Mention Bang & Olufsen to any hifi type and they are likely to get quite sniffy. It’s like with Bose and, to a lesser extent, Apple. Aficionados are disconcerted by electronics companies that make aesthetically outstanding products that mostly sell not in specialist outlets, but in the better kind of high-street store. I think it’s to do with enthusiasts’ expertise being democratised. And I find they reserve a special brew of venom for B&O. Its range is not just beautiful, years ahead of the design curve – as it’s been consistently since 1925 (yes, a hifi company that’s nearly 100 years old!) – but it’s also often quite eccentric.
So it is, in spades, with this, its newest baby. It’s a wireless speaker called Edge that takes the form of a small-car-wheel-sized 13cm-thick disc in almost the exact proportions of an old British pound coin. Unsurprising that, because the designer behind it (the electronics are by B&O’s Danish team) is London-based Michael Anastassiades, who took his inspiration from, yep, the pound coin. For Mr Anastassiades, whose work in lighting and furniture has been exhibited at the V&A and New York’s MoMA, it is a first venture into audio.
But don’t worry about Edge being a rookie attempt – it’s startlingly good, with a huge 10-inch woofer on one side and a dedicated four-inch midrange and three-quarter-inch tweeter on both – plus an innovation B&O calls an Active Bass Port that opens up at higher volumes to blast you with gorgeously loud sound. Edge also offers a form of stereo that is as spatial as you are likely to want – but if you want to run two Edges, you can link them for full-fat stereo. Edge can be wall-mounted and adjusted with a remote or manually (the controls light up as you approach it) but the configuration people are going to love is standing it on its, er, edge. You can then even change the volume by rolling the wheel. It sounds bonkers, but it rocks.