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How does the Beolab 5 stack up against the top of the line B&W 800s/802s/Dynaudios etc

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Beology
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Beology posted on Sat, Mar 16 2013 11:00 AM

Hi there guys,

I'm aware that there was a brief discussion comparing beolab 9's with 802s on the old forum. Im interested in getting some fresh opinions on where the lab 5s fit in with other high end speakers.

I listend to some 802s today (with expensive amps etc that put their total price at near double the 5s) and I was impressed but not in all aspects. The 5s were better in many ways (i am of course biased) but some of imaging and resolution of the 802s was impressive. 

Id be interested in the thoughts of those who have had (or do have) the 5s and top end speakers from alternative manufacturers on how they compare.

Regards,

Justin

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Raeuber
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Raeuber replied on Sat, Mar 16 2013 11:36 AM
Hi Justin,

I had listened to Beolab 5 many times and they are far better than my Beolab 1.

But a few weeks ago I visited a "high-end-dealer" and listened to some high resolution audio files with the following equipment:

- B&W 800 Diamond

- Accuphase amplifier

- Burmester Musiccenter 111 (35.000 EUR!)

Beolab 5 are really good speakers, but you can't compare them with B&W 800: These are really audiophile speakers in another league!

Regards

Räuber
Beology
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Hi Rauber,

I've managed to find a few discussions on the old forum now with arguments going both ways as far these speakers are concerned with some suggesting the 5s are better (a user Soundproof)

Have you listened to high resolution files on the lab 5 speakers in a similar environment to the B & W, so apples are compared with apples?

Raeuber
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Hi Beology,

I didn't listen to them side by side. But for me it was obviously clear that the B&W is the better speaker.

But let's be fair: The B&W is a passive speaker, but more expensive than the active Beolab 5. And the whole mentioned equipment was about 70.000 EUR. I was blown away from the sound quality of some of my favourite music, although I would never spent so much money for music listening. Probably I will go for Beolab 5 if I will see a good offer for second hand.

Regard

Räuber
Millemissen
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Hi Raeuber,

I once heard a similar setup at the ICEPower-location in Copenhagen.

The sound is amazing Smile.   But the setup is ugly looking Sad

Greeting Millemissen

There is a tv - and there is a BV.

Raeuber
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Raeuber replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 10:07 AM
Millemissen:

Hi Raeuber,

I once heard a similar setup at the ICEPower-location in Copenhagen.

The sound is amazing . But the setup is ugly looking

Greeting Millemissen

You are absolutely right, Millemissen. My wife told me I can place such equipment in the basement, but not in our living room. Or I can relocate to Abbey road studios where B&W speakers are used as sound monitors.

Greeting

Räuber
Chris Townsend
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So to some up, the £20,000 B&W speaker with a £15,000 Amp is better than the B&O speaker at £15,000 which doesn't need an amp(but looks super cool)

Beovision 10, Beolab 2, Beosound 2(old Skool) Beolit 15, Beoplay A2 Active

Raeuber
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Raeuber replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 11:08 AM
Really true, Chris.

My Dealer told me last year a speaker specialist in France had replaced some components in Beolab 5 with the result of a really sound improvement. I think after 10 years it's time for B&O to do the same. Existing Beolab 5 can't be the end of high class speaker development in Denmark.

But B&O prefers nowadays to develop such silly products like Beoplay A3 and A9...

Räuber
Peter
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Peter replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 2:42 PM

B&O were developing some very high end speakers when I was last in Struer. Still at development stage when listened to and I would in no way describe myself as having even half decent ears, but Geoff Martin was very pleased with them!!

Peter

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 3:32 PM

One of the things I've noticed, for me anyway, about B&W speakers is that like many audiophile speakers they are voiced to exaggerate detail. There are several reasons for this, from frequency response decisions emphasizing the presence area (upper mids, lower treble) to issues with the rigid drivers B&W likes to use generating subharmonics and self induced noise. At first blush, this sounds kind of exciting, why, listen to that, I never heard that before! To my ears, however, after a very short while this sound becomes tiring, I tend to get listener fatigue from a lot of high end speakers that I never get from B&O gear (or things like old Tannoys for example). Your ears may not do the same, but it's something to be aware of that doesn't show up in a short dealer audition. Something to consider before dropping 70k+ on a setup!

I've seen similar things happen when people swap out capacitors in crossover networks for whatever the latest, super duper film cap or such of the day is. Often these caps, when compared to what the designer chose, particularly if the designer used standard electrolytics, have less insertion loss/series resistance than the lytics. The result is a small shift in crossover freq, but more importantly a shift in loudness of the driver attached to the cap, usually mids and tweeters. Perceived as an increase in detail, it's actually changing the target response the designer worked very hard to achieve. You may like it better, you may not, or as is often the case you may like it at first then get tired of it, sell the speakers, get another pair, then do the same to them! Big Smile 

Jeff

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butch1
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butch1 replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 5:47 PM

Sound quality is a personal choice,and all the manufactureres have their own inhouse delivery  signature sound.ie bright,rich,detailed etc.

