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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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Beology
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Beology replied on Sun, Mar 17 2013 11:09 PM

Now thats a comparison!

Theres just to many confounders when listening to one set of speakers and then another when time, space and sources are all different. Your memory plays tricks and room acoustics are very important.

I was impressed with the detail in one song I heard on the B&Ws compared with the 5s but I suspect that relates to the source material being different. The other the 5s were clearly better to my ears.

Thanks for the photo and your opinion Soundproof!

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Mon, Mar 18 2013 1:33 AM

Harman has the best speaker comparison setup I've ever heard of. They have a large, dead silent, rapidly rotatable pair of turntables large enough to sit big floor standing speakers on, behind a grill cloth curtain. You can put three pair of speakers on it and switch between them almost as rapidly as switching between electronic components. Its the only setup I've heard of that allows proper double blind, rapid switching listening tests to be done with speakers. Want to evaluate the same speaker with small changes in crossovers or power response? No problem. Really an amazing setup. 

Jeff

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soundproof
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Yes, comparing speakers when they're not in the same room is tricky business. As Harman have realized, they should be in the exact same position - to have similar interaction with the room.

When I last moved, to protect them I placed the BL5s up against the back wall away from the preferred position out on the floor. On a whim, I connected them there, to listen: what if they would actually sound better there, instead of where I had them for several years?

I could soon relax, they had terribly muddled bass, in comparison, when up against the wall. Unfortunately, we find them up against walls in most dealerships. B&O never did a good job of introducing these speakers to the market - the "place them wherever you want" line doing them particular harm.

I did the comparison in a very good studio, and it was fun to hear people ask "where are the amplifiers?" They couldn't believe the sound.
For what they cost, BL5s are a bargain, you have to spend a lot more on a conventional system to approximate the sound. But they deserve to be set up right, preferably in a symmetrical room, with adequate distances to the side and back walls, and ideally so that you get the lateral reflections that are the main point of the acoustic lenses.

They're also dependent upon the structure they are in. If it's a wooden floor house with walls that give when the bass starts working, then you won't get as precisely defined a bass as you do in a structure with greater integrity - but that also goes for other speakers. But as the BL5s are powered to drive the bass, and it shifts considerable air volume, structural integrity helps the bass become very defined.

B&O deserves credit for having carried out the BeoLab 5 development program. It was unfortunately begun by a CEO who had to leave the company before they were completed, and they were launched under a new CEO, who had other priorities. If B&O had pushed active speakers and ALT-technology, with room correction, at that time, the company would have been leading this area now. Instead, the whole concept was presented badly to the market, the room-correction crew jumped ship and went to Lyngdorf. Water under the bridge, I guess.

 

Beology
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Again, nice picture Soundproof.

Do you have any thoughts on a preamp being used with Lab 5's as per an earlier comment?

I'd like to get my speakers further from the wall but I'm at the limit of the WAF (wife approval factor) at 50cm..... I guess it'll have to do.

Ciao

Jeff
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Jeff replied on Mon, Mar 18 2013 2:55 PM

You of course make an excellent point about care in speaker placement and room layout. And for "lifestyle" products like B&O I think it's too rare for that to be done well, I suspect most are placed where they look good, but at least a lot of the Beolabs have switches to account for boundary loading in the bass, wall, corner, free space. That's better than most speakers. 

In my last house I had my BL8000s setup very well, I experimented with positioning quite a bit. And while some kind of denigrate this speaker, I got very impressive results. Setup well these speakers are capable of great transparency, depth, and imaging with smooth treble and amazing midrange. Shoved up flat against the wall, not so much. 

Jeff

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VANTAGE
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I have just purchased a pair of BL5s, and can honestly say that the difference vs. my previous BL8000/BL2 combo is staggering: much more tight and precise bass (the BL2 is great for movies, but too aggressive for music listening), much more detail (I am rediscovering some of my music) and better stereo perspective (I guess thanks to ALT). Yes, they are very powerful, but the sound quality springs to mind first when I have to describe them.

I guess that it is probably possible to find better on the market, but at a price: a pair of B&W Diamond is roughly the same price as the BL5s, but then you have to add the price of an amplifier/pre-amplifier (McIntosh springs to mind). You easily end up paying twice as much, as there is no point in having such loudspeakers with a cheap/crap amplifier. And then there's the problem of home integration: lots of cables floating around in a non-B&O solution, which I have to say I'm happy to avoid in my living room with my 100% B&O solution.

Just my 2 cents...

 

Beovision Eclipse 65 -  2 x BL5 - 2 x BL3 - 2 x BS2 (GVA)

McIntosh MC601 x 2 - McIntosh C50 - McIntosh D1100 -  McIntosh MHP1000 - Focal Scala V2 Utopia - McIntosh McAire

Peter
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Peter replied on Mon, Mar 18 2013 4:01 PM

I don't think anyone would deny that the BL5s are superb speakers. They may not be what everyone likes though - this is why one must listen to speakers first. The major quality I found listening to them is the way that if you close your eyes, you cannot hear where they are. The music is simply there. That trumps even the massive and well controlled bass. My M100s and my ex MS150s had stunning bass but neither can pull off the disappearing trick like the BL5.

My only criticism , and this goes for all the ALT speakers is that they are a little bit bright for me and I find that tiring to listen to. The BL5s seem the least affected by this.

Peter

butch1
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butch1 replied on Mon, Mar 18 2013 7:50 PM

Agree with Peter,regarding ALT.I have to admit,I like the old school seductive B&O sound.I find the new sound due to ALT a bit in your face and bright for my preference,saying that ALT speakers sound good with electronic music.

My tastes suit a warm rich sound,thats why I still love my 8000s and 4000s in my movie room,and they still sound fantastic at normal volumes.The room has a hardwood floor so the warm sound balances itself out.

My music room is carpeted and has treatment so is tailored to my sound.The biggest problem with lab 5 customers is they are placed in the wrong room,and dont get a change to breathe and show what they can do.My dads were in  a large open-plan roof with very high ceilings,and they sounded tremendous.

When he moved them to a cinema room which was smaller,they sounded nowhere near as good.Adaptive bass works,but not miracles.Buy speakers for your size of room,and also get a home demo if you can,every room will affect the sound.

 

my 2 cents

soundproof
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Beology:

Do you have any thoughts on a preamp being used with Lab 5's as per an earlier comment?

I used to have a Mac mini and CD-player connected to a soundcard, running S/PDIF to the BL5. Now I think I would use Oppo's latest multi-format player, it has several IN connections I can use, will read just about any format and is simply brilliant.

http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-105/images/BDP-105-Back-hr.jpg

 

Doonesbury
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butch1:

When he moved them to a cinema room which was smaller,they sounded nowhere near as good.Adaptive bass works,but not miracles.Buy speakers for your size of room,and also get a home demo if you can,every room will affect the sound.

 

my 2 cents

Do you know the dimensions of the cinema room including ceiling height?

D

butch1
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butch1 replied on Wed, Mar 20 2013 10:06 AM

5m x 5.5m x 2.4m roughly.

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