BeoCenter 9000

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Manufactured: 1986 - 1990
Designer: Jacob Jensen
Colours: Aluminium

In the Beocenter 9000 Jensen radicalised the basic ideas that had asserted themselves in the Beomaster 1900. It was given two 'angles' but it is close to being merely a horizontal, floating, blank surface. The flush concept was taken a step further: now everything is entirely flat, nothing projects. Not even the lids on the CD player and the tape recorder rise at any time above their own level, but slip quickly and noiselessly to one side. Communication with the apparatus is reduced to two black glass sheets, one for input and one for output.

The cool, clean design - at once both peaceful and effective in appearance - reflects the rational operation, which is carried out via microprocessors. With the Beomaster 1900's division into primary and secondary operation facilities, Jensen had anticipated the computer interface of the IT age, in which priority is given to the potential of the function selector.

The Beocenter 9000 is electronic through and through: the operating instructions for the relatively complicated apparatus with its many functions are built into the control equipment. Only the entirely everyday basic functions are visible in standby. When they are touched gently, the upper glass sheet - the 'magic mirror' - lights up. Several possible choices emerge only when they are needed.

The best and most consummate Jensen make the user feel like a magician. It was really Jensen's wish that the lids on the Beocenter 9000 should slide aside entirely without being touched when a hand came close to them, but that visionary idea was difficult to realise because it would mean the lids would open, for instance, when you merely wanted to change the volume. The designer David Lewis solved that problem when he designed B&O's next breakthrough product, the upright Beocenter 2500 (1991). He hid all buttons behind the lids. Lewis took his further development of Jensen's B&O audio design profile in other directions when Jensen cease designing for the company in about 1990. By then, Jensen had designed more than 100 products for B&O. The reason for B&O's success in the 1970' and 1980s was the management's willingness to aim at and realise risk-filled, pioneering strategy.

Open Beocenter 9000

The lid of the Beocenter 9000 disappears into the side of the apparatus and makes the user feel like the hero of a science fiction film. The plus values of products cannot be created on the background of qualitative or quantitative marketing surveys. Jensen's role as the man who reads the trends of the time and uses his intuition to fulfil consumers' unconscious wishes gives him a special role as an artist in product development.

Forming the Immaterial

The Beocenter 9000 was to be Jensen's last major breakthrough for B&O - an unadulterated operating surface. What enables Jensen to design products that are in advance of their time is his understanding of technological developments towards less bulk and greater complexity and abstraction. With the advent of microelectronics, the equipment loses its character as a tactile tool and its functions are beyond people's immediate understanding.

The designer's artistic freedom becomes greater - everything is possible. "Form follows function", the idea that design should reflect the construction becomes an impossibility for most component designers. Jensen fights tooth and nail to maintain the modernist concept of honesty. He wants to avoid endowing the apparatus with familiar symbolical appearances and shapes, something that many of his contemporary, post-modern colleagues otherwise do.

Jensen's design admits that form is on the way to being dissipated, on the way to immateriality, and so he goes from three-dimensional to two-dimensional operating services. He shows that the design of the future is about considering the man-machine relationship, communication with the apparatus, and that this is all that is left. Hardware design disappears to be replaced with software design. Jensen illustrates that technology is on its way towards invisibility and increased abstract. He chooses modernism's abstract and reductionist idiom partly in order to bring clarity to the present-day ceaseless torrent of information and to make it comprehensible and accessible on all levels, and partly because technology in itself is abstraction.

"Less is more" is presented in concrete terms in Jensen's reductionist designing because the cleansed surfaces and the simple and well-considered operation conceal the inconceivable complexity that is microelectronics. The modernist idiom in Jensen also reflects the abstraction to which modern man must subject himself if he wants to cope with the everyday articles of the present day, pieces of equipment. Although present-day technology is rooted in a long-standing Western tradition of rationality, rational engineering science has become so complex that it is beyond the immediate ability of our sense to imagine it. There is a need for designers who will give rational consideration to the way in which we communicate the engineers' magic boxes and make the magic spells clear and comprehensible.

Our physical contact with the surrounding world is disappearing and being replaced with digitised virtual reality. Jensen does not try to pretend that his pieces of equipment are anything more than cool communication with technology, although he does not hesitate to turn our control of it into an experience. The functionality of the blank sensor-touch surfaces cannot be understood in the same way as an old-fashioned on-off switch. The possibilities of choice do not resemble push-buttons, but are merely abstract words that light up when we need them. They do not exist as material manifestations when we turn off the Beocenter 9000. Although Jensen's modern domestic alters are quite profane, his design places him in art history's long tradition of representing the immaterial as truly and beautifully as possible. " - taken from 'Jacob Jensen' by Christain Holmsted Olesen.

Beocenter 9000 was designed by Jacob Jensen especially for music lovers who wanted the finest sound quality without having to bother with a mass of technical details. It became one of Bang & Olufsen's outstanding modern classics. Beautiful to look at, with its sculptured design in glass and brushed aluminium; and pure pleasure to use and listen to.

At the time leading up to its design, Bang & Olufsen's manager of long-range planning - Jens Bang - had just been to Japan and had bought back a strange-looking box called a 'CD player', the newest in technical miracles.

The 'idea group' at Bang & Olufsen - which included Timothy Jacob Jensen (the son of Jacob Jensen) - then began a long period of development which was to create a new Beocenter and which included a flat-screened TV, radio, CD player, tape recorder, loudspeakers, telephone and remote control, including a wristwatch with built in remote. However, after having seen around one hundred different ideas for the new hi-fi the idea group decided that the new Beocenter would just have a radio, tape recorder and CD player incorporated within it.

