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B&O Audio Strategy; bye bye non-digital media

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Stefan
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Stefan Posted: Wed, Aug 22 2012 10:16 PM

I just browsed through the new B&O catalogue and did notice that B&O is offering a lot of different TV and loudspeaker models, but only one audio system: the not-so pretty BeoSound 4 and the digital audio library BeoSound 5. Instead, quite a lot of products appear that provide audio amplification to digital streaming devices (iPhone etc.).

I remember a few years ago how B&O insisted that digital music would not satisfy the ears of the audiophile, and if it had to be, then at least it should be uncompressed. Obviously, B&O did a mind change here, or simply surrendered to the pressure of the market.

What do you think?

CJM1
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CJM1 replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 10:47 PM

I remember reading a rather similar article in the B&O magazine talking about how they wont make a 3D TV until picture quality is as good as seeing in real life. Although having a picture quality that good is still fairly far away. They went ahead and made one (BeoVision 4). So yes it is the same story here, peer pressure from other manufacturers i believe 

Chaka
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Chaka replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 10:58 PM

I think it is sad.  They could have easily updated iconic designs like BS9000 to include airplay, have DAB plus the beautiful visuals of the clamper moving at random if using CDs.  All high end audio companies still make CD players and many record players.  It is a shame B&O only make one unit with a CD player.  Digital files are great, but it is still nice to be able to use a CD player if you want to play a CD, instead of having to convert it to a file.  The BS 4 is uninspiring to me and not reminiscent of other beautiful head units.  If I was looking to buy a new unit and had no experience with B&O, I would go probably shop elsewhere.

CJM1
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CJM1 replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 11:29 PM

B&O are bringing along some new BeoSounds for this quarter. Hopefully it will include a replacement for the Beosound 3200 and 9000. The BeoSound 4 and 5 will never become design icons

Steffen
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Steffen replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 12:00 AM

Rex:

I think it is sad.  They could have easily updated iconic designs like BS9000 to include airplay, have DAB plus the beautiful visuals of the clamper moving at random if using CDs.  All high end audio companies still make CD players and many record players.  It is a shame B&O only make one unit with a CD player.  Digital files are great, but it is still nice to be able to use a CD player if you want to play a CD, instead of having to convert it to a file.  The BS 4 is uninspiring to me and not reminiscent of other beautiful head units.  If I was looking to buy a new unit and had no experience with B&O, I would go probably shop elsewhere.

 

I agree! Besides the 9000, I would also have liked to see an upgraded Beosound 3000 -to something much better than the BS 3200...
Good idea to build in a harddisk (at that time -before smartphones/streaming etc.) -but the operation (e.g. naming of the tracks) was rediculous...
It should have been possible to make an easy connection to pc/mac and name tracks from there (remember, we're talking about years ago) Wink
And they should have given it a proper display to really make use of the possibilities of RDS -instead of just showing the name of the station.
And offcourse include DAB and internet radio...

I think this could have expanded the life of this iconic system (at least for some years).
My "newest" audio system (I have quite a few B&O) -is a BS 2300. I really saw no reason to buy a 3000 or 3200, as they didn't offer anything much better than the 2300 (except for the Masterlink -but that was solved with a ML converter box).
And I never liked the BS 4 -so that was out of the question.
I think a lot of customers have felt that way over the last decade...B&O haven't really had much new to offer when it comes to audio-masters.
So if sales decreased, maybe it was because of that - nothing new to offer...
Then came the BS 5 and BS 5 encore...Very nice -but, then comes all the 'Apple disciples' : "why should I buy that when my 'iPod/Phone/Pad' etc. can do the same, and blah, blah, blah...

Sad to see that B&O (talking about audio) might end up as only a manufacturer of some very good speakers, and some docking stations for a certain brand with a half-eaten apple as a logo...Crying

jk1002
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jk1002 replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 5:54 AM

For one, there are plenty of used 9000 in the the market.

 

I keep my 9000 and BC2 around but embrace digital. There are still ways to get LPs today and there will be a way to get CDs.

The argument of loss of quality will go away, just like people download HD movies up from standard resolution similar thing will happen for music.

I am quite happy that B&O is catching up and am certainly eying bS5 Encore (updates?) and whatever happens with Beoplay inclusing that new pizzabox thingy ...

moxxey
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moxxey replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 8:50 AM

Rex:

I think it is sad.  They could have easily updated iconic designs like BS9000 to include airplay

It was "iconic" many years ago. Looks dated to me and many younger customers, in 2012. Besides, B&O is a business, they know what sells. If the 9000 was selling well, in 2012, they've had kept the product on-sale. It's only discontinued as the demand was low, so the cost of production was high (plus some of the components were proving hard to source).

The future for B&O isn't keeping the 9000 and similar 90s designed pieces. The stores were/are already in danger of looking dated and, let's be fair here, B&O have issues trying to get younger customers - the future for the brand - in to their store, without keeping the 9000 and similar CD-playing products on display.

