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Beolab speakers for live music?

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Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Steve at Sounds Heavenly Posted: Thu, Jan 12 2017 4:46 PM

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if there are any fellow musicians out there who use their Beolab speakers for making or recording music?  A couple of projects I have worked on for customers recently have got me wondering how popular this is among Beoworlders.

As a bit of background, I have made cables for Beolab speakers to be used in many unusual situations over the years, including karaoke bars, community cinemas and even an 11th century Royal castle!  However, as a keen musician, the really interesting setups are the ones where a customer is setting up a dedicated music room with microphones, a mixer and their B&O system.

I have a small music studio at home, using a Behringer Xenyx 302USB mixer with switchable outputs to Beolab Penta 3 and Beolab 3000 speakers, so that I can play and record keyboard, saxophone and vocals, then mix them on my PC.  Although the room is small (2.4 x 2.6m), it is well soundproofed and deadened for good acoustics.

I recently worked with B&O Merchant City to provide a Behringer Xenyx 502 5 channel mixer, Behringer XM8500 microphone and cables to connect to a pair of A9 speakers for a special event that they were planning outside their store.  However, we quickly found out that one A9 was more than powerful enough to fill their large courtyard area with music.  The event was a success, with superb singer/guitarist Lucia Fairfull (pictured below, sorry I can't get the image to display the right way up!) playing outside the store.

However, the latest project I was asked to assist with puts this into the shade; a customer asked for a Yamaha MG10XU 10 channel mixer and balanced XLR cables to connect to his Beolab 90 speakers for use with keyboards, guitars and vocals for live music sessions with friends.  I'm hoping for a chance to hear the system in use once the installation is complete!

So, what do you think; are Beolab speakers suitable for live sound?  Does anyone else use their B&O system for recording or playing their instruments?  What are your thoughts on the best B&O speakers for this purpose?

I am very interested to hear what you think......

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Founder of Sounds Heavenly Cables and Brand Ambassador for Bang & Olufsen

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

Sal
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Sal replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 5:16 PM

What a great question. I've often imagined what it would be like to use Beolab 5's and now Beolab 90's as speakers for live music. I'm curious if their design would allow for that use, but then again, the speakers themselves don't know what's being played or how. I lack the knowledge to offer anything concrete. That being said, I've been to plenty of Philip Glass Ensemble concerts with keyboards and amplified woodwinds, and they bring their own equipment. The Beolab 90's are simply svelte compared to the boxes and boxes of amps and speakers that they have to travel with, and they are certainly prettier, and I"m sure powerful enough to fill a medium (even largish) hall with plenty of sound, and clear to boot!

Placement might be an issue right? I mean the concert halls I've been to have the speakers raised high or placed at odd locations, maybe that's not an issue with the BL90s?

I'm looking forward to reading replies.

TWG
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TWG replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 5:20 PM

 

I think it depends on what you are doing. Beolab speakers are hifi speakers with a corresponding sound tuning.

Recording studios are using special/dedicated monitor speakers that are tuned to a flat / neutral frequency response as they have to reproduce the sounds 100% accurate and natural to allow a good mix down in the studio and to hear every "wrong" tone, every dominant or missing frequencies etc.
In a studio setup the Beolabs are clearly not at home or you just use them as typical secondary speakers to control the sound of your mix if it will sound appropriate on standard hifi speakers.

Using the Beolab 90 for "jamming" must be very funny, I guess! :)

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi TWG,

Yes, that is an interesting point.  I found that Pentas can give a very close match to Yamaha near-field monitor speakers once carefully tweaked and positioned within the room.  Beolab 5s work REALLY well as monitors, due to their linear frequency and phase response.  My Beolab 3000s give quite an uneven sound (although pleasing), so they are really just used as a comparison speaker.

Has anyone used any other speakers that work well?

