B&O BeoPlay A9 speaker review: Hands-on

Disc shaped speaker hoping to bring the noise to your living room

What is a hands on review?
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review
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B&O BeoPlay A9 review

Premium audio specialist Bang and Olufsen introduced the latest member of its BeoPlay family in the shape of the A9 speaker system that will stream audio from an iPhone, iPad or Android device over Wi-Fi, DLNA and Apple AirPlay.

After announcing the iPad-friendly A3 and the BeoPlay V1 HDTV earlier this year, the B&O BeoPlay A9 aims to become the focal point of the living room whether it’s on the floor or up on the wall.

B&O BeoPlay A9: Build

We’ve quickly realised that the Danish company likes to do things a little bit differently in the aesthetics department and with young designer Oivind Slatto on board, it dreamt up this brightly hued disc-shaped speaker that instantly makes you think of a dart board or a satellite dish.

The speaker features a thin aluminium lining which helps to stabilize the bassy performance while the stretchable speaker grill can be removed and similarly to the ones featured on the B&O V1 TV, can be replaced with a variety of coloured covers which include red, green and silver.

Typically minimalist, all connections and controls are around the back with Line In, USB and Ethernet connections hidden at the rear whilst at the top you’ll find the touch sensitive controls to pause, play and mute with a trail of dimple-like buttons that can be swiped to control volume.

Two small lights indicate whether the device is switched on and if AirPlay is in use with a handle grip to help cart the speaker around the house.

If you are on a space-saving mission can mount the speaker on the wall with a bracket, or alternatively prop it up from the floor with a set of screw in wooden legs which are available in oak, beech or teak finish.

B&O BeoPlay A9: Features

With three pre-set sound modes to adjust acoustics according to location, audio clarity is delivered by a pair of 0.75-inch tweeters and 3-inch midrange units. An 8-inch bass unit powered by a 160W amplifier will bring the booming sound and balance bass response.

There’s no remote but as well as the touch sensitive controls on the back, you’ll also be able to control aspects such as volume and track selection from the free B&O smartphone and tablet app. If you've got the money to spend on more than one, you can set up and control a series of speakers which can be dotted around the house.

B&O BeoPlay A9: Verdict

Like the V1, A3 and portable Beolit 12, the BeoPlay A9 speaker is certainly unique in terms of looks and sports a great clutter-free design but you’d better have a decent amount of floor space or room on the wall to position it.

We loved the discreet touch controls and the responsiveness of sliding your hand across the back to change the volume. Most importantly it delivers on its promise to generate a rich, room-filling sound but like a broken record we have to come back to the issue of price.

Aimed at young professionals, the BeoPlay A9 still requires a sizeable withdrawl from the bank to own one. You will of course get yet another Bang and Olufsen product that looks as good as it sounds, but there may well be cheaper setup alternatives that could do the same job. It just won’t look anything like a medieval shield.

B&O BeoPlay A9 release date: Bang & Olufsen stores, B&O PLAY online store and Apple online from second half of November 2012

B&O BeoPlay A9 price: £1,699

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.