Those with a beady eye will have noticed the A9 appeared on TrustedReviews pages before. We did a preview when the product was first unveiled in October (you can read it in the preview tab above) and were greatly impressed, but how did it get on under closer scrutiny? In short: extremely well.
Despite the unusual design, B&O has managed to cram the A9 full of goodies. Inside you’ll find a substantial 8in woofer powered by a 160 watt amplifier plus two 3in midrange drivers and two 3/4in tweeters each powered by class D 80 watt amplifiers. This totals a dizzying 480W and while watts rarely tell the whole story, here they proved a very good indicator of what lay in store.
The A9 is an absolute powerhouse. B&O claims it will fill not just large rooms, but sprawling open plan loft apartments and while we didn’t have the latter at hand based on our experience we wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. It isn’t just the window shaking volume of the A9 which impresses though as we were even happier about the quality of its sound reproduction.
B&O has opted for a relatively neutral signature, but bass, mid and high frequencies all shine through with the A9 managing that difficult balancing act of tying accuracy and emotion. The three modes (corner, wall and freestanding) also nicely adjust bass output for each scenario while bass heads simply need to position the A9 in a corner or by a wall and switch to the freestanding mode for vibrations that’ll send nearby objects rattling off nearby tables.
Sound separation is excellent too with the wide diameter and curved front doing a fine job of dispersing channels around the room. Yes a HiFi separates system or x.1 surround sound system by definition would spread sound more evenly around large open spaces, but the ability of the A9 to compete with them should not be underestimated.
Quibbles? Very few. AirPlay continues to display a frustrating play/pause/skip lag that is inherent to the technology, but B&O has brought it down to two seconds which is about as good as it gets and adjusting the volume is instant. Elsewhere there is a touch of distortion at full volume, but quite frankly this is so loud that unless you are planning a party designed to replicate the shouting-in-ears experience of night clubs you won’t run into it often.
We know what you’re thinking: the real concern comes from the price. Yes and no. Certainly the £1699 RRP is going to cause many to wince and run and yes the anti-fashion brigade will point out that you can achieve similar performance for less in a separates system, but this isn’t really the point. The point is the A9 is a radically, but beautifully designed single unit that can genuinely stand toe-to-toe with high end HiFi and home cinema surround sound systems. It is both style and substance and there is nothing quite like it on the market. If you can afford it, surely that is a premium worth paying for.
The B&O BeoPlay A9 is both bonkers and brilliant, radical and subtle, style and substance and these aren’t qualities we see very often. For sure it won’t suit all tastes, budgets and properties but it should be celebrated for daring to be different and succeeding in tremendous style. Now B&O give us an A9 Mini…