The new unit became an integrated system solution with amplifier, radio, cassette tape deck and CD player. By uniting all functions in one cabinet it was possible to simplify operation giving also its cabinet a simple and uniform appearance. 'Function creates design and design creates function'. Its finish of aluminium and dark plastic gave the system an exclusive and distinct look which paralleled B&O's other product designs. Beocenter 9000 was a direct descendant of Jacob Jensen's famous Beogram 4000 record player and was contribution to the ID Classic Prize that B&O was awarded by the Danish Design Centre in 1990.

Simplicity itself

Two illuminated displays gave you all the information you needed. The upper display showed what was going on at the moment; the lower display gave you all the options at your disposal. Let's say that the upper display showed 'Radio'. If you pressed '3' on the lower display you got the radio programme you preset as number 3. The same goes for records, tapes or CDs.

You could carry out most of the day-to-day operations using the Beolink 1000 remote control. For programming however, you operated the control panel directly, and again, it was very straight-forward. You could programme concerts or shows to record when you were out and then enjoy them at your leisure. You soon found yourself wondering how you ever did without the elegance and flexibility of this exceptional music centre!

The fine art of control of Beocenter 9000

The unfailing sensi-touch control of the Beocenter 9000 works through a condenser effect. A graphite area is printed on the underside of the glass panel and charged with a high frequency current. Even the lightest touch of a finger will spark a reaction.

Beocenter 9000 won the Japanese Good Design award in 1987 and the German Design Auswahl in 1986.

The tape recorder of the Beocenter 9000's was almost fully automatic. You no longer needed to think of a cassette tape as having two sides. Auto Reverse reversed the sound head automatically so that in practice you had just one long tape at your disposal. This was of course, particularly useful for longer recordings.

Another useful feature was the automatic adjustment of the recording level, giving you total consistency throughout a number of different recordings. For noise reduction during recordings you could choose between Dolby B or C and then forget it; when you played the tape back, the recorder automatically switched to the system you used for recordings. It was also clever enough to identify whether you were using a standard, chrome or metal tape - and adjust itself accordingly.

You also had the benefit of Bang & Olufsen's HX-Pro recording system, giving you considerably superior reproduction of the upper ranges, regardless of the type of tape. And with the automatic track search system you could quickly find a particular piece of music quickly and easily.

The radio

Just as easy to use as the rest of the music centre, the radio could be preset for up to 20 AM or FM stations. All searching and tuning was fully automatic. Just key in the frequency you want - for example ' FM 100.9' - and the radio did the rest. You had plenty of choice where programming was concerned. If there was a daily programme you didn't want to miss, you could programme it to come on at a specific time, or to record when you were out. You could have your favourite music to wake you up during the week, and cancel it to lie-in at the weekends.

The Compact Disc player

The very latest innovations were used to give this CD player truly outstanding sound quality. It was also superbly flexible to use. You could find a particular track in seconds, repeat tracks at will, and programme the playing order virtually any way you liked. The choice was all yours.

The fine art of control of Beocenter 9000

The unfailing sensi-touch control of the Beocenter 9300 worked through a condenser effect. A graphite area was printed on the underside of the glass panel and charged with a high frequency current. Even the lightest touch of a finger sparked the reaction.

If you wished to use a record deck with the Beocenter, then Beogram 9000 was made to complement the rest of the hi-fi.


2 x 80 watt amplifier, CD player with programming, tape recorder with auto reverse, FM/AM radio, finger touch control, optional Beolink 1000 remote control operation, connections for Beolink® and headphones, optional BeoStand. Master Control Link.

BeoCenter 9000 Product Specifications

2501 (1986 - Jan 1990)
AUS 2505 (1986 - Aug 1989)
J 2504 (1986 - Jan 1990)
US 2503 (1986 - Jan 1990)

Long-term max. output power IEC 2 x 80 watts / 8 ohms
Power output 20 - 20,000 Hz IHF 2 x 30 watts / 8 ohms
Total harmonic distortion IHF < 0.1 % & 30 watts 20 - 20,000 Hz
Dynamic headroom 1 dB / 8 ohms
Intermodulation IHF < 0.1 %

Bass control at 40 Hz: +/- 10 dB
Treble control at 12,500: Hz +/- 8 dB

FM range 2501 / 2505: 87.5 - 108 MHz
2504: 76 - 90 MHz
LW range 2501 only: 150 - 350 kHz
MW range 2501 only: 80 µV
Connections: Tape 2 DIN
Phono DIN
Extra amplifier Phonoplug

Link compatibility: Datalink

Tape recorder:
Compact cassette: C46 - C60 - C90 - C120
Recording system: HX PRO
Tape head: Sendust
Wow and flutter DIN: < 0.15 %
Frequency range chrome: 30 - 18,000 Hz +/- 3 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio: CCIR/ARM
Metal Dolby NR B:>64 dB, C: >73 dB
Chrome Dolby NR B:>65 dB, C: >74 dB
Ferro Dolby NR B:>63 dB, C: >72 dB

Compact disc player:
Frequency range 3 - 20,000 Hz +/- 0.3 dB
Signal-to-noise ratio > 96 dB / 100 dB A-weighted
Dynamic range > 96 dB
Harmonic distortion 0.003 % at 0 dB
0.03 % at -20 dB
Channel separation > 94 dB 20 - 20,000 Hz
Converter system 2 x 16 bit, 4 x oversampling 176.4 kHz
Low pass filter Digital + analog

Power supply:
2501/2505: 110 - 130 - 220 - 240 V switch
2504: 100 V
Power consumption: max. 200 W
Dimensions: W x H x D 76 x 11 x 34cm
Weight: 14 kg

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Created: 2nd December 2006
Modified: 15th March 2007

Author Notes:

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