Bang & Olufsen has come to IFA 2018 with a major new speaker release: the strikingly minimal and ironically titled Beosound Edge. About the size and shape of a car wheel, the Edge is built around a large 10-inch woofer and two pairs each of 4-inch midrange drivers and 0.75-inch tweeters. It outputs sound on both sides and can be used either as a floorstanding speaker or mounted on a wall. Oh, and tilting it in either direction adjusts the volume, making the entire speaker essentially a giant volume knob. There are also touch controls at the top of the speaker to change tracks.
Famous for its mastery of aluminum, B&O put a high-gloss finish on the aluminum shell of the Edge, which the company says is an effort to “blend in by standing out.” The idea is that the Edge will reflect its surroundings, so it will match your furniture and tastefully decorated home interior by mirroring them. It is an especially alien-looking thing when hung on a wall, but I can’t deny the coolness factor of being able to raise the volume by pushing the entire speaker up. The designer of the Edge is Michael Anastassiades, who B&O says took inspiration from and recreated the proportions of the old English pound coin with this speaker.
“We constantly pushed ourselves to distil the idea of removing layers upon layers until what remained was a visibly pure and simple object,” Anastassiades says. “Because what happens when you experience highly visually complex products is an initial impact, but once the novelty of that impact dies there is nothing left.”
Listening to the Edge speaker in the noisy environs of IFA wasn’t an especially enlightening experience, though I can say that it certainly gets loud enough to comfortably fill large rooms. Bang & Olufsen has built in an active bass port, which opens up to let more bass out when you turn the speaker up and closes again at lower volumes. Though incomplete, my first impression of the sound was a positive one.
Inevitably for 2018, the Beosound Edge is a wireless speaker. It supports direct Bluetooth control via your phone or tablet as well as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. It also has an accelerometer and gyroscope inside, to make it aware of the rolling gesture for volume adjustment, and it has a proximity sensor so that it lights when you’re near and dims when you walk away.
The privilege of owning Bang & Olufsen’s latest high-tech speaker will cost a mighty $3,500 / €3,250 when it goes on sale in mid-November.
Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge