|Product :||Beocenter 2500||
|Produced from :||1991 - Dec 1995|
|Designed by :||David Lewis|
|Finish :||Black / Aluminium|
With Beocenter 2500 - as well as Beocenter 2300 - new ideas came to pass to Bang & Olufsen engineers, not being held to restrictions imposed upon them by the inclusion of record decks, power amplifiers and the like. Perhaps this is why the machine is made to stand up instead of laying flat down as other products had been designed in the past. By not having its own built-in amplifier and being able to use only active speakers linked by was of Power Link cables, units from this time on could be made smaller and more portable.
Noticeable to Beocenter 2500 were two glass covers which automatically glided to their sides when a hand passed in front of them. Behind the glass covers was access to the operating panel, cassette section, radio tuner and CD player.
Twenty FM/AM radio stations could be preset. The Dolby-B equipped cassette recorder featured Auto Reverse, Automatic Recording level, search function and Bang & Olufsen’s HX-PRO recording system, a system which ensures that the sensitive treble range was captured in recording. As well as the tactile operating panel, the unit could be distance-operated with either the Beolink 1000 or Beolink 5000 remote controls. Made available were sockets for headphones as well as an AUX socket.
LIKE so many Scandinavians, everybody who works at Bang & Olufsen seems to put good design, allied to clean modem styling, at the top of their list of priorities. You get the feeling that an ugly piece of hi-fl, however delectable it sounded, would never be given house-room. Each new item of B&O audio or television equipment bears this out. It may do the same job as countless rival products but it aspires to standards of aesthetics and functionalism (in short, artistic design) which make it stand out from the rest. To merit houseroom in a modem home of the 1990s, it should take up no more space than is absolutely necessary yet must provide above-average performance and convenience.
This new Beosystem 2500 carries the B&O philosophy to extreme lengths. The eye-catching, art déco-inspired design was actually the work of a British member of the B&O team, but he has lived in Denmark so long that I think we must have lost him for good. One design brief seems to have been the achievement of minimal external dimensions, and indeed this complete ‘plug in and switch on’ music centre, with its detachable loudspeakers, has been shrunk almost to portable radio-cassette proportions despite its genuinely high fidelity performance.
In one way this works to B&O’s disadvantage in that the perceived value for money at first glance is not too great. I can imagine shoppers feeling that the system does not offer very much hardware for the admittedly up-market price of 1,995 GBP. Closer inspection is needed to unveil the numerous operational plus points, and listening to the surprisingly open and powerful sound may be the only way for any intending purchaser to be persuaded that this compact system—capable of being lifted and moved to places where you might not expect to set up a hi-fl system—is indeed well worth the asking price.
The central unit is packed with ‘hi-tech’ innovative ideas, all designed to be user-friendly, though it is my experience that people react in various ways to such novelties; some actually resent too much machine cleverness. The first thing we meet is the ‘open sesame’ doors of smoked glass which glide open automatically and switch on the inner lights as soon as you advance your hand within 10cm - and glide closed again after 15 seconds, dimming the lights to one-third during play, or switching them off in standby.
The doors give access to a smart central strip of anodised aluminium with a CD deck at the top and a cassette deck at the bottom. Between these we find a long thin display panel and an initially formidable keypad of no fewer than forty thin push-buttons arranged in five horizontal rows of eight. However these are helpfully laid out for easy operation, and the instruction book is very thorough. The ten most common controls (’Primary Functions’) are grouped in the centre and provide source selection (CD, Aux, Tape, Radio), CD tray open/ close, Radio Preset station in two groups—A or B, Volume up/down, Volume Mute and System on/standby.
The display gives immediate confirmation of the system status and pressing the various source buttons a second or third time provides further levels of display information. For example, pressing Radio will switch on the tuner at the last station used and display the RDS station name (in regions where the Radio Data Service is in operation and provided the RDS kit has been fitted—an optional extra), Radio block A or B and stereo/mono. Pressing Radio again displays the preset station number and, for a third time, shows the station frequency. Similarly, pressing CD will start the loaded disc from Track I and display the current track number only. Pressing it a second and third time changes the display respectively to track elapsed time and total time remaining. In the tape mode the displays are simply “FP” and the track number or the 4-digit counter reading. Pressing the Volume up/down buttons produces a display of the current setting in dB and then scales up or down in 2dB steps between 0dB and a very loud 90dB.
The 15 buttons grouped on the left comprise the 0-9 numerical keys, forward/reverse Track or Station skip, set and reset (of various status modes) and “Sound”. This last button toggles between volume, balance, bass, treble and loudness, each suitably displayed and set as required using the up/down buttons. The 15 so-called Secondary Functions controls are grouped on the right. They include Play, Stop (doubling as Pause), Dolby B on/off, tape auto-reverse on/off, manual tuning up/ down, FM/AM, Store, Clear, Turn (e.g. to switch to mono or cassette Sides 1/2), Record, Stop and Return (to rewind the tape to the start of the latest recording, i.e. the spot where you last pressed Record). In the base there is a 35mm mini socket for headphones.
Remote control is available at three levels of sophistication depending on the Beolink unit chosen. The Beolink 1000 handset, included in the basic price, broadly duplicates all the functions listed above and can also be used to control video sources linked through a multi-room Local Control System. The Beolink 5000 and 7000, available at an extra charge, extend operational facilities. Other features such as the synchronised start/stop of tape with other sources, are too numerous to describe fully here so sample details will have to suffice. The phase-lock loop toner has two blocks of 20 presets for either AM or FM stations in any order. The first 15 in each block can be given eight-character personal names using the built-in RDS kit (if fitted). FM tuning is in 50kHz steps and there are steep active multiplex filters to suppress the 19kHz pilot tone for best operation of the Dolby B noise reduction when recording offair. A twin telescopic aerial is supplied which may give adequate reception in favoured areas, either clipped on the back of the unit or wall-mounted. This should be replaced by a proper loft or outside aerial for best results in most areas.
The CD disc tray is vertical (well nearly: the central unit and the loudspeakers are tilted back by 13 degrees) with the disc visible while playing. The disc tray accepts either full-size or 7,5cm CDs and gives secure clamping action helped by a magnet in the chassis. Since the loudspeakers will normally be in close proximity, the CD mechanism is attached to a heavy iron plate, suspended on five steel springs with special damping and the resonance set at an optimum 1215Hz. D/A conversion is dual 16-bit with four-times oversampling. Track sequence programming is provided but each track will play once only and in chronological, i.e. numerical, order. There is no repeat mode.
The cassette deck is also vertical and has auto tape type selection, for normal, chrome and metal formulations. It is auto-reverse for continuous two times 45 minutes recording and playback, and the record level is also set automatically (reducing in 2dB steps to accommodate higher peak signal levels). An auto track search system looks for pauses (a signal below -25dB) of at least three seconds duration and provides sequence programining as on CD, covering Sides 1 and 2 as a whole. Note, however, that pressing Track 3, for example, with a newly loaded tape will cause the machine to rewind to the beginning then fast forward until it finds the third track start. After a tape has been played through, the number of tracks is memorised and direct access is possible. HX-Pro was a B&O development for Dolby Labs and is naturally included along with Dolby B.
A seven-pin Audio Aux Link socket, rated at 1-Volt input, can be used to extend the system to include a B&O turntable with built-in RIAA pre-amplifier, a second B&O audio recorder, or a Beovision video master. In fact any make of unit can be connected, using a standard five-pin DIN plug, but of course the two-way B&O Beolink facilities will then be missing.
Taken from ‘Gramophone’ magazine - April 1991 (page 168)
BeoCenter 2500 types: