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Is the Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 5 the best speaker made today?
49 replies to this topic
Posted April 30 2011 - 02:44 AM
Well...... The beolab5 is the best speakers made today.... by B&O. It is their best speakers for sure. However, beolab5 are not THE best speakers by a very very long shot. I have listened to it before.... Quite frankly, it's the closet hi fi sounding in B&O's lineup. However, compare to other speakers.... Beolab5.... Really don't sound that good. The bass is deep, however, having the ability to hit low is not hard at all, just go to any night club and disco.. Bass resolution and more importantly, bass definition, are much much harder to get right. For the price range, for example, Burmester B50, will eat the beolab5 for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I personally have Burmester b80 and when my friend, who has the beolab5, came over, he could not fathom the difference can be that big! He said s B&O sounds like a hi end boom box! Just think about it, for 16000, how much of that cost goes in to the speaker itself? Beolab 5 is an active speaker system. Each of the beolab5 has an amp build-in and also a digital room correction system build in as well Stand alone passive speaker in the same price range has all of the costs go into the drivers, enclosure, and speaker construction. Similar active speakers like the ones from ADAM, for the same price, are all better than beolab5. Just go listen. The ADAMs also have uild-in amp and manual adjustments for room correction. In my opinion, they sound much much better. The only advantage beolab5 has is.... Convenience. You can pretty much place them anywhere you want and it will automatically correct the room digitally. Traditional passive speakers needs a lot of experiments in terms of placement to sound their best. On top of that, you might still need acoustic room treatment. Just go audition Wilson, focal, Burmester, Adam, b&w, vivid audio, and others, you will realize, beolab5 is not even close to being a true hi fi speaker! I also urge you all to listen to Usher's Be 10/Be 20 DMD speakers. For around 16000-18000, they can dance around Beolab5 and can easily perform on par with speakers twice their price.
Posted January 22 2012 - 07:38 PM
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):
The low-frequency response was utterly smooth, effortless, powerful, without the slightest lumpiness, and extending all the way down to dc—or so it seemed. Unbelievable bass. The wide horizontal dispersion of the frequencies above 500 Hz also resulted in a unique listening experience—you can sit anywhere in the room with these speakers, as long as they are somewhere in front of you. The aiming of the midrange and tweeter has become totally uncritical. That alone is worth the price of admission.
|The fact is that the overall sound was superb, as transparent, defined, and alive as I have ever heard out of any speaker|
|The BeoLab 5 is, on the whole, a masterpiece in sound, as well as in electroacoustic theory|
I was as flabbergasted as I ever have been after reading this review. I have never associated Bang & Olufsen with superior loudspeaker engineering, or superior engineering of any sort. I have always believed their main concern was styling and nothing more. To find that the only audio publication I have ever respected has given a B&O product such a glowing review - heck, more than a glowing review - floors me. Now I have to find this speaker (in Minnesota, I believe the only place I might find it is at the B&O store in the Galleria in Edina) and decide for myself, although at 16 big ones, a purchase is out of the question (come on lottery!).
Has anyone listened to this speaker? Got an opinion? Sorry for entering late. Here is my take, First off, I am huge meridian fan, I have owned a B&O turntable which are pretty decent, but I would choose another brand if had more money to spend on the turntable, Now, B&O didn't come up with the lens design, that is licensed from Sausalito Audio Works. From what I am told, that speaker is now $26,000 a pair. I don't know what they use to make the actual cabinet for the bass driver. From my experience, B&O is generally cool looking designs that gain attention from the pseudo audiophiles that think they know about good audio because they have expensive equipment, and B&O make generally decent audio, but not the top of the line audio. Certainly better than Bose for a lot of money. I have heard over the years some great systems. I have heard the MBLs with Jadis and they were exceptional speakers but do need lots of power, good room placement and the room has to be decent to begin with, but MBL doesn't make surround sound systems. I have heard the B&W 800 series with Krell electronics and those sounded amazing, as well as Wilson WATT puppies, and a variety of systems. Now, for $26,000 I would rather buy meridian DSP5200s, their sub and the Reference CD player and be done with it for 2 channel audio. B&O reviews that i have read come from questionable sources, I have read posts by Audi owners having lots of problems with blown drivers, blown electronics, rattles, intermittent things going on and they mention that they have problems being turned up in volume otherwise, they have problems for their car stereos. Sorry, but I don't think they are keeping the quality up and I think for $6,300 it is hard to put quality stuff in a car where there are that many drivers and that much electronics and it being the same quality as the $26,000 reference system they are trying to push. I would rather take a stance on I would have to hear these things in the same room as Meridian DSP speakers, which is the brand they are going after before I would take B&O seriously.
