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Bang & Olufsen gives Google Assistant a fancy new home in BeoSound speakers

The BeoSound 1 and 2 -- starting at $1,750 -- are premium smart speakers on display at IFA that also work with Apple's AirPlay 2.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The upcoming BeoSound 1 and BeoSound 2 from Bang & Olufsen both look futuristic. The long cylindrical bodies rest on smaller bases just above your table, so from a certain angle, it looks like the speakers are hovering. The top similarly juts out from the rest of the body. These striking design aspects are both meant to amplify sound quality.

Bang & Olufsen's BeoSound speakers will do much more than just play music with some oomph. On display at IFA in Berlin, both have Google Assistant built-in, so they'll offer the same wide breadth of features as the Google Home. You'll be able to command your smart home, check your calendar, search the web, listen to a podcast and more with a simple voice command. The BeoSound speakers both have four programmable shortcut buttons on top as well, so you can tap to trigger your favorite podcast or smart home routine.

Bang & Olufsen has promised great sound quality from both models, with bass thumping from the bottom and the top driver reflecting sound into an acoustic lens. It certainly looks the part of a premium speaker, and it'll have to live up to that billing. The BeoSound 1 will cost a jaw-dropping $1,750 when it hits stores in September. It's battery powered and the docking station is -- stunningly -- $175 extra. The BeoSound 2 needs to stay plugged in, and it costs even more. It's due out in October for $2,250.

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Both speakers look great and have a lot of cool features. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Almost everything about these Bang & Olufsen models sounds appealing, other than those prices. In addition to Google Assistant, they have Apple AirPlay 2 built in, so you can stream Apple Music or use them as part of a speaker setup that includes Apple's HomePod.

They have five built-in mics and acoustic echo canceling tech to hear your voice commands over the music. The speakers even sense where you are, so you can always swipe right to skip a track forward and left to go back without worrying that you're on the wrong side of the circular control panel at the top.

That price will be hard to justify though, as even the most expensive smart speakers we've seen thus far -- the Google Home Max and the Apple HomePod -- are a fraction of the cost at $400 and $350 respectively. The Sonos One sounds great and is only $200 -- or slightly more than the docking station for the BeoSound 1.

I have a hard time understanding why I'd want to pay that much for a smart speaker, especially since the smarts will be fundamentally the same as the $50 Google Home Mini, but given the futuristic looks and lofty cost, I'm certainly looking forward to hearing it in action. 

Editors' Note: This piece was originally published on August 23rd, 2018. It has been updated with hands on pics from IFA. 

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