What B&O say this about their speaker: "If your ultimate passion is to get as close to the music of your favourite artists as possible, the new BeoLab 5 will take you there. Conceived, designed and built by Bang & Olufsen, BeoLab 5 is our latest loudspeaker concept developed for everyone with a passion for listening and living with the ultimate in audio and video entertainment."http://www.bang-olufsen.com/sw2212.asp
I was lucky enough to hear Bang and Olufsen's new flagship speaker today (it carries a rrp in Australia of 30k.)
My reference is quiet high - the WAR Audio Reference Ones (8k) And my own system which is 5k worth of DIY Vifa gear running on a home made class a/b 510w amp and a Shiva DIY sub.
Let me start by saying these speakers are smaller than I was expecting about 1.2metres high and although I’m not sure I like the look, they certainly look well made.
They use an interesting design that I won’t go into here as there is plenty of information elsewhere about the reflective lens idea they incorporate.
The speakers are powered by ice power digital amps, one for each speaker driver. This is an active system which also has its own room corrections to optimise its placement in the room.
The disc that was played was one that the speakers come with to 'demo them' so I expect it was designed to show them off... the room they were in was very echoey and untreated which was apparent just from talking to the sales guy. It was only 4x 6 meters type of size although they are advertised to overcome room effects so I thought that might prove interesting.
The first thing I noticed was that for such a small room there was no boom to the sound. The adjustments the speakers made to themselves certainly worked well - the bass provided by the 15" and the 7.5" was quite nice overall ... certainly well balanced with the rest of the speaker. But only nice it was not outstanding by any measure - not compared with the 10" Cabass of the reference ones and not compared to my Shiva 12" subwoofer at home. Although with the room taken into consideration it WAS amazing, but I believe room treatment to be part of a stereo and would never consider using any speaker in an untreated room – but obviously a lot of people do and hence this self correcting design has come about.
The mid range was good - certainly not up there with the reference ones Thiel & Partner ceramic mid range but not far off in terms of transparency, although it was lacking in detail.
The high end was not so good. It almost felt like they were not quite getting to 20khz (I can personally hear to 21khz) though it could be because I’m used to my Vifa metal dome which hits as high as 35khz and the ravens on the reference one which hit 40khz. Both were far sweeter than the 19mm soft dome that is actually reflected (quite probably the problem).
Overall presentation was good which was especially impressive for the room it was in and it all blended together really well - the only thing that stuck out was the sub par tweeter. Maybe it was the room reflections causing the lack of detail but the reflected tweeter is not up to par. Perhaps the target audience is too old to notice.
These speakers certainly are not bad and don’t do anything too wrong they just don’t do it how 30k worth of gear should do! When you consider the cost, they are not so great. You can get better for almost 10 times less the price. They probably won’t be as cool. If you have a problem room they certainly will be better than most setups at overcoming this but nothing a feedback destroyer can’t fix for $300 in any other system.
Just as Bose has proved in the past sound quality comes second to hype and looks in the speaker world all too often.
I give them a score of 55% without taking the cost into account.
Perhaps idealy setup they would score better but you would think they would have an ideal setup in the b&o show room for them!