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BeoLab 90 - The BeoWorld Review...

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Hiort
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Hiort replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 7:56 AM

Such an impressive review. Thanks Lee. 

My dealer in Stockholm have announced that they will have a pair of Beolab 90 in the shop from December 10. Can´t wait to hear them. Stick out tongue

(it´s the only B&O shop in Stockholm that will have the Lab 90)

Anyone will join? Smile

 

 

 

 

Livingroom: BL3, BL11, BV11-46 Kitchen: Beosound 1 GVA, Beocom 2 Bathroom: M3 Homeoffice: M3, Beocom 2  Library: Beosound Emerge, Beocom 6000 Bedroom: M5, Essence remote  Travel: Beoplay E8 2.0, Beoplay EQ, Beoplay Earset

badgersurf
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A great review Lee, am very jealous that you got to hear them. I have a feeling that this thread is about as close to speakers as I will get as non of the dealers near me are getting a pair in.

 

9 LEE
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9 LEE replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 9:17 AM

Millemissen:
Who were present apart from you (you lucky guy)? - if you are allowed to answer?

I was with a lovely group of people from North America (Canada and USA)!  There were around 14 of us in total - some store owners, one or two looking to own a franchise, and a few people from the US Office in Illinois. 

Lee

Smile

 

jans
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jans replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 12:03 PM
Lee

Excellent review!

Out of curiosity, which sources were used to drive the Lab90's?

Cheers

Jan
BeoGreg
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BeoGreg replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 12:27 PM
Fantastic Lee a big thank you.

We could all start saving and get one pair for the forum.

First week for me, I had the idea (and I have a car with huge boot) !
TWG
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TWG replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 1:01 PM

Lee, well done!

Thank you for your report and for sharing it with us! I'm a little bit jealous Big Smile

I wish B&O all the best, too. I hope they have success with this audiophile work of art!

Peter
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Peter replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 2:18 PM

Geoff Martin:

Peter:
Did you ask why ALT seems to have been abandoned?

Hi Peter,

The ALT was not used in the BeoLab 90 because one of the main ideas was to have a selectable beam width (a.k.a. "directivity").

Whilst the BL90 solution can deliver a directivity similar to that of an ALT (in "wide" mode), an ALT cannot deliver the "narrow" beam width or a variable directivity as in the BL90.

Cheers

-geoff 

 

Extremely satisfactory answer! Thank you for taking the time - I look forward to listening to a pair one day!

Peter

9 LEE
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9 LEE replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 3:20 PM

jans:
Lee

Out of curiosity, which sources were used to drive the Lab90's?

Ermm.. Geoff Martin's MacBook Pro, feeding what looked like a TEAC 501 DAC, with another little black box which had a volume knob on the far right hand side.

I should have asked!  Sorry, I failed there Sad

Lee

Evan
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Evan replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 3:50 PM

Lee - excellent and thorough write up as always! Thank you for doing this.

 

9 LEE:

Here’s a close-up of the front of one of the Scan-Speak midrange drivers.  I did question Geoff Martin wether that was just a logo or it had some kind of effect on the driver but he wasn’t sure. What he did say though was that this design was exactly the same on the rear of the driver, but offset perfectly. This to me means it was deliberate, but if Geoff couldn’t see an obvious reason I’m not even going to start guessing.

 

I was handed, in the listening room, one of these drivers. I’m no expert but I can tell you the quality was Rolls-Royce like. Geoff drew me a detailed diagram and gave me a full explanation of just how good these drivers were, and why. I’d love to hand you one right now to inspect, like Geoff kindly did for me - but all I can do is assure you that after seeing many drivers in my life, this one was a work of art!

The embossing is likely a local stiffness adder... Something that would be the result of  a single level topographical optimization determined to reduce the displacement of the cone in a certain modal response. The goal here is to alter the vibration characteristics without simply adding more material (read weight) to change the stiffness.

