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Audio system - Beosystem 1400
  • Beosystem 1400
    Jensen, Jacob, born 1926 - died 2015
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Beosystem 1400

  • Object:

    Audio system

  • Place of origin:

    Denmark (made)

  • Date:

    1973 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Jensen, Jacob, born 1926 - died 2015 (designers)
    Bang & Olufsen (manufacturers)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Stephen Morris

  • Museum number:

    W.9:1 to 6-2014

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Bang and Olufsen was, until perhaps the 1980s, the audio equipment manufacturer with the greatest focus on high-end design. (Braun, for example, manufactured mainly smaller radios and a few other related audio items). Indeed, B&O were unique in the business for their focus on design and build quality, inhabiting the upper end of the audio market. Their house style was very much part of Scandinavian modernism, with clean lines, excellent graphic design (not a hallmark of competitors), nearly always a touch (or more) of wood and a resistance (at least until the 1980s) to the Japanese and American trend to create separate stereo components and to stack them vertically. Their house style was largely the work of Jacob Jensen who worked for B&O from 1964/5 until 1991, much of that time (until 1985) as Chief Designer.

The Beocenter 1400 dates from a period when Jensen produced his most emblematic and successful B&O designs. It was their first product to successfully combine a cassette recorder and amplifier within a reasonably sized housing. This was made possible by the development of the compact cassette, which allowed for the integration of a smaller cassette unit. Characteristic of Jensen’s work is the combination of the components (receiver, amplifier and cassette player) into a single unit, the emphatically horizontal and very low design of the unit, the rectilinearity of all its elements, the sliding controls, the sparing use of a very limited colour palette and the product’s literal solidity. B&O items of this period seemingly avoided calling attention to themselves (compared to stereo design influenced by the recording studio) through their pared down shape. Yet that same minimalist shape, and the use of warm and elegant rosewood or teak veneer, also proclaimed their difference from the rest of the market and an exclusivity reflected in their price.

Physical description

Beocenter 1400 music centre with two speakers, AM antenna, FM antenna and paper instructional booklet.

Place of Origin

Denmark (made)

Date

1973 (made)

Artist/maker

Jensen, Jacob, born 1926 - died 2015 (designers)
Bang & Olufsen (manufacturers)

Object history note

This object was purchased by the donor in 1974 or 1975 from a small radio and television shop in Richmond. It was given to the Museum in August 2014.

Acquistion registered file no. 2014/615

Historical context note

The Beocenter 1400 was based on the earlier Beomaster 901 receiver, and was the first B&O music centre to house a compact cassette player. This recording format had been invented in 1963 by Philips, though did not become popular until the early 1970s when the sound quality of these tapes became commensurate with, and then surpassed, 8-track recording. The Beocenter 1400 could play both standard and chromium dioxide tapes. Recording levels were controlled by a sliding switch with a numerical scale and light indicators: red or green respectively for overloading or unsatisfactory. The receiver has high sensitivity and was notable for its ability to receive distant stations. The system utilised the latest electronic components: Darlington transistors , field effect transistors, integrated circuits and ceramic filters.

The Beocenter 1400 has sockets for headphones, loudspeakers and a record player. The design was very modular and could be used with many other B&O products, such as the Beogram 1202 record player (an example of which the V&A has in its collection: CIRC.6-1974). When packaged with the speakers and/or turntable, the unit was known as the Beosystem 1400.

Descriptive line

Beocenter 1400 FM stereo/MW/LW/cassette music centre; aluminium, rosewood (or teak) veneer, other metals, various plastics; designed by Jacob Jensen, manufactured by Bang and Olufsen; Denmark; 1973

Materials

Aluminium; Teak; Rosewood; Electrical; Chipboard; Paper

Techniques

Veneering; Painting

Categories

Audio equipment; Interiors; Product design; Electrical appliances

Production Type

Mass produced

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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