Beolab 8 Review

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Home Forums Product Discussion & Questions BeoLab Beolab 8 Review

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  • #52878
    zmyslony
    BRONZE Member
      • Topics Started 2
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      Hello there fellow Beoworlders!

      Since the release of Beolab 8s I was very tempted to get them and I was looking for every information in the net possible. I have found several short reviews, but I feel like none of them focus on details, and gets you only similar information as official Bang Olufsen website and specs sheets. Finally I made it to bang olufsen showroom to test them, but as always at home with your music, vinyl records etc. it could sound differently.

      Today I would like to write some thoughts that I wish I knew before.

      Order

      For a few months distributors did not know when the 8s will be available, and the pricing was not known. When I finally ordered them in first days of January 2024 I was told to wait 3-4 weeks. In the end they arrived in just 3 days. As for the pricing it is really confusing, because some stores price the set together while the others tell you the pricing separately for the speaker, stands and the covers.

      Design and looks

      The speakers came in 6 boxes. 2 speakers in choosen color variant, 2 table stands and 2 covers (I have grey fabric covers). The boxes are small, but the speakers are packaged very well and safe. At first I was wondering why the table stands are so expensive, but when I opened them it turned out all of the parts are made of high quality metal. They feel heavy and well made. The fabric covers are also well made (easy to take in and take out) and give you a classic speakers feeling, but they are too expensive for what it is and should come free with the speakers. I have loved the wood in the showroom, but I did not know which color to choose, and the price scared me off. The speakers itself are awesome, but they are heavy (4kg) and bigger than I imagined. When put on the table stand they look heavy, but on the floor stands they looked a little more slim.

      The set up

      The set up process takes no longer than 15 minutes, all of the tools are inside table stands boxes. At the moment of writing I cannot figure out if you can change the position of the speaker on the table stand, like we have seen on marketing materials. Setup in app is easy, but also takes a while, you must update two speakers and pair them together. You can also make the room compensation afterwards. The only problem I have found is with identifying left and right speaker. Once set up you can only swap them, but you cannot check in any way which one is which. I have also connected the record player, but be aware to buy the cheapest and simplest USB-C to jack 3.5 mm adapter. I have bought a few good looking with gold plating, but turned out they all have some kind of DAC. When connecting to speakers, you must connect to the main speaker. So I had to pair them together, with the desired speaker set as main, because it was closer to the record player. My pair is working wirelessly by 5GhZ, and I have turned on uncompressed music quality. Sometimes when lunching the speakers, there is a delay before the second one starts working, but overall it has been all working flawlessly. If you would have a trouble there is an option to connect by cables the speakers pair and you also could connect the speaker to your network router. Cables are not included in the box, so you must buy them separately. The same goes for the usb-c jack dongle which is also not included. Shame.

      The sound quality

      Why have I bought the speakers in the first place? Because they are the cheapest Beolabs at the moment of writing, and I have hoped the quality comes with this product line name. They really are amazing sounding, the stereo soundstage really is unmatched (in comparison to single point systems like Beosound 2). They sound good in any music genre: classical, jazz, r&b, hiphop, electronic it all sounds like it should right out of the box, with the crystal clear highs characteristic to all Bang Olfusen products. Beolab 8 really are baby Beolab 28s. Sound signature is very very close, pure volume and power lacks a bit in comparison, but in real world you must place them in a really big space to lack volume. You have the mentioned narrow and wide modes, for me wide sounds a little too digital. The narrow mode feels more natural and I mainly use that one, but it is good to have the choice. There are plenty of settings of the speakers and advanced tab in equalizer. The only thing I am disappointed is the low end frequencies. Beolab 8s out of the box sounds very neutral, and I can not adjust the bass as I would like to. Comparing to my beloved Beosound 2, the sound is much more wide, much more clear in medium and high frequencies, but the base is just so deep and so low on the Beosound 2 it could actually act like a subwoofer for the Beolab 8s in multiroom setup. I think that is because of how the speakers are shaped. Beosound 2 have a tubular design, and when you place it on plain surface the surface acts like a subwoofer itself. Whereas Beolab 8s are hovering „in air” and the punch comes right in your face instead of the surfaces around you. It is maybe just my personal taste, and of course you can fine tune it in the App and Equalizer. I just wish they have a little more deep low end punch. In beosound 2 I set bass setting for 2 out of 10, while in the 8s the setting is 6 out of 6, and its just not enough for me. Anybody who listened with me said the 8s sound profile is perfect, and they would lower the bass setting, so that may be just my personal preference. I really love “the thump” in electronic music. While comparing the sound profile of Beosound overall there is just so much more details in Beolab 8s. Beolab is not just a fancy name, it really is a more premium product sound quality wise.

      Usability

      Sound quality is similar to 28s but the other features in my opinion are better on the 8s. They are much smaller form factor, so you can move them from room to room, from place to place easily. The wide and narrow modes are really nice additions, although in Beolab 28 you can clearly see which mode is it, whereas here you only have small LED stripe lights. TV connectivity as previously is impossible without Beo TV or the Theater, which is a huge shame at this price point. Maybe we will have another beosound core or different solution in the future but the whole point of Bang Olufsen sound systems is to be wireless, so I do not want any dongles and external devices. Sweet spot function is not yet available either at the time of writing. The Beo smartphone App although nice and simple has lots of flaws, and I wish some indicators like volume, left and right speakers were more clear. Equalizer is really good, but once saved you need to delete the preset and create a new one if you wish to adjust the settings. I really hope from the high prices Beo products currently sales for, Beo can invest in informatics department, because for me the app does not pair with sound quality of the speakers.

