Is the Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 5 the best speaker made today?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by alan halvorson, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    I know there are some subscribers to The Audio Critic lurking around here. I have been since its inception, until the last issue. If you were a reader, you'd know that its publication schedule was - well, let's just say that it was leisurely. A couple issues a year was the best it ever did. And now it is no more! At least, there's no more print version. In its place is a subscription (one time fee of $12.95, if you weren't a paid-up subscriber of the print version) web `zine. The introduction to the web `zine explains why they took this route. I joined, but, unfortunately, it's currently difficult for me to recommend the site to others simply because there is so little content. But what there is is as interesting as anything they have ever published.
    The Audio Critic, to those who have never encountered it, was the audio magazine all the other audio magazines hated. It continually harped on the tweaks and charlatans of the audio world - perhaps excessively so - and backed up their opinions with science, measurements, the support of top professionals and, I think, excellent writing. It is a major proponent of ABX double-blind testing (although not at the beginning).
    Anyway, to the subject. Recently The Audio Critic tested the Bang and Olufsen BeoLab 5, their $16,000 top-of-the-line loudspeaker, and made the following comments (because it is a subscription site, I will only quote from the review):
     
  2. Patrick Young

    Patrick Young Stunt Coordinator

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    Alan, as I also live in MN I have had the chance to listen to them at the Galleria and they were pretty impressive. And they were NOT in a special listening room ala Bose.
    They have had them at several different positions around the room. My wife was shopping so I was able to listen to almost a whole cd's worth of music. I don't remember who it was but it did sound great. Then the guy threw in a cd to show the range and yes the bass was amazing.
    And when my wife came in and saw what I was listening to she said "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!" "Those things are big and ugly" Oh well dream dream dream.
    [​IMG]
    Go and give them a listen.
    Pat
     
  3. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    While I was not a subscriber, I was always on the lookout for The Audio Critic, the most honest audio-related publication I have had the privilege of reading. I think it's about time I signed up! [​IMG]
    When it comes to speaker reviews, the qualifications of the reviewer must always be taken into account. Furthermore, there must be objective data that is properly analyzed, so that correlations can be made. Only then can the review be taken seriously. If I may ask, who was the reviewer, and was objective information available to support the claims made? I have always been extremely skeptical of non-North American speaker companies, so I am just curious if B&O really "earned" the praise.
     
  4. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Vinh: Peter Aczel, publisher and owner, did the review. Same old Aczel review style; I like it. Measurements and graphs were included, as well as a better photo of the speakers than was featured on the B&O site.
     
  5. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Certainly a surprise to hear B&O getting such high praise for a $16,000 speaker. Good as it might be however, the competition in the over $10,000 price range is very tough. The Wilson Watt-Puppy has been the biggest seller in that price range for years.

    I have to think that the resale value of the B&O is going to be pretty bad. The sound everywhere type design keeps popping up but never seems to be popular in the high price range.

    Still, it is a treat to hear a fine sounding speaker though you can start to take such fantasies too seriously. After all, we are talking about the price of a nice car.
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I am surprised to hear about the fate of The Audio Critic, to which I had been subscribing since the first issue in the spring of 1977. So it's a Webzine now? How about that!

    It should be noted that, in the beginning, Peter Aczel was just as "golden eared" as any other "high end" reviewer. But, sometime after his magazine first ceased publication in 1980 until it resumed in 1987, Aczel made a complete turnaround and became a furious believer in measurements and objectivity. Interesting to read.

    As for B&O's speaker, who knows? There are so many, many decent speaker systems out there. But for B&O, a somewhat lifestyle-oriented manafacturer, it's surprising.
     
