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Review and comparison Beolab 9 versus Beolab Penta MKIII

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Capibaro
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Capibaro posted on Fri, May 4 2018 10:08 PM

Recently I found a great deal on a pair of Beolab 9's on marktplaats to replace my Penta MKIII. Reading the reviews I was convinced these were the speakers to have. I absolutely love the Penta's, but my curiosity grew towards the newer stuff and I bought the 9's. I was in for a shock! The BL9's are better speakers in every part. However, the sum of every part sometimes doesn't add up to a better experience. A Porsche 911 from 2017 is more competent than one from the nineties but you prefer driving the old one on a sunny sunday afternoon. That is how I sometimes feel about the speakers.

Penta MKIII

Design: form follows innovative function. Tall and completely scandinavian 90's design. Ik like their tall slender and minimalist hexagon design. That design has a function. It uses less floor space than comparable speakers and the hexagonal design eliminates distortion. They use more drivers and an internal amp in every speakers to compensate. The RVS panels on each speakers reflect the colors of the surroundings and that really works. It makes the speakers blend in with the interior.

Sound: Very detailed sound especially the midrange and the low tones. It kept surprising me every time I listened to them how great they sound and how they image the music. The low tones will never blow you away in the power they have, but because they detail so well you never miss that. I actually appreciated it. The high tones are not like a voice in cold air, but still very clear. After listening to the 9's it became very clear that the Penta's are more classical sounding. They are a bit laid back which makes them very nice to listen to for hours even at high volumes. I even think they are one of the few speakers you can play really loud and they never tire (when in the sweet spot). Funny thing is that when I walk out of the sweet spot and the volume is up. Only then hear how loud they play.

Beolab 9

Design: again form follows function. Small upward pointing tweeter, bigger forward pointing midrange driver and a low end woofer. Yet the design is totally different to the design that attracted me to B&O. The simplicity is there but much more organic. I call them space penguins and the design is growing on me. They are much smarter speakers than the Penta's (will come back to that later), and while watching a scary movie their design changed into 'evil cosmic nuns' that keep an eye on you (with their illuminated tweeters). 

Sound: Immediately after installing it was apparent that this was a completely different speaker. Away with the classical easy on the ear honey. This is in your face, hyper clear sound that is exactly how it would sound as if the artist was in your living room. Very impressive indeed. If I turn up the volume, I sometimes have to adjust the treble and sometimes the bass. The sound is always perfect and even if you throw harp or organ to the speakers. However sometimes it can be overwhelmingly realistic which makes you long for the Penta's. These speakers are much more versatile and placement is less of an issue. The sweet spot is wider. They are also much smarter. When watching a Nedflix thriller it seems to adapt the volume to the scene making the movie much more involving. 

Conclusion: The Beolab 9 is obviously a much better speaker in many respects and a steal in comparison to their capabilities. However if you are an audiophile on a budget, get a pair of Penta's, spent some time servicing them is needed or get it done by a specialist (won't cost you much) and you will be surprised every day by their sheer talent.

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Hungedu
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Good review. I have a pair of Penta MKIII, and even after purchasing a pair of Beolab 5, I still enjoy listening to the Pentas for certain types of music. Beolab 5 has more thump and Pentas have a warm, classic sound. Your analogy to cars is quite right. The new Acura NSX is a monster, but I still prefer to drive my classic 1991 NSX on weekends!

BeoLab 5, BeoVision 7-55 MK2, BeoSound 5 Encore, BeoSound 9000, BeoLab Penta III, BeoLab 8000, BeoLab 6000, BeoLab 2, BeoLab 7-6, BeoSound 8, BeoTime (analog clock), Beo 4 remote.

Peter
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Peter replied on Sat, May 5 2018 8:50 AM

When the Beolab 9 was launched, we had a speaker demo night in Newcastle. We compared all sorts of speakers. Having listened to most types, I agree completely with the original poster - the Beolab 9 is very clear but tiring. The Penta is veiled but very easy to listen to. The bass is also a bit one note compared to the 5 and 9 though.

Peter

Capibaro
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You own BL5 and an 1991 NSX. I think most on the planet would agree that your life is a success ;-) Enjoy!

Stereomensch
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That's a very interesting comparison.

Recently I bought a pair of expensive new monitor loudspeakers from a small german high end brand.

They were using only high end stuff like mundorf parts etc etc.

It's absolutly fantastic how much bass small loudspeakers have today.

the frequency response is totally flat like a table.

BUT: After ten minutes I get tired of hearing music. The sound has so many details that you can't relax.

Result:  I use my old loudspeakers again, my new high end speakers are now in the cellar :(

 

 

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Tue, May 8 2018 1:43 PM

Peter:

When the Beolab 9 was launched, we had a speaker demo night in Newcastle. We compared all sorts of speakers. Having listened to most types, I agree completely with the original poster - the Beolab 9 is very clear but tiring. The Penta is veiled but very easy to listen to. The bass is also a bit one note compared to the 5 and 9 though.

That's interesting. I admit it's been so long, decades, since I've heard a pair of Pentas but I don't find the BL9s to be fatiguing at all. I've just within the past week listened to them for almost 6 hours one evening, variety of music, differing volumes, and such, and my wife and I both commented on the lack of listener fatigue. Re "audiophile" approved speakers, often to my ear they can be quite fatiguing, often exaggerating the upper mid/lower treble to give audiophiles that sense of "detail" they often seem to enjoy. I think there is a type of listener who actively focuses on listening to music, and to how the equipment is playing the music, for shorter periods who tends to go for that kind of speaker voicing.

I knew a designer once who had designed two different speakers with different design goals. The more audiophile oriented one he described as designed to make all your records sound worse (that is show all flaws in the recording) and the other speaker to make all your records sound better.

Jeff

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

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