Bang & Olufsen


Bang & Olufsen

Infobox_Company
name = Bang & Olufsen A/S

type = Public (OMX|CSE3202|BO B)
company_slogan =
foundation = 1925
founder = Peter Bang, Svend Olufsen
location = flagicon|Denmark Struer, Denmark
key_people = Jørgen Worning (Chairman) and Kalle Hvidt Nielsen chief executive officer
num_employees = 2,520 (2007)
products =
revenue = 4,376 million DKK (2006/07)
net_income = 524 million DKK (2006/07) [cite web |url=http://www.bang-olufsen.com/graphics/bogo/reports/annualreport_2006-07_dk.pdf |title=Bang & Olufsen A/S Koncernen; Årsrapport 2006/07 |accessdate=2008-02-18 |format=PDF | language=Danish] | homepage = [http://www.bang-olufsen.com/ bang-olufsen.com]

Bang & Olufsen (B&O, OMX|CSE3202|BO B) is a Danish company that designs and manufactures high end audio products, television sets, and telephones. It was founded in 1925 by Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen, whose first significant product was a radio that worked with alternating current (AC), when most radios were run from accumulator batteries.

Their work with radios and loudspeakers led them to the principle that their products should be capable of high fidelity musical reproduction: in Danish "Ærlig musikgengivelse", meaning "honest music reproduction". They held the ideal that the music you experienced through their sets and speakers should reach your ears uninfluenced by the limitations of technology. To this end, they rate the psychoacoustics of their products as more important than instrument-based testing of their products during design and testing.

Products by B&O are intended to reflect cutting edge industrial design, in appearance, function and operation. B&O does not employ any designers, preferring that they should be independent of the company. Many of its products in the 1970s and 80s were designed by Jacob Jensen, [ [http://www.jacob-jensen.com/ Jacob Jensen Web Site] ] whose design firm still operates today. In recent decades, B&O's chief designer has been David Lewis, responsible for products that have been much imitated by other manufacturers of home electronicsFact|date=January 2008.

History

Peter Bang (1900-1957), son of Camillo Bang, a successful Danish businessman, showed great interest in radio technology from an early age. After graduating as an engineer in 1924, he spent six months working in a radio factory in the United States where he became familiar with the very latest developments in the field. On his return to Denmark, he clubbed together with his student friend Svend Olufsen (1897-1949) whose parents made the attic of their manor house near Struer in Jutland available for experiments. When they officially opened their business in 1925, Bang concentrated on the technology while Olufsen dealt with the business interests. There were a number of successful developments in the 1930s and 1940s, including a sound recording system for the film industry, roof-mounted loud-speakers for circus and army vehicles and the famous Beolit 39 radio with a bakelite cabinet. It was, however, many years before their business became significantly profitable. One huge setback, towards the end of the Second World War was that pro-Nazi saboteurs burnt down their factory at Gimsing in North-Western Jutland as punishment for the management's refusal to collaborate with the Germans. Undeterred, Bang and Olufsen rebuilt the factory and went on to develop a range of radio, radiogram and television sets in the 1950s which took on new design aspects when Ib Fabiansen joined the company in 1957. [The true story behind Bang and Olufsen, William Schwark, Scanorama, November 2007] David Lewis, who became involved in B&O in 1965 went on to design most of the company's products after 1980.

Past products

B&O products often have a unique appearance and user-interfaceFact|date=January 2008. As such, even early models are collectibles today. Information about prior B&O products can be found on "unofficial" or "fan" web sites (See External Links).

B&O used a Beo nomenclature for many of its products.

*Beocord refers to tape recorders, both open reel types and cassette decks. B&O was a pioneer in cassette technologyFact|date=January 2008, having had design involvement with Dolby HX Pro.
*Beomaster refers to receivers. B&O's more recent receivers feature the ability to receive complex programming. The 5000 series through the 7000 series features two-way communication with the remote controller, called the "Master Control Panel."
*Beogram refers to turntables and, later, CD players. Many of the more recent Beogram turntables had tangential tone arms.
*Beolab refers to amplifiers and active loudspeakers (loudspeakers with built-in amplifiers).
*Beovox refers to passive loudspeakers (those without internal amplification).
*Beolit refers to the range of stylish portable radios
*Beosystem refers to a line of components—e.g., Beomaster, Beogram, and Beocord—which matched one another in both appearance and operation.
*Beocenter refers to one-piece audio systems. B&O, at one time, made elaborate products that incorporated receivers, turntables, and cassette decks into a single components called "Beocenters."
*Beocom refers to the company's line of telephones and telephone accessories, such as answering machines.
*Beovision refers to a line of televisions.
*Beosound refers to the current range of music systems and audio products.

