Bang & Olufsen | Reworking the Beosystem 9000 CD player

The 90’s are back, baby, and so are its sounds

Written by

Maddy Brown

Photographed by

No items found.

Styled by

No items found.
No items found.

There’s an app for everything you need, and everything you don’t need to boot. Cars drive themselves. Podcasts filter through an endless stream of new gadgets as small as your fingertip. In an increasingly online world, we’re coming to the point where something like CDs are only a fading ripple in the ever-widening pool of technology…right? But strangely, beautifully, we’re not. The desire for CDs—and gameboys, Tamagotchis, mood rings, etcetera, etcetera—much like the vinyl LPs of the last decade, has surged back with a vengeance, born from the sudden remembrance of their wonderful simplicity and the need to just go back. Bang & Olufsen, the high-end electronics company that’s been churning out timeless products for just shy of a century, announces their own spin on reviving the reign of CDs and the stylish possibility that come with it.

The Danish audio leader is launching the Beosystem 9000c music system, a release that involved recovering and restoring 200 of their original CD players from the 1990s and pairing them with powerful speakers. The company makes a promise to its customers: to create products that stand the test of time. With the launch of the Beosystem 9000c music system, they’re not only standing strong against the wave of passing time, they’re turning back the clock.

The return of CDs is in equal parts about wistfulness, aesthetics, and connection. Those holographic relics provide the opportunity for us common folk to not only recall memories of times past but to hold a piece of our favorite artists in our hands. It’s a process that requires intention from beginning to end, from the effort it takes to find and purchase a particular CD to the purposeful action of popping it into the CD player. It’s a feeling that can't quite be achieved through the couple taps that it takes to stream a song, and both fans and artists are beginning to notice.

It’s the reason that Taylor Swift fans flock to get their hands on the deluxe versions of her albums offered in CD form; they bought 800,000 copies of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) last year in the United States alone. In that same year, 5-Star, the third studio album from the widely popular K-pop group Stray Kids, sold 520,000 copies.

Obviously, CDs are enjoying a moment, and so we spoke to Mads Kogsgaard, Head of Product Circularity & Portfolio Planning at Bang & Olufsen, about the CD renaissance and his company’s involvement in helping make it more than special.

What is it about CDs and CDs players that is unique to you as a product innovator?

CDs disrupted the music industry a few decades ago, providing great sound resolution and a compact physical experience. Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound 9000 disrupted the concept of the CD player with its revolutionary design by David Lewis which was first debuted in 1996 at the height of CD’s popularity. With its vertical display of discs, Beosound 9000 broke away from the conventional black box CD changer design, which quickly consolidated its status as a time-transcending design icon. Lewis’ idea to display six CDs linearly as the design for Beosound 9000 came to him as he walked past a record store in London which had laid out six CDs in a row in the window. The sleek and innovative design of Beosound 9000 included a motorised glass lid, touch-sensitive buttons and state-of-the-art technology that allowed listeners to swiftly switch between tracks and CDs in a matter of seconds, all while displaying the listener’s favourite albums. The core idea behind the design intent was to offer what would be experienced as an endless playlist, where every shift between tracks would be silent and equally fast no matter from which of the six DC’s it would be played. More than just a CD player, our Recreated Beosystem 9000c creates synergies between the past and the present, offering listeners a glimpse into the evolution of audio technology while remaining a timeless icon. 

What do you attribute the cultural curiosity in recent years around analog art and objects to?

CDs are selling in the second-hand market and contemporary artists are also releasing their latest albums on CD. These physical music formats provide rituals and activate the senses in a different way, and we want to celebrate slow culture as an alternative to the convenience of endless streaming and see that our customers do too. For us, it’s not about judging if one music format is better than the other. Each format offers something unique when it comes to listening experiences and ways to connect with the artists behind the music. For us, it is all about keeping choices alive. 

With a view to the Cradle-to-Cradle standards of B&O, what has stood out as a unique design achievement that met these standards?  

When we first introduced the concept of the Recreated Classics programme with the much-coveted Beogram 4000c Recreated Limited Edition turntable in 2020, we realized that the technicians had built it modularly so that it could be updated for future proofing. This inspired us to bring modular thinking to our current portfolio in new ways to support long product lifetimes and a life after the first. Our first Cradle to Cradle Certified® Bronze speaker was Beosound Level and we are continuing to build a portfolio applying these principles. 

Do you have any special stories about locating the 9000s and bringing them back to Struer for re-design?

One of the most challenging parts was sourcing the original Beosound 9000s as many customers have kept their original CD players. We therefore had to source these units through our network of shops, service partners and directly from private owners.

Another challenge is that the process of recreating these classic models is extremely manual and relies on hand-made craftsmanship and a legacy of expert knowledge. For the Recreated Beosystem 9000c, the original Beosound 9000s are brought back, disassembled and inspected by hand by some technicians that originally worked on the product back in the 1990s. Each component is individually cleaned, restored and replaced (if needed) to future-proof the listening experience. All structural parts are carefully treated to look like new again and the aluminium components are re-machined and anodised before being re-assembled on the original work benches we used for the manufacturing in the 1990s. We then test the recreated CD players, add a new floor stand and combine with Beolab 28 stereo speakers. Every unit is numbered and uniquely engraved. More than 90% of the parts of the new system are the same as the original models. The components we do change are the laser reader and the glass lid as we want a flawless finish and to make sure everything is perfect. 

If you were to name six CDs that you'd like to have on rotation in a 9000c this summer, what would they be? 

Back in 1996, when Beosound 9000 launched, I was 19 years old and CD listening was a significant part of my life. The grunge wave in the 90s has left a lasting impression on me and so has Britpop and alternative rock. So, I would probably go for the following releases to load in my Beosound 9000c for a long night of memorable listening: Radiohead, Pablo Honey, Oasis, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, U2, Achtung Baby and Fugees, and The Score.

What about the future excites you?

I can’t help thinking about the whole idea of keeping choices alive, I really love that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we explored more for both vinyl and CD, and also maybe even other music formats, to make the lineup complete.

Photos courtesy of Bang & Olufsen

No items found.
No items found.
Bang & Olufsen, Mads Kogsgaard, CDs, 90s, Beosound 9000