B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen just introduced the Nordic Sky edition of its BeoPlay A9. It is the perfect meeting point between art, furniture, and High Fidelity. Designed to be standalone furniture, or art that is hung on the wall, the BeoPlay A9 is also an amazingly powerful piece of audio equipment.
The speaker packs impressive technology into a sleek, one of a kind, design. The BeoPlay A9 has a total of five speakers and has an output of 480 watts thanks to a digital Class D amplifier with separate amps for each of the five speakers. At the center is an 8″ woofer is surrounded by two speakers on either side.
All of this is hidden within a striking cabinet that is a statement unto itself. When you walk into a room you cannot help but notice it. And that’s before the music starts to flow.
Next to the Wall, in the Corner or in the Center of Attention. Your Choice
The BeoPlay A9 can be positioned in pretty much any location one chooses, thanks to a 12″ power cord and wireless connectivity. That means you can position the speaker in the middle of a room, close to a wall or tucked into a corner. And because the proximity and position of a wall in relation to the speaker will have impact on the audio being heard, a three position switch on the speaker adjusts the sound for each of the three different positions. There is a setting for those times when the speaker is in front of a wall, another for those times it is in a corner or a third if it is free-standing in the middle of a room with no walls near it. Each setting alters the audio processing just enough. Obviously each person is going to have their own sound preferences, and they can use whichever position sounds best to their ears regardless of where the speaker is ultimately placed.
You can even hang the speaker on the wall. (This is the original BeoPlay A9)
Looks Simple. Packs Tons of Tech
Controls on the speaker are kept to a minimum. B&O PLAY refers to them as “magic” in their literature. I just think they are really cool. In addition to the aforementioned three-position toggle there are a series of braille-like bumps along the upper rear surface of the speaker.
These are the touch sensitive volume controls. You simply slide your finger in one direction to raise the volume and slide your finger in the opposite direction to reduce the volume. Sliding your finger four times across the top puts the speaker at maximum volume. To mute the audio simply place your finger along this area and hold it for a few seconds. It is simple, intuitive, and, in the demonstration I saw, it works quite well.
BeoPlay A9 is designed to be used with streaming audio. It comes packed with both AirPlay and DNLA connectivity means you can stream audio from a wide variety of different devices. And, because it is a wireless speaker, once it is on the wireless network it can be moved within the space. So long as the speaker remains in that Wi-Fi network the audio streaming will continue to function.
Thankfully, getting the speaker on a network is relatively simple. It can be done directly, or one can use an Apple charge/sync cable and one’s iOS device. Plugging the USB portion of the cable into the speaker results in a pop up on the iOS device asking if you want to use the network configuration currently being used by that device on the speaker. Indicating “yes” results in the speaker quickly adding the necessary settings, rebooting, and getting online. As someone who rarely listens to music with a device physically connected to the speaker or audio system these days I absolutely love the flexibility of wireless audio and the ease with which the system settings can be put in place.
Nordic Sky: Great Sound That Looks Great Too
Before getting into the Nordic Sky aspect of the BeoPlay A9 let’s talk about the speakers audio quality. After all, the Nordic Sky edition of the BeoPlay A9 is a standard A9 with special Nordic Sky covers and matching legs. The system, and the sound, remain the same.
So how is the sound? In a word, in a word it is fantastic. The speaker gets incredibly loud with minimal distortion, even at the highest of volume. The audio remains crisp and clean. Yes, the audio is streamed from a movie device and is electronically processed, but it doesn’t sound like it is. I demoed the unit in a loud loft in Bang & Olufsen’s Soho showroom, and the speaker did a terrific job filling the space. The demo track that was used – unfortunately I don’t recall the name – began with heavy bass but then moved into some significant mids and highs. The speaker handled it all beautifully. This is a speaker I would enjoy listening to for extended periods of time and would be proud to own and showcase in my home.
Nordic Sky edition of the BeoPlay A9 is really all about accessorizing the main speaker. There are three different covers available and each has a pair of matching legs. The goal of the covers is to you evoke the Scandinavian sky enjoyed during the brief but intense summer months in Scandinavia and allow that visual experience to be brought into one’s home or work space. As Marie Kristine Schmidt, Head of Creative Center, Bang & Olufsen explains,
“From the sweet blue lights at Twilight to the green darkness of Dawn and all the way to the eerie redness of Dusk, the three different editions of Nordic Sky let you dress up your BeoPlay A9 and change its appearance to match your mood.
We’ve captured and recreated the essence of Scandinavian summer and made it part of our product concept. We cherish and celebrate light up here in the north – and Nordic Sky is just that, a celebration. The way that a song can invoke memories so can the feeling of a summer night spent outside with those close to you, and with a launch here in August as darkness looms, we’re hoping to extend summer just a bit.”
Each of the three designs is attractive in its own right. There is
Twilight, (blue gradient, legs made of oak tree, blue feet)
Dawn, (green gradient, legs made of beech tree, grey feet)
Dusk, (red gradient, legs made of walnut tree, pink feet)
And while it will be rare for anyone to have three speakers each with a different part of the series in place at a given time, all three can be purchased as a separate accessory and then put on a single speaker at different times during the year.
There is no question that the BeoPlay A9 is a high-end audio system. It comes in at an MSRP of 2,699. That price purchases the original BeoPlay A9, or any one of the Nordik Sky Editions. Additional cover and leg combos, referred to as The Nordic Sky Accessory Pack, will be $259
That also means that anyone who already owns the system can make it a Nordic Sky Edition speaker for under $300. That may sound a bit pricey, but considering the initial outlay of over $2500 for a sound system it’s not unreasonable.
I loved the sound offered by the BeoPlay A9 and loved the way it looks. Honestly, I would be thrilled to have one of these in my home, although each of the three designs of the Nordic Sky series looked great, so I would have a rather difficult time choosing one or the other. You can learn more about the BeoPlay A9 and the new Nordic Sky Edition here.