Review Price £1,699.00
Bang & Olufsen A9 First Look
As Trusted Reviews slipped shiftily through the doors of a so-private-you-barely-know-it's-there member’s club on London's Poland Street last Thursday, we didn't have a clue what to expect. All we knew was that Bang & Olufsen (B&O) had invited us there to witness the unveiling of a key new product in its BeoPlay range of digital music-friendly AV devices.
The first thing we noticed inside the apartment - aside from how many other people were in it and a row of free Mojitos - was a startlingly large, clearly arc-shaped ‘something’ hidden under a grey sheet in one of the apartment’s corners. This, clearly, was the main reason we were there.
Bang & Olufsen A9 Design - The joke's on us
The grey sheet intriguingly hung from a height of around a metre right down to the floor, causing us to joke during a quick pre-unveiling chat with B&O’s President and CEO Tue Mantoni that it would be cool if the product underneath the sheet turned out to actually be a metre high, rather than being something smaller sat on a table, as we assumed it was.
Which just goes to prove that you should never make any assumptions where B&O design is concerned. For once B&O had judged that everyone in the room was suitably well-oiled from all the mojitos, the time had come to whip off the grey cover to reveal that in fact its new star audio product really was that imposingly tall...
Bang & Olufsen A9 Features - Sound in the round
The product in question is called the BeoPlay A9, and it's the B&O’s new flagship wireless music speaker, capable of streaming music from both Airplay (Apple) and Android devices. The A9’s design is its real talking point though. For starters, it’s round. As in completely circular, full-moon, satellite-dish, smartie round.
It's also, as hinted already, huge. The main speaker circle is 70cm in diameter, while the full height of the A9 if you attach its three standing legs is 91cm. That’s taller than many TVs.
This obviously makes it quite a commitment in space terms for your average home. But then with a price tag of £1700, it’s probably unlikely to find its way into an average home!
The standard look of the A9 is a white body with a white cover, and beech legs. But you can also choose silver, red, black, green, and brown fabric covers, and oak or teak legs.
Removing the fabric cover is also an option - arguably a necessity for cat owners! - as the speaker’s front is protected by a very fetching hard grille with the B&O logo engraved at its centre.
Bang & Olufsen A9 Sound Quality - Practical as well as pretty
As well as looking striking, the A9‘s circular design is practical. For it means it avoids almost all ‘standing wave’ problems, improving sound quality. The shape and size of the A9 also helps it accommodate an extraordinary amount of power for a wireless speaker ‘dock’: 480W, delivered via two 3in mid-range unites, two three-quarter-inch tweeters, and an 8in bass unit that pushes some of its air through the A9’s built-in carry handle slot.
The A9’s sound output can be adjusted to suit wall or floor mounting options, while a rather gorgeous touch-sensitive sliding device around the A9’s top edge lets you change the unit’s volume across four different ‘configurations’: personal listening, small room listening, large room listening, and Party listening.
These modes immediately hint at the sort of power the A9 can turn out. And during our hands - or rather, ears - on, the system actually produce an even bigger sound performance than even its large and obviously very high build quality had led us to hope for. Its music comfortably filled the apartment we were in, despite the huge amount of chattering, well-lubricated people in it.
Bass levels, too, were remarkable during a couple of dance tracks we were subjected to, vocals sounded amazingly clear and polished while listening to a couple of pop tracks, yet the system also managed to sound suitably ‘grunty’ at high volumes when playing The Foo Fighters.
The only negative impression we formed during our brief listening in the far-from-ideal circumstances of the crowded apartment was that the attempt to deliver a room-filling sound perhaps detracts from music’s stereo separation. It’s entirely possible, though, that in a less chaotic environment this perceived issue will fizzle away.
Hopefully, with the A9 due to be released in the second half of November, that less chaotic environment will soon be our test rooms... Watch this space.