My father has lab 5s,and I have had long listening sessions with them at my house also.I wanted to love them,for my music room,as that is my passion.They are very impressive for the price as the amps are built in with plenty of powere and bass,but thats not everything when buying a speaker.

I settled on a linn system,which in my opinion was in a different league,regarding sound quality,delivery of the music,detail was to my ears better.

Granted it cost more, factoring in source,control ,amplication and playback,but listening to my linn downloads through a linn playback system produces a fantastic sound.

I am not one for ugly boxes and fancy cables,I like well made and designed simple system,which produces a sound that it was built to do,and the linn does that.I have also listened to another linn system which came to under 15k and it sounded better than the lab 5s.

I love b&O and have always been a fan,and its speakers are fantastic for the price and look good,but I am not brainwashed enough to know that I can get better sound from other brands.

If you area 50/50 movies and music fan,they fit the bill linked to a beovision,but for serious music listening,they can be bettered for less.

beoinbuff
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I used to think I was going to keep my lab5s until they essentially died. That's changed

Recently hooked the lab5s digitally to a lyngdorf DPA-1 preamp with room perfect room correction and the sound is really incredible.  Best I've ever gotten out of the speakers.  However, one of the tweeters is not working correctly when the speakers are played via dig coax in.  After repeated attempts to get the speakers fixed through B&O and essentially no response from them, I went to a local high end audio shop just to see what else is out there.

Long story short, I am now expecting the delivery of new Sonus Faber speakers and Mcintosh amps.  The sound from that combo is just out of this world and sold me the instant I heard it.  The lab5s are great, great speakers and I feel sad giving them up but B&Os horrible customer service and the proprietary connections and remotes they use have driven me to it. 

I still feel that, for the price, the lab5s are one of the better values out there.  I paid a lot more for my new speakers and amps, but the sound is on par with the increase in price.

My 2 cents

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 6:49 PM

butch1:

Sound quality is a personal choice,and all the manufactureres have their own inhouse delivery  signature sound.ie bright,rich,detailed etc.

Very true, different people will prefer different voicing in speakers. Back in the day, there used to be the West Coast sound, typified by JBL L100 speakers, the New England sound, as put forth by Advent and AR, the British sound, KEF and such, German sound was more clinical (think ADS and Braun) while the British was more laid back and polite. West Coast was big on bass and brightness, New England was closer to the old British sound.

And speakers are so room dependent that what you hear at home will almost never be what you get in the store. That being said, even though it's personal taste there are some speakers which have measurable faults that still seem to be preferred by many, so technical perfection, if such a thing is even possible in a speaker, often doesn't seem to matter.

To my ears, the Lab 5's are voiced very well, and also to me to be an ultimate high end speaker the speaker should reproduce the bottom octaves with weight and authority and accuracy. Many will spend more on small monitors they feel get the midrange more "right" to their ears and eschew deep bass.

Also, again to my ears, I don't tend to like speakers designed with rigid drivers, be it metal domes, kevlar or other rigid woofer materials, etc. If you examine the time domain response of these units you often find excessive hash due to breakup modes in the driver that you don't find in more well damped, flexible driver materials like soft dome tweeters made of doped fabric, poly or even treated paper cones, etc. Obviously I'm sensitive to and dislike rigid drivers, to other ears they obviously sound more detailed or such. In addition to time domain issues there are issues of self induced noise, out of band resonance products generating sub harmonics in the audible bandwidth of the driver, etc. I've found designing with rigid drivers to require, if you are going to get the best results, a lot more hair pulling in the crossover and ranges chosen for the driver to operate over than it's worth, I've gotten better results more simply with other approaches.

I know a speaker designer of some note who, when designing a top of the line product for his line was told by the marketing department that at that price point and market it had to have a metal dome tweeter. It took him quite a while to find one that he could actually live with the sound of, and it wasn't cheap, but the buyers in that market had been marketed to the point where they assumed it was a better approach and that was more important than actually listening to it and making a judgment based on sound without caring about the technology. Audio is often as much about current fashion as it is about true performance sadly.

There was also a time when to have a "serious" digital playback rig you had to have a separate transport and DAC, even though many of the had measurably and demonstrably worse performance than all in one CD players. The assumption was that this was better so it was what sold. Audio is a funny business.

Jeff

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Peter
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Peter replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 8:56 PM

Agree completely! Speaking to someone who writes for Hi-Fi magazines, he describes a lot of the new audiophile equipment as appalling and some which actually does not work. Unfortunately, they cannot 'dish the dirt' as so much of their income comes from advertising and a true exposé would be impossible.

My favourite sound comes from Quad ESL63 speakers - totally impossible to use in a normal house as they need far too much room to perform so I use LS3/5As which mimic them badly but are much smaller. Superb mid-range and no treble or bass! Big Smile Reproduce human voice wonderfully though.

Peter

soundproof
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The Audio Dept. at Struer actually used B&W top-of-the-line speakers for comparison tests when doing their development work for, among other speakers, the BeoLab 5s.

I've done my own comparison, some years ago now. I bought a pair of BeoLab 5s after this. The B&W speakers were run with Classé mono-blocks. I guess most people don't go to this much effort when running comparisons, but I wasn't in a second's doubt as to which delivery I preferred.

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