Many B&O audio components did not use the RCA connectors widely used in the U.S., instead using European DIN connectors.

Present day

In the 1990s B&O opened exclusive B&O stores selling directly to users, instead of selling through retailers. Production of audio separates was discontinued in favour of mini-type audio systems sold, as was usual for B&O, at a price much higher than the industry average. They still maintain very strong, modern design elements for their products.

Despite its decision to suspend the manufacture of separate components, B&O has remained an active player in the development of high-performance loudspeakers. Its flagship speaker, the BeoLab 5, uses digital signal processing to adjust its frequency response to the room and location in which it is placed. Its midrange and treble drivers use waveguides to prevent the mid and high ranges of the sound from reflecting off the ceiling or floor before reaching the listener. The waveguides featured in the newest line of BeoLab speakers seem to be inspired by a technology developed by Phönix Klangsäulen [http://www.a4com.de/phx/phoenix/Phx_UK.pdf] in 1987 [http://www.phoenix-klangsaeulen.com/german/team/team.html] .

One aspect of B&O's proprietary approach is that its equipment does not directly compete with comparably priced rivals. In particular, B&O has yet to offer THX certified equipment which has become pervasive in more expensive home theater speakers and electronics.

Beyond home audio

In addition to consumer products, B&O operates a facility for high-precision aluminium manufacturing [ [http://www.bang-olufsen.com/web2/professionals/professionals.asp?page=alu B&O webpage on aluminium] ] and itself uses aluminium in many of its products.

In 1999, B&O, with Dr. Karsten Nielsen, formed ICEpower A/S. This company is devoted to the development of switching type Class D amplifiers. [ [http://www.icepower.bang-olufsen.com/ ICEpower partnership] ] This type of amplifier has improved efficiency compared to the more usual audio amplifiers of types A, AB, and B.

One of B&O's most successful recent products is the "A8 Earbuds" (designed by Anders Hermansen), which gained popularity as the Apple iPod reached prominence and Apple Stores began selling them.

Bang & Olufsen have also produced mobile phones in partnership with other companies. They have worked with Philips and Ericsson in the past and are currently working with Samsung to produce the Serene and as of December 2007, the Serenata.

Bang & Olufsen produces a sound system for Audi's A4, A5, Q7, A8, and R8 models. It is a US$6,300 option on the A8L W12 and S8 and is unique due to its motorized tweeters that emerge from the dashboard when the sound system is turned on. Bang & Olufsen will now supply premium systems for the Aston Martin DBS and Mercedes-Benz AMG models.

Current challenges

In recent years Bang & Olufsen have experienced tough competition and been late to get in the MP3 craze. Fact|date=May 2008

Bang & Olufsen has been somewhat ridiculed in tech magazines for its first attempt to market an MP3 player - the BeoSound 2. [ [http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-players/bang-amp-olufsen-beosound/4505-6490_7-31236402.html CNET Review] ] The well-renowned CNET review only gave the gadget a 4.3 out of 10 and found it "... extremely expensive; horribly confusing user interface; cannot play DRM-protected WMAs; no LCD; no features of any kind; no internal memory". However, CNET did note on the player's "exceptional" sound quality and hard-wearing case.

Bibliography

* Bang, Jens: From Spark to Icon, Bang and Olufsen, Denmark, 2005, ISBN 8798081454

References

ee also

* BeoSound 2
* BeoSound 4
* BeoLink
* BeoLab5
* BeoLab9
* BeoLab3
* BeoPort

External links

* [http://www.bang-olufsen.com/ Official website]
* [http://www.thogersen.dk/ Thogersen] A collector's website with photos of B&O products throughout the decades
* [http://www.beocentral.com/ Beocentral] A reference site containing descriptions and photos of B&O equipment
* [http://reviews.cnet.com/mp3-players/bang-amp-olufsen-beosound/4505-6490_7-31236402.html CNET review] The CNET review of BeoSound 2 MP3 player


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