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Beolab 5 vs 50 vs 90?

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Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Steve at Sounds Heavenly Posted: Tue, May 28 2019 8:00 PM

Hi Beoworlders,

I am planning to compare Beolab 5, 50 and 90 speakers at one of the UK stores next week and to video the outcome......

I would be interested to hear your thoughts if you have already heard these speakers side by side - which did you prefer and why?

Geoff Martin has kindly emailed me a suggested playlist and points to listen for, so I’m getting quite excited about this!

If you had complete freedom, which pair would you choose?  Please let me know your thoughts.....

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

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Mikipidia
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Mikipidia replied on Tue, May 28 2019 8:22 PM
If you go only by sound, then it must be the 90’s. They stay in your head, steal your soul and make you wonder which bodypart you could sell to get them. They are truely like nothing else!Big Smile

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

Mikipedi4 on YouTube

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

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Sandyb replied on Tue, May 28 2019 9:12 PM

Mikipidia:
If you go only by sound, then it must be the 90’s. They stay in your head, steal your soul and make you wonder which bodypart you could sell to get them. They are truely like nothing else!Big Smile

 

I see an upgrade in someones future!.....???....!!!

 

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Pushkin replied on Tue, May 28 2019 9:31 PM
Mikipidia:

If you go only by sound, then it must be the 90’s. They stay in your head, steal your soul and make you wonder which bodypart you could sell to get them. They are truely like nothing else! New: Beolab 50's, Beolab 18's, Beovision eclipse, Beosound 9000 mk3, Beosound 1 Bronze edition, Beoplay M3.

Mikipedi4 on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/c/mikipedi4

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

I love this - pure passion and emotion for an amazing product - shows B&O still has what it takes.

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BEOVOX141 replied on Tue, May 28 2019 10:43 PM

If you had complete freedom, which pair would you choose?  Please let me know your thoughts.....

The 5, why?

Because the 5 works, and I wouldn't have the patience to deal with what seems to be an endless line of issues, and tiny glitches. Especially considering the price tag!

Besides they are completely opposite the 5 is omni directional whereas the newcomers are highly directorial in what is touted as their best performing mode.

On a side note, In Denmark a surprisingly high number of 50 and 90 are available on the secondhand marked at significant discount 12-15 months old, which should exclude the B&O employee purchase segment, kind of makes you wonder.... Are they a bit to dominant?

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Razlaw replied on Wed, May 29 2019 12:38 AM
Look forward to your video very much! I demoed a pair of 5s in my house for several weeks. I did not purchase them as I did not find them appreciably better than my 9s. I have heard the 90s more than once and they are quite simply amazing. I am presently considering a pair of 50s and recently had a demo of them.
Epsilon20
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Epsilon20 replied on Wed, May 29 2019 7:49 AM

Where are these second hand units being sold ??Geeked If would go there for heavily discounted 90s is shipping is relatively cheap.

Beovision Eclipse 55 Brass Edition with Oak covers and Brass Orbital stand

Beolab 50s silver & Oak, Beolab 18 Brass with Smoked Oak, Beolab 18 Rose Gold with Maple Covers, Beolab 19 Black.

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi,

This will be interesting to hear if B&O's sound capabilities have improved over the years - Geoff Martin has suggested that I keep the BL50s and 90s in "Wide" mode so that they better match the sound of the 5s, although an extra test in "Narrow" mode is becoming very tempting......

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

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kuyttendaele
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Steve at Sounds Heavenly:

....although an extra test in "Narrow" mode is becoming very tempting......

The only way to resist temptation is to yield to it :-)

I still, vividly, remember the introduction event of my dealer when the BL5's came out... It was a listening session of about 20min with around 10 different musical pieces going from classic to jazz, to pop and rock. I was completely blown away. And to this day I haven't had the same experience with the BL50's or 90's. Don't get me wrong... The '50 and '90's operate in a completely different league than the BL5's... Maybe because of the huge gap then between the BL8000's / BL1 and the BL5. 

Back then I had no expectations. Present day with the 50's and 90's I did have expectations about how they would sound and they nailed it perfectly.

That being said.. If anyone decides to bin their BL5s for 50's or '90's... Please give me a call :-)

Karel.

