BEO.ZONE

BeoSound 5

BeoSound

Production: 02/2009

Designer: Anders Hermansen

Documents: Owners Manual, Service Manual

The unusually-shaped BeoSound 5 digital music centre has been dubbed as “the modern-day jukebox” whose qualities include that of intuitive use, consumer convenience and user friendliness. The player automatically customises playlists according to each user’s genre selected through Bang & Olufsen’s patented MOTS (’more of the same’) technology - an award-winning concept used to create an intelligent algorithm which automatically captures the unique musical identity of a track (the ’seed’ track) and then builds upon a playlist of similarly-stored musical tracks based upon criteria such as rhythm, syncopation, key tonality and vocal harmonies.. It’s similar to Apple’s ‘Genius’ some might say… both companies choosing to undertake the same end result user philosophy in their same inimitable ‘designer’ ways. MOTS allows owners of large digital music libraries “rediscover their music collections” through playlists that deliver “subtle surprises along the way.”

In creating play lists, users may rip CDs especially for use on their BeoSound 5, or, for time-pressed customers, B&O stores contract with CD-ripping services to rip a customer’s entire CD collection to the BeoSound 5’s hard drive before delivering the system to a consumer (see the CD Ripping Device, introduced for the BeoSound 5 in November 2011).

It is interesting to note that BeoSound 5 is Bang & Olufsen’s first music system whose only sources are an included hard drive and Internet radio.

A case of split personalities

So, what comprises this shiny example of modern, digital convenience? There are two units which make up BeoSound 5: one which is designed to be looked at and ooh and aah’d in all its brushed aluminium and black-screened glory… the player itself, and, another ‘black box’ - the BeoMaster 5 - which is really the heart or brains of the system and which is designed to be hidden away out of sight, in similar philosophy to that of BeoCenter 2’s own ‘black box’. A bit if a Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde character, then.

BeoMaster 5 is intended as the a replacement for BeoMedia 1 and subsequent to the launch Beomedia 1 will be discontinued.

The player itself comprises the striking-looking main control unit head held high on its anodised stand, if that is what the user chooses to purchase. Stacked, rounded aluminium controls are situated at the right-hand side of the 26cm LCD display screen with hidden cables leading to the discrete black box which houses the 500GB hard drive and connection panel for audio and data.

Rotating the main dial on the top scrolls the user through the options on offer, while a lever below operates a ‘light beam’ display used to select modes. The LCD screen displays album art and menu choices; users may turn the wheel to spin through albums, artists, songs, genres and album covers, all moving in a circular pattern around the wheel. A thin blue beam of light emanates from a point next to the wheel to point to other menu options at the opposite end of the screen. Below that is found a third ‘ring’, with a knurled edge, which accesses the unit’s volume control. System settings and around 8000 Internet radio stations are also selected from the wheel. The Internet radio stations are accessed through an aggregation service maintained by B&O. Users select stations by such parameters as country, genre and language, and they’re able to filter stations by data rate to populate the Internet-radio menu only with stations delivering a selected level of sound quality. Minimum data rates can be set from 20kbps to 96kbps.

In creating the player unit prototype developer Oliver Wallington used such items as tablet PCs, computer mice and Lego building bricks and which took just two weeks to come together. Another week was then spent implementing the ingeniuos MOTS software which is to be found at the heart of the centre. Developed by the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the system allows the user to ’sow a seed’ by selecting a track or an album and allows the ‘brain’ to programme more music based on an analysis of that track compared to others stored within BeoSound 5’s memory. Each MOTS-generated playlist may contain up to 70 songs and up to 99 seed songs can be used to create 99 different playlists.

Based upon a compression rate of 256kbps BeoSound 5 would store sufficient musical tracks in MP3 format for up to 190 days; at CD quality, the player would provide music to last around 79 days. So more than enough then for most people’s use!

Key features of BeoSound 5:

Key features of BeoMaster 5:

Problems associated with the BeoSound 5:

Far from being an all-round media player (the BeoSound 5 only plays compressed digital music, JPEG photo files and a plethora of Internet radio stations, the majority of which either do not work or are just so full of publicity making many of them unuseable) the unit does not play video files. So, the user still needs a system of playing back movies on-screen. But the problem now is that if you have a Bang & Olufsen Blu-ray player, one can no longer play back Divx, Xvid and the ever-more popular MKV files, unlike the company’s DVD players which were well-capable.

BeoSound 5 technical specifications

Cabinnet finish: Aluminum/black
Dimensions/weight: 12” x 7” x 3” / 5.8 lbs(31cm x 19cm x 8cm/2.65 kg)
Display: 10.4”—1024 x 768
Connections: Only connects to BeoMaster 5 (DVI, power, USB)
Power consuption: Power supplied via BeoMaster 5
Features: N.Music, N.Radio, MOTS (More Of The Same)
Accessories: Wall bracket (included); Aluminum/black
Wall bracket extended; Aluminum/black
Table stand: Iron/black
Floor stand: Iron/aluminum