Bang & Olufsen
|Type||Public (OMX: BO B)|
|Founder(s)||Peter Bang, Svend Olufsen|
|Key people||Tue Mantoni: President & CEO|
|Products||Audio visual products|
|Revenue||2,800 million DKK (2012/13)|
Bang & Olufsen (B&O) is a Danish company that designs and manufactures 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, when most radios were run from batteries. In 2004, the company opened a factory in the Czech Republic where it employs approximately 250 staff producing mainly audio products.
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 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 in 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 iconic Beolit 39 radio with a Bakelite cabinet.
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, psychoacoustics is an important factor in design and testing of B&O products as instrument-based testing.
It was, however, many years before their business became significantly profitable. One huge setback, towards the end of World War II was that pro-Nazi saboteurs burnt down their factory at Gimsing in Struer in Northwestern 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. David Lewis, who became involved in B&O in 1965 went on to design most of the company's products after 1980.
Products by B&O are often of different and distinctive design when compared to mainstream rivals. B&O hires designers rather than directly employing them in the company. Many of its products in the 1970s and 80s were designed by Jacob Jensen, whose design firm still operates today. From the 1980s onwards B&O's chief designer has been David Lewis.
In the 1990s B&O opened dedicated B&O stores selling directly to users, instead of selling through retailers. Production of audio separates was discontinued in favor of mini-type audio systems sold, as was usual for B&O, at a price higher than the industry average.
Due to the economic crisis of 2008 the company experienced a sharp decline in sales and announced significant losses. A restructuring plan included 300 layoffs in Denmark on 21 October 2008, and the abandonment of development of new mobile phones, MP3 players and stand-alone systems like DVD2 and HDR2. Instead, the company will focus on its traditional strengths: high quality audio and video products as well as sound systems for the automotive industry.
Operations and products
Despite its decision to suspend the manufacture of separate components, B&O continues to develop and market 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 the audio lens technology developed by Sausalito Audio's Manny LaCarrubba to spread the sound over a 180-degree range in order to fill the room, overcoming the directional range limitations of normal midrange and treble drivers, and preventing the sound from reflecting off the ceiling and floor before reaching the listener. B&O acquired the audio lens technology in 2007.
Bang & Olufsen produces a sound system for various car companies and is unique due to its motorized tweeters that emerge from the dashboard when the sound system is turned on. Audi's A4, A5, A6, A7, Q5, Q7, A8, and R8 customers have the option of purchasing the system for their vehicles. It is a US$6,300 option on the A8/Q7  Bang & Olufsen also supplies sound systems for higher end, premium vehicles such as the Aston Martin DBS, BMW 5 Series, BMW 5GT, BMW 6 Series, BMW M6, BMW's flagship 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz AMG models.
Other company business operations
As well as producing consumer products the company also provides business to business services, particularly in the area of custom audio-visual installations for car manufacturers, and the service industry (hotels etc.) Additionally the company's expertise in aluminium manufacturing is available to other businesses for the production of non B&O products.
- ICEpower a/s was formed in 1999 as a joint venture between B&O and Karsten Nielsen. The company is a technology research and design organisation working in the field of switching type Class D amplifiers.
- Bang & Olufsen Medicom a/s manufacturers and designs medical products – specifically patient self-medication devices such as inhalers and automatic syringes.
- Bang & Olufsen Telecom a/s.
B&O uses a Beo prefix for the names of its product lines.
- Beocord refers to tape recorders, both open reel types and cassette decks. B&O was a pioneer in cassette technology, 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." The most famous Beomaster is the Beomaster 1900 from 1976. It was the first consumer electronics product with touch controls. Similar models were made until the end of the 1980s
- Beogram refers to turntables and, later, CD players. B&O developed electronically controlled tangential turntables in the 1970s, starting with the Beogram 4000 of 1972. The last tangential tracking turntable was the Beogram 7000, which were taken off the production lines in 1995. B&O has also produced radial tracking turntables.
- Beolab refers to amplifiers and powered speakers (loudspeakers with built-in amplifiers), and as of 2011, all new powered speakers use ICEpower.
- Beovox refers to passive loudspeakers (those without internal amplification).
- Beolit refers to the range of stylish portable radios
- Beosystem early refers to a line of components—e.g., Beomaster, Beogram, and Beocord—which matched one another in both appearance and operation. The first Beosystem were the Beosystem 1200 of 1969–1973, and the last were the Beosystem 7000 of 1992–1994. And now refer to the Audio/Video central processing unit (BeoSystem 2; Beosystem 3).
- 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 "Beocentres."
- BeoCom & BeoTalk 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. Since November 2010 the range has included an iPod/iPhone/iPad-Dock.
- Beotime refers to the company's advanced alarm clock.
- Beoplayer refers to the company's media player for free download.
- B&O in the Czech Republic bang-olufsen.com
- The true story behind Bang and Olufsen, William Schwark, Scanorama, November 2007
- Jacob Jensen Web Site
- Bang & Olufsen rolls out strategy plan bang-olufsen.com
- "Audi Glossary". Retrieved 11 November 2011.
- Mercedes AMG S-class"mercedes-amg.com
- Bang & Olufsen - Business to Business bang-olufsen.com
- ICEpower partnership
- Bang & Olufsen Medicom medicom.bang-olufsen.com
- Beocentral - the definitive Bang & Olufsen reference site Collectors reference site beocentral.com
- Simonsen, Torben R. ICEpower in all active speakers (in Danish) Electronics Business, 28 September 2010. Accessed: 9 March 2011.
- www.diyaudio.com/forums/parts/35464-bang-olufsen-connectors-pinout.html DIN Connector pinout guide
- Bang, Jens (2005). From Spark to Icon. Denmark: Bang & Olufsen. ISBN 87-980814-5-4.
- Jarman, Tim; Jarman Nick (2008). Crowood Collectors' Series: Bang & Olufsen. England: Crowood Press. ISBN 978-1-84797-068-8.
- Bang & Olufsen – company website
- Thogersen – A collector's website with photos of B&O products throughout the decades
- Beocentral – A reference site containing descriptions and photos of B&O equipment
- Beomanuals – Free user and service manuals for Bang & Olufsen
- BeoWorld – Everything Bang & Olufsen, community and forum for fans around the globe
- BeoPhile.com – Speaking the language of Bang & Olufsen: comprehensive Web site for B&O collectors