HP Moves to Bang & Olufsen for High-End Sound in PCs, Tablets

HP probably could have kept licensing Beats Audio from Apple, but of course that wasn't going to happen.

Four years ago, Hewlett-Packard improved its coolness factor greatly by licensing the Dr. Dre-Jimmy Iovine Beats Audio system and offering it as an option in its premium PCs and tablets. It was a legitimate selling point, especially for younger customers.

Now that's a thing of the past. There's a different coolness factor coming.

Last May 28, Apple tripped up HP's whole strategy by acquiring Beats Audio for $3 billion, and everything changed. HP probably could have kept licensing the audio system from Apple, but of course that wasn't going to happen. Apple and HP are sworn adversaries in a lot of markets, and laptops, desktops and tablets are three of the major ones. HP wasn't about to aid and abet the enemy by reselling Apple's audio system.

So HP found a new audio partner: Bang & Olufsen of Copenhagen, Denmark. On March 24, the companies announced a collaboration that brings Bang & Olufsen's personal audio systems, called B&O Play, to HP's PCs, tablets and accessories.

Bang & Olufsen is a globally known audio and video IT company with 90 years of experience in acoustic excellence and audio performance. Most recently, the company launched a range of products, including its BeoPlay H8 Headphones, BeoPlay A2 music system and BeoSound Moment.

HP and Bang & Olufsen said they will, in effect, custom-tune each notebook, desktop, tablet and accessory for precise sound. In all HP devices that carry the Bang & Olufsen or B&O Play brand, a dedicated audio island isolates the sensitive audio circuits from other signals on the motherboard. The headphone jack limits the amount of metal parts to reduce ground noise to help further perfect the audio experience on HP devices.

HP devices include an audio control panel to enable users to customize their audio for movies, music and voice. B&O Play devices enable users to customize and enhance their audio experience based on preset configurations tuned by HP and Bang & Olufsen. Users can choose from optimized presets or manually tune the sound to their liking, HP said.

Beats Audio headphones range from $99 to more than $379; comparable Bang & Olufsen headphones range from $79 to $499. Sound systems vary widely, according to user requirements.

The first HP PCs with Bang & Olufsen and B&O Play audio will be available this spring. The Bang & Olufsen brand will appear on HP's Spectre, Omen, Envy and select commercial PCs. The B&O Play brand will appear on HP Pavilion PCs, tablets and PC audio accessories.

Bang & Olufsen was founded in Struer, Denmark, in 1925 by Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen. Beats Audio started in 2008.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...