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Founder of Sounds Heavenly Cables and Brand Ambassador for Bang & Olufsen

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 6:30 PM

Well, I've never used B&O speakers, but back in the day when I worked in a stereo store, we got tapped to do the sound system for the back room of the bar/restaurant across the street from our shop in a tony end of town. The place, as you might expect for  the 70's, specialized in folk artists in the back room. We used two pair of Tannoy dual concentric speakers, can't even recall the models but one I think was Cheviot. We hung, tilted down, two large Tannoys on either side of the small stage, and two of the smallest ones in the back corners, also tilted down, driven by a stack of Spectro Acoustics electronics (preamp, equalizer, amps) and a small, simple mic preamp/mixer. This worked amazingly well, it didn't sound like a PA system or such, it just seemed that you could hear the music all over the room, it completely didn't call attention to itself. I told my boss that if the speakers ever fell off the walls we would have to leave the country, as when they fell they'd surely kill someone they were so heavy.

It was a great thing for a poor college kid...every week or two when they changed artists, the manager of the place would have me come over and reset the EQ and check out the setup (artist would play with the EQ to get the sound they wanted), and give me a steak dinner and a couple of beers for my trouble. I thought that was more than fair for 10 minutes of "work." Big Smile

I've seen B&O in two restaurants, in Jackson, Wyoming, CX50s and 100s, in black, used as background music for a dining room. And at a good Chinese restaurant in Orlando, FL, they had on the wall in between the doors for the two rest rooms(!) a horizontally wall mounted BS9000 with two Pentas, one on each side, and a BL2000 mounted on the wall above the cashier/hostess station as their background music. When they sold the place to a new owner, when I went in I wasn't surprised the whole B&O setup was gone.

Jeff

I'm afraid I'm recovering from the BeoVirus. Sad

davidr
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davidr replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 7:01 PM

Not sure of the wisdom of using b&o speakers for any sort of "professional" use. So getting destroyed by weather or thrown beers are not a big issue. They're very fine home/indoor sets that's for sure but for live you want high SPL and robustness. Studio use is as mentioned about true boring flat response, impulse response and, precise imagining. As much as I like listening to my BL8000s, they're terribly inaccurate, very wide but vague stereo image and nearly non existent low mid response.

For comparison I also have a pair of Klein & Hummel O300D which are about as flat as a nearfield can get. Also I've used Yamaha, Focal and PMC. Truly 'accurate' monitors are vital tools for hearing all the imperfections but horrible to "listen" to.

Live use, just get a Mackie all in one or if SPL needs are higher some combo set up from QSC, JBL, Crown or like.

Stan
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Stan replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 7:41 PM

My brother smoked my parents stereo (Zenith Console) back in the 70s playing his guitar through it.  Blew the speakers.  

Certainly, the BL90s (and A9) are in a different class, but it just seems like there's too much opportunity for sonically bad things to happen when playing live - think about feedback, spikes when equipment is plugged/unplugged, "oops, I turned it up to 11", etc.  I doubt if B&O designs for these use cases.  Perhaps for a home studio where you're in charge, but why risk it? 

I have seen BL4000s in an upscale hotel bar in Chicago - they seemed to work pretty good, but, again, recorded music, not live.

Stan

Earle
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Earle replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 8:52 PM

I swear that I read somewhere, in some article probably tucked away in the deepest part of the net, that the Beolab 9's were designed specifically with music production in mind - or at least they were modeled after studio monitors. 

TWG
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TWG replied on Thu, Jan 12 2017 9:12 PM

Earle:

I swear that I read somewhere, in some article probably tucked away in the deepest part of the net, that the Beolab 9's were designed specifically with music production in mind - or at least they were modeled after studio monitors. 



and there's one man reading our forum that could answer the question: Our beloved Geoff Martin :)

 

davidr
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davidr replied on Fri, Jan 13 2017 1:19 AM

TWG:
and there's one man reading our forum that could answer the question: Our beloved Geoff Martin :)

Interesteting to know, certainly starting with a conventional three way design and totally sealed usually equates to decent impulse response which true studio monitors are made for.

