Bang & Olufsen Makes Wireless Audio Essential

Bang & Olufsen’s CES press event was held in a comfortable, stylishly decorated room that drove home the company’s message of combining good sound with good design.

While B&O had a number of new products to show at CES including a $129 revamp of its classic Form 2 headphones under the B&O Play banner, the main focus of the presentation was its new WiSA-compliant wireless speakers and Essence wireless music system controller.

The B&O WiSA-compliant powered speaker lineup on display consisted of a pair of BeoLab 18 towers, BeoLab 17 compact speakers, and a BeoLab 19 subwoofer, all of which were getting wireless 96/24-resolution signals from a transmitter located in the company’s BeoVision 11 TV. B&O also introduced another pair of WiSA-compliant products at CES aimed at bringing wireless capability to legacy B&O speakers: the BeoLab Transmitter 1 ($525) and BeoLab Receiver 1 ($265).

While the company’s demo of its company’s elegant—and pricey— wireless speakers was impressive, the BeoSound Essence ($999) definitely seemed like something a wider consumer base might appreciate. Consisting of a simple, knob-type controller that communicates with a hardware component via Bluetooth (the component serves as the interface between your wireless network and audio system) the idea behind BeoSound Essence is to integrate all of your digital music sources—Spotify, Internet radio, music stored on a NAS, etc.— and give you direct hands-on access to them via the controller. If you want in-depth content browsing, you can always do that via B&O’s BeoMusic app. But with the Essence in hand, you don’t have to use a tablet or phone to queue up music—a quick twist of the knob is all you need to get your tunes playing.