Posted January 24 2012 - 07:04 PM
I listened to the Beolab5 in a party-tent before the party started, and to my surprize I must confirm Peter Aczel's review in the Audiocritic web-zine. I too was utterly shaken in my beliefs that B&O was merely shallow design of cheap components. The source was a NAD CD, which must have been detrimental to sound quality in this chain. But I was deeply impressed with male voices, and especially bass definition, and bass-strings. That was close to the sound that I would offer my wife for (divorced now!). Always consider the source when listening to (especially with B&O) music. When auditing B&O I believe the only real high-end source they offer is the Beo5 digital system (in effect a music-server). If loaded with lossless FLAC files (never MP3) and played through Beolab5 speakers that have been room corrected (by pushing the button at their top - they self adjust given 25 seconds to do their thing), I believe you WILL hear how music was ever supposed to sound... B&O use their silly proprietary connectors too. And to escape the B&O universe to offer another source of your choice, you need to connect them with a home-made connector. The wiring is not that difficult. You may find the diagrams here. If in doupt - ask Peter Pan there. He is a wizard for doing magic with interconnects for B&O. http://www.hifi4all....63&KW=peter pan Wayneker - If your friend with his Beolab5s did not room-correct or is playing through a B&O set with traditional CD-player (Ouverture, 9000, anything with a CD-player in the B&O range), of course his experiences with the speakers will be sub-par. B&O do not offer any high-end source other than their digital Beo5 and Beo9 (newer one). These speakers need the best material you can feed them, as do all thoroughbred speakers to lift you to sound-heaven. Mind you - another note on the Beolab5 is that it is active. You do not need to experiment with a lot of high-end amps to find a 'match-made-in-heaven'. It is already there. So in all honesty, when you compare the price of the Beolab5 to other speakers you should point out with which amp and add its price to the discussion. Otherwise you are comparing apples and pears, which is just part of the discussion. Then it just becomes religious talk between spinsters in my opinion. On another note I would like to adress the Car-Fi talk. I have an Audi with Bose-Sound system. And I am definitely not impressed. This system is not Hi-Fi in my opinion. Prior to this car I had another where I fitted Boston speakers to a nice Blaupunkt head-unit. Now this was close to the best Car-Fi I ever heard... Mind you I never heard B&O Car-Fi, but would suspect the sound to be almost as impressive as the Beolab5. B&O really knows room-correction. They have worked intensely with their room-tech for over 20 years. Just my 2-cents - Cheers
Posted January 25 2012 - 05:27 AM
Darren, from my experieince, it also depends on what one is connecting the speakers to and what they are listening to and in what room environment, Meridian DLP based home theater systems are designed to work well with both home theater and music applications and since they go for uncolored sound they do it better for both applications, They are also the only company that deigns most of the systems. They have technology wich no one else has that lends itself to uncolored sound, Apodising filter to remove pre ringing is amazing for playing CDs, digital crossovers to remove crossover distortion and to make a more efficient speaker system, triple buffering and re-clocking to remove jitter, digital Pre amps to remove Pre amp distortion, high quality power amps mostly class a, but some class D on the M6, also for the M6 and the M80, they use a sonically dead barium loaded composite to remove cabinet resonance or they use MDF/aluminum and bracing to remove cabinet resonances. meridian doesn't have a lot of problems that the analog systems have to deal with, meridian also has some proprietary algorithms. MBL makes some very nice systems as do most high end audiophile companies, but no one really does the complete package except for Meridian, I believe they are the company to watch and they always get stellar reviews by anyone that reviews them. B&O just doesn't have all of the audiophiles backing them up, they focus more on esthetics and connecting with other B&O products for their "lifestyle" approach. Are they good speakers. Sure, but there are plenty of others that sound better.
Chill, people. Next week or a couple of years from now, someone may google Beolab 5 and end up here. If so, I hope they find my posts constructive.