A condition similar to mode #5 probably, although it will affect all vibratory modes in some way.

 

Beo4 'til I die!

Evan
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Evan replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 3:53 PM

9 LEE:

And the final fact....

BeoLab 90 wasn't created to replace the BeoLab 5, nor was it created to simply better it.  BeoLab 90 was a project, right from the very beginning, to start completely from scratch and build the worlds best Loudspeaker. Nothing more, nothing less.

This is the greatest thing I have read in a long time. This is an engineer's dream. 'Projects' like the BeoLab 90 are the ultimate expression of an engineer's passion.

Beo4 'til I die!

jans
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jans replied on Tue, Nov 17 2015 5:05 PM
9 LEE:

Ermm.. Geoff Martin's MacBook Pro, feeding what look like a TEAC 501 DAC, with another little black box which had a volume knob on the far right hand side.

I should have asked! Sorry, I failed there

Lee

Absolutely no failure! This is one of the best reviews I've read on the Forum!

Thanks a lot!
h1npw
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h1npw replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 5:53 AM

I wonder what the Beolab 100 will sound and look like in ten years time! 

Great work Lee! Think you should start a raffle for a pair of 90s! £100 a ticket? 

Cheers

Nigel

Barry Santini
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Just went to the US premier intro and celebration in NYC last nite. Spent quite a bit if time talking with an old friend, Dave Zapfel, who is now the longest lived employee at BnO of USA at 30 years ! ( Saw his pin!). Lots of people. Venue was not the most ideal for audio demonstrations because their are endless amounts of hard surfaces. But...very impressive. The demo was set only to narrow beam, for maximum spatial enhancement of source voice and instruments. Speakers are quite beautiful in person.

WANT!
Frederic
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Frederic replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 1:42 PM

Hey Lee,

 

Great review, really anxious to hear them (scheduled for December 3rd).

Question: where was the venue? By accident was it Norre Vosborg in Vemb? We stayed there for three nights at Easter when visiting Struer, really loved it, the restaurant as well.

JC
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JC replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 2:37 PM

Superb mate, well done!!!!!

 

 

Jonnie

9 LEE
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Frederic:
Question: where was the venue? By accident was it Norre Vosborg in Vemb?

It was indeed!  The food there was incredible and the location is about as remote and peaceful as you'l find!

Bang & Olufsen hold a lot of events there apparently but it's the first time I've been.

Here's a LINK for anyone who want's to see the hotel. Yes - thumbs up

Lee


9 LEE
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9 LEE replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 4:58 PM

I'd be interested to see reviews from those lucky enough to hear the BeoLab 90's yesterday evening!

Lee

Frederic
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Frederic replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 5:01 PM

I thought I recognised the setting. Glad you liked it, a place to recommend indeed.

One of the b&o family member ( I don't remember who) was also in the board of directors of the trust which manages Norre vosborg. When visiting Struer it is the only upscale hotel in the region. We stayed in one of the suites which are located in the separate building when entering Norre on your left. An extraordinary place , a must also,the hiking on the domain is superb.

When we did our road trip we carefully selected only hotels having B&O (hotel Oasis in Aarhus and hotel Koldingfjord in Kolding), but Norre Vosborg was the best.

9 LEE
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9 LEE replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 5:44 PM

Frederic:
One of the b&o family member ( I don't remember who) was also in the board of directors of the trust which manages Norre vosborg.

It was Peter Skak Olufsen, an absolutely lovely man who sadly passed away in 2013.  His Son, Mads, runs the B&O Luxembourg store.

Part of our tour to see the BeoLab 90's was a trip to the house at Quistrup where I met Peter in 2012.  This time I had another chat with his lovely wife Susanne, who is a charming hostess and always happy to welcome guests of Bang & Olufsen into her home and re-tell the history and stories of the company and the people.  We visited Quistrup with the last BeoWorld visit!

