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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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joey_v
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joey_v replied on Sun, Oct 28 2018 1:17 PM

That's a great article. 

 

I can only believe that the 90  has to be an end game unit.  

 

Plug in my digital stack to it and a TT in the future, done. 

AdamS
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AdamS replied on Mon, Oct 29 2018 1:07 PM

joey_v:

i am a little uncomfortable losing the ability to tweak the components but I can accept that if the 90 really sounds like I think they should sound like.

You can still tweak with the BL90s if you really want to - they have DSP to play with; wide, narow and omnidirectional settings and parametric equalisation - a fiddler's dream!

Or you could just leave everything flat, do the EQ for your listening position and simply enjoy their utterly spellbinding sound, without the need for constant faffing.

I absolutely adore mine, and so do the friends who keep turning up with bags of LPs and CDs asking to listen to them!

mikewalsh
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Mr 10Percent:

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

Thanks for bringing this to my attention - I don't really understand what the speaker's ADC is doing in this context.

I did ask both DCS and B&O seperately whether the combination of the DCS DAC and the BL90 would work well together, connecting via XLR, and no one mentioned the issue of downsampling at the time. I assume the BL90 needs to convert everything to digital for its magic tricks with multiple speakers and its DSP.

There are limitations to the BL90s handling of digital source files, e.g it can't process DSD files so I'm wondering whether you would get a better, more natural sounding result with a high end DAC running DSD plugged into the analogue connections of the BL90, even though these are being re-converted into digital for playback - than if you fed in a pure digital signal, and had this being interpreted into analogue by the BL90s own processors? You could, for instance, just have a digital network bridge or streamer, connected via USB. 

What do people think?

 

joey_v
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joey_v replied on Mon, Oct 29 2018 11:25 PM

So the analog signal is converted to a digital signal once more?

 

I wonder what benefit if any would a good digital source like a Vivaldi have over the internal DAC then....?  

 

Have you compared Vivaldi vs internal dac?  Same file, same cut?

joey_v
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joey_v replied on Mon, Oct 29 2018 11:25 PM

sorry double post

joey_v
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joey_v replied on Mon, Oct 29 2018 11:25 PM

sorry again

Howzit
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Howzit replied on Tue, Oct 30 2018 6:09 PM

joey_v:
........my speakers are $22,000, the amp is a Boulder which is 50,000.  The wires are 40,000.  The source is 30,000.  The preamp is 8,000......

 

Looks like your wires cost twice as much as your speakers. All B&O uses are either DIN or internet cables, oh, sorry, SHIELDED internet cables Stick out tongue

Beolab 9 | Beolab 8000 | Beolab 6000 | Beolab 2 | Beolab 3 | Beosound 9000 | Beoplay A9 | Beomaster 8000 | Beovox M75, / S75, / S45.2 

Mr 10Percent
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mikewalsh:

Mr 10Percent:

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

Thanks for bringing this to my attention - I don't really understand what the speaker's ADC is doing in this context.

I did ask both DCS and B&O seperately whether the combination of the DCS DAC and the BL90 would work well together, connecting via XLR, and no one

if you read the Beolab90 white paper: https://www.bang-olufsen.com/ContentV3/downloads/BeoLab90/bang-olufsen-beolab90-whitepaper.pdf

section 8 an 9 confirm what I indicated earlier.

All analogue signals are routed via a ADC and then DSP.

All digital signals are DSP then DAC, then D-class amp (same as the BL5)

the ceiling for all signals is 24/192 regardless. The white paper indicates the chipsets for the ADC/DAC and DSP

 

it would seem your current DAC is downsampling to 24/192 with the BL90. I know it’s also worth checking how 3rd party DACs (either pure DACs or those onboard Streaming Bridges) can auto configure. I know for example, the Auralic Aries did a firmware update a while back and could no longer handshake with the BL90s

10

 

 

 

 

Mr 10Percent
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I find this thread really really interesting. 

Tomorrow, I get home and take delivery of the Melco and the SOtM200. Got a bit of a re-wire job to do as well as upload 40000 tracks (all for now ripped CDs) to the HDD. Then figure out how best to control it all and what mode to do it in.

interesting to hear a couple of views of people using what is considered to be very high-end gear with the BL90s and that even after downsampling, the sound is incredible. 