Posted January 25 2012 - 09:45 PM
My friend has all the top of the line B&O gears right down to source, tv, and telephone. We have tried with top end cd players noth of $20000...... Trust me no matter what you said..... B&O is not audiophile grade! My friend auditioned my all Burmester set up and also usher be10 speakers. B&O just can't compete! That why you don't see any B&O reviews on any audiophile magazines. You only read about B&O stuffs in either home or design magazines. Even its own ads do not appear on audiophile magazines, website, and etc....., because B&O knows audiophiles will not ever consider its products. B&O playing in a party tent??.... Lol.... My Burmester B80 can be played at the decibel level of a fighter jet taking off without any distortion! Trust me..... For the amount of money..... B&O is just not worth it!...... It is a luxury product yes...... But it can't compete on performance..... And that's true of its speakers, sources, Or TV...... Just audition any of the following brand...... Burmester, usher, adam, B&W, Wilson audio, MBL, magico.... The only thing that B&O has advantages in is having proprietary connection.... It makes it simpler for mix and match purposes... It is less complicated...... But only and only due to the lack of choice..... The D-type amplification on its active speakers has so many flaws...... That it's not even worth going into.... The few companies who can successfully implement D-type amplification are rare in between, the better ones like Jeff Rowland.....is much much better than B&O!
Posted January 26 2012 - 06:14 AM
Here is what is also fringing on misleading which reputable companies simply won't do. First off, several reviews have mentioned that the lens technology is actually patented by another company by the name of Sausalito Audio Works who did work with B&O and did iicense the technology to B&O, but B&O's web site mentions that it is THEIR patented technology and SAW is not mentioned. The same thing applies to the amplification since the Class D amps built for B&O by another company called ICE Power, which I have heard is either owned by B&O or B&O has a large stake in the company. the other aspect that is highy suspicious is that the B&O bass cabinet is made from plastic, which obviously is going to have resonances which is a no no in the audiophile world. Cabinets should be free of resonating as that impacts the sonic quantity of the system. B&O usually gets reviewed by magazines which seem more like magazines that review the lower end of the audiophile world and that I don't believe they have convinced enough audiophiles to be a serious contender for the Best Speaker in the World, or even at that price range and the reviewer might be maybe a little inexperienced in reviewing this class of speakers. meridian, as mentioned by others is deemed amongst the finest in high quality powered speakers which are are concerned with styling. usually traditional speaker cabinets typically have to be placed carefully for optimal sound, and I think it applies to every speaker manufacturer to some extent. B&O outlets typically have poor acoustic environments to evaluate a system carefully, unless you can accurately tell how a system sounds when the room has hardwood floors, walls of glass and bare sheetrock and limited amounts of furniture. It seems as though B&O is showcasing their products as works of art rather than serious audio equipment. And they don't connect to other brands of equipment. the level of quality they it in to their products in terms of typica product is for the most high quality and they have some very good designs from a artistic standpoint, but sonically, ai don't think they enough to garner best speaker catagory above others that have sound quality as their focus of attention.
Posted January 26 2012 - 06:20 AM
But B&O has a wall mountable sub woofer. that's gotta count as a audiophile sub woofer everyone should have. (tons of sarcasm)
Posted February 02 2013 - 12:42 PM
Not sure how this thread has gone on for this many years w/o anyone adding the pedigree of these speakers to the discussion. B&O may well have designed the bizarre looking enclosure but the acoustic lens that solves the directional issues at higher frequencies is licensed to them by its inventors (Sausalito Audio Works and David Moulton). I've sat in studio with one of the inventors and the first couple of prototypes. The imaging is amazing. Since I was there for "Golden Ears" audio training (which he created and teaches), we also had some pretty good measurement gear at our disposal so he could prove what we were hearing to us. I won't say if these are the best in the world or not but if the reservations are because they come from B&O, it may be worthwhile to know that the engineering isn't all their own.
Posted February 03 2013 - 05:52 AM
This thread is about the Beolab 5, not about B&O in general. I would largely agree that B&O frequently offer style over substance for the true audiophile, *but* I've heard the Beolab 5 now in half a dozen different rooms, and it is without doubt a world-class speaker. Personally, I use Apogee Duetta Signatures driven by a Krell KSA-50 mkII, so any active omni speaker is going to sound somewhat different, but the Beolab 5 is certainly capable of transporting you to the performance location, which to my mind is the whole point of hi-fi music reproduction. BTW, to my ears, Burmester gear is classic German boom and tizz - just adding a counterpoint! :-)
Posted February 07 2013 - 08:05 AM
No its just one of many speakers on the market. B&O has never offered anything good for the money.