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Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

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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More than £2000 each for Bluetooth speakers is of course completely absurd, haha. £4000 for a stereo pair means that this is by far the most expensive Bluetooth speakers we have ever tested here at Gamereactor in the 23 years we have existed and I realise of course that very few of you reading could even imagine spending so much on Bluetooth speakers and it is of course questionable why we even spent time testing Beolab 8, which is largely a matter of curiosity on our part. Bang & Olufsen sent us a pair in that incredibly fancy brass colour (with the wooden grilles) and for the past week I've been letting them brighten up my work life here in the office, pretty much day in and day out.

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

The Beolab 8 measures 30 centimetres in height when screwed onto the supplied stands (which, to be honest, are quite fiddly to screw into place) and inside we find three drivers. There's a 133 millimetre bass driver (200 watts), a 76 millimetre midrange and a small soft-dome tweeter measuring a measly 15 millimetres. Inside these is a DAC chip with full support for 24-bit and 192kHz and you connect your (or "your") Beolab 8 to your phone with Bang & Olufsen's extremely smooth and above all stylish app. For me, it took maybe two minutes, at most, to sync both speakers to the iPhone app and make sure they play the music in stereo rather than dual mono speakers and then feed them with high-resolution audio via Apple Music, via Wifi. Smooth, as it should be. Beolab 8 also houses a really nice radio receiver and the B&O Radio function, which can be accessed via a quick button press on the top of the speaker. There is also support for Bluetooth 5.3, Apple Airplay 2, Chromecast Play and full support for Spotify and Tidal.

In terms of design, it is of course easy to like the Beolab 8, just as it has been very easy to like all of Bang & Olufsen's other audio products over the past 30+ years. These Danes are and always have been absolutely phenomenal at design and these speakers may very well be some of the most beautiful they've made. Sure, there's absolutely an argument to be made that they look like a cross between a flower vase and an air filter, but that kind of association can be made with any kind of industrial design, anywhere, and doesn't diminish the sense of luxury, thought and attention to detail that these speakers convey.

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8
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What about the sound? The sound quality is of course good considering the slightly hysterical price and it is immediately audible that this is "expensive", for anyone who has been involved in hifi and spent expensive money on various speakers, passive and active. The soundstage is big, the stereo separation feels wide, it fills even a larger room very effectively and there's a presence here that no other Bluetooth speaker I've tested can match. The timing and therefore control is also absolutely fantastic. I have really been struck by how well the Beolab 8 controls time and rhythm and thus listened to an incredible amount of drum-focused music where my favourite drummers such as Copeland, Bonham, Portnoy and Carey crushes the cheeks of the keg. It's usually very hard to sit still when the Beolab 8 is working precisely because of the flawless, amazing timing and this means that the easiest way to describe its sound is 'maximum swing', rather than anything else. It swings. So into the bomb.

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8

That said, and as with other hi-fi speakers that are also well known for their great timing (Kef, Linn, etc.), I think there are some minor issues with tonality. The midrange here sounds a bit limited, as if the middle frequencies have been encapsulated and limited, which means that some music lacks that airiness that a really good hifi speaker almost has to master. For £4000, it should not be possible, in my world and even if we can never get everything in a speaker and even if this is highly subjective, I would probably have expected a little more given the price tag.

Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8
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Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8
07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Incredibly cool design, very well built, incredible timing, easy to connect and control, musical
-
Too expensive, one-dimensional at higher volumes, midrange feels a bit muted
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's 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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