94-year-old Danish audio engineering company Bang & Olufsen has released a unique model of speaker to add to their repertoire of quality hardware: the Beosound Edge. This gorgeous piece of hardware, designed by Museum of Modern Art New York-featured artist Michael Anastassiades, was inspired by the British pound coin--at least, before it was replaced by the new 12-sided coin. It’s safe to say that the Edge packs a lot of punch behind its matte fabric cover and brushed aluminum casing. It can be wall-mounted like a railway clock or sat upright, like standing a coin on its edge, hence the name.
This incredibly novel 20-inch-diameter build of the Edge houses 800 watts of amplification with a 10” bass woofer, 4” midrange drivers and ¾” tweeters. Six discrete Class D amps power each driver individually, so you can expect your audio experience to deliver on every level. Audio can be played out of both sides of the speaker for an audio experience that envelops you completely. A hidden port in the front of the Edge can be used to boost bass as you boost volume, and you can also find an intuitive touch panel with proximity sensors on the aluminum casing. Volume can be adjusted by rocking the speaker to the left or right--an extremely novel method of adjustment that proves quite fun.
So, how is a unique audio hardware setup like this created in the first place? At Bang & Olufsen’s labs, it seems to be a five-step process. First, almost 5 and half feet of high-grade aluminum is fashioned into a perfect circle and polished to a chrome-like finish. The rounded edges are then refined by hand by a milling expert. Once the expert is finished, engineers program a robot to replicate the expert’s process perfectly to ensure that every single Beosound Edge has the same polished perfection. In order to place the touch panel properly, lasers perforate the topmost layer of aluminum, after which glue is pulled through these tiny holes via a vacuum process. Once dry, the glue fills these gaps in order to both keep the exterior smooth to the touch and act as tiny lenses for the installed proximity sensors.
All in all, the Beosound Edge is shaping up to be the embodiment of both pure minimalism and absolute luxury in design and quality, in a completely non-traditional, boundary-pushing package that keeps in line with Bang & Olufsen’s tradition of unique audio hardware, like the Beoplay A9 or the Beosound Shape. The Beosound Edge is as much an art piece as it is a premium speaker system.
Design & Features
It’s clear to see that the innovators at Bang & OIufsen have created something very unique in terms of design. So, what goes into it? The fabric-covered circular drivers, tailor-made to fit perfectly into the case, pump out sound from either side of the speaker, with a polished aluminum ring surrounding the edge for a polished, minimalist package. This design allows for positioning two ways: either stranding upright on a subtle stand, which is very evocative of the Beosound Edge’s namesake, or wall-mounted like a bar sign. This speaker is quite large at 20” in diameter and 6” in width. The visuals are definitely tailored to open, minimalist spaces. The bronze finish is also quite gorgeous for warmer interiors.
With speakers placed on both sides, the Beosound Edge sounds pretty amazing wherever you happen to place it. Should you choose to sit the speaker upright, you’ll find an almost invisible base that prevents it from rolling away when standing up or when you rock it to adjust the volume. Fingerprints can also accumulate on the aluminum case, but are easily wiped away with a soft cloth.
The exterior design does more than hold in the hardware: it informs how the Beosound Edge functions and extends the control system. The volume mechanic, while novel and interesting, can take a second to get used to as you find the nuances of adjusting audio to your preference. The intuitive onboard accelerometer helps the speakers determine how much your volume needs adjusting based on how much you rocked the speaker. The Edge will always roll back to its starting position after you adjust the volume.
The touch panel is another intuitive and user-friendly feature. Simply tap to play, pause, and skip tracks as you please. When you approach, the aforementioned proximity sensors will light up the touch panel so it’s ready for use and you can easily locate it. It’s a very handy setup when you’re near the speaker, and very easy to use as well. If you’re across the room and want to adjust your audio experience, you can, of course, use your connected device.
Music can be played from either dual-band Wireless 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz) or Bluetooth 4.2. Ethernet connections are supported as well. For streaming, Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast are both supported, so you can connect your desired audio from across the room with ease. For discerning listeners seeking a multi-room audio setup, BeoLink Multiroom technology is integrated into the speaker for ease of setup and use.