Although I’m not decrying anyone who spends their hard earned dosh on what ever they want (Beoworld/Bang and Olufsen is 100% first world, top 2% concerns), one of my key concerns in selecting my music server was listening to them via setups which I figured to be in the £15000-£20000 mark - solid BL5 to BL50 territory but the sound was not what I was used to and to me....not as good as a system as I remember the 5’s and the 50’s.

Maybe a rash statement but I think a lot of “traditional audiophiles” go a long way in tweaking, adding expensive cables etc and the very highest data rate music files because so many loudspeakers are really not actually that good. Pure opinion but hey!

 

Geoff Martin
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Hi.

Most of the questions have been answered. However, I might be able to offer some additional perspectives.

Currently, the most obvious reason for using an external DAC between a digital audio source and the BeoLab 90 would be the following:

  • you have DSD materials, which cannot currently be converted by the BeoLab 90's digital input
  • you have LPCM materials that have a sampling rate that is higher than 192 kHz
  • you have digital audio files that are not in LPCM and are not converted to LPCM by your source. Examples of this would be FLAC and ALAC, or psychoacoustic CODEC's like MP3, Ogg Vorbis, AC-3 (Dolby Digital) etc.

The less-obvious reason is that you simply like the sound of your DAC. This could be for many reasons, including

  • its linear behaviour (e.g. magnitude or phase response)
  • its non-linear behaviour (e.g. asymmetrical distortion generating even-order harmonics due to its electrical design)
  • some processing that is applied to the sound (e.g. a "loudness" function or some fancy processing stuff like stereo widening tricks)

In these cases, it makes sense to put a DAC between the source and one of the analogue inputs (either the XLR or the RCA) of the BeoLab 90.

However, if your digital source is putting out LPCM, and it's 192 kHz or lower, then the most "clean" signal path is to go straight into the S-PDIF digital input of the BeoLab 90. If your source is putting out 96 kHz or lower, then you could also use the Optical digital input. This will give you an equivalent magnitude and phase response as the analogue input, but the Sampling Rate Converter used by the digital inputs has a wider signal-to-noise ratio than the analogue inputs. This means you will have a lower noise floor with the digital inputs - although it will merely be lower than an extremely low noise floor.

And, before anyone gets worried about the noise floor of the analogue input because they are reading something into that last statement - fear not... When you use the BeoLab 90 as a Power Link loudspeaker, the volume is automatically fixed to maximum, which means that you are listening to the worst-case noise floor, both for the loudspeakers' inputs and the output stage of the source. I use the BeoLab 90 in this configuration daily, and noise is never an issue.

Hope this helps.

Cheers

-geoff

 

Barry Santini
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Geoff Martin alone is worth loyalty to the B&O brand, IMHO

Barry
mikewalsh
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Thanks so much Geoff - the BL90s are incredible, you did an incredible job on them!

Out of interest, what do you use as a high-end source when connecting via the analogue inputs?

Geoff Martin
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Hi Mike,

I've used / am using a bunch of different analogue sources - some with better spec's than others. The primary ones are:

  • BeoVision 11 via Power Link
  • Oppo 105 Blu-ray player's XLR output (for DSD/SACD - the Oppo doesn't send DSD materials over the S-PDIF output, so when I'm playing PCM materials, the signal comes out the S-PDIF and the XLR. When playing DSD materials, the S-PDIF is muted. I have the BL90's set to give priority to the S-PDIF over the XLR - so for PCM, the 90's choose the digital input. For SACD, there is only the XLR signal coming in.)
  • BeoGram 4500 (which has a built-in RIAA preamp, so the BL90's just see them it as a line-level source)
  • RIAA preamp (somewhat DIY-ish) on  the RCA inputs
  • RME Fireface UFX+ "sound card"
  • -TC Electronic Impact Twin

I've tried others - but those are the ones I use on a weekly basis.

Cheers

-geoff

Millemissen
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If anyone should want to question the quality of OPPO105, he might be well off reading some of what Archimago writes about it in his blog.

You can start here:

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2017/04/measurements-oppo-bdp-105-rca-xlr-hdmi.html

It should still be possible to get this gem - or maybe the successor 205:

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/06/measurements-oppo-udp-205-part-3-jitter.html

IMO the OPPO (x05-) devices are (or rather were) excellent options for a B&O setup including speakers like the BL90’s.

Also - since it is very versatile - it helps to declutter the setup, which might be inportant to many B&O users.

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

Aussie Michael
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When the 90 came out our local B&O store used an OPPO to drive them with XLR I think.

They rated it (the tech guy did) with the 90.

Sounded wonderful to me.
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