As an aside, one major differentiating facet of b&o are the fact they've embraced active/powered loudspeakers, something commonplace in professional monitors for decades. Why home audio with passive designs, lots of separates and audiophooley are stuck in the 70s  tube amps and vinyl I have no idea? Nearly all pro gear uses balanced connections and active power amps as a matter of efficiency.

For example you can run your FoH desk 200m to your 20kW stacks with no interference issues. A decent sized open air concert is probably in the 100kW range. Coverage delay becomes a major issue as 30ms delay at 90+ dBSPL to even a layman starts becoming audible. That kind of power is not at all efficient using, unbalanced lines, passive stacks and long runs to the poweramps.

Again one is not 'worse' or 'better' than the other, just different use cases.

Geoff Martin
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Hi Steve!

 

TWG:

and there's one man reading our forum that could answer the question: Our beloved Geoff Martin :)

Beloved? My word...

Using a loudspeaker for sound reinforcement has some different implications than when they're used for playing music in the home - or in the studio for that matter.

Regarding the "studio monitor" question: All current Bang & Olufsen loudspeakers have a "sound design" that is intended to produce the same overall timbre at the listening position in an average domestic living room as you would get from a studio monitor in a studio. This does not mean that they are modelled after studio monitors - nor do they behave like studio monitors (in terms of on-axis frequency response).

It seems to me that you have to worry about two things with respect to sound:

- can the speaker produce enough sound pressure level for the musician and the venue (and therefore the background noise)

- is its internal latency low enough to be used for live sound.

For example: BeoLab 90 can produce plenty of SPL - but in its lowest latency mode, it has a throughput delay of 25 ms, so it is unusable for live sound.

BeoLab 4 has 0 ms latency, but it might not be able to produce adequate output level...

This is all I'll say about the subject - I'm just chiming in with what I think are the two important things to consider.

Cheers

-g

TWG
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TWG replied on Fri, Jan 13 2017 11:43 AM

Geoff Martin:

Hi Steve!

 

TWG:

and there's one man reading our forum that could answer the question: Our beloved Geoff Martin :)

Beloved? My word...

 

Dear Geoff... I'm married Big Smile I've great respect for you and and you seem to be a very sympathic person, too. When I visit Denmark one day I have to visit Bang & Olufsen and hopefully meet you in person, too.

I guess here are many people on this forum that have not only respect for your work and you as a person, but simply love your contributions to the forum and your blog.

Thank you for the explanation btw.

 

Geoff Martin
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TWG:
I've great respect for you and and you seem to be a very sympathic person, too.

Both of these statements are evidence that we've never met... Wink

Have a nice weekend!

-g

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi Geoff,

You must have better ears than me (although I could have predicted that anyway!) Big Smile

25mS delay in the Beolab 90s works out the same as listening to a speaker placed about 8.5m away if my maths is correct?  My brain is too slow to pick up a small delay like that, but I do notice delays above about 50-60mS (Sonos Connect) and I find that the 160mS delay within the Devialet Phantom speaker is very noticeable.

For most listeners, I guess that the Beolab 90s would work out OK for casual jam sessions with friends.  Coincidentally, I've just had a new request for a karaoke system to connect to a pair of Beolab 5s - maybe someone has been spurred on by reading this thread? Whistle

I would probably place Beolab 5 as my favourite B&O speaker for live music - I certainly haven't heard any delay within the processing or amplification, but I'm guessing it must be there.  Can anyone put a figure on the latency within Beolab 5 please?

