The big Bang
BANG & OLUFSEN TAKES WIRELESS MULTI-ROOM TO ANOTHER LEVEL WITH THE BEOPLAY A6. THE QUESTION IS, CAN HIGH FASHION ALSO BE HI-FI?
Bang & Olufsen is not a brand to take design lightly. It’s produced some of the most avant garde consumer electronics out there, particularly within its B&O PLAY universe. Witness the extraordinary, circular A9 streaming speaker – essentially, Captain America’s shield on a tripod – and the effortlessly cool A2 Bluetooth portable.
With the BeoPlay A6, though, it’s really dialled up the affectation. Of course, there’s more to this speaker than its bold aesthetics. For example, the unique quasi-turtleshell chassis allows for some unusual acoustic engineering. There are five drivers beneath the cloth hood, all steered with confidence by DSP algorithms. Sound-processing modes can be fine-tuned via positional dipswitches within the cable well, depending on how the speaker is set up.
The A6 is the work of Danish industrial designer Jakob Wagner. In addition to collaborating with B&O, his studio clients include high-end furniture makers B&B Italia, Moroso and Capellini. Wagner’s signature style is probably best described as ‘ingenious simplicity’.
The build quality and finish of the A6 are exquisite. It’s a sizeable beast, but the polymer chassis features a molded hand grip so you can easily scoot about the house with it. The cloth cover is no ordinary grille, either; indeed, it’s so dense, it’s difficult to believe that it’s in any way acoustically transparent. The textile is custommade for the A6, in association with Kvadrat. Our sample came in Light Grey, but you can also order the A6 in Dark Grey, Dusty Blue and Dark Rose. The base colour is white. The grille is easily removed, so you can change styles should you refresh your décor.
The speaker body is arched so that it rests on its edges. Not only does this create a distinctive silhouette, it acoustically accommodates the drivers at play here. The A6 is a five-channel design, with four speakers on the front/top – two tweeters backed by two woofers – and one full-range driver pointing backwards/ downwards. This complement functions much like two conventional speakers drawn close together.
The cable and connection well to the rear are disguised by a pop-out flap. Under this, you’ll find a power socket, plus inputs for Ethernet, USB, a line-in minijack and assorted nodules. Don’t think about using the USB input for media playback, though; this is purely provided for service calls. What we’re really here for is the wireless side of things, and there’s Wi-Fi support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, in addition to Bluetooth 4.0.