anywhere.

In addition to the subwoofer, Beolab 28 also uses a trio of three-inch full-range drivers placed with one on the front and one on each side. The tweeter has high sensitivity and was developed specifically for clear midrange quality even at high volume levels while offering precise and dynamic treble reproduction.

Integrated streaming support allows users to pick up the phone and stream directly to the speaker, and it supports AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, the B&O app, and Bluetooth. Beolab 28 will be made compatible with Beolink Multiroom this fall via an automatic software update. The speakers can also be paired with Bank & Olufsen TV using Powerlink or Wireless Powerlink. The speakers are available in natural silver, black anthracite, or bronze tone aluminum. Speaker covers come in knitted fabric or solid wood.

Fabrics are offered in gray and gray melange with wood covers offered in light oak, oak, smoked oak, and walnut. Beolab 28 covered in fabric starts at £9750, with the wood version starting at £10,750.

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Game

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal gives Xbox Wireless Headset a painfully-priced rival

Bang & Olufsen announced today that it’s getting into the business of making gaming headsets. Today the company introduced the Beoplay Portal, a wireless gaming headset being released under the Designed for Xbox program. Gamers might want to prepare for a bit of sticker shock though, because like many Bang & Olufsen cans, the Beoplay Portal is going to cost a pretty penny.

Of course, the Beoplay Portal comes with a feature set we’d expect to see out of a pair of Bang & Olufsen headphones. Chief among the features is Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation that can suppress noises from the outside world so the focus remains on the game. The headphones also offer monitor functionality so you can hear your own voice as you speak, and like most Bang & Olufsen headphones that offer Adaptive ANC, there’s also a Transparency Mode you can turn on when you actually need to hear what’s going on around you.

The presence of Transparency Mode can make these headphones good options for use outside of gaming. The headphones are built using a pair of “custom-designed 40mm drivers with neodymium magnets,” and support Dolby Atmos for Headphones. If you look at the pictures, you’ll notice that there’s no mic protruding from the headset, and that’s because the Beoplay Portal uses Directional Beamforming to create what B&O calls a “virtual boom arm” that can isolate and amplify the user’s voice using an array of built-in microphones.

Since the Beoplay Portal is being released under the Designed for Xbox banner, it should be pretty easy to connect to an Xbox console using Xbox Wireless, be it the Xbox Series X or the Xbox One. Bang & Olufsen says that the headphones are also compatible with PC and mobile devices through a number of different connection options: Bluetooth 5.1, aptX Adaptive, and USB-C. Users can expect a battery life of 24 hours when just using Bluetooth and ANC, while that’s cut in half to 12 hours when using Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth, and ANC.

Here’s where the pain point surfaces, because Bang & Olufsen has priced these headphones at $499 USD – which means that they cost as much as an Xbox Series X and $200 more than Xbox Series S. Thanks to that price tag, we’re guessing that the market for these is going to be pretty small, but if the high price isn’t enough to scare you away, you’ll be able to find the Beoplay Portal at Bang & Olufsen’s website and select retailers beginning on April 29th.

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Tech News

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX ANC headphones undercut AirPods Max

Bang & Olufsen is back today with a new pair of Bluetooth headphones that it’s calling the Beoplay HX. Like many products we’ve seen introduced in recent months, the Beoplay HX are at least partially aimed at folks who are working at home during the pandemic, and perhaps may be permanently working from home after it’s over. If you’re looking for a competitor to Apple’s AirPods Max, these could very well be it.

That’s because the Beoplay HX are priced similarly to the AirPods Max, with Bang & Olufsen sticking a $499 price tag on these cans (the AirPods Max have a slightly higher MSRP at $550). Bang & Olufsen has outfitted the Beoplay HX with adaptive active noise cancellation and say that the headphones’ “premium materials and a close-fitting design” give them a degree of sound isolation that prevents others from hearing what you’re listening to.