Beoworld, in my opinion, isn't a very good representation for the future of B&O. Most people on here are enthusiasts, over 40, much more traditional in their thinking. Sadly it's not the Beoworld customer who will be driving B&O forward in ten years and B&O understand that - which is why they are paid the big bucks to manage the company.

Peter
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Peter replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 9:33 AM

I agree completely. B&O need to be at the cutting edge of design and operation - they cannot really afford to introduce new technologies but they can make them more attractive and easier to use. They do however have more competition in this area than ever before and the posts keep on moving. They don't have a killer device at present - the BS9000 was it when it was introduced as was the BM1900 before that. I still don't like the Beo5 remote - too many presses required to make things happen and the BS5 is again too complicated in use. The speakers are still great though and the BS8 is clearly a hit.

I like looking back as the designs of the past were great, and maybe B&O could emulate the car industry and produce a retro line - think Mini, Beetle and 500! But I think the future is in radical design and a superb ergonomic interface. Maybe license Siri!

Peter

Chris Townsend
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Being English "retro" seems to be our style and way of life and therefore i'm comfortable with it, but this way of thinking didn't get items like the Beosound 9000, with its brave fresh and original styling into production in the first place.

As opposed to regurgitating yesteryears styles why not set the scene, set a new standard and style for todays generation of would be buyers to aspire to own. The Beoplay A8 is a good start.

When i look at Beograms/Beosytems they look from afar virtually the same to any system you might have bought in the 90's. But how they played, felt and integrated is another matter. The Beosystem 5 does this to an extent, albeit it doesn't have a touchscreen. And that matters. Customers currently using the digital format will almost have definitely come from the Ipod/Iphone/Ipad user interface which is easier, and more importantly familiar.

Linn's new digital system. Costs £2,500 with speakers...

http://www.linn.co.uk/systems/see-the-range/kiko

Beosound Stage, Beovision 8-40, Beolit 20, Beosound Explore.

Puncher
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Puncher replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 10:50 AM

Peter:
I still don't like the Beo5 remote - too many presses required to make things happen and the BS5 is again too complicated in use.

I've said it before and I'll say it again even though no one agrees with me!! B&O need their own system controller, in place of the Beo4, 5 & 6. As the days of sliding glass doors and moving clamps have gone there is very little "B&O" experience left - I'm not sure an app on someone elses hardware comes even close and definitely not if the app belongs to a third party!! To quote Peter again, "radical design and a superb ergonomic interface" doesn't mean to me a generic pad and app.

 

Ban boring signatures!

Barry Santini
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Re:touchscreens - I think it is important to see that bno has made a direction-decision to try to avoid having "screens" get solied during use. Witness the operational decisions or both the BS5 and Beocom 5

B
vikinger
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vikinger replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 1:18 PM

Puncher:

Peter:
I still don't like the Beo5 remote - too many presses required to make things happen and the BS5 is again too complicated in use.

I've said it before and I'll say it again even though no one agrees with me!! B&O need their own system controller, in place of the Beo4, 5 & 6. As the days of sliding glass doors and moving clamps have gone there is very little "B&O" experience left - I'm not sure an app on someone elses hardware comes even close and definitely not if the app belongs to a third party!! To quote Peter again, "radical design and a superb ergonomic interface" doesn't mean to me generic pad and app.

 

B&O controllers have always been rather strange beasts in my view. Although I've only tried a Beo5 in a showroom, I just did not like it compared to the Beo4. The Beo4 is a delight to hold and use, but anyone else picking it up would not have the faintest notion that to get Freeview via HDR1 on my BV5 they need to hit VTAPE followed by the yellow button......

My first B&O purchase was a BM1200: no remote and lots of up and coming cheaper Japanese tuner amp separates with very low distortion claims (usually linked to 5%+ distortion speakers!) It was the style and overall spec that sold B&O in those days.

Look at how digital photography is going..... from laughable resolutions to now higher and higher for lower and lower cost. And the specialist camera producers like Leica have had to team up with the large scale manufacturers like Panasonic to produce the likes of the Lumix.... same camera with a few cosmetic changes at half the Leica price or less. Leica and B&O have the same issues, although I don't think Leica ever had the perception of being overpriced for what they produced.

Graham

Paul W
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Paul W replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 1:46 PM

Owwwww Graham, please don't get me started on Leica! I love them!  Great comparison though and yes, working with Panasonic has indeed produced some amazing digital cameras - the d Lux 5 is simply super! I know that their higher priced range starting with the X2 is still produced at Leica in Germany though.   One day I will truly invest in a Leica but at the moment for daytime outdoor shooting, the iPhone 4s does a pretty decentish job - for now!

CJM1
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CJM1 replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 10:12 PM

Leica is a very good example here. Theres nothing extra ordinary about them. but they offer higher quality images and build quality than the likes of a Canon. But you get what your paying for with a Leica. B&O on the other hand is slightly over priced. yes they give fantastic sound and picture. But they dont't have any clever features like your Leica camera. They need to make a simple way of playing music. I cant think of anything better than the Beosound 3200. walk up to it, press a button, music plays.... Done! 