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MaxH replied on Wed, May 29 2019 11:00 AM

Steve,

is it possible to let us have this playlist and points to listen for?

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Of course!  Here are Geoff's suggestions.
For a track list, try out the suggestions at 

Two things to do:
- use the Suzanne Vega track to highlight the imaging precision
- The Quartet track is good for testing imaging precision when the sources are not in the centre. Another thing to pay attention to there is to ask yourself how difficult it is to concentrate on one of the 4 singers. You’ll probably find that this is easier in narrow mode than in wide or omni - or in the BL5’s.
- Bass punch - Morph the Cat
- Just a little lovin’ is a good test with that first bass drum that starts the track.
- Listen for harshness / fatigue on the Psychosocial track
- The Requiem: III Pie Jesu - listen for unevenness of the bass level with the organ pedals
- Limit to your love: Listen to the clarity of the voice when that low end rumble comes in…
Kind regards, Steve.

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MaxH
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MaxH replied on Wed, May 29 2019 12:42 PM

Thanks, Steve, but I can't see the Quartet, Morph the Cat, Requiem or Limit the Love on the playlist.

oli
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oli replied on Wed, May 29 2019 1:46 PM

Steve at Sounds Heavenly:

Hi,

This will be interesting to hear if B&O's sound capabilities have improved over the years - Geoff Martin has suggested that I keep the BL50s and 90s in "Wide" mode so that they better match the sound of the 5s, although an extra test in "Narrow" mode is becoming very tempting......

Kind regards, Steve.

I gave this capability of narrow/wide mode to the Beolab 5, with adding a Lyngdorf TDAI 2170 between the source and the Beolab 5.

To answer your initial question, if I had the budget and the room for, I would probably go with the BL90. But it is not the case :-)

2 years ago I was hesitating with a Beolab 5 Final Edition and the brand new Beolab 50. I had a demo side by side in the B&O Store. My conclusion was that the price difference does not worth the musical experience difference. And in addition I do prefer the David Lewis's design, still so strange today, nothing comparable on the market even in 2019, a true piece of art, especially with the modern touch in glossy aluminium.

I tried several DACs to connect to the Beolab 5 analog or digital ways, and finally I found the internal DAC which is just excellent, even today, to be the best option regarding sound quality.

Actually I am feeding them digitally with a Mac Mini source (running Tidal/Qobuz through Audirvana) to a USB to SPDIF bridge (Shiit EITR) connected to the TDAI 2170. The digital output of the Lyngdorf is going to the Beolab 5. The Lyngdorf (danish brand) provides room correction (or room/beolab5 affinity), and give the possibility to equalize digitally the signal. I only use it for room correction (equalization set to Neutral), you can set up different Focus listening positions (equivalent to the Narrow mode of the BL50) or Global (Wide mode of the BL50). The RoomPerfect feature is really a great improvement to the Beolab 5 calibration, which basically is only taking care of the bass stuff. Like with the Beolab 90 it comes with a microphone for room response measurements and compensation.

Everything is controlled by the Beo4 only with a Lintronic TT455, and all the stuff hidden in B&O cabinet.

The Beolab 5 are also connected via Powerlink to a BV7-55 to adjust and see the volume level (helped by a linked Beomaster 4500), and get the 5.1 sound of the movies (BL7.6 as central, BL6002 as back). Not a single day I am thinking to change for anything else since. Maybe the Lyngdorf TDAI-2170 will be upgraded for a Trinnov ST2 (or its replacement) one day, but that's it.

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MaxH:

I can't see the Quartet, Morph the Cat, Requiem or Limit the Love on the playlist.

Hi Max: you should be able to see all 4 tracks in the BL 90 list.  The 4th track is actually ‘Limit To Your Love.’

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MaxH replied on Wed, May 29 2019 2:25 PM

Many thanks I was looking at the 50's playlist 

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Puncher replied on Wed, May 29 2019 3:50 PM

Will they be hidden from view, level matched and switched randomly during playback?

Ban boring signatures!

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Hi Puncher!

They will be level matched with an SPL meter, but as they will be in a working showroom we won't be able to properly "blind test" them with speaker positions swapped after each listening session, curtain over the speakers, etc.  However, I will be doing everything possible to give a level, objective test.

