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Is Bang & Olufsen an audiophile brand? The answer’s tricky, even for its execs

If you asked people to name some top-end audio brands, Bang & Olufsen would probably be one of first you would hear, and for good reason.

The Danish brand has carved a steady reputation as a luxury headphone and speaker manufacturer, releasing a number of top-end systems which definitely hit audiophile level prices. However, with products and ranges featuring different designs and feature sets to traditional audiophile setups, many within the world of audio have struggled to place the brand.

Speaking to Trusted Reviews, Bang and Olufsen’s vice president of design Gavin Ivester revealed it’s a conundrum that even the firm is struggling to answer.

When directly asked if Bang and Olufsen is an audiophile brand, Ivester told Trusted Reviews, “That’s a tricky question to answer. Specs and our expertise holds up to anything in the audiophile market. But often audiophiles are driven by just specs – we’re driven more by experience.

“The audiophile is all about sitting in a sweet spot, but so much of listening to music happens when you’re doing something else. What we want to do is give you amazing musical experiences whatever moment or setup you want to be in.”

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This approach is apparently why the firm chooses to keep fairly quiet about its products specs, and doesn’t go into detail about its engineering as much as its competitors.

“If you’re asking me if we’re a lifestyle or technology brand, I’d just say ‘yes’. Our goal is to use technology to give you an experience. The clear tenants of our brand, one of them is that we just want to keep people in the moment and streamline your path to a great musical experience,” he said.

“We’ve never wanted to drag you down into a technology experience. Our definition of luxury is based on acoustic performance, how it makes you feel when you hear your favourite music and it sounds amazing – it’s not about tech details.“

Ivester highlighted the firm’s newly unveiled Beosound Balance speaker as an example of the “fine line” the company is trying to toe between the world of regular and audiophile listeners. “If you look at our latest Beosound Balance, what you see in front of you is a simple cylinder, but inside it has seven carefully placed drivers and multiple microphones so you can run a room calibration algorithm that automatically calibrates the speaker to take into account the room’s acoustics.

“Then there’s the app for more controllability. Here you have powerful controls, but the experience of changing the sound is as simple as pinching and touching. [For us] it’s about using technology to empower you and give you a great listening experience, not a bunch of specs.”

The Beosound Balance is a new £1750 wireless speaker that launched on 5 March. It aims to let users switch between 360 and directional sound profiles.

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