Lee

Sal
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Sal replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 7:01 PM

Barry Santini:
Just went to the US premier intro and celebration in NYC last nite. Spent quite a bit if time talking with an old friend, Dave Zapfel, who is now the longest lived employee at BnO of USA at 30 years ! ( Saw his pin!). Lots of people. Venue was not the most ideal for audio demonstrations because their are endless amounts of hard surfaces. But...very impressive. The demo was set only to narrow beam, for maximum spatial enhancement of source voice and instruments. Speakers are quite beautiful in person.

WANT!

Does anyone know if there's a list of stores in the US which will carry a pair for demo purposes? I'm definitely not in the league to purchase them, but I'd love to see and hear them in the flesh. I hope dealers won't be put off with casual visitors who want to hear them with no intention of purchasing.

 

Frederic
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Frederic replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 7:11 PM

9 LEE:

Frederic:
One of the b&o family member ( I don't remember who) was also in the board of directors of the trust which manages Norre vosborg.

It was Peter Skak Olufsen, an absolutely lovely man who sadly passed away in 2013.  His Son, Mads, runs the B&O Luxembourg store.

Lee

Yes that's right. I met Mads a couple of times in a previous professional life. It is uncanny how much he resembles his grandfather.

And you're right Jette is great, she gave us (my wife and our 4 year old daughter) the tour in April. The Cube was unavailable atvthe time. We know why now 😜

 

Chris Townsend
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Massively impressive, and to an amateur like me like nothing I have ever heard. I only had limited time at the demo, and because people couldn't get to see them, they started talking amongst themselves and then left. So I never really got to see them up close.

After all the crap B&O gets off the usual audiophile critics, these will truly put the cat amongst the pigeons.

World classYes - thumbs up

Beosound Stage, Beovision 8-40, Beolit 20, Beosound Explore.

jvezina
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jvezina replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 7:56 PM

Good afternoon,

I went to the demo yesterday night at Montreal, Canada. Clearly the best speakers I have heard in my life. Perfect soundstage reproduction! They were also set in "narrow" mode.

Congrats to Geoff and his team! 

Best regards,

Jean

 

Opman
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Opman replied on Wed, Nov 18 2015 10:35 PM

Sal:

Barry Santini:
Just went to the US premier intro and celebration in NYC last nite. Spent quite a bit if time talking with an old friend, Dave Zapfel, who is now the longest lived employee at BnO of USA at 30 years ! ( Saw his pin!). Lots of people. Venue was not the most ideal for audio demonstrations because their are endless amounts of hard surfaces. But...very impressive. The demo was set only to narrow beam, for maximum spatial enhancement of source voice and instruments. Speakers are quite beautiful in person.

WANT!

Does anyone know if there's a list of stores in the US which will carry a pair for demo purposes? I'm definitely not in the league to purchase them, but I'd love to see and hear them in the flesh. I hope dealers won't be put off with casual visitors who want to hear them with no intention of purchasing.

 

I believe there are only six pairs in the UK currently. We are very pleased have have a pair in our showroom in Wilmslow, Cheshire. If anybody would like to arrange a personal demonstration please feel free to contact me on 01625 527666 or email: nick.wilmslow@bang-olufsen.co.uk

I know that the question was aimed at the US dealers but thought it would be worth pointing out if you live this side of the pond ;-)

Regards

Opman

 

 

John
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John replied on Thu, Nov 19 2015 9:57 AM

Lee; thank you so much for taking the time for such a thoughtful and comprehensive review, along with the photos and YouTube videos clips etc it is VERY much appreciated.. :-)

Donning my classical musician hat, (and discarding my audiophile one), that the Beolab 90's have been a project aimed at building the best loudspeaker in the world does not surprise me, given the technical specifications and design brief re the variable directivity etc, and of course the quality of components and design.

