Bang & Olufsen today took the wraps off its latest wireless home speaker, the Beosound Edge, at the start of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin on Wednesday — and if ever there a speaker deserved proud and prominent placement in a home, this is it.
The speaker’s design is essentially an upscaled (and to scale) version of the old British Pound coin. Clad in a solid aluminum ring, the Beosound Edge is born of a collaboration between the Danish luxury brand and globally acclaimed designer Michael Anastassiades. B&O is known for stylish designs — take a gander at the Beosound E6 wireless headphones also launched at IFA, if you need another example.
Beneath two acoustically transparent speaker screens hide a robust, 10-inch woofer, a pair of 4-inch midrange drivers, and two 3/4-inch tweeters, one on each side of the speaker. Each driver gets its own amp; there are five available class-D amplifiers.
The Edge has Chromecast built in, and as such can function as part of a whole-home audio system, should one wish to pair it with any of Bang & Olufsen’s many other speakers. The Edge can easily handle a large open space and absolutely fill it with sound. In a demonstration we heard at a noisy and vast convention hall in Berlin, the speaker not only drowned out the noise of power saws and forklifts around us, it resonated the entire space with rock-solid, tuneful, tight bass.
Part of the prodigious bass response comes from a patent-pending “Active Bass Port,” which opens and closes depending on the volume of the speaker. At low volumes, the port remains closed, supporting very tight bass in balance with the rest of the sound spectrum. As the speaker’s volume is turned up, the bass port mechanically and automatically opens, letting low-resonance bass pour from the speaker.
The Edge sports a few clever tricks to enhance a user’s interaction with it. Roll the speaker forward and the volume turns up, for example. Roll it back and the volume comes down. The Beosound Edge can pull this trick off when seated on the floor (where it looks very sleek), and it can also be mounted on the wall, which creates quite a visual impact, indeed. You just won’t be able to roll it, of course.
Since the Edge has drivers on both sides, it creates convincing room-filling sound, but when mounted on the wall, the sound can be controlled such that it comes out of just one side or the other if desired.
Regarding the Edge’s development, designer Anastassiades had this to say: “We constantly pushed ourselves to distill the idea of removing layers upon layers until what remained was a visibly pure and simple object. Because what happens when you experience highly visual complex products is an initial impact, but once the novelty of that impact dies there is nothing left. With visually simple products, there is nothing there to give you that first attraction. No visual disturbance. But when you see it the second time around you suddenly pay attention — and by the third encounter you become even more intrigued.”
Along with its impressive design and sound quality, the Edge totes a rather impressive price: $3,500. Indeed, one could fashion an elaborate two-channel audio system for that price, but it wouldn’t have the sexy allure or the same convenient functionality the Edge offers. For those who demand high-end sound and decor-friendly design, the Bang & Olufsen Edge is one of the finest wireless speakers we’ve seen to date.