B&O BeoSound 8
Bang & Olufsen, www.bang-olufsen.com
Beautiful sound, design and build quality; very reasonable price for a B&O product
None – it’s gorgeous
Bang & Olufsen today launched its first speaker dock for iPods, iPhones and iPads, filling a hole in its lineup of premium AV products.
The BeoSound 8 – shaped like two front-facing cones connected by a bridge – has been priced at $1490, which makes it one of the 85-year-old Danish brand’s most affordable products.
B&O had one pre-production model in Australia a month ago, and invited Australian Macworld to write an exclusive review.
One night isn’t enough to get a true feel for a product, but the BeoSound 8’s wow-factor kicked in as it was lifted out of the box, and kicked up several notches when we docked an iPad and filled the room with wonderful sound.
From the front the system looks like two big coloured circles connected by a bar faced with anodised aluminium and rimmed in the same material. The rear cones and the bar itself are made of painted black plastic.
In the middle of the bar, and cut out of the metal, is a circular control panel with Volume Up and Down, and Skip Forward and Back buttons ranged at north, south, east and west, plus a central On/Off/Play/Pause button.
On top of the bar is the dock. A simple connector sticks up to take your iOS device, and a small padded stalk supports it from the rear. The pad can be wound in and out, so you can use your device without removing its case.
Other audio sources can be plugged in via the AUX line-in and USB ports – and the BeoSound 8 can be networked using Apple’s $149 Airport Express Base Station.
As usual with B&O products, the materials used and the build quality are of the highest standard.
The unit comes with black or white speaker covers as standard, but replacements – in yellow, green, purple or lavender blue – are available to buy at $75 a pair.
The speaker system naturally lies at about a 50 degree angle, with the speakers beaming their sound to the ceiling. But it also has two small metal legs which screw into the bottom rear of the cones, to lift the BeoSound 8 to a more horizontal position (something like 70 degrees). This is optional when using an iPod touch or iPhone, but is needed when docking an iPad, due to its added bulk and weight.
The unit can also be wall-mounted using the included brackets.
A small, round remote control of 6cm diameter completes the hardware. It exactly mirrors the BeoSound 8’s control panel, though on our review unit the centre button only served to turn the unit off. This might have been a pre-production glitch.
The unit can also be controlled by any other B&O remotes, including the Beo4 and Beo5, and B&O has updated its BeoLink iOS app to coincide with this launch.
The sound produced by the BeoSound 8, as I said before, is wonderful for its size. The lads at B&O reckon it equals the quality of their mid-priced products, which just shows how highly they rate it. It’s natural, crisp and clear, with great balance, pace and coherence.
For those interested in the specs, the unit has two Class D power amplifiers producing 70W/4 Ohm for the bass/midrange and 35W/4 Ohm for the treble. Effective frequency range is 38Hz to 20kHz.
I can always tell how good a system is by how much I want to listen to it. After writing the first draft of this review, I just sat and enjoyed the BeoSound 8 for a few hours while the world passed me by.
Put simply, it has the effortlessness of a thoroughbred and puts most, if not all, of its peers to shame. It’s the same price as the GenevaSound M (genevalab.com.au), and you’d have your work cut out deciding which was better. They’re so different in looks, though, that it would finally come down to aesthetics. I could live with either.
Australian Macworld’s buying advice
B&O seems to be quite a polarising brand. You either love its products because of their quality and design, or deride them for their high prices. Well, with the BeoSound 8’s reasonable price there’s now no reason not to love it. Sure, $1490 is still a lot of money for most of us, but it’s a good price for this beautiful system.
Bottom line? A one-night stand with the BeoSound 8 is nowhere near enough.