At CES 2015 premium audio products manufacturer Bang & Olufsen announced a brand new home music system that, in typical B&O fashion, melds top-notch technology with industry-leading design. It could quite possibly be the sexiest piece of technology in your house, assuming you can afford it. The BeoSound Moment is described as an "ultra-domesticated cloud music system", and even though it sports a bevy of touch sensors and cloud connectivity, it's purely focused on the music.
Let's just touch on the design for a bit here — the BeoSound Moment is gorgeous. With an angled machined aluminum base to cradle the tablet it could quite possibly be the most beautiful piece of tech you put in your home. The player itself is another machined aluminum tablet, but in this case one of the sides (the back, if you will) is a slab of open-pore oak. One one side you'll find the inscribed Bang & Olufsen logo, on the other a ring-shaped indentation. That's the control surface — there are 12 touch sensors embedded under the oak that pick up your gestures. Tap to play, spin to change the volume, and swipe left and right to go next and previous.
The other side features a touch screen with shiny metal ring that works the same way. On the screen you can dig in to your music options, which will pull local music from network attached storage or your iTunes library, the Deezer cloud music service, and streaming radio stations.
While it's a sexy piece of hardware, the software is the impressive part. B&O has long excelled at hardware, but the development of software has been a rougher road, but with the Moment they seem to have finally hit a solid stride. They've introduced a featured called "Pattern Play" that analyzes the music that you choose to play, when you play it, and for how long you play it. Once it's accumulated enough data, it'll be able to predict the music you're going to want to listen to based on merely the time and day of the week, so all you'll have to do is walk up and tap the oak ring to get the tunes flowing.
There's also a Moodwheel feature that lets you pick music based on, well, your mood. It's a rainbow ring with different colors representing different kinds of music (red is pumped up party music and green is relaxed tunes, for example). In addition, the ring has tiers — the center ring is all the music you own or have liked, the middle filters in music you've not listened to, and the outer ring is fully outside your library. Moodwheel even combines with Pattern Play — if on Friday nights you call for party music outside of your library, Pattern Play will start playing that when you tap on the BeoSound Moment on a Friday evening.
Bang & Olufsen has always made some very high-tech stuff, but they've always tried to intermediate the technology — to them it's not about the specs, but about what those specs can get for you. Of course, they're a premium audio company and their products will cost you a premium price — the BeoSound Moment is projected for availability at the end of January with a $2795 price tag.
If you're wondering why you would want one of these when you can get several full-function tablets for that price, well, you wouldn't be alone. For many the tablet (or more likely the smartphone) is their music player of choice, especially with how easy it has become to broadcast from that phone to a home audio system. Bang & Olufsen does at least offer an app that brings some of that same functionality to iPhone and iPad, but it lacks the learning and one-touch ease of access of the BeoSound Moment.
Late in 2014 saw Bang & Olufsen release their first Bluetooth product, a portable speaker called the A2. It's a bit flatter and bigger than the typical Bluetooth speaker, but comes with a relatively reasonable $399 price tag and attractive design that has led to it already becoming the company's fastest selling product. So at CES 2015 they've announced their second Bluetooth device: the H8 headphones.
Following the stylings of the highly-regarded H6 wired headphones, the H8's are an on-ear set of Bluetooth 4.0 headphones with built-in active noise cancellation. The band's wrapped in cowhide leather and the ear pads memory foam wrapped in soft lambskin.
At 255 grams, B&O says that the H8 headphones are the lightest wireless active noise cancelation headphones out there. Interestingly, they are also one of the longest-lasting sets, with 14 hours of noise-canceling playtime, or up to 30 hours with noise cancelation off. The controls are touch based, with a newly-developed aluminum pressure touch sensor built into the right ear cup that picks up the same gestures as the Moment home system. Unlike a button that you have to press, with the H8 headphones you can just tap or swipe to control your music. Or you can slap it if you so desire. Or wear gloves.
While the BeoSound Moment comes with an eye-watering price tag, the H8 headphones are much more reasonable for the quality of the audio you'll get. Due out at the end of the month, the H8 headphones will retail for in the high-end headphone rang of $499. And if the on-ear design isn't your thing, Bang & Olufsen confirmed to us that an over-the-ear Bluetooth headset more like the H6 headphones is also in the works.