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BeoLab 90 - My experience (Clipping?!)

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ari
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ari Posted: Sun, Jan 3 2016 1:08 PM

Hi all

So I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a pair of BL 90's at a dealer showroom which let me say, was nothing short of amazing. For background, I have a pair of BL5's.

I'm not quite familiar with the audiophile lingo, but let me just say that I could definitely sense the size of these speakers compared to the BL5's. The highs are crystal clear, with the lows earth-shaking but precise.

I am told at the moment the speakers are fixed in "Narrow" mode, delivering the audio to the sweet spot at a sort of 45 degree angle. So if you are out of that sweet spot, it is quite noticeable. Later this year the "Wide" mode will allow a 90 degree, along with the app to adjust the Beam Width etc. Probably not news to most of you here. I was slightly disappointed I couldn't "fully" test the speakers, but very happy I had to chance to hear them in person.

I went prepared, took some FLAC audio files of my own and the dealer was kind enough to let me play them through the speakers which sounded great and really let me get a feel for the speakers other than the standard demo FLAC files provided to the few lucky dealers who have a pair of the BL90's on their show room.

Anyway the main point of discussion here is something I noticed while listening to the BL90's. While I was listening to one of Adele's track, I believe it was "Hello" if memory serves me right which I'm sure all of you here are familiar with, I asked how loud they have pushed the speakers. The volume which was at around 75 at the time, and was then put on max after a "watch this" moment (which showed volume 90 on the Avant interestingly enough). The speakers proceeded to loudly "clip" (I think at around 1:07 on the track when things start becoming a bit more dramatic) much to the cringe and surprise of myself and the dealer who didn't expect it and promptly turned it down to around 82 or so where the clipping stopped.I say "clip" because I'm not sure if this is the correct term? The subwoofer started making a banging sound as it does when you overpower a sub.

So just thought I would share my experience here for discussion, and maybe the B&O powers can shed some light on the situation because I am genuinely intrigued.

I'm not sure on the accuracy of this - But I was told a new "powered" powerlink cable was coming which might improve things? The speakers were currently connected over Wireless if that makes a difference to the sound?

A few things came to mind:

- Was it normal for the speakers to clip?

- Perhaps it was the way the track was mastered?

- I'm not sure how the speakers were setup (EQ etc). I did note they were on the MUSIC setting on the Avant, but didn't dig deeper into the individual music settings. Perhaps something was altered there.

- Perhaps these are pre-release models? They are due to go on sale next month from what I was told

Thoughts? (In no way am I taking a dig at the speakers, I'm genuinely interested as to why it happened)

Thanks

Lee
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Lee replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 1:20 PM

The latest Adele album has been overly compressed and poorly mastered, It sounds like garbage as soon as things get loud and complicated. 

The vinyl pressing is much better being less compressed but it is still not great. 

ari
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ari replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 1:32 PM

Lee:

The latest Adele album has been overly compressed and poorly mastered, It sounds like garbage as soon as things get loud and complicated. 

The vinyl pressing is much better being less compressed but it is still not great. 

Seems you are right. Just came across this interesting link - http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/99200

"Hello" gets a dynamic range of "4" (and 5 on this link) which is quite terrible and down there with some of the worst tracks in terms of dynamic range.

So it seems that, more than ever, these B&O speakers demand quality input, and not just in terms of bit-rates!

Lee
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Lee replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 1:35 PM

The vinyl is much better.... http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/99216

 

ari
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ari replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 1:37 PM

Lee:

The vinyl is much better.... http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/99216

And so I saw! Interesting indeed! Would love to compare the two versions on these speakers side-by-side :)

koning
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koning replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 1:48 PM

The eu vinyl pressing 24/96 is amazing!

If someone is interested i could make a Megafile

Killyp
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Killyp replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 2:17 PM

Yes the mainstream Adele master is sounding pretty poor to my ears, very heavily compressed and limited with little dynamics.

In fact Spotify is reducing the level by 4.1 dB to make it more even with other music.

An album I worked on which was released earlier this year was held back because of a debate over whether it's loud/compressed enough. Turns out it actually sounds slightly louder than the Adele record and isn't having it's level reduced at all. Listening on Laptop speakers!

Go figure. The music world is full of idiocy at the moment.

 

But enjoy listening to this music on your £27k speakers Stick out tongue

AnalogPlanet
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It is beyond me how Adele can have her 2015 recording being poory mastered, I mean then WHO gets their recordings done properly if not the A-listers? Crazy.

Then coming back to the original topic: sounds like for people who mostly want to listen streamed files Beolabs 18 plus a sub (potentially) is actually top of the line.

riverstyx
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Hi Ari,

There was a firmware update for the BL90's released to Dealers a few days before Christmas which added the option of wide beam mode, as well as providing a number of other fixes / tweaks. I believe the speakers are still running in limited power mode at the moment, but there was something about improvements to  bass response listed as one of the changed in the new firmware (I can't remember the exact details or all the other things listed as I just took a quick look at the list of changes on screen at my local store).

I had a whole afternoon listening to the 90s before this update was released, and then a further half an hour or so of listening a few days later after the update (mainly spent switching between wide and narrow whilst moving around the speakers and listening in different positions). I posted some thoughts after both sessions in this thread: http://forum.beoworld.org/forums/t/17544.aspx

I didn't notice any major differences in sound in narrow mode between before and after the update, but then I also hadn't encountered the phenomenon you have described, so I don't know whether this is something that has been identified and fixed. I can imagine though that this might be a result of the speakers running in 'restricted/limited power mode'.

It's a shame your store were unaware of the update (or just haven't got around to installing it yet) as I would have been very interested to hear your thoughts on the wide beam mode in comparison to the BL5s you own.

There's a definite reduction in the depth of the stereo field when you are in the sweet spot and switch from narrow beam to wide beam mode (as would be expected as this is the whole point of the narrow beam mode). At the same time there is also a much improved sound once you've left the sweet spot (again, as expected).

Geoff (or one of the dealers with access to the changelog) might be able to post a more complete list of the changes made and new features now available in the new firmware release.

Kind Regards,

Martin.

ari
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ari replied on Sun, Jan 3 2016 6:15 PM

Thanks riverstyx and everyone else for your input. Interesting, and I will be going back to the dealer later this month and will enquire about the firmware update and share with them our discussion here. Will also share any feedback of the wide mode :) Looking forward to it.


Of course! I think we would all love Geoff to pay a visit to the thread Smile

Thanks all

riverstyx
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ari:
Of course! I think we would all love Geoff to pay a visit to the thread Smile

He's probably busy packing for his trip to Las Vegas Wink

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