Steffen
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Steffen replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 10:53 PM

CJM1:
I cant think of anything better than the Beosound 3200. walk up to it, press a button, music plays.... Done! 

 

Hmm...I can think of a few simpler ways to play music than the 3200 Whistle
Ok -it's easy to use when you have spend hours to copy and name the music. But - as I wrote in an earlier post - the way of naming CD's was almost redicoulous...
I've never had that much sparetime to spend on copying the CD's on the device -and then name them (and group them)...
Then (IMO) - it was easier to just put in the CD you wanted to hear - or make some CD's with mixed music on your computer and play them on the Beosound.

And for the youngsters:
Yes - we're talking about the days before iTunes, Spotify and smartphones...Wink

CJM1
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CJM1 replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 10:58 PM

haha i am a youngster! but ironically i still buy Cassette tapes. Maybe the 3200 wasnt the best example.i never owned one but your right naming tracks from cds that you just imported was a joke!

Hiort
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Hiort replied on Fri, Aug 24 2012 12:20 PM

zuegers07:

I just browsed through the new B&O catalogue 

Is this the catalogue you refer to: http://www.primesite.it/en/download/bang-olufsen-collection-2012/1-english/view-document

Or is there a newer catalogue out?

 

 

 

 

Livingroom: BL3, BL11, BV11-46 Kitchen: Beosound 1 GVA, Beocom 2 Bathroom: M3 Homeoffice: M3, Beocom 2  Library: Beosound Emerge, Beocom 6000 Bedroom: M5, Essence remote  Travel: Beoplay E8 2.0, Beoplay EQ, Beoplay Earset

Razlaw
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Razlaw replied on Fri, Aug 24 2012 4:15 PM
CJM1:

B&O are bringing along some new BeoSounds for this quarter. Hopefully it will include a replacement for the Beosound 3200 and 9000. The BeoSound 4 and 5 will never become design icons

Any further info on these "new" BeoSounds?

Beolab 28s Beolab 9s Beolab 12-3s Beolab 1s Beolab 6000s 2 pairs Beolab 4000s Beovision 7-55 Beovision 10-40 Beoplay V1 32 inch Beovision Avant 32 inch Beosound 1 (CD player) Beosound 3000 Beosound 5 Core Essence MKII Beoplay M5

linder
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linder replied on Fri, Aug 24 2012 7:17 PM

I think we are all well aware that digital music and digital video is a reality now and  far into the future.  I am sure that Bang and Olufsen knows this and is trying to figure out what kinds of products they need to produce.  The introduction of BEO Play surely illustrates they want to be in the digital market.  They are also probably working on a product for the high end market as well.  Beosound 5 is an example of their first try at the high end market but it has been difficult for them.

This is an over the top suggestion but for the high end, they may wish to consider a type of preamp that controls digital music like the Meridian 818 Audio Core.  www.meridian-audio.com/media/341381/818-ds.pdf.  Almost all of us have a music sources like iTunes, Amazon player, Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone.  Why would I need another Beosound?

B&O should continue to manufacture outstanding speakers and TV's.  Super High definition television will be ready in about 3 years and B&O should be ready.  Appreciate the past and build on it!

 

Paul W
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Paul W replied on Fri, Aug 24 2012 7:42 PM

Very good points Linder. B&O are certainly slow to adapt to this long term change. BUT, it's not just one or two years ago for this, 10 years ago when I started at university, my friends were all using their laptops for playing their music - none of them had a hifi system and that was TEN YEARS ago - same in radio, in 1994, we were using computer playout systems for our music (DALET). It really does go to show that B&O have been acting as though all of this is a new way to listen to music but, let's be honest, we we've been doing it for our 10 years now!

Chris Townsend
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The Playmaker/Beolab 4 combo is a nice start. At least they are not reinventing the wheel, but merely backing their expertise is their field, in this case active speakers. Smart move for a small company.

I'd like a B&O home system that can play/search for music, and be able to store hi def video(just like my Ipad/Apple tv £500) The Beosound 5 is too one dimensional for me, and uses an interface that is alien to most of us using iPads etc.

Beosound Stage, Beovision 8-40, Beolit 20, Beosound Explore.

butch1
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butch1 replied on Fri, Aug 24 2012 9:26 PM

Hi paul do you work for creative labs in liverpool now?

Paul W
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Paul W replied on Fri, Aug 24 2012 10:50 PM

Hey Butch1 -  no i've been in London for just over 2 years now.  I lived and indeed worked in Liverpool at JUICE FM the dance music radio station in 2005 - 2007 although i'd really rather forget about that!!!!!!!!!   Strangely enough, I was in Liverpool with friends last Wednesday (first time since December 08).  I've been in dance / RNB radio since 1996 with Kiss 102 Manchester / Kiss 105 Yorkshire - MUSIC IS LIFE :)

CJM1
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CJM1 replied on Mon, Aug 27 2012 12:30 AM

Coming to think of it! it was such a long time ago the guy in out local dealer was probably referring to the Beolit 12. 

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