Bang & Olufsen's BeoSound 5 Encore Digital Music System

Bang & Olufsen have announced the BeoSound 5 Encore, the baby brother of their BeoSound 5 music system. The device shares most of the functionality of its sibling - basically, providing a slick interface to your library of audio files (MP3, AAC, WMA, and FLAC are supported). It's a bit more versatile, allowing access to music stored on an local USB drive, UPnP server, NAS, networked computer, or BeoMaster 5 music server (there's no internal storage), as well as the wide world of internet radio; it's also an AirPlay receiver. The older BeoSound 5, on the other hand, is limited to playback from a B&O music server or a UPnP server. You give up a few things with the Encore, primarily the ability to integrate into a whole house control and A/V system via B&O's Master Link protocol, but you do get some welcome extras, like a headphone jack.

Also making an appearance here is the "More Of The Same" (MOTS) algorithm that made its debut with the BeoSound 5. The algorithm takes into account not just metadata tags, but the audio parameters of the tracks in your library - playlists are created on the fly on the basis of timbral, rhythmic, and dynamic similarity. The name may seem a tad cynical, but as B&O puts it, "Variation within the boundaries of your choice is the spice that will bring a new dimension and new life to your music collection."

The Encore can be yours for $3550; a relative bargain compared to the $5900 BeoSound 5, especially considering that it gives you a somewhat wider range of storage options. An Encore (actually, up to eight of them, if you're feeling particularly spendy) can of course be added as remotes to an existing BeoSound 5/BeoMaster 5 system or other B&O digital media player systems; alternately, the Beo4 and Beo6 remote controls can be used to operate the Encore.