Bang & Olufsen Will Make You Stop Buying Disposable Audio Gear
I think the folks at Bang & Olufsen would rather understand my sentiment to not be a consumer of disposable audio gear. These Danish designers and engineers have been creating luxury music systems that sound as good they look for almost 100 years now. You’ll find B&O audio products are all unique and strive to explore and exploit styling these music system to make a visual statement. You may say it’s expensive, but with B&O, it really is a music investment that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. So, at #4 in our best wireless speakers series. Here is the A9 from B&O.
As we begin our review Beoplay A9 all-in-one wireless music system lets also climb the ladder to the very top of the company’s loudspeaker range. Here you’ll find the ultra high-end BeoLab 90. This remote controlled, active / powered, 18 driver floor standing loudspeaker is a very bold audiophile design even in the rarefied air of ultra high-end audio.
The speaker's BeoLab 90 celebrates the company's 90th anniversary last year and its $90,000 price tag represents the state of art for component-less all-in-one music system. You’re very lucky indeed if you are one of the few who could consider its purchase. Here at Rateyoursound we have a field trip planned to give the BeoLab 90s a serious listen.
Beoplay A9 Wireless Speaker Variations
What Is “Trickle Down” Technology?
For the rest of us you can still have breathtaking and exciting products with a bit of good old “trickle down” technology. By developing flagship Wireless Speakers like the BeoLab 90 much of what it is trickles down to our review of the luxurious Beoplay A9. B&O does this by using integration and sometimes identical components that become the building blocks for a design like the Beoplay A9. It also helps maintain many of the sonic characteristics corresponding to moreexpensive speakers in the line.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 : all-in-one Stereo System
If you grew up with traditional hi-fi setup using a stack of stereo components and the typical left and right speakers, it might take a few seconds to fully comprehend the totality of what the all-in-one Beoplay A9 stand-alone stereo do for your lifestyle at home.
Why are B&O Audio Systems So Popular?
We think partially because every B&O product is unique and special. In the case of the A9 it is a true expression of audio gear standing on its own needing only to be plugged in. All the cool Design elements are here. It’s lovingly wrapped in an ultra-chic circle enclosure and so simple to use all you do is add the music. The speaker itself is visually a beautiful circle and in fact the shape is inspired by the fact sound travels in circles!
One of the hottest features of the A9 cannot be seen but is heard. B&O adjusts the sound signature based on the speakers location and it’s just amazing that one A9 can adapt to your room so easily and deliver stereo so perfectly from one-point. The single unit is designed with a switch on the back to electronically change its sonic signature allowing placement almost anywhere. The speaker can be placed free standing in a room, placed in a corner or even hung on a wall and will compensate the room delivering optimum sound. As you listen and look at the A9 it is an absolute masterpiece of design and it will fill even the biggest rooms effortlessly with stereo sound.
Living With The Designer A9
The objects that we have in our homes speak to who we are. The Beoplay A9 is beautifully constructed like a piece of furniture and looks like a piece of art. The three wood legs are available in Oak, Walnut or Maple, and the aluminum and plastics and fabrics offered are the best available in the standard models. There are also some special color options using unique metals, woods and fabrics from Kvadrat and are offered for the more decorator minded in the house.
The Bang & Olufsen A9 Strikes a Pose
We learned by digging around a bit you can also get custom covers for the A9s from SkiniPlay. There are beautiful images on our B&O A9 Photo Album Facebook page. We loved this fancy solution for making your BeoPlay A9 even more unique. The variety of skins let you decide to either highlight your speaker or fade it into the background. B&O has alliances and partnerships with companies like Apple, HP and even small design firms like SkiniPlay so you can feel confident ordering. We checked, and the website is fun to visit and they ship worldwide.
The A9 Is An Iconic Music Streaming System
Functional and beautiful is what the trademark promises at Bang & Olufsen and delivers with the Beoplay A9. Looking at the industrial design and engineering of the product explained to us at RYS justifying its audiophile price tag. It is worth every penny it costs because outside and under the hood you’ll find the business happens with unique materials, a circular bass reflex cabinet that has five individual drivers. It works so well as stereo because along with a single 8” woofer with a bass reflex port on the back a pair of stereo midrange and tweeter units are positioned on the far extremes of the front face along with clever digital stereo processing. This configuration gives the A9 the widest stereo field as possible along with a very satisfying bottom end punch. Finally, these drivers are all powered by five individually tuned Class D amps providing 480 total watts for the stereo driver array.
