Wireless Home Audio at Axpona: Bang & Olufsen [Interview]

Bang & Olufsen Interview with David Zapfel at Axpona 2017
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We got the chance to speak with one of our favorite Brands of top-rated wireless speakers at the Axpona Audiophile show on April 21st this year. So at the Westin Hotel in Chicago we caught up with David Zapfel, the North American Product Manager for Bang & Olufsen.

We had a lot of questions to ask David after he demo’d the B&O Wireless Speaker product range in the Bang & Olufsen listening room at the Westin Hotel.

We were astounded by the Beolab 90 flagship wireless speaker and we were amazed at the high quality sound and volume that came out of the Beoplay A9 and then the Beosound 1 and 2, the small home wireless speakers in the range.

We recorded our conversations with David for posterity, you can find the video and transcripts below:

David Zapfel Talks About Beoplay A9 Wireless Speaker


Hi We’re at Axpona this afternoon talking to B&O.

Well we have a variety of products here we have the Beosound 1, Beosound 2, Beoplay A9 and Beolab 90 our flagship loudspeaker.

What I wanted to ask you about the A9, it seems like you can almost put it anywhere, hang it on a wall, a ceiling, put it in a corner, tell us about that.

Well the A9 is an extremely flexible speaker, it’s designed by someone that comes from the furniture world and wanted it to be like a piece of great furniture that you could put in your home that happens to play great music also.

So it has this sort of retro look with tripod legs made out of hardwood and certainly you can pick it up, there is a handle in the back that acts as a bass reflex port as well. You can move it around the room with that and plug it in wherever you want or there is a wall bracket we have for it so you could pick it up and put it on the wall and mount it virtually anywhere you want to that way.

We don’t really have a ceiling bracket for you to do that but a creative person might hang it from a fishnet or something and have it like a flying saucer but that’s not any option that we actually offer from the Company.

But certainly people typically will take that one, out it into a room and if you leave a bit of the cord available then you can move it around and direct the sound where you want it to be and as you notice from the demo it gets to a substantial sound pressure level so for a lot of people they don’t want to see a stack of components anywhere.

This is the stereo system that is hidden in a piece of furniture. You can cover it with any fabric that you want to use.

[Read more about the Beoplay A9 in our detailed B&O Beoplay A9 review.]

David Zapfel Talks About The Beosound 1 & 2


Hi We’re at Axpona taking and digging deep into the B&O Wireless speaker line. We fell in love with the Beosound 1 and 2. We like that you can kind of take it anywhere and do anything with it. Can you tell us a little bit more?

I’ve fallen in love with it too. The Beosound 1 and 2, it’s two different sizes of what we call our flexible speaker line and they are flexible in the way that you can lift them up and carry them from room to room.

They are either Bluetooth, so someone who just wants to stream Bluetooth to it they are open for connecting all the time, when you take it out of the box the first time it’s ready to go, but if you have a home network, you want to put it on your wireless network, you can take one of each, out it on your wireless network, maybe out one in the kitchen, put one in your office and then you can have that music in those zones of course or you can share it between the zones, you can pick it up and take it with you.

The Beosound 1 in particular has a battery that’s good for up to 14 hours of pretty much full volume, well maybe not full volume, but moderate volume levels, and then at full volume 4 hours of play time befor you would need to plug it in again. So typically you’d leave that plugged in on your kitchen counter, you want to go out on the patio with a cup of coffee in the morning, you just unplug it, take it with you, take the music out there.

They are really easy to start and stop, you just touch the top and it comes on and starts playing whatever you played last, and then you have a choice of your different sources that you might want to stream to it from.

Whatever music service you like to use, you can Airplay to it, you can Chromecast to it, Spotify connect, Deezer, Tune-in radio built it, DLNA if you have a server in your home you could run music to it with DLNA or you can also have Bluetooth, as I mentioned direct, and how could I forget Apple AirPlay.

Thank you.

You can read more about these models in our full Beosound 1 & 2 review.

David Zapfel of Bang & Olufsen Talks About the B&O Smartphone App


We’re back at Axpona and we’re talking to Bang & Olufsen about their control apps for their wireless speaker systems. You know, we’ve seen a lot of hot and cold with those apps, not yours specifically. What are you doing to make that experience better? The hardware is so great.

Well what we’re trying to do is make it easy to control your system components in your home. And that’s going to be as easy as you want it to be because the app itself can give you access to picking specific sources, controlling the volume, expanding from one device to another within a multi-room architecture of our system so you can start with one speaker, let’s say the A9 that we talked about earlier, and I can control that if I don’t want to get up and walk across the room to touch it.

I can go into my phone and I can pick the music source that I want to listen to, I can pick the specific track, I can drill down to the individual artist and track I want to play or I can go to a radio station and tune in. I can then adjust the volume to my liking I could even go into the app and adjust the tone controls if I want to do that.

If you have kids you can eve set a max volume setting in there. They will probably find it and change it back but you know sometimes it’s handy to have something like that.

So what we’re trying to do is give the customers full control from the app but hands-on we give you basic functionality. So one touch will turn it on from wherever you left it, so if you’re playing a playlist in whatever source, you touch it, it’s going to come onto that at a volume that you have pre-set also from the app. So we’re trying to give you that one-touch operation where every now and then this can just sit on a charger.

So David, what are you doing at an Audiophile show?

Well, I’ll tell you what, one of our colleagues, actually a couple of my colleagues attended the Axpona last year and they thought it would be a good idea if we showed our Beolab 90’s here as well as some of our other products. Bang & Olufson is not the first Brand that comes to mind when you think of audio Brands but we have a lot of clients and customers over the years who are very concerned about sound quality and performance. We wanted to show this world that we are in that arena and that we can compete with the best of them out there.

The other thing is that your wireless systems are definitely 2nd, 3rd systems in an audiophile’s home, for his study, his dining room.

Our typical, in fact I’ve met many clients that fit that description where they might have a high-end listening room somewhere in the home. You know the guys, the doctors, the lawyers, they’ve got a dedicated - it’s like the Maxell poster from way back. Sitting in the chair getting blown away by themselves. But the rest of the house will be a Bang & Olufsen system because it’s easy for everybody to use.

And now with the Beolab 90 we’ve bridged the gap between that guy and the rest of his family by making the Beolab 90’s with the narrow mode for that experience but then opening it up to wide and omnidirectional modes so that everyone in the family can be included and then making it run through our app or from our remote control through our video product so that’s it’s simple for everybody to use. And that way you really get the best of both worlds and hopefully everybody in the family is happy and enjoying more music.

Well thank you very much for your time we’ve really enjoyed our day here with B&O.

Thank you, my pleasure, happy to see you.

Footnote: Don't forget to read our Beoplay H5 earphones review. B&O's top rated bluetooth earphones!


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Many thanks to the team at Bang & Olufsen America, Inc. David Zapfel, Product/Training Manager Thomas Folkmann, Regional Services Manager Todd Anderson, Pro Partner Manager - Region Central East Dora Czeczotka, Senior Marketing and PR Manager

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