You can't get away from the fact that Bang & Olufsen make damn fine-looking kit, and the new BeoSound 5 is no exception. OK, so at first glance it may not be immediately obvious what it actually is, but we kind of like that air of mystery.

In fact, the BeoSound 5 does not come from the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise – it's just a digital music player, but one that'll have your mates dribbling.

Specialist credentials

Well, we say 'just' - the BeoSound 5 is similar in spirit to more specialist music server products on the market from the likes of Sooloos.

It comes in two boxes: the brains of the operation is the BeoMaster 5 500GB hard-disk with network access and connections to B&O's range of active speakers, while the eyecandy comes in the form of the BeoSound 5 controller.

Flexible music storage

The BeoMaster 5 doesn't include any disc-ripping drive of its own, instead inviting you to hook it up to your PC or Mac via Ethernet and transfer your music into its plentiful hard-disk using the supplied software.

Most digital music file types are supported, including high-quality options like WAV and WMA lossless, and B&O reckons it'll handle up to 1,000 CDs in best-quality form, rising to 6,000 CDs in 196kbps MP3. It'll even support internet radio, photo storage and some video formats.

Eye-catching controller

But it's the controller that's going to get the most attention. A gorgeous 10.4in, 1024x768 resolution affair, it uses a deliciously heavy and tactile aluminium wheel mounted to the side of the unit instead of a touch-panel interface.


It's not just a pretty face, though. The unique design makes the business of searching through your music an incredibly enjoyable, hands-on experience, aided by B&O's clever MOTS (More Of The Same) software, which helps create intelligent playlists automatically.

Sounds as good as it looks

In action, the B&O always sounds good and occasionally great – although as with all digital devices like this, audio quality depends on the file types you store your music in.

Linked to a pair of BeoLab 9 speakers, WAV and lossless files naturally worked best: here, the sound is at once assured and impressively 'hi-fi', and has little truck with the high-frequency hardness that can plague many digital music systems.

It's true you could rival the B&O's sound with a more conventional hi-fi set-up – but would that look so good, be so lovely to use, and generally leave you with such a warm glow every time you used it? We don't think so.


Stuff says... 

B&O BeoSound 5 review

This is one deeply impressive digital music player – if you can afford it, we envy you