What’s It Like Day To Day With The A9?
Along with the beautiful looking and sonic aspects of the Beoplay A9 you’ll find no problems connecting using AirPlay, Spotify or TuneIn which are baked-in along with Chromecast and Deezer. Connectivity continues with USB, Bluetooth 4.0, BeoLink for Multi-Room and DLNA or old fashioned RCA plugs.
We loved the simplicity of using the A9 with your onboard device controls spanning but hidden along the top of the circle. There, tiny dots act as sensors and let you tap through music sources, swipe or tap volume, mute sound, get to the next or previous tracks, and mute the system. Finally, you have a small Bluetooth pairing button you press and hold on one side and the power button on the other side. The best part for you is it it all works just brilliantly. Whether you use these onboard controls just described or using a streaming app like Spotify on any touchscreen device, or lastly the B&O app for Apple and Android adds even another way to be in complete control of your music.
The Beoplay A9 circular front speaker cover can be interchanaged several different options are available:
Speaker Covers For Beoplay A9
Beoplay A9 4th Generation
The Beoplay A9 has evolved and is now in it's 4th generation with some modern upgrades that will appeal to the tech-savvy music lover. The differences in the A9 3rd and 4th Generation are listed in this article by B&O Denmark, but I will summarise here:
- Addition of Google voice assistant
- Active room compensation added using an internal microphone, similar to the B&O Beosound 2
- Added refinement of a fabric coated power cable
- B&O logo on the aluminum ring
- New Oak legs for the A9 White version and Walnut legs for the A9 Black version
At RYS we are not at all about reviewing every Bluetooth and Wireless speaker system that shows up. Rather, the terrain we cover is to find the exceptional and standout wireless music systems from the small all-in-one tabletop, to the desktop, and finally the living room and multi-room music systems. For a living room of any size we found the A9 really stood out against its competition.
As I was saying, we found the B&O A9 does have some features and major benefits that some of our top rated living room systems just don’t have. When compared head to head with KEF LS50 Wireless or the Devialet Phantom there are a few things to keep in mind that may help you lean one way or the other when deciding on any of these audiophile setups.
Most striking we think, unlike the B&O A9, a single Devialet Phantom delivers only Mono sound only. It may be big and bold sound along wrapped with all the wonderful technology, design etc. but you’d still need a pair of Phantom’s for Stereo system. Along with double the price compared to a single A9 we think most of our readers would find that a prohibitive price to pay if stereo is on your checklist of wants.
Comparing the KEFs I have to say the LS50 is a favorite around here. About the only negative is it does deliver Stereo in the traditional way with two speaker enclosures properly positioned on the left and right. Both the B&O A9 and the KEF LS50W wireless speakers deliver a proper Stereo soundstage but we must say any Stereo pair of audiophile speakers including the KEF LS50 will do a bit better job creating the illusion of stereo depth, width and height than the A9 can do all by itself. That said, if anything B&O is flexible so you own two A9s they can be used both individually in a multi-room setup or as a true stereo pair in one room.
Beoplay A9 MkII Wireless Audio System
Should You buy The Bang & Olufson Beoplay A9?
If you chose an all-in-one system like the B&O A9 remember that a group of crazy Danish craftsman and sound engineers who are inside most of the year because of long winters have been a laboratory for high-res sound coming from a single-point in the room. RYS believes it gives them an edge above all others all-in-one stereo systems in the game except for possibly the upstarts over at Sonos with the new Play:5 all-in-one stereo which has some lovely digital tricks too.
I’d also mention, our UK editor Editor Simon Egg who loves jazz and popular music and his vintage B&O system. Along with Mary his wife they are both what B&O customers are all about and understanding some things in life are just special. So they made a serious investment 20 years ago with the pictured system and they use the music system daily.
When given some time with the A9 Simon and Mary thought it was high performance hi-fi and had an almost 360 sound and wanted everyone to know the single point stereo was enlightening to hear their favorite music on!
At a luxury price point,the Beoplay A9 all-in-one music system is a new favorite at RYS we certainly believe the A9 is a product that shows the value of investing in a serious music system. The #2 speaker on our top-rated wireless speaker comparison table deserves it's place.