B&O Play Announces Release of BeoPlay A9 Active Speaker System

Last night at top floor of the Trump Soho Hotel (New York, NY), the design-oriented firm B&O announced the release of the BeoPlay A9 as part of their new B&O PLAY lineup of products. The BeoPlay A9 is a single active speaker system designed for seamless integration into home environments. The A9 streams music wirelessly from the customers iPhone, iPad or Android device using AirPlay or your DLNA network.

During their presentation to the press, B&O suggested that this product was not necessarily made for the audiophile but instead those interested in design and feeling enriched by one’s surroundings. Apparently, this message did not sink through to the other geeky writers. During the Q&A, reporters continued to prod whether the BeoPlay A9 could be used in stereo mode with two BeoPlays, to which B&O representatives affirmed that it could, but it was not designed for that intent. While the BeoPlay A9 was designed to sound good, more importantly it was designed to look good.

We asked Øivind Slaatto, a young designer who also has a strong interest in music, to create a design that is as free of visual noise as possible, and then had our engineers empower it with truly amazing sound.

The BeoPlay A9 houses two ¾" tweeters and two 3" midrange units each driven by a separate 80-watt class D amplifier. When playing back Stevie Ray Vaughan, the guitar-master’s licks sounded relaxed, refined yet realistically Stratty in the treble, and filled the loft with sound. For the low-end, the BeoPlay A9 uses an 8" bass unit powered by its own 160 watt class D amplifier. The bass performance on the speaker was noteworthy offering deep and supple extension. Tech-reporters prodded again whether it could be used in stereo mode. Again, it can, but only when connected via speaker wire. Airplay cannot send separate left and right speaker feeds so stereo playback was not a priority when developing the product.

I felt embarrassed on the behalf of the reporters. This is just supposed to look awesome. Can’t that be awesome too? As long as it is not marketed as the best sounding stereo experience on the market, which it was not but instead as the best looking, which it could contend for, then B&O is doing the customer a service by telling them exactly what they are getting. Presentations continued to focus on the visual aspect. With its gentle curves, aluminum siding, and Danish simplicity, the BeoPlay A9 is a subtle and enchanting approach to the loudspeaker.

The BeoPlay A9 offers three different “sound modes” depending on the type of placement: corner, wall, or freestanding. The speaker can be hung on the wall by hooking under its bass reflex port (gasp!), and despite the A9’s powerful bass, B&O representatives promised it would not fall off the wall when the you listen to double-kick drum patterns.

The A9 will allow for upgrades to their built-in DSP. One can turn the volume up or down by sliding your hand across a dimpled ridge on the back of the speaker and pause the music by resting your hand on top, a seductive party trick. Solid wood legs are available in oak, beech, or teak and B&O offer five color options for the fabric cover: silver, white, black, red, green, or brown. When the fabric cover is removed, a Fibonacci-sequence ridged grill covers the drivers.

The A9 will be available for prices starting at $2,699 at B&O stores, the B&O PLAY online store, Apple online, and select design stores.

mauidj's picture

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess!

There are some pretty amazing looking speakers out there that sound really good too.

But if good sound can be put into homes that would never consider entering our audiophile world then good for B&O and the industry too.

stereo slim's picture

The designer not only freed the product of visual noise but also of a power chord - I am thoroughly impressed!

stereo slim's picture

maybe the black unit behind A9 is a flattened wall-mount lead-acid battery pack?

ednazarko's picture

I have to admit that when I saw the A9, the first thought through my head was "archery target, where are the rings?" I probably am not the target beholder.

However - I am happy to see someone working at approaches to making speakers actually disappear, without the need for hacking into walls, fishing wires, and the like. Lots of speakers designed to be sculptural strike me as bad sculpture, or have eccentric or bad sound; lots of speakers that sound wonderful are weighty presences in the room.  I want to hear music, not see or hear speakers... bravo to B&O for trying.