When it comes to storage and playback of digital media, the options are seemingly endless. Portable or stationary? Touch-screen or scroll pad? (And would you like that in pink?) While many options are functional, few take form into account beyond the trendy and disposable.
For those who revel in the timeless beauty of architecture and sculpture, your media player has arrived: Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound 5.
Sleek and sturdy, the BeoSound 5 makes an iPod look like a VW Bug to its Bentley. This is not a player for the casual music listener. This is an investment for those who cherish their vinyl collection yet long for the ease of a digital catalog. Weighing just shy of 6 pounds, the BeoSound 5 can be mounted on your wall, or with an optional desk or floor stand.
The 10.4-inch screen is controlled by three buttons, two aluminum scroll wheels and one toggle. Elegant and simple, the interface allows the user to choose from installed digital music and a selection of Internet radio stations.
Only able to pair with the BeoMaster 5 storage system, the BeoSound 5 can access up to 1,500 CDs in lossless WMA format on the BeoMaster 5’s 500 GB drive. It’s also able to accommodate MP3, WAV and unprotected AAC files, as well as JPG, BMP, GIF and TIF files for album art or family photos. All of this can be installed for you by Bang & Olufsen’s staff or added through a network via your own computer.
To accomplish music transfer, there are separate programs for the PC and Mac, each with their own benefits.
The PC user will have their entire hard drive scanned for music, which then can automatically be added to the BeoSound 5, while the Mac user is treated to a familiar drag and drop system that interfaces with iTunes. Both have options for creating four color-coded playlists or allowing the files to be added to the general pool of music.
Among the features of the BeoSound 5 is Bang and Olufsen’s “More Of The Same” (MOTS) software, which, similar to iTunes’ “Genius” program, analyzes the dynamics, timbre, rhythm and other song elements to create instant playlists from your collection.
Simply select a song, press “Go” and MOTS plays music director, selecting tunes that blend together seamlessly from this “seed,” even choosing pieces that you may not have thought to place together previously.
These starting “seeds” of music can be saved into 99 individual playlists, so whatever your mood, there can be a catalog ready to serve. Of course, full albums or collections of artists can be played in their entirety, just as you love to hear them.
Song and artist info is displayed while each track plays, along with a sizable album art view. Users can scan through the collection to select the next song or playlist while playback is uninterrupted. Simply slide the toggle switch to the very top or bottom to return to the current song’s information and art.
Internet stations are numerous and varied, from Broadway to international weather, and are surprisingly clean-sounding and hiccup free. There are many ways to listen as well, either through Bang & Olufsen speakers, or through your previously established audio system. On the back of the BeoMaster 5 are ports for composite, component, DVI, S-Video and SPDIF, as well as 2 USB ports, IR, Ethernet, and of course analog stereo.
Optical and HDMI ports are missing though, so keep this in mind when selecting your system configuration. DVI can be converted to HDMI, though you will have to purchase an adaptor or cable separately.
Also worth noting is that, while the BeoSound 5 controls can change from radio to playlists, start, pause, and skip from track to track, they are unable to fast-forward or reverse through an individual song. Nor does the unit come with a separate remote. You’ll need to get the Beo4 or Beo5 remotes, which are available for $195 and $600, respectively. These remotes also offer shortcuts to the color-coded playlists and menu options, allowing for faster browsing.
While the BeoSound 5 will go into standby mode, energy-conscious consumers will miss the availability of a full power-down option.
Overall, Bang & Olufsen has done a magnificent job creating a system that is elegant and functional, current and timeless. The software is intuitive enough for those not entirely comfortable with digital media to use easily, yet beautiful enough to impress the jaded connoisseur.
The BeoSound 5 may be entry level in its usability, but stylistically, it is of the upper echelon of craftsmanship. Although not all of us may find ourselves driving in a Bentley, listening to the musical equivalent of one is an equally satisfying luxury experience.
BeoSound 5 (500GB): $5,900
Floor Stand: $500
Table Stand: $250
Wall Bracket: $100
CONTACT: 800.873.6483, bang-olufsen.com