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Founder of Sounds Heavenly Cables and Brand Ambassador for Bang & Olufsen

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

pmg_00
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pmg_00 replied on Sun, Jun 23 2019 5:52 PM

Hi Steve,

I found information about delay on one site

ModelA/DLatency (ms)Equivalent in mVolume-regulation?
Unknown Analogue A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 1 A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 2 A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 3 A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 4 A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 5 D 3.92 ms 1.35 m Yes
BeoLab 7 series A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 9 A 0 ms 0 m No
BeoLab 12 series D 4.4 ms 1.51 m No
BeoLab 17 D 4.4 ms 1.51 m No
BeoLab 18 D 4.4 ms 1.51 m No
BeoLab 19 D 4.4 ms 1.51 m No
BeoLab 20 D 4.4 ms 1.51 m No
BeoLab 50 D 25 / 100 ms 8.6 / 34.4 m Yes
BeoLab 90 D 25 / 100 ms 8.6 / 34.4 m Yes

I can send to you a link.

BR,

Mikhail

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Thanks Mikhail!

The older analogue speakers are great for live use, as they don't have any delay.  The simpler digital speakers (eg. Beolabs 5, 18, etc) are also OK as the delay is minimal, however Beolab 50 and 90 are unsuited to live use as even in "low latency" mode, the 25mS delay is too high for most musicians.

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Founder of Sounds Heavenly Cables and Brand Ambassador for Bang & Olufsen

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

Beowulf
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Beowulf replied on Tue, Apr 28 2020 3:37 PM

Hi Steve, 

I was fortunate to hear Martin Simpson playing a live acoustic set on Beolab 5's at B&o Manchester a few years back, a wonderful experience! I was looking at using a Beolab 2000 as a small practice amp for an acoustic guitar, I have your iPod mastering cable, but this is probably a non starter, your thoughts please.

 

 

Kind regards

 

Dave Edwards

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi Dave,

I bet that was in incredible experience!  Yes, you can use the Beolab 2000 with the headphone output of a mixer (or direct from the guitar via a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter), you just need a B&O remote to power on the speaker before use.  However, the results may not be as good as Martin Simpson would have got from those Beolab 5s........

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Founder of Sounds Heavenly Cables and Brand Ambassador for Bang & Olufsen

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

chickenceo
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What do you mean by "non extstent low mid response". I am asking cause my friend once listened to my BL8000 and said to me right away there is no mid-range with my system. I have BL2 attached so he is no complaining about the bass.

Thanks!

 

davidr:

Not sure of the wisdom of using b&o speakers for any sort of "professional" use. So getting destroyed by weather or thrown beers are not a big issue. They're very fine home/indoor sets that's for sure but for live you want high SPL and robustness. Studio use is as mentioned about true boring flat response, impulse response and, precise imagining. As much as I like listening to my BL8000s, they're terribly inaccurate, very wide but vague stereo image and nearly non existent low mid response.

For comparison I also have a pair of Klein & Hummel O300D which are about as flat as a nearfield can get. Also I've used Yamaha, Focal and PMC. Truly 'accurate' monitors are vital tools for hearing all the imperfections but horrible to "listen" to.

Live use, just get a Mackie all in one or if SPL needs are higher some combo set up from QSC, JBL, Crown or like.

 

BL8000, BL10, BL4000, BL2, BL3 (Sold), Beocentre 2 (Sold), Beosystem 3, LG C8

Beowulf
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Beowulf replied on Wed, Apr 29 2020 11:38 AM

Hi Steve,

 

Many thanks for your reply 3.5mm stereo to 6.35 mono I presume...

 

Kindest regards

 

Dave :)

 

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi Dave,

Yes, that is correct.  Not ideal, but workable.

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

www.soundsheavenly.com

Founder of Sounds Heavenly Cables and Brand Ambassador for Bang & Olufsen

Sounds Heavenly are proud to sponsor BeoWorld!

Beowulf
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Beowulf replied on Wed, Apr 29 2020 2:46 PM

Hi Lee,

 

Thanks again for your help and advice Steve, the cable is a great product too!

 

Kindest regards

 

Dave :)

 

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