      Multiroom

      Multiroom future is a big gamechanger for me, and many others tried to do it right, but Beo products are superb at it. You can have in any room of your house some speakers and have the same beat play on all of them in perfect sync and harmony. But you can also make some crazy variations and listen to all of the speakers placed in one room. I have read before of triangle setups, so I thought let’s do it. I have set Beolab 8s in front on both sides, and Beosound 2 in the center, and used Spotify connect with multiroom in Beo App. The outcome is… superb! I have wide soundstage with beautiful vocals and mids, and beosound 2 gives you the kick and punch almost like Beolab 50s! This setup really is what I would never thought would work but it does. What Geoff said was true: you want as many subwoofers in the room as possible. This way my 3 speakers punching at the same time gives you a stronger feeling than one big subwoofer.  I really wish Beo would allow the next Stage or other new product to be paired with Beolab 8s, so that we all can have a cheaper alternative to Beosound theater which is out of my reach at current pricing for a proper 3 speaker setup. Until then I guess I will use my „crazy” triangle for casual music listening, and samsung soundbar for the TV at 1/10th of the price of Theatre.

      External sources

      I have a small collection of records, good turntable and medium range cartridge. Previously listening to stereo records on one point system like Beosound 2 was really a trade off. I thought Beolab 8s would be perfect to what I need, and I know I am in minority. Most of the people will use the 8s with the TV and surround setups. But here we are, connecting analog record player with a USB dongle to a high end wireless DSP speakers. And while it works really really good, it has some drawbacks. Firstly there is a delay (between the groove and speakers there’s like one second delay). Secondly you can really hear the outcome is digitally processed which was not a thing on previous system – Beosound 2 (without Mozart). And I do not know if it is the problem with 8s processing analog audio signal, or just how better the streaming is these days overall. You can have all of your favorite songs at the touch of the finger in all of the speakers around your house. So while I primarly bought the speakers with the record player in my mind, I may end up listening to the Spotify more.

      Final thoughts

      Overall what I thought when I saw Beolab 8s first was right: it is the perfect stereo solution, perfect one point system to build and expand in the future, and perfect addition to Theatre. Now I understand why the Theatre was priced this way, and why the price increased further. 8s are my favourite speakers of all time, and I would not change them except maybe Beolab 50s. As for the 50s, as explained to me in Bang Olufsen store those speakers are not worth the price if you put them in 60 square meters apartment. The 8s go on pair with 28s performance, but they are smaller, cheaper and have some software/firmware updates (bluetooth, tidal connect, sweet spot etc) which makes them better overall. In comparison with 18s the 8s win in almost any category, so unless the 18s will become heavily discounted there is no point going this way. As for the comparison of one Beolab 8 to all of the Beosounds, well I really hope they will allow for wisa connection of Beosound products.  It would really mix things up. If it won’t happen, Beolab 8 is the way to go. Even though Beosound 2 may have more powerful low end, legendary Beosound A9 may be better overall as one to one, you can upgrade Beolab 8s to have a pair, or a surround system in the future which as of today is not possible in Beosound line. Nor is connecting external source for using stereo pair, nor is possible connecting the Theatre, wall mounting of floor mounting out of the box. For me the Beolab 8 is currently the flagship Bang Olufsen product, and I hope they will focus on expanding this one as this is all in one system with lots of possibilites.

      Thanks for reading I hope I got all of my points right.

      Let me know if you have any questions I will be glad to answer them, and test things out for you!

      #52879
      syrianos82
      BRONZE Member
        • Topics Started 0
        • Total Posts 45

        Congrats on the thorough review.

        I must say let’s agree to disagree on the near identical comparison to the 28’s.

        when I first got the 8’s I would have made similar statements, after having them in the home for two months I am hearing more and more difference in the sound and I always go back to the 28’s for clarity and stereo image. I know Geoff said the narrow beam is super tight on the 8’s but they don’t have the same ease of 28’s to my ears.

        Love them for theatre night and web radio. Personally Music listening is much preferred on the bigger brothers

        #52880
        solidkd
        BRONZE Member
          • Topics Started 2
          • Total Posts 28

          Still considering choosing between BL8s and BL17s for my FL/R…

          #52881
          syrianos82
          BRONZE Member
            • Topics Started 0
            • Total Posts 45

            Where are you from I have new store purchased 17’s from 2 years ago in silver.

            considering to sell them second life?

            #52882
            solidkd
            BRONZE Member
              • Topics Started 2
              • Total Posts 28

              I am in asia

              #52883
              etype76
              BRONZE Member
                • Topics Started 11
                • Total Posts 71

                Nice well-considered review on all aspects of the 8s. I have mine as rears to the Theatre and I also enjoy music from them as well. The narrow mode was excellent while I’m not a huge fan of the wide. The whole L/R swap needs clarifying I agree it was very confusing. Keep enjoying them and congrats!

                #52884
                Severed_hand_of_skywalker
                BRONZE Member
                  • Toronto, Canada
                  • Topics Started 8
                  • Total Posts 217

                  The only thing I don’t like about them is when connected to a Theatre or other sound system they become “Dumb speakers” and the top control panel stays off.  The large piece of empty black glass looks cheap or unfinished to me.

                  Other than that I heard they sound better as front speakers than BL18’s do as the 8’s have more bass.

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