  7. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    I don't think in this price range there is a "best" speaker. I've heard a pair Beolab 5's and they do have great bass and extended highs and a big sound but they weren't better than the best speakers i've heard which are the Kharma CRM 3.2, Dali Megaline, JMLab Nova Utopia Be, and the Verity Audio Parsifal at least to my ears. They are very worthy of an audition though and do have a unique look to them.[​IMG]
     
  8. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Jack: I only found out was to do a search on Google. I had done this before without coming up with anything, but suddenly there it was. If anyone's interested, The Audio Critic also gave a bang-up review to another, cheaper (but far from cheap, although if you're a DIY'er handy with tools, it could be) loudspeaker, the Linkwitz Lab Orion. To tell the truth, after reading both reviews, between the BeoLab 5 and the Orion, I think I'd prefer the Orion.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Nothin' beats Bose [​IMG]
     
  10. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    My advisor this year knows the guy who designed the Beolab 5, Dave Moulton. He certainly knew what he was doing, and I trust that it's a competitive "statement" speaker. I have personally heard a big MBL speaker which used a similar idea (speaker elements pointing up into round diffusors), and they had a great spacious and coherent sound. It is definitely a good idea if the other design issues can be addressed as well as they have been in some of the other high-end speakers. Besides, for the sake of diversity it's good to see something with an omnipolar response pattern, compared to that of: regular speakers, bipoles, dipoles, horns, arrays... For some tastes and setups it might be the best type of speaker!
     
  11. Christian M

    Christian M Agent

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    I had the chance to listen to the Beolab 5's once... Very impressive - to me at least [​IMG] LOTR:Two Towers was freighteningly real and in-room bass response was utterly flat - wow.
     
  12. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Aczel does occasionally wax a bit poetic. Were there any measurements on that model provided?

    Like Scott said, at that price point, there's more than a few speakers worth giving a listen to. Also, if you're into the omnidirectional sound, then you might as well give Ohm a try. Out of curiosity, does anyone recall a long defunct brand called Cosmostatic? They had a hybrid quazi-omindirectional, electrostatic design that I vaguely rememeber as being very compelling.
     
  13. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Quite a number of measurements were taken and several graphs presented. Wish I could link to the review or post it but I don't believe I should.
    I know Azcel had some sort of involvement with Ohm at one time. I don't recall what it was exactly, but he did mention this involvement in one or more issues.
    Waaaaaaay back before I knew anything about hi-fi, my first "stereo" was a cheap Zenith turntable with built-in amp. The speakers operated on the same principle as the BeoLab 5's but, of course, used about the cheapest components and construction possible.
    Never heard of Cosmostatic. The speaker with the most uncanny imaging I have ever come across were the old Beveridge 2+2SW's (which you can still buy), a speaker Azcel once considered the best speaker made.
     
  14. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    He considered the Beveridge to be state of the art in the very late '70s.
     
  15. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    This is a terrible pic of the Cosmostatic.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    I heard a pair of these last week
    [​IMG]
    and they were simply breathtaking. What's the onion, you ask?
    The Radialstrahler concept includes a circular vertical arrangement of lamellas around an axis for each frequency range (tweeter, midrange driver and subwoofer). On the upper side, these lamellas are firmly glued in a thrust bearing and on the lower side, they are connected to a moving coil. If a pulse of music is now transmitted from the amplifier to the speaker, these slightly bent lamellas (therefore the Radialstrahler is also called “Biegeschwinger”) are oscillated – they radiate sound waves, in this case music. The result is a sound of unusual acoustic space and realism that is absolutely free from coloring, that is neutral and homogenous. (more reading, and a pricing)
    in fact it was the whole setup, listed here
     
  17. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    I've always wanted to hear a pair of MBL's but they don't have a dealer here in Kansas City.[​IMG]
     
  18. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    I guess I was lucky - in fact, if not for a friend of a friend I wouldn't even have gone into the shop. MBL's Singapore rep were going to fly up to install the system in Hong Kong (this guy's dad bought it)
     
  19. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I was just flipping through a recent American Express Rewards catalog and noticed that you can actually get the BeoLab5's with reward points. For a miniscule 4,925,000 points you can get the BeoLab5's along with a 42" B&O plasma screen. What a bargain!?!?!
     
  20. CanaryBlue

    CanaryBlue Auditioning

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    Rightly or wrongly, I also always associated B&O with styling and nothing more. And then I heard the Beolab 5s. They blew me away, and just as importantly, after three years of ownership, they still do. They are absolutely awesome. It may be a cliché, but they have literally, not metaphorically, had the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Expensive, for sure, but not for what they are, and can do. Pound for pound (or dollar for dollar) they have brought me more joy than anything I have ever purchased in my life. Be wary of auditioning them, though. Once you have, you won’t rest till you own a pair.
     

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