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Bang & Olufsen Essence makes listening to music as "easy as turning on the lights"

Bang & Olufsen wants to make 2014 the year that it "revolutionises the way people listen to music".

That was the bold claim from B&O CEO Tue Mantoni at the company's CES press conference this morning. But Mantoni was making a serious point: with so many different music sources now available – disc, hard drive, downloads, streaming services and so on – and the proliferation of control apps, actually getting the music you want to start playing can be a fiddly business.

So B&O has developed its BeoSound Essence system to give simple, one-touch operation of its audio systems. The system consists of two components: a circular, aluminium remote that can sit on a table or be fixed to a wall, and a separate hide-away box that can handle AirPlay and DLNA streaming from multiple devices and has Spotify Connect, QPlay and internet radio built in.

To create a full-blown music system, all you have to do is connect the Essence to any pair of active B&O loudspeakers. And you can have multiple Essence remotes dotted around the house in different rooms.

The circular remotes can then be used to turn the system on or off, change the volume, skip tracks on your playlists or change internet radio stations. If you switch the system off, it will remember which song was playing when you next turn it back on. For more advanced control there's a new BeoMusic app for both Android and iOS devices.

Also new from Bang & Olufsen are the Form 2i headphones, an updated version of the firm's iconic design which now incorporates a microphone, three-button remote and a choice of six colours: red, blue, silver, black, white and green.

By Andy Clough

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching whathifi.com in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.