Wireless technology such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooh have made life more convenient for people by reducing cable clutter. For a long time, speaker makers have made use of technologies such as Bluetooth and Kleer technology to transmit audio data from players to speakers. However, the experience is not great as the dropouts frequently occur and data needs to be compressed before it can be efficiently streamed, thus reducing in loss of audio quality and details.
Bang & Olufsen has been pursuing wireless speakers for a long time, but held back because they believed that the time was not right and that technology still has some ways to go before it could be employed in such a way that did not dilute what the brand stood for - and that is the accurate and faithful reproduction of sound.
Hence Bang & Olufsen spent the past few years working with WiSA (The Wireless Speaker & Audio Association) to come up with a new wireless standard that could meet their exacting standards. Unlike Bluetooth and even Kleer technology, this new standard transmits on the relatively free 5.2 - 5.8GHz band. This means less interference and makes it less prone to dropouts. In addition, this gives WiSA-enabled devices enough bandwidth to transmit uncompressed 24-bit music at their native sampling rates. WiSA will also support a full 7.1 surround sound configuration.
Today, Bang & Olufsen officially unveiled their three new speakers under their Immaculate Wireless Sound Concept - the BeoLab 17, 18 and 19 - which makes use of this new wireless technology.
The BeoLab 17 is a bookshelf-style speaker that is fairly compact and can be positioned in a number of ways - wall-mounted, on a special stand, or just on the floor using a floor base. Inside it is a custom-made 6-inch mid-range driver, a 3/4-inch tweeter and a pair of Class D 160W amplifiers. To match your house decor, the BeoLab 17 is available in black or white, with changeable front fabric covers that are available in white, black or blue.
The BeoLab 19 is a subwoofer and features a unique dodecahedral (12 pentagonal faces) design modeled after fighter jets. It has been specially designed to keep vibrations to a minimum, so that it can even be placed on desks or coffee tables. Driving it are two custom 8-inch drivers each powered by a dedicated 160W Class D amplifier.
Finally, the BeoLab 18 is the successor to Bang & Olufsen’s iconic and legendary BeoLab 8000. The most striking feature about the BeoLab 18 has got to be its lamella front, which is available in black or white composite ($1000 option) or in solid oak ($2000 option). The BeoLab 18 also features Bang & Olufsen’s distinctive acoustic lens tweeter, which seems to be “floating” on the speaker and uses two custom 4-inch midrange drivers coupled to two 160W Class D amplifiers to produce its rich sound.
To enable wireless connectivity with these speakers, users would also need to purchase the BeoLab Transmitter 1 from Bang & Olufsen or the new BeoVision 11 TV with updated WiSA connectivity. In addition, Bang & Olufsen also informed us that they have plans to enable wireless connectivity on their older speakers by means of an add-on receiver.
Pricing details are as follows, the BeoLab 17 is available for $6000 a pair, with floor bases and stands being optional extras. The BeoLab 19 costs $5500. The BeoLab 18 goes for $8500, with the cover, stands and mounts being optional extras. The BeoLab Transmitter 1 is $700.
Since the standard is open, expect to see more brands beginning to WiSA-enabled audio/visual products in the near future.