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Beolab 90 - interested in purchase, questions and any owners here?

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joey_v
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joey_v posted on Fri, Oct 26 2018 3:10 PM

I am interested in the Beolab 90 speaker system, would have to sell off my current audiophile set up and buy the 2 speakers plus keep my current digital source. 

 

Question - are there any owners here who can share their experience with the 90?  

 

Can you bypass the DAC internal to the 90 and use a more resolving DAC or digital source?  Meaning, can the 90 play an analog signal (perhaps coming from an analog out of a SACD player or a phonopreamp)?

 

How good are they as stereo speakers?  

 

Thx,

JV

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Dante
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Dante replied on Fri, Oct 26 2018 4:05 PM

Hi Joey, I don't have a pair of BL90 and still didn't have the chance to listen to them, but I was wondering which external DAC would you use?

In the past I had the same doubts with BL5 and and found out that it's internal DAC, even though being and old project, is just perfect to my ears...

Based on that, I supose the newer DAC of the BL90 should be even better...

 

Makes any sense?

Mr 10Percent
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I have written several posts and a review on this site. IIRC, the signal from the source(s) is received first by a DSP. Adjusted signals are then distributed according to the beam width, beam direction and ARC correction profiles and then converted via one of 18 on-board DACs before D-class amplification at each driver. (could be seriously wrong on this...kinda forgot the detail).

So to answer your question - I think no you cannot.

I would also add why you would think the DACs on the BL90 would be in some way less resolving? They may/may not be - i dont know and cant compare but I would comment that the BL90 has been developed as a "package". i.e. the "package" is probably way better than the sum of individual components. 

The Beolab 90 can accept a wide range of both digital and analogue signals; 

Bang & Olufsen Proprietary

  • Power Link (analogue)
  • Wireless Power Link (digital)

Digital inputs

  • S/PDIF (or “coaxial”)
  • Optical
  • USB Audio

Analogue inputs

  • XLR (or “balanced line”)
  • RCA Phono (or “unbalanced line”)

Wireless inputs

  • WiSA

I would imagine you will need an RIAA Amp to raise your turn-table to line-level and then feed that level into the Analogue connects. If you reference the B&O web-site, you will find the BL90 White Paper gives a lot of insight into the capabilities. 

I would advise if you do buy....buy the microphone (Welcome kit) for ARC calibration and a cheap microphone stand.

 

In the next week or so I'll probably be writing about jumping off the B&O ecosystem when I add a Melco N1ZH/2 Digital Media Server and possibly testing/buying a SOtM SMS-200 Ultra streaming bridge on top of the Melco. B&O's source offerings are in my opinion seriously lacking compared to the BL90 and one has been forced to dabble in a little bit of audiophoolery to do the decent thing with the BL90s. 

I think the price/performance is worth the price of admission.

 

10

 

 

joey_v
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joey_v replied on Fri, Oct 26 2018 4:22 PM

Hello!

 

My digital source is an Emm Lab TSDx transport and an Emm Lab Dac2x digital to analog converter. 

Retail is $30,000 so it should be appropriate for this level speaker. 

Mikipidia
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Question - are there any owners here who can share their experience with the 90?  

I don't own any, my friend does and they have been great so far and honestly never heard anything bad about them.

Can you bypass the DAC internal to the 90 and use a more resolving DAC or digital source?  Meaning, can the 90 play an analog signal (perhaps coming from an analog out of a SACD player or a phonopreamp)?

Yes you can feed them an/several analog signal(s)

  • Power Link

  • RCA

  • XLR (fully balanced)

How good are they as stereo speakers?

Ridiculously good, truly like nothing else! These are forever speaker!

 

michael

 

 

 

New: Beolab 50's, Beolab 18's, Beolab 17's, Beovision eclipse, Beosound 9000 mk3, Beosound 1 Bronze edition, Beoplay M3, Beoplay A1.

Mikipedia on YouTube (finally Stick out tongue )

https://www.youtube.com/c/Mikipedia

Old: Beolab 1's, beolab 2, beovision 10-46, overture 2300, beolab 8000's, beolab 4000's, beovision avant 32" etc. etc.

joey_v
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joey_v replied on Fri, Oct 26 2018 4:23 PM

Hey 10

 

I see that there are 2 analog inputs - an xlr and an unbalanced input.  

 

If I use my digital source, can the 90 still apply its DSP algorithm?  

Mr 10Percent
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This may be of use:-

https://www.tonmeister.ca/wordpress/bo-tech/

 

 

 

Mr 10Percent
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joey_v:

I see that there are 2 analog inputs - an xlr and an unbalanced input.  

If I use my digital source, can the 90 still apply its DSP algorithm?  

 

Joey, 

I have only spent time in the B&O ecosystem - Powerlink and Digital Power Link via B&Os propriety cabling. The white paper will give you some ideas on these connects. 

