It’s hard to believe that anyone spending $900+ on a 10-inch tall, ultra-slim wireless speaker is not going to want everyone visiting their home to see their $900+ speaker, but that didn’t deter Bang & Olufsen from designing its new Beosound Emerge to look like a handsome tome that can disappear into a shelf full of books.
Designed by LAYER’s Benjamin Hubert, there are actually two versions of the Emerge available. The fancier (more expensive) model boasts gold accents and an oak outer finish that arguably makes it look more book-like, while a “Black Anthracite” version skips the wood for a slightly more affordable ~$740 price tag. Both models appear to be packing the same tech inside, however, including a four-inch woofer, a 1.45-inch mid-range driver, and a 0.6-inch tweeter. For comparison, the excellent-sounding Google Nest Audio uses just a three-inch woofer paired with a 0.75-inch tweeter and is available for just $100.
Connectivity options seem very robust given the speaker’s relatively compact size. It does wifi, ethernet, and Bluetooth 5.0 which facilitates support for AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, access to B&O’s own streaming radio service, and even Google Assistant thanks to a built-in mic. For those who’d rather not subject their ears to audio compression, the Emerge can also physically connect to audio sources with a line-in or optical cable. Power is provided over a USB-C port, while a separate microUSB port is available for “service,” although software and firmware updates can probably be accessed wirelessly using an accompanying mobile app.
It’s hard not to look at the Beosound Emerge and draw comparisons to Ikea and Sonos’ $100 Symfonisk speaker which is also designed to disappear into a bookshelf while doubling as an actual bookshelf. Bang & Olufsen does have a solid reputation for sound quality, and given the choice, there’s little doubt the Emerge delivers a better listening experience. But one that’s $600+ better than Ikea’s? That’s steep, even for a speaker wrapped in real oak. If you live in parts of Europe or Canada you can see for yourself and order one today, but the rest of the world is going to have to wait until the Fall for worldwide availability.