I am but a junior member of the B&O family with my Lab 9's, V1-40 etc - but having spent decades in the 'audiophile' club with other brands, going around in ever decreasing circles it seemed at times in pursuit of the 'perfect' sound, I am just so immensely PROUD of B&O as a company for bringing out such an amazing, and engineering lead product to market.

It also instills in me a sense of renewed pride in the modest B&O kit I own, - far and away the best performing and most satisfying HiFi kit I've ever owned, after 40 + years of being involved in this 'hobby'.

I would offer my sincerest congratulations to Geoff Martin and the whole development team on what appears to be an utterly superb loudspeaker, and one that will set the standards for others to follow.

When a pair arrives in Australia, I will be queuing up for an in-depth listen.

Thank you again for a brilliant review Lee.

Kind regards

 

John... Cool

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 LEE:

Also in the shot is a great guy I met from Canada called Jimmy, who slams trunks!

Ole' Jimmy the trunk slammer! Big Smile King of the one-liners!! Stick out tongue

Ah, you know... A little B&O here, a little there 

Geoff Martin
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jans:
Out of curiosity, which sources were used to drive the Lab90's?

Hi Jan,

In the listening room, because I'm working with early prototype hardware (but the "reference" for the electromechanical and acoustics) I'm doing a large portion of the processing externally. So, I do demos using the XLR inputs of the BL90's with a balanced outputs from my Mac's "sound card".

The sources that feed my Mac are quite varied. I have a Beogram 4500, a Cambridge Blu-ray/SACD/DVD-Audio player, a Sony Professional CD player from the late Jurassic period, an Auralic Aries (used for playing high-res files and Tidal streaming), and I am able to play PCM files directly from my Mac's hard drive. The connection from the Aries and the Sony CD player to the Mac are through the Teac DSD-capable DAC that Lee mentioned. For most of my daily work, I'm using SACD's and PCM audio files on the Mac's internal drive. For demos, I typically use Tidal on the Aries so I can take requests.

The reason for all of this (non-B&O) gear centres around the fact that a lot of the signal processing that I'm using for "my" loudspeakers is done outside the loudspeakers themselves. This is because my job is in development, not customer-like testing.

Cheers

-geoff

 

Millemissen
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Thanks.

I was curious too.

The demo, that I heard was feed from the Avant media player (a mix of video and audio files) and from the Spotify account - using the PowerLink connection to the master speaker.

This might be enough to demo the 90'ies for larger audience - in order to get an impression of the speakers as they are now.

I was impressed ---- when sitting in the sweet spot listening with a few others after the general demoing.

Very promising.

MM

 

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

Barry Santini
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The NYC demo was fed FLAC files from an Oppo Bluray player. I was initially let down to discover that these were inly CD-spec (44.1k/16 bit), but then I thought it was a more appropriate apples-to-apples comparison

Impressive nonetheless
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I don't like the design of the Beolab 90. OK, it may sound great but I definitely would not want to have these installed in my living, even if they pay me for it. I found these speakers the ugliest I have ever seen. The design is simply atrocious. I keep my BL 8000, 6000 and 17 instead. If I had the money, I would buy the Beolab 5, but certatinly not the Beolab 90. I think Bang&Olufsen is taking the wrong way with these speakers. I doubt they will sell many of them... Sad

9 LEE
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9 LEE replied on Sat, Nov 21 2015 10:23 AM

Hey, we're all entitled to our own opinions. 

I assume you've seen them in real life and listened to them?

On the 'doubt they will sell many' - B&O know that!  They're an insanely expensive speaker and will appeal only to the wealthy and wealthy audiophiles. They designed it to be the best sounding loudspeaker in the world - and it's certainly the best I've heard in my lifetime.

I think the BeoLab 90 looks like nothing else. Completely unique. However, when you make such a bold design statement you always risk some people not liking it. If they came up with a plain wooden box we'd all be moaning!

We're all different though, and if we all had the same taste life would be pretty boring.