For more control over volume and other settings, you can use your preferred audio streaming app (such as AirPlay 2 or Chromecast) or Bang & Olufsen’s in-house app, Beoplay, which includes unique ToneTouch technology, an EQ adjustment system that’s incredibly visual, intuitive, and user-friendly for getting the sound right where you want it at all times. Many premium speaker systems come with either too much or too little in mobile compatibility at times, so it’s nice to have the perfect balance of simplicity and remote control of your audio hardware with just a few simple taps of your phone or tablet.
Another vital feature to make use of on the Beosound Edge is its combination of a closed box design at lower volumes with an active bass port that opens up at higher volumes using a flap. Think of it like spoilers on the car: once you crank up the speed (or, in this case, the volume up to 60% or more), the flap raises up to gradually invite more bass into your audio. The jump in volume is gradual as well, which is a sigh of relief when getting used to the unique manual volume adjustment. Of course, you can always use a connected device or the Beoplay app to carefully adjust your volume settings. All in all, it’s fantastic audio engineering and adds a layer of flexibility and depth that most speakers on the market simply can’t match. The active bass port is also a unique visual element to observe, should you choose to remove the cloth cover on the Edge.
Speaking of uncovering, you will find that both sides of speaker get 4 inch midrange drivers and ¾” tweeters. With the help of the B&O Beosound app, you can control which side of speaker projects sound, or you can simply enjoy 360 degrees of sound from both sides. Each driver has its own amp for total of six amps, up to 800W of sound output. The Beosound Edge is easily one of the most powerful and loudest speakers B&O has ever designed.
So, the design is incredibly unique and compelling: what about the sound? Fortunately, you will find that the Beosound Edge’s audio quality lives up to the hype of its groundbreaking, yet polished design. These speakers deliver nothing but great, consistent performance.
The active bass port design, which uses the best of both closed cabinets and open bass ports, adds an unmatched depth of sound with a mechanically-widening aperture that gradually increases bass levels to match the volume. This means that the Beosound Edge can deliver room-thumping bass with its 10” woofer, powerful mids from the two 4” midrange drivers, and crisp highs with its ¾” tweeters. The whole setup is supported by 6 discrete Class D amplifiers for 800 watts of combined power for the amps. These amps also help made the Beosound Edge’s audio directional, so you can choose to play audio from either the left or right side if you don’t want or need both sides of the speaker playing at once.
The design team at Bang & Olufsen have planned the Beosound Edge with open floor plans in mind, hence the flexibility in directional audio playback to fit your needs. Effortless, powerful sound pours like crystalline water from the drivers and discrete amps, and the active bass port will gradually crank the bass up without sacrificing mids or highs, even at louder volume settings. With the Beosound Edge, you can truly expect sound that will hold its own and keep your attention as long as you wish to enjoy its lush, full sound. The vocals were especially clear and powerful with driving mids and thumping, energizing lows to accompany them.
Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Edge is definitely a unique contender in the premium speaker market, and not just for its crisp, clean, coin-inspired design. This audio system is easily the perfect addition to any minimalist decor or open floor plan that offers a lot of room for variety in terms of listening, whether you want 180 degrees of sound while you eat breakfast in the kitchen or want to have music pumping from both sides of the speaker while throwing a party with friends and family.
The Edge also offers the cutting-edge in high-end audio technology in terms of amp wattage, drivers, bass, and flexibility in listening. The ToneTouch EQ settings on the Beoplay app are extremely user-friendly for tailoring your audio experience to your desired tastes, and the active bass port combines the best of both closed cabinet speakers at low volumes and loud, thumping bass at higher volumes. The streaming support for AirPlay 2 and Chromecast are both consistent, and the built-in multi-room technology is excellent for experiencing truly wireless audio from anywhere in your home. The Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet connection options offer a wider range of connectivity than many premium audio systems on the market currently do.
In the end, it’s safe to say that minimalists and audiophiles alike will absolutely adore the Beosound Edge. The maestros at Bang & Olufsen have outdone themselves on a unique, boundary-pushing design that tests the line between art installation and audio hardware in a fresh, compelling way. The flexibility in terms of setup and mounting is unmatched, the audio quality is powerful and commands attention for the new life is breathes into your favorite tunes. The audio pouring out of both sides of the speaker (or just one side, if you prefer) envelops you in lush sound that will keep you hooked. The touch panel and Beosound app are both incredibly user-friendly and intuitive as well. If you’re in the market for high-quality audio hardware, the Beosound Edge is worth an audition.