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

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AdamS
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AdamS replied on Wed, May 29 2019 9:18 PM

I’ll be interested to see what you think, Steve, but as far as I’m concerned, the 90s are head, shoulders and most of the torso above anything else, including Lab 5s. Not that I’m biased or anything, obviously... ;)

As an aside, please don’t limit the 50s or 90s by using them solely in Wide mode. As someone else once said to me, the only decent thing about Wide mode is that it makes you realise just how stunning they are in Narrow mode! I personally never use Wide; only Narrow or Omni.

 

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Only ever use narrow. I think BL5 image very well and when set up properly the BL5 produce a solid phantom centre. The clarity, detail, decay, resonances, low volume performance and tonality/colour of the notes are breathtaking on the BL90. They are one of very few speakers in the world that do justice to piano. Been listening to Mozart’s sonatas and concertos by Brautigam on the pianoforte and I am totally fixated with a racing heart and bewitched and spellbound. Crikey, I can just imagine Mozart sat a few feet away from me. Glorious and poignant all at the same time. I agree with an earlier sentiment that the BL50 are clearly better all round than BL5 but not by a massive margin. My advice to those aiming for a new pair of BL50 is to be patient for another year and save a few thousand more and buy a demo/exdisplay pair of BL90. If I’m honest, the BL5 and BL50 and BL90 are all fabulous and better than the usual audiophile bling monkey coffins. I could die a happy man with any of these and they would be so much closer to audio nirvana than anything else around. I must have auditioned 30 pairs of speakers in my life. Well done B&O.
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seethroughyou:
Only ever use narrow. I think BL5 image very well and when set up properly the BL5 produce a solid phantom centre. The clarity, detail, decay, resonances, low volume performance and tonality/colour of the notes are breathtaking on the BL90. They are one of very few speakers in the world that do justice to piano. Been listening to Mozart’s sonatas and concertos by Brautigam on the pianoforte and I am totally fixated with a racing heart and bewitched and spellbound. Crikey, I can just imagine Mozart sat a few feet away from me. Glorious and poignant all at the same time. I agree with an earlier sentiment that the BL50 are clearly better all round than BL5 but not by a massive margin. My advice to those aiming for a new pair of BL50 is to be patient for another year and save a few thousand more and buy a demo/exdisplay pair of BL90. If I’m honest, the BL5 and BL50 and BL90 are all fabulous and better than the usual audiophile bling monkey coffins. I could die a happy man with any of these and they would be so much closer to audio nirvana than anything else around. I must have auditioned 30 pairs of speakers in my life. Well done B&O.

 

Have to a free 100% on this,

They (the BL90s) will have it all over the BL5s in many fundamental ways;

1. The BL5s are excellent because of their unique tonal representation. BL90 do this as well/better with increased detail and extension particularly in the bass tones.

2. Imaging

3. Wide mode is useful / used for Video and latency issues are important. However, for music, I only use Narrow mode which sharpens up the imaging and tonal presentation to a degree the BL5 just can’t do. One is a scalpel, the other a hammer

 

 

Mr 10Percent
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Mr 10Percent:

Have to a free 100% on this,

wish this website would work better with tablet and re editing PITA.

”Have to agree........”

 

Razlaw
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Razlaw replied on Thu, May 30 2019 1:56 AM
Mr 10Percent:

Have to a free 100% on this,

They (the BL90s) will have it all over the BL5s in many fundamental ways;

1. The BL5s are excellent because of their unique tonal representation. BL90 do this as well/better with increased detail and extension particularly in the bass tones.

2. Imaging

3. Wide mode is useful / used for Video and latency issues are important. However, for music, I only use Narrow mode which sharpens up the imaging and tonal presentation to a degree the BL5 just can’t do. One is a scalpel, the other a hammer

I like your scalpel/hammer analogy.

Looking forward to the video to see where the 50s come out between the scalpel and the hammer. 🤔
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Dante replied on Thu, May 30 2019 2:15 AM

Hi Steve, 

Can you include in your music list Money for Nothing (Dire Straits) to check which speaker play louder and Royals (Lorde) to check the bass?

