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All you need to know about collecting B&O,
This review is from: Bang and Olufsen (Crowood Collectors' Series) (Hardcover)
This is the long awaited companion volume to the excellent Beocentral web site and has a lot to live up to as the site has long been regarded as the most respected reference site regarding the modern era of the Danish company.
The fact that it exceeds one's expectations is testament to the care lavished on this publication by both its contributors.
The book is divided into 7 sections, the first being a merry skip through the early years of the company from the 1920s up to 1964 where the modern era started. This chapter is more of a scene setting exercise as apart from some late transistor radios, this period is much more comprehensively covered in B&O's own Spark to Icon publication.
However 1964 brings the reader to the era so well covered by Beocentral and the depth of description and superb photography rapidly draws one in. The chapter picks the important models and offers a well-written narrative describing the item technically and also from a market point of view. Very detailed photographs are presented to aid the reader and these photographs are ones not seen before and not available on the Internet. The quality needs to be seen to be believed and makes you wish the volume could be longer so that even more could be fitted in. The prose tends to concentrate on the positive attributes of the products but is not frightened of offering useful criticism of use to a collector. A good range of products is featured with both the audio and television ranges being featured. As a collector myself, I would have liked some of the rare products shown such as the Beogram 3000 Thorens but they are mentioned and are possibly a little esoteric and would take up space better used for the more available products one is likely to find.
The next chapter concentrates on the 1970s - an era both the authors clearly favour with a plethora of fantastic pictures and product descriptions. The technical details are brought to the fore but never become unreadable and indeed cajole one into wanting to know more. A fascinating series of pictures demonstrates the unusual construction of the Beomaster 2200 and the accompanying narrative explains the thinking behind the layout.
Cassette recorders are another area where the Jarman brothers excel in knowledge and a detailed description of the first forays into this field and the opportunity to show a non B&O product clearly enthuses the author. He is however still honest with his opinions and the complexity of B&O's own cassette mechanism is not immune from criticism. Alongside all pictured products is provided a score for Availability and Complexity, the Beocord 5000 scoring a maximum 5 blobs for the latter.
I am not completely sure I agree with Tim about the merits of the revised cassette mechanism in the Beocenter 4000 as I would still not trust my best recordings to this machine!
The chapter concludes with a description of the television range with a detailed run through the development of the range.
Onto the 80s and a treat awaits the casual browser with the first five pages dedicated to the Beolab 8000 system. You will want one after this! Onwards and a detailed critique of B&O first foray into the video cassette era follows the introduction of the IR TV remote. We then come to a dark passage in B&O's history with the Japanese systems being introduced. Despite the author's distaste for the range, a collection of excellent pictures accompanies the text. However the following description of the Beomaster 2000 and 3000 systems clearly is more to the taste of both brothers and the style and quality of these offerings shines through on every page.
This is the longest chapter and the development of Datalink and the stacking systems via the excellent Beocenter 7000 range is well told. Television and VCR development is not ignored and the chapter finishes with a flourish with the entry, eventually, of B&O into the CD market. Unusual pictures of the CD50 and CD5500 maintain the technical detail but again written in a most accessible manner.
The 1990s chapter is notable for superb pictures again of a large part of the B&O range though the political machinations behind the simplifying of the range are largely ignored. None the less, the impression that the author is becoming a little disenchanted with some of the economic decisions made in developing the range is inescapable climaxing in the concern that modern service manuals with proper circuit diagrams became a thing of the past with the passing of the 20th century.
This is the end of the romp through the history of B&O and chapter six deals with the practicalities of collecting and helpful tips to aid selection of products and places to find them. Care tips are included and complement those found on the Beocentral site.
The final chapter deals with matching products to make a full system and which systems will work properly with each other. This brings together a lot of information and is an invaluable resource to the beginner starting a collection as well as acting as an aide memoir for the more experienced.
In summary, this book is an essential volume for a collector and an enjoyable read for any armchair admirer. The text is always fun and never over formal. There is no romantic eulogising of the products with good and bad points noted though clearly this is written by an enthusiast dedicated to the brand. The crowning glory will always be the quality of the photographs, which are the best that I have seen.
Buy this book - you will certainly enjoy reading it and you will aspire to finding examples as good as those shown here.
Peter (Moderator on Beoworld)