Without wishing to be disparaging in any way, I will call you a "traditional audiophile" i.e. one with fine expensive music reproduction equipment (all separates) who loves music. The typical "B&O" enthusiast is diametrically opposite to this traditional view-point insofar as we/they love music but want a simple non-tweak box, with killer looks and user interface.  Once you align that, you will either accept or reject the fact that B&O tends to make one-box solutions (including the two-box BL90 and BL50) primarily designed for the B&O ecosystem. 

The BL90 is probably the most flexible B&O system that can work with non-B&O gear. 

Thus, what you plug-in to the BL90s will happen in a standard way as indicated before. i.e DSP>>DAC>>AMP>>Driver. Regardless. 

The raison d'etra of the BL90 is that the DSP does some way-out-there calculations to mould the sound as optimally as it can to an area around a listener(s). This is one of the reasons they sound so good (in my opinion). It is not simply an amplified loudspeaker a la Meridian.

 

So yes, the BL90 will directly accept a number of digital signals directly from a source and do its own "black-box" tricks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr 10Percent
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As indicated previously, I too am moving from sole B&O ecosystem to a half-way house on some decent 3rd party gear. I'll have more info once up and running in the next 5 to 10 days.

Another note. You may need a Beolink IR and an Essence remote to control the volume on the BL90. Small outlay (get the Dealer to give you one if buying new). Normally, a B&O source or TV would do the business on volume control. The BL90 App and B&O App will also allow IP volume control IF you connect the BL90s to a connected network. 

joey_v
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joey_v replied on Fri, Oct 26 2018 6:13 PM

10

Do you like the 90?  Are you  moving from it?

mikewalsh
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The Beolab 90s are a brilliant product. After years of dreaming about them, I finally managed to acquire a pair. Aside from their striking design - they let you straddle the two worlds of audiophile music as well as no fuss home theatre. 

You do, however, need a good source. I have a Vivaldi DCS as the DAC, connected to the XLR inputs and driven by a Roon Nucleus music server, which is connected to my DAC via ethernet. I'm planning on adding a Linn LP12 to the RCA input. One of the key considerations for choosing your DAC is power insulation. Initially I used an Auralic Aries Mini (which I had used successfully to drive a pair of Beolab 17s). With the 90s, the sensitivity of the speakers made noise from the electricity source a real issue. 

If you can get a great DAC, and pump some high quality DSD files through it, and have the speakers well calibrated - you will be amazed at just how good the 90s can sound. Unfortunately, most B&O showrooms don't demonstrate them properly. They will play you a compressed streaming file through a TV, or just Star Wars at full volume - and it completely misses the subtlety of these amazing speakers. 

 

Mr 10Percent
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joey_v:

Do you like the 90?  Are you  moving from it?

No they are “keepers” until the next B&O flagship arrives.....one day.

I am planning - as per the post below to upgrade the Source side with a Melco N1ZH/2 and possibly the SOtM SMS200 Ultra as a bridge. 

10

Mr 10Percent
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joey_v:

Do you like the 90?  Are you  moving from it?

No they are “keepers” until the next B&O flagship arrives.....one day.

I am planning - as per the post below to upgrade the Source side with a Melco N1ZH/2 and possibly the SOtM SMS200 Ultra as a bridge. 

10

Mr 10Percent
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Interesting info here thx.

mikewalsh:

You do, however, need a good source. I have a Vivaldi DCS as the DAC, connected to the XLR inputs and driven by a Roon Nucleus music server,

 

Dont quite understand why you would use another DAC because the BL90 will ADC/DAC regardless?

 

mikewalsh:

One of the key considerations for choosing your DAC is power insulation. Initially I used an Auralic Aries Mini....With the 90s, the sensitivity of the speakers made noise

Interesting because I planned a bit noise control into my pending new setup. The BL90s have their own power filtering and it is specifically recommended not to place power filters on to the main supply. However, I have suspected that the BL90s need a clean low noise signal from a good source. 

 

mikewalsh:

If you can get a great DAC, and pump some high quality DSD files through it, and have the speakers well calibrated - you will be amazed at just how good the 90s can sound. Unfortunately, most B&O showrooms don't demonstrate them properly. They will play you a compressed streaming file through a TV, or just Star Wars at full volume - and it completely misses the subtlety of these amazing speakers.

The BL90s can only receive 24bit/192k.....so anything above that.....then a pre-BL90 DAC will be needed to drop down to PCM quality?

 

 

mikewalsh
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You are running high resolution music files into a DAC (e.g DSD), which then connects to BL90 via the analog XLR or RCA connections - so there is no restriction of how high res your source file is. But if really want top performance, you do need to make sure you have a very good DAC with no noise interference, otherwise, you would be better off just feeding a digital input into the BL90s and using its own DAC. 

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