This week, high-end lifestyle electronics maker Bang & Olufsen announced its BeoSound 5 Encore, an “affordable” version of its BeoSound stereo system, clocking in at $3,555 — down from $6,000 — that can consolidate all of your music libraries and play them at maximum digital audio quality. And though the company has consistently targeted the audiophile, it appears to be doubling down on the notion that there is still a market for people who don’t want to listen to their MP3s at 128 or 256 kbs.
The new system is remarkably old school: It doesn’t have a touch screen, doesn’t directly support Airplay, the wireless technology that allows you to stream your iTunes library wirelessly (although you can pay $100 and get Airport Express, causing some consternation among B&O regular customers), and doesn’t support Apple Lossless .m4a files automatically. But that’s all beside the point: If you’re not the kind of person who thinks that Apple is the end-all, be-all of high-fidelity audio entertainment, and you don’t mind converting those tracks to the higher audio quality required by the Encore system (a relatively easy process, supposedly), and you still listen to CDs at home, the sound quality is second-to-none. But whether bucking the music on-the-go movement will be a successful long-term strategy remains to be seen. At least you’ll look superstylish while you do it.