While that adaptive ANC should compensate for background noises, these headphones also offer a transparency mode that should still allow for listening to the outside world. After all, active noise cancellation is useful until it becomes dangerous to shut out the noises around you entirely, and you wouldn’t necessarily want complete isolation in instances where you’re walking along a busy street or working at home while also trying to keep an eye on children.

Bang & Olufsen also says that the Beoplay HX have a frequency range of 20 – 22,000 Hz and are built with 40mm electro-dynamic drivers that use neodymium magnets. They connect via Bluetooth 5.1 but also come with a 3.5mm jack for corded connectivity, and they have Google Fast Pair, Made for iPhone, and Microsoft Swift Pair certifications. Battery life seems pretty impressive, with Bang & Olufsen quoting up to 35 hours with Bluetooth and active noise cancellation on and up to 40 hours when active noise cancellation is turned off.

So, that $500 price point could very well price these out of the affordable range for a lot of people, but it sounds like the Beoplay HX bring some solid features to the table nonetheless. They’re available today from Bang & Olufsen’s website in three colors: Black Anthracite, Sand, and Timber.

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Categories
Tech News

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level wireless speaker aims for heirloom status

Bang & Olufsen has a new wireless home speaker, with the Beosound Level offering striking, pared-back style while cutting the cord with battery power. Since anything with the B&O badge tends to carry a fairly hefty price tag, meanwhile, the company is aiming to make it last longer than the average portable speaker.

It’s an area of concern for many home audio shoppers, particularly those who’ve been taking care of analog stereo equipment for decades. Once, the idea of having an amp, speakers, and other hardware and keeping them for a lifetime wasn’t unusual; these days, electronics tend to be designed for shorter lifespans.

B&O’s answer is the Beosound Level and a plan for pushing back technology obsolescence. While it may be larger than many portable wireless speakers, that has allowed it to be designed with modularity in mind: the battery can be readily replaced by owners, for example, while B&O’s service partners should be able to access key parts of the speaker for future repair.

The core is the replaceable streaming module, which Bang & Olufsen says will be used in all its future home speakers. “The module has been frontloaded with enough processing power and connectivity technology to receive new performance updates and features for many years to come,” the company explains, “and the module can easily be accessed for exchange and reconnection to the main board as a service solution.”

However, should there be another big leap in streaming and connectivity technology, it’s designed so that the module can be switched out for a newer version. That way, once WiFi standards move on significantly, or new hardware services arrive, the Beosound Level should be able to keep up. Much in the same way, B&O says it plans to continue to produce the front covers – in new materials and colors – for style and repair replacements.

For the moment, then, the speaker supports Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, and Chromecast streaming. There are five drivers inside – two 4-inch woofers, one 2-inch full-range driver, and two 0.8-inch tweeters – along with low-distortion amplifiers for 79dB bass and 96db mid-range loudness. At “typical listening volumes,” B&O says the battery should last for around 16 hours; Beosound Level will automatically adjust the speaker tuning and power consumption to maximize that listening time.

The design is by Torsten Valeur, with a pearl blasted aluminum frame. At launch, B&O will offer speaker covers in natural oak veneer and a knitted dark grey Kvadrat textile. Either way, there’s IP54 dust and splash resistance. Touch-sensitive buttons are used for controlling playback, with proximity sensors that wake the speaker up as you approach, its LEDs glowing, and then dims them again as you walk away. More sensors automatically adjust the playback tuning depending on whether Beosound Level is placed horizontally or vertically.

There’ll also be a wall bracket, to which the speaker is designed to be easily placed on and removed, with integrated charging. Otherwise, the charger attaches with an aluminum magnetic plug, clicking – MagSafe Charger-style – onto the back.

The Beosound Level will go on sale from today, priced at $1,499 in the Natural finish and $1,799 in the Gold Tone finish. The wall bracket will arrive on April 29, priced at $119. It’s too early to know how much B&O has in mind for replacement modules, or batteries, of course.

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