Many people who invested in expensive vintage speakers will, naturally, be reluctant to upgrade to modern gear, especially if their large boxes still do the job as good as it did back in the day. Only problem is, they don’t have wireless connectivity, which makes them quite a bit of a pain to use in this day and age. The Bang & Olufsen Beocreate Four-Channel Amplifier gives audio nerds a way to add much-needed connectivity to their beloved vintage speakers.
Yes, there are plug-and-play solutions out there like Chromecast Audio that makes adding connectivity to legacy speakers a seamless process. This is not one of those. Instead, B&O’s solution will require you to put in a little effort, plugging a couple of connectors and driving a few screws to make everything work.
The Bang & Olufsen Beocreate Four-Channel Amplifier combines a four-channel amplifier, a digital-to-analog converter, and a digital signal processor on a single board in a size designed to fit inside the cabinet of any passive loudspeaker. The four-channel amp brings a combined 180-watts of power (two 30-watts and two 60-watts), allowing it to drive a quartet of 4-Ohm to 8-Ohm speakers, with the 60-watt channels also able to drive 2-Ohm speakers. It can handle sample rates up to 192kHz.
Because it integrates the amp, the DAC, and the DSP into a single board, you’re not just connecting a speaker’s passive crossover to an amplifier. Instead, you’re bypassing the crossover entirely, since the onboard DSP can handle the crossover on its own. This allows you to power each driver separately just like modern B&O speakers, while being able to fine-tune the DSP yourself to get the best sound performance. On its own, the board can be used as a digital amplifier with no wireless connectivity.
So you may be wondering, where the heck are the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth? Well, they’re not on the Bang & Olufsen Beocreate Four-Channel Amplifier. As such, you’ll have to pair it with a Raspberry Pi, which will provide the wireless connectivity. Yes, the two boards are designed to plug together easily, so at no point will you need to perform any soldering, all while requiring just a single 12- to 24-volt power supply. It will work with Raspberry Pi A+, B+, 2, 3, and Zero (well, the one with wireless connectivity). Once you’ve paired the board with a board computer, you can then proceed to install all the included software.
The software suite includes the Raspbian Lite operating system, a DSP TCP toolkit, and the Beocreate Software Suite. The Beocreate Software Suite handles the wireless connectivity functions, while the DSP TCP toolkit allows you to use SigmaStudio to write DSP programs for the board, allowing you to fine-tune the sound to your exact liking. Do note, this is some advanced work that only users experienced with DSP tools and filter designs are probably qualified to do, although you can always play around and experiment if you’re up to it.
Available now, the Bang & Olufsen Beocreate Four-Channel Amplifier is priced at $189.