Review Price £799.99
Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence Review: Hands-on
What is the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence?The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence is a wireless audio system that costs a grand in the US, suggesting it'll sell for a little less over here. It's not cheap and it's simpler than something like the Sonos system, but it has plenty of that famous B&O gloss.
Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence – Design and FeaturesThe Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence system comes in two parts. There's a white box that you plug into your B&O hi-fi, but otherwise hide away from view, and a little silver control interface.
The main reason to buy the Essence is quite how lovely this little controller is. Its outer part is a giant metal volume control with a fantastic, smooth action that goes some way to justifying the very high price of this system.
There are also four buttons on the thing, which let you change the track and play/pause. You just get the one controller for your thousand bucks, but extra controllers can be bought for approximately £150. Four can be hooked up to the one Essence box.
The controller comes in two main types too. There's one that's designed to be stuck to the wall in custom install fashion, and one with a larger metal plate – a coffee table controller. B&O also showed off a bunch of different finishes of the latter, but it sounds like they won't be available at launch. All these controllers are powered by a pair of AAA batteries, but as they use Bluetooth LE to talk to the main control box, they'll last for ages.
You may be wondering – how does this all work? Obviously, you have pretty limited control with no more controls than you'd get on the handsfree housing of a pair of headphones. Press play and the B&O Essence will automatically revert to the last playlist or internet radio station you were listening to.
There is more advanced control too, through a custom B&O app, used on your phone or tablet. And, thankfully, you don't have to use it if it turns out to be rubbish. The Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Essence supports Spotify Connect, which lets you connect to the system directly through the Spotify app and bypasses the phone for the actual steaming.
This is an excellent addition, as the Spotify app is really rather good. This is an extremely expensive way to get Spotify onto your hi-fi when Bluetooth adapters are available for peanuts these days, but we can't deny the allure of that Bang & Olufsen gloss.
However, the Essence is only really designed for B&O systems. The 'brain' box's speaker outputs are not standard interconnects, but network-style cables used to preserve sound quality (and to come across as terribly fancy, if we're being cynical). It is an extremely classy way to bring your old B&O system into the present, though.
Next, read our B&O BeoPlay A9