When you spend time and effort designing the interior of your home, carefully choosing everything on display, it’s not very likely you’ll want to ruin the end result with boring, ugly speakers. There are plenty of design-orientated speaker packages out there, but most require you to sacrifice some serious space, and are prone to pretty crazy, statement-making style. Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound Shape modular, wall-mounted speaker system is the solution to these woes. Put the BeoSound Shape in your home, and nobody will even know it’s a sound system until you turn it on. Then they’ll really know, because the sound is superb.
Part minimalist lifestyle art project, part high-tech audio experience, the BeoSound Shape lets you express yourself creatively on two fronts — the design and layout of your system, and the music you play through it. Bang & Olufsen’s thinking behind it is to make the music, not the gear, the center of attention. Sure, once you let everyone in on the secret it’s going to be the subject of conversation for some time; but if you keep quiet, no one will be the wiser.
Sound to match the looks
In less conscientious hands, the Shape could have been all style over substance; but this is Bang & Olufsen, so sound quality is uncompromising. Each hexagonal part that makes up the BeoSound Shape system performs a specific function. Take the outer cover off, and it will reveal a speaker, an amplifier, or a custom piece of acoustic baffling. Even the shape of each component has been thought through, so it reflects the sound effectively. The smallest system you can make consists of four pieces — a pair of speakers, an amp, and acoustic baffling. Go all out, and your BeoSound Shape can have 44 speakers and 11 amps. The Class D amps pump out 8 channels at 80 watts each, and each speaker boasts a 5.25-inch woofer and a .75-inch tweeter.
The ideal set up should have four speakers minimum, which is enough for Bang and Olufsen Shape’s special digital signal processing to work its magic. The idea is to recreate the sound which would be produced if a band was playing in the room, with their backs to the wall. We heard a BeoSound Shape system consisting of eight speakers, and it was melodic, powerful, and wonderfully spacious. It produced an overwhelming feeling of presence. No matter where we stood, or which way we faced, the audio was all-enveloping. Vocals were pushed out into the room, filling the space with sound.
The idea is to recreate the sound of a band playing in the room, backs to the wall.
Mounting multiple speakers, unobtrusively, on the wall also presents interesting opportunities for directing audio towards your ears, regardless of whether you’re seated or standing. While the Beosound Shape is unquestionably powerful, and Bang & Olufsen’s trademark natural sound signature shone through even in the brief time we listened, it was difficult to judge bass response, due to other speakers being active in the space, demonstrating the Beosound Shape’s ability to connect as a multiroom system. It’s easy to stream to the system with either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections, alongside Apple AirPlay, Chromecast Audio, and Spotify Connect. The connection hub has an optical link and a USB port for hardwired options.
Customizing your system
The inside of each Shape hexagon isn’t the only customizable aspect. Each part’s fabric covering can be mixed and matched from ten different colors to create a unique look, and while it’s completely up to you how to place it on the wall, Bang & Olufsen has an online tool which advises on where to place the speaker tiles in your final design for the best performance. Despite appearances, it’s relatively straightforward to mount the Beosound Shape, and it doesn’t require a team of audio engineers to get it working.
A back plate attaches to the wall, and uses clever fixings to hold each speaker or amp in place. Clip the cover over it, and you’re done. Speakers and amps are connected together by a single cable. Otherwise, there’s just one wire that runs from the control box to the power socket. Hide it in the wall itself, and the Beosound Shape becomes impossible to identify as a speaker system.
No two Beosound Shape installations will likely look or sound the same, and we love this unique opportunity to completely personalize the listening experience. It’s beautiful to look at, incredibly versatile in its construction, and impressively future proof. Not only can you add more tiles as time goes on, but the control hub is made to be replaced when technology advances, so you don’t have to live with an out-of-date setup.
Bang & Olufsen doesn’t disappoint with its dedication to sound quality either, and as long as the unique look works with your décor, you’ll be very pleased with the end result — both visually and sonically. However the BeoSound Shape’s design-led, high quality audio experience won’t come cheap. Prices are still being finalized, but the most basic system will cost your around $4,500, or 3,600 British pounds, going up from there. You’ve got a little time to save up, though, as the release date is set for August this year.
- Incredibly versatile
- Powerful sound with incredible presence
- Versatile connectivity options
- Future proof
- Design won’t suit all decors