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Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

B&O impresses again with a compact and impressive small design speaker.

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Over the course of their very long history - they're approaching 100 years - B&O has moved from being an innovative electronics manufacturer to more of a design company, which is evident in the latest series of speakers they've launched. Beolab 8 is no exception. It comes in a classic and subtle industrial design in wood and aluminium, and even the most tasteless will find it hard not to be impressed by the aesthetics of the product. It is designed to be used both in a surround system and, with its discreet base, to function as stereo speakers.

There are probably more cynical readers who think it's a waste of time to dwell so much on aesthetics, but Bang & Olufsen realised early on that even with a digital transition where music is connected via Bluetooth from a smartphone, or via a simplified home theatre solution without the same need for calibration and expert knowledge, aesthetics and designing products that people would want to look at and own was critical. And all indications are that they're right, and you can feel it from the moment you unbox the Beolab 8.

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

They come in sets of two and are meant to create rich stereo, but you can also easily buy one completely separately. The advantage, however, is that even if you start with just one, it's the beginning of what can be an excellent stereo setup, whether it's "just" playing music in the home or as part of a home theatre setup, and their feet allow for more versatile placement. In more practical terms, we find a 0.6" tweeter behind the magnificent wooden slats, a 3" midrange unit and a 5¼" woofer, and for the latter there's a 200W dedicated amplifier. Together these deliver 28Hz at 90dB in a 60 square metre room - not bad.

1 x 50W Class D for Tweeter, 1 X 50W Class D for mid-range and 1 X 200W Class D for woofer.

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Sonically, it delivers a surprising amount of punch. In terms of wireless design sound, the midrange clarity and Mozart's 24-bit resolution platform impresses. Despite a few criticisms of the "bass", it still remains nuanced and doesn't drown out or intrude in any way in the midrange. The sound is generally quite direct and very clear with detail. The treble remains crisp and transparent, but unfortunately, it's very drowned out at high volumes - something a DSP update should be able to fix. The stereo image is stable, with good timing and, not least, surprising dynamics in the midrange. Perhaps most importantly, the sound profile is coherent.

There's in-built room correction and "a neodymium motor drives the sound home" - I assume they mean that the bass and midrange units use neodymium magnets in their motor design, but I'm not entirely sure. What they can do with DSP, however, is switch between two fairly distinct, and useful, modes. You can switch between a "narrow" and a "wide" soundstage, and the former uses B&O's own "ultrawideband technology" through a smartphone to help the system locate the exact focal point.

Everything is controlled via B&O's own Mozart platform, which works via WIFI 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 - a great choice, and can be controlled via an app and via the glass top plate on the speakers, which has always been a nice touch from B&O. The speaker's cabinet is made from a single piece of aluminium. The Beolab 8 also has the classic Powerlink built in, which goes back to my childhood, as well as Wireless Powerlink, which makes it compatible with so many things, especially since it is modular and therefore upgradeable, at least in theory - something B&O is working hard to make an extremely integral part of their brand, and which we will bring you more on soon.

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8
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We think it's a bit of a moot point to talk price, since everyone knows that B&O is a luxury brand and has never claimed to sell consumer electronics that are marketed on value. We respect their position, but let's get it out of the way anyway. £4,400 with fabric front and £5,400 for our model with gold finish and wooden slats. This is the price with the small table stand; if you want a floor stand or wall mount, the price goes up a little higher too. That's a lot of money. Is the Beolab 8 worth the money? Well, we won't really comment on that, as value is individual. Furthermore, you can probably get a pair of audiophile speakers that may on paper perform a more dynamic sound image, but to be honest? It's not quite the same target audience, nor the same design philosophy, focus area or build quality.

Buy it if you love a direct but coherent sound, you don't play it too loud, and if wireless functionality and design are hugely important to you. Chances are you already have B&O products if you're considering the Beolab 8, and you've probably already made your decision, regardless of price and alternatives. We found it hard not to love the Beolab 8 and fell in love with the set, despite a few minor quibbles.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
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Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

HARDWARE. Written by Petter Hegevall

Over £4000 for a pair of Danish Bluetooth speakers... Well I thank you! Petter has spent a week with Beolab 8



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