 

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Thanks guys,

VERY interesting to hear your thoughts.  I was considering Money for nothing for the drum solo - this used to be one of my favourite listening tracks.  Here are the tracks I have usually used for speaker auditioning in the past (sorry they are not very "highbrow"!):-

Roxette - Silver Blue from Tourism (just my favourite track, it should sound warm, lifelike and clear, as though the musicians are in the room with you)

Savage Garden - Affirmation from Affirmation (the bass can easily overpower lesser speakers, with the filtered electronic snare and panned synths giving a good test of tonal balance)

Aretha Franklin - Think from The Blues Brothers (all instruments should be in their own places on the sound stage, all equal levels with Aretha's voice soaring cleanly over the top)

Madonna - Sorry from Confessions on a dance floor (the bass drop should be immensely deep, but the bassline and synth bass should stay tuneful and defined, without overwhelming the tune or vocals)

I'm really looking forward to this!

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

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seethroughyou
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For completeness you could consider some classical. I find it’s easier to differentiate speakers using instrumental classical as it is the least ‘processed’ and being less electronic you can hear resonances and tones better.
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PaulGiles replied on Thu, May 30 2019 8:01 AM
Our local dealer gave me the 90 demo using Justin Timberlake “say something”. Really demonstrated the bass.

Money for nothing, always a winner.

Don’t forget “another one bites the dust” or “billy Jean”
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Daniel replied on Thu, May 30 2019 8:34 AM

Two pairs for sale on dba.dk. 335 000 and 359 000 DKK.

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Daniel replied on Thu, May 30 2019 8:36 AM

Epsilon20:

Where are these second hand units being sold ??Geeked If would go there for heavily discounted 90s is shipping is relatively cheap.

Two pairs for sale on dba.dk. 335 000 and 359 000 DKK.

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AdamS replied on Thu, May 30 2019 9:52 AM

Bass test you say? Try ‘Chameleon’ by Trentemoeller. Yes it’s fairly mental but it also has two bass lines - one on top of the other. Not all speakers can cope with this!

My old speakers did a very good job of it and used to rattle the windows at even a fairly reasonable volume. Not only do the Lab 90s do an even better job of it, but they rattle the upstairs windows...

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CB replied on Thu, May 30 2019 10:06 AM
Steve at Sounds Heavenly:

I am planning to compare Beolab 5, 50 and 90 speakers at one of the UK stores next week and to video the outcome......

Hi Steve

For this comparison, did you also think of testing different low/medium/high quality sources?

For example: analog/digital sources, FM radio, 320 kbps mp3, 16b/44.1kHz (CD), 24b/96kHz FLAC (max for BL5), 24b/192kHz FLAC.

The aim is not to test the testers Huh?, but to know if the speakers are “source sensitive”

I remember trying mp3 files on my BL5s, and these were just... boring

My 0,02€
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@Steve

With all these suggestions I suppose you will have to stay in the shop for a couple of days.

Personally I don’t expect to ‘hear’ much of what you will ‘hear’ - a Youtube video isn’t fit for such a task.

I wish you great fun and am looking forward to read about your sentiment and opinions once the video is online.

MM

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

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Duels replied on Thu, May 30 2019 10:29 AM
AdamS:

Bass test you say? Try ‘Chameleon’ by Trentemoeller. Yes it’s fairly mental but it also has two bass lines - one on top of the other. Not all speakers can cope with this!

My old speakers did a very good job of it and used to rattle the windows at even a fairly reasonable volume. Not only do the Lab 90s do an even better job of it, but they rattle the upstairs windows...

Oh my. I’ve just tried that track with my BL18/19s. Incredible sound. As you say even at sensible volume.
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BEOVOX141 replied on Thu, May 30 2019 10:33 AM

CB:
The aim is not to test the testers , but to know if the speakers are “source sensitive”

Not a bad idea, 

I am just wondering if people would actually feed a set of 90s with mp3? But the answer to that is properly given by the fact that a number of them runs from a PL input.... Erm..

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Millemissen:

@Steve

With all these suggestions I suppose you will have to stay in the shop for a couple of days.

Personally I don’t expect to ‘hear’ much of what you will ‘hear’ - a Youtube video isn’t fit for such a task.

I wish you great fun and am looking forward to read about your sentiment and opinions once the video is online.

MM

Thanks MM!