Lee

Smile

 

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I bet they've all sold many times over, the truth be told.

I had a fairly alternative liking girlfriend once. My friends often raised their eyebrows at my cosmetic choice. What they didn't know she was an amazing cook, and fantastic in bed. With and without her best friendYes - thumbs up

Her looks I got used to......

Beosound Stage, Beovision 8-40, Beolit 20, Beosound Explore.

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Pushkin replied on Sat, Nov 21 2015 12:09 PM
I think they will sell well. I though they looked odd when I first saw the pictures. But after 25 mins with them in Harrods yesterday the quality of craftsmanship but above all the sound - the best speakers I have ever heard - blew me away. I walked in just curious - I left knowing I need to find a way of owning a pair. Just amazing and great for the B&O brand.
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jans replied on Sat, Nov 21 2015 12:49 PM
Geoff

Thanks for taking the time to give us this insights.

Nice to see that some of the gear is somewhat older equipment!

Jan
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Bv7Mk3 replied on Sun, Nov 22 2015 11:40 AM
Fab review Lee and a Very interesting read about the lab 90.

Great Pic's also.
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riverstyx replied on Wed, Nov 25 2015 2:53 AM

Pushkin:
I think they will sell well. I though they looked odd when I first saw the pictures. But after 25 mins with them in Harrods yesterday the quality of craftsmanship but above all the sound - the best speakers I have ever heard - blew me away. I walked in just curious - I left knowing I need to find a way of owning a pair. Just amazing and great for the B&O brand.

I travelled to Oxford St, London today for work. Whilst my local store will be receiving a pair of BL90s in December, I just couldn't miss the opportunity to see them sooner so I made sure I allowed a little extra time to pop across the road to Selfridges to view them in person.

Like Pushkin, I was a little unsure from the photos what my feelings were about the design, but was determined to reserve judgement until I had seen them with my own eyes. All I can say having now done so is that the pictures do not do the design justice, or even come close to doing so. There is no disguising the fact that these are *big* speakers, but the design is stunning and I applaud B&O for being as bold with the physical design as they have been with the technology under the covers.

I wasn't in the store for more than a few minutes before I was approached and offered a demonstration. The corner of a large and noisy department store is hardly the best environment to demo a pair of speakers, but nevertheless, wow.

In one sense I feel I could end my post here as 'wow' is probably as close to describing the experience as I can put into words. The speakers might be large, but the sound is even bigger - these speakers pack some serious punch. The mids and highs are beautiful; accurate but never shrill, harsh or overly clinical. The bass though is seriously out of this world - not in an overly bass heavy sense, but just insanely accurate and precise. We're used to hearing the high end without excessive reflections but I can honestly say I've not heard low frequencies reproduced like this outside of a studio. I'm seriously impressed.

Martin.

 

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elephant replied on Wed, Nov 25 2015 9:52 AM
On my way back from the Melbourne launch party ... I can't promise a sensible review - however I will publish some pictures !

And yes, they sound spectacular !

BeoNut since '75

9 LEE
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9 LEE replied on Wed, Nov 25 2015 10:42 AM

elephant:
I can't promise a sensible review...

Neither could I so I wouldn't worry! Laughing

I found it very hard to put into words. All I could thing of was 'real' and 'immersive'

Looking forward to you putting fingers to keyboard and reading what you think!  Smile

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Luc replied on Fri, Nov 27 2015 10:13 AM

Just came back from Struer as one of the happy winner of the 90 year love affair conquest. 

We heared de the lab90 . They're just fantastic. 9Lee did a perfect description and I have nothing more to say except: if you can, go listen to them. Even if they 're out of your price tag, it will a wonderful time.

Luc
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Luc replied on Fri, Nov 27 2015 10:14 AM

About the design. I ddidn't like them at all on picture but in real it's something else. They're so much nicer. You need the 3d vision to have a real feeling and understanding of their design

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