Bargain basement

Monday, 21st July, 2014

Want to buy selected Bang & Olufsen products on a budget with (sometimes) free next-day delivery?  Then there’s a UK-based company here which you could try. Not a great deal of selection, but their products do seem to change from time to time and their discounts do seem to be fair, even on current range Bang & Olufsen items.

International delivery is offered too with sensible delivery charges. Check them out here.

The Hut

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Right on Form…

Thursday, 17th July, 2014

Form 2i: the longest-manufactured headphones on the market

In 1985 the Form 2 headphone was introduced to the world: an ultra-light, iconic-shaped on-ear device with an impressive stereo sound. Now, more than 30 years after Steve McGugan sketched his first product ideas it’s still on the market, as popular as ever it was.

In 1982, Steve McGugan, a 23-year-old industrial designer, travelled to the rugged west coast of Denmark to start working for Bang & Olufsen after studying at the Art Center College and Design in Pasadena, California. The story goes that, preparing for the trip to Struer, McGugan bought a Sony Walkman which actually helped his ideas for the birth of Bang & Olufsen’s longest-selling headphones.

A year into his new job, he came up with the idea that Bang & Olufsen needed more compact and lightweight headphones. Headphones which could work with the then product line-up – but also something that would complement the new Walkman generation. Something chic… something different, along Bang & Olufsen’s way of thinking…

Form 2i (July 2014)

McGugan started sketching out his ideas and produced a few 3D cardboard models. He picked out the one he liked the most and took it to his boss at that time: Jens Bang.

His boss liked it, but since the company was already manufacturing another, more expensive set of headphones: Form 1, the concept was rejected.

The cardboard models were thus stowed away, and life with the Danish company continued.

However, one year later, Jens Bang came to Steve McGugan’s office and said to him “I remember that you made a design proposal for a lightweight headphone some time ago. Do you still have the model?”

The model was still there, lying within the dust inside an old cupboard.

So, in 1985 Form 2 was introduced to the world: an ultra-light, iconic-shaped on-ear headphone with impressive stereo sound. Now, more than 30 years after Steve McGugan proposed his original ideas, Form 2 is still on the market – as popular as it ever was.

In a time where technology is short-lived – and products are changed every other year - the longevity of Form 2 is quite surprising. Here’s a product that has truly proved itself timeless – and with the updates presented by Bang & Olufsen recently, new breath & new life has been given to Form 2, or Form 2i as it is now called (the July 2014 range of Form 2i colours are as shown above).

An in-line microphone and 3-button remote has been added to the original design so that the headphones can be used to take and make phone calls right from the cord. The comfort design has been improved too, so Form 2i can be worn for extended periods of time.

The word ‘icon’ is used ever so often – but in the case of Form 2 it’s truly warranted. It’s also classed now as an ‘art piece’ as in 1992 it was included within the Permanent Collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

“I’m truly honoured that Form 2 has been kept alive all these years and that there’s been constant demand for the product” states Steve McGugan.

“This is absolutely one of my all-time best designs – and I’m thankful that people still find Form 2 desirable”.

Read more of how Steve McGugan’s iconic Form 2 headphones were born and the history surrounding them…

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How AirPlay works

Sunday, 13th July, 2014

Apple’s AirPlay is currently used in three products in the Bang & Olufsen range. We at BeoPhile find AirPlay, in relation between iPhone/iPad products and our BeoPlay A8, extremely stable and performs exceedingly well.

AirPlay is basically a way of linking Apple products to a home network in order to access media across different devices even if it’s not stored on that device locally. In effect this means that a user does not have to store media copies on every device – through AirPlay one is able to stream from one device to another.

AirPlay works over a wireless network so all devices have to be connected via the same wireless network or via Bluetooth (although this a battery drain; wireless is probably a better choice for most uses). One can use Apple Airport (Apple’s wireless router), but that’s not necessary. Any wireless router will work, as long as all devices can connect to it.

AirPlay-enabled devices should be able to recognise each other, which takes the guesswork out of which devices can stream to where. AirPlay is available on devices running iOS 4.3 or later, though not all features are available on all devices.

BeoPlay 8 / Airplay

Capabilities of each device depend on whether one is streaming ‘to’ or ‘from’ that device. One key point: one cannot use AirPlay between mobile devices (iPhone to iPad, for example). iPhones, iPads and computers are senders only. Receivers include AirPort Express, Apple TV and any device incorporating Airplay such as Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay A8, BeoPlay A9 and Beolit 12.

There are also non-Apple products designed to receive Apple AirPlay content, like WiFi-enabled speaker systems which can play throughout a house using media from an Apple device. A warning though: these systems are still fairly expensive, though certainly cheaper than wiring up a house. And given Apple’s marketing power, there will eventually be more and more entries into this field. There are also AirPlay-enabled stereo receivers so one can use a phone or iPad to obtain a bigger sound than a single speaker can provide. In both these cases, the user will use an Apple device like a remote control: one can control what one is listening to via the iPhone or iPad, but it plays on AirPlay-enabled speakers.

AirPlay can also be used to to stream video too. Apple TV is useful in this respect.

The most common use here is probably streaming from an Apple laptop to an Apple TV. ‘Mirroring’ may be used with Apple TV to show everyone in a room what’s on a personal smartphone or laptop. Mirroring is pretty literal: it’s a copy of a monitor, and is super for things like company presentations or even just showing off family photos. It can also function as a second screen, so a device can work like a remote control. Right now Apple TV is the only out-of-the-box television for ‘receiving’ AirPlay.

A number of 3rd party apps extend abilities of Apple AirPlay.

Note that AirPlay is likely to change with the release of Apple’s new iO8 operating system later this year and which may incorporate many new features.

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Bang & Olufsen Edition

Wednesday, 9th July, 2014

BMW recently announced the launch of the 2015 BMW Individual 6 Series Gran Coupé ‘Bang & Olufsen Edition‘ which exemplifies the design and engineering prowess of the two luxury-sector manufacturers. This limited run of vehicles seamlessly combines exquisite materials and craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology and the very best high-end sound.

Production is limited to 100 BMW 650i Gran Coupé models equipped with either rear wheel drive or BMW xDrive all-wheel drive and powered by the BMW TwinPower Turbo V-8. Customers looking for an even sportier driving experience can choose one of ten BMW M6 Gran Coupé ‘Bang & Olufsen Edition’ vehicles, equipped with the Competition Package which enhances the most powerful engine ever fitted to a BMW production vehicle by raising its output from 560 to 575 hp. Orders are being taken now on a first-come-first-served basis with deliveries summer 2014.

Taking the sleek yet powerfully styled 6 Series Gran Coupé as its canvas, the edition is offered in two BMW Individual colours: Brilliant White Metallic or Dark Graphite II Metallic.

The interior features the finest handcrafted Merino Leathersin either Black with Contrast Stitching/Piping or Opal White & Black with Contrast Stitching/Piping. This design theme is complimented by a Piano Black Wood Trim with a ‘Bang & Olufsen’ inlay on the front cup-holder lid as well as specially designed floor mats. The M6 Gran Coupé adds the M logo uniquely embroidered into the front headrests in the M colours.

Bang & Olufsen Edition

At the core of the series of vehicles is the Bang & Olufsen High End Surround Sound System with special loudspeaker grilles in a brushed black aluminium finish which make their debut on this edition and incorporates sixteen active loudspeakers rated at 1.200W.

Every BMW Individual ‘Bang & Olufsen Edition’ also comes with a set of black BeoPlay H6 high-end headphones specially finished in the same brushed aluminium treatment as the car’s loudspeaker grilles.

Model prices range from $116k - $152k

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