Yes, there are some great suggestions here and I will try to accommodate as many as possible within the time available.  No microphone would be good enough to record the sounds of these speakers faithfully (also I have no control over the speakers that listeners use to play the video!) so the YouTube video will focus on the testing process, sentiments and hearing the way that each speaker performs.  This discussion is great as it is giving me the ideas and preparation to make the best of the listening time - thanks again guys!

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

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Millemissen
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BEOVOX141:

I am just wondering if people would actually feed a set of 90s with mp3? But the answer to that is properly given by the fact that a number of them runs from a PL input.... Erm..

Why - where is the link there???

I know some, who feed their BL90’s with a front left/right signal - using PL - when playing a LPCM-decoded HD-soundtrack (from a bluray disc).

And how about those who would play a regular CD in the BR player or use the HomeMedia player or any media player app for playback of FLAC encoded files on a NAS or how about FLAC files from Tidal.

Personally I would not hesitate to listen to well encoded high rate MP3 files or the OGG files from Spotify Premium......but alas, I don’t claim to have golden ears.

MM

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marexy replied on Thu, May 30 2019 11:07 AM

or bass test by ..James Blake - Limit To Your Love   :)

 

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AdamS replied on Thu, May 30 2019 1:04 PM

BEOVOX141:

I am just wondering if people would actually feed a set of 90s with mp3? But the answer to that is properly given by the fact that a number of them runs from a PL input.... Erm..

As i mentioned elsewhere, the only non-physical music service I use is Spotify for playlists and checking out new music, so, yes, my Lab90s get fed with 320kbps MP3 fairly regularly!

I still reckon MP3 through Lab 90s sounds just as good as high-res digital through pretty much anything else... Wink

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Steve at Sounds Heavenly:

Hi,

This will be interesting to hear if B&O's sound capabilities have improved over the years - Geoff Martin has suggested that I keep the BL50s and 90s in "Wide" mode so that they better match the sound of the 5s, although an extra test in "Narrow" mode is becoming very tempting......

Kind regards, Steve.

Hi,

I THINK that what I said was that you should use wide mode if you want to do a like-for-like comparison, since the Wide Mode of both BL90 and 50 were designed to (reasonably) match the directivity of BL5's - in case a customer wanted to mix-and-match the loudspeakers in a surround setup.

However, we should be a little specific. This is like comparing the top speed of two cars, and making sure that you're testing both in the same gear - even if  one of the cars has an extra gear... 

So, if one were to do a test that compares two devices at their "best" - then each should be used as if the other product wasn't there.

Of course, this means that you'd have to listen to BL90 in all three modes, or BL50 in all two - and decide which one you like most - and then use that to compare to BL5...

Cheers

-g

Mr 10Percent
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BEOVOX141:

I am just wondering if people would actually feed a set of 90s with mp3? But the answer to that is properly given by the fact that a number of them runs from a PL input.... Erm..

Annoyingly, Mrs10percent plays YouTube Musak (Britain’s Got Talent greatest hits or something like that) from the Eclipse to the 90s. 

Cant tell if it is the medium, the song, the artist or the bit rate that makes it sound so..so..

 

Steve at Sounds Heavenly
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Geoff Martin:

Steve at Sounds Heavenly:

Hi,

This will be interesting to hear if B&O's sound capabilities have improved over the years - Geoff Martin has suggested that I keep the BL50s and 90s in "Wide" mode so that they better match the sound of the 5s, although an extra test in "Narrow" mode is becoming very tempting......

Kind regards, Steve.

Hi,

I THINK that what I said was that you should use wide mode if you want to do a like-for-like comparison, since the Wide Mode of both BL90 and 50 were designed to (reasonably) match the directivity of BL5's - in case a customer wanted to mix-and-match the loudspeakers in a surround setup.

However, we should be a little specific. This is like comparing the top speed of two cars, and making sure that you're testing both in the same gear - even if  one of the cars has an extra gear... 

So, if one were to do a test that compares two devices at their "best" - then each should be used as if the other product wasn't there.

Of course, this means that you'd have to listen to BL90 in all three modes, or BL50 in all two - and decide which one you like most - and then use that to compare to BL5...

Cheers

-g

Sorry Geoff!

Thank you for clarifying.  I think the aim initially will be a like-for-like comparison in wide mode for all three speakers, then narrow mode for the two newer models, to see how this impacts on the imaging and soundstage.

Kind regards, Steve.

Steve.

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