Beosound Theatre first week impressions

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  • #9302

    This will be a long post, so TL;DR: I like the Theatre. Buy one if you can afford it. 

    I’ve spent a week with my new Beosound Theatre now and I have some impressions to share. Lots have been said about how good it sounds (and I agree it sounds pretty good), so I’m going to focus more on living with it daily.

    I’m not rich (certainly not now), so for me this was a significant purchase that came with significant expectations. It’s replacing a Beovision 11 that broke recently.

    What I like

    This is by no means an exhaustive list—this soundbar has lots of great attributes. Just a few things I want to point out.

    I don’t think I would have splurged for the Theatre if this was yet another all-in-one TV that would force me to live with an aging TV because my sound system was held hostage by it. I really like that it’s separate from the relatively disposable OLED panel, while still offering typical B&O integration with it. Great concept.

    As you can see, I went for the motorized wall mount after much debate. It works better for my room because it takes up less space and can swivel more towards the couch, but while I originally felt that the additional bottom cover plate was a bit ugly and missed the beautiful floor stand of my Beovision 11, I now actually prefer the look of the wall mount. The bottom plate complements the wings nicely to surround the soundbar with metal, and not having the foot gives a cleaner look. Overall very happy with both how it looks and operates.

    I also debated for a long time whether to go with fabric or oak. Fabric would have been the smarter choice, because it’s 5x cheaper and both softer and more durable for kids to run into, but I ultimately went with the wooden slats because it makes it look like a piece of art. At this price point, who cares how much it costs.

    The build quality and looks of this thing are striking, as you’d expect from B&O, and people pause to look at it even when it’s off. Overall it is probably the nicest object I own, which is juxtaposed with one of the ugliest: the PS5.

    Installation was a breeze. I had it professionally installed because they insisted, but I was with them and have since adjusted many different things on my own to make it even more perfect. You can no doubt install this yourself as long as you pay attention and have someone to help you lift the monitor, although B&O support would tell you otherwise (repeatedly and harshly!). If you’re reasonably dexterous, you can do this, and if you’re a perfectionist, you probably should. The instructions are great and detailed to the point of hilarity. Don’t let people scare you off.

    For all the discouragement you’ll get from B&O’s support for wanting to tinker yourself with installation however, the complete opposite is true for other parts of the Theatre experience: there’s an official Home Assistant integration to get it and the BeoRemote into your smart home, and it’s great. It’s a tinkerers ultimate dream and setting my BeoRemote One up to control my Hue lights and IKEA blinds was a breeze. I’ve even mapped a button to pause my dishwasher when it gets noisy during a movie. Controlling lights with the remote is something I’ve wanted to do for decades ever since I saw a Beo4 control lighting in the 90s, but it previously required bespoke hardware and professional installation, none of which appealed to me. Now it just works with market leading open-source software out of the box and B&O itself is behind the development. This was totally unexpected and I respect them so much for doing this. Truly great to see.

    The sound is really good. Again there are many other articles you can read on this, but just know that I agree. It doesn’t hold a candle to my old Beolab 9s when it comes to sheer power (of course), but with kids and no friends, my audio requirements have changed since I bought the 9s a decade ago to host parties. The Theatre is definitely enough to fill my 40m2 room with music. The new Listening Positions feature, combining the previously separate Stand and Speakers features, is a stroke of genius and makes using this thing so much simpler. It makes so much sense having them combined, because if your ears have moved your eyes probably have too. Less configuration in day to day use.

    I also discovered that the input latency of the Theatre is very minimal—I was able to hook up my Sonos Port and stream to it and other Sonos speakers in the house in sync. This was impossible with my previous Beovision because the latency was simply too high. Nice to see. I’m not sure if I’ll keep the Sonos or go all in on AirPlay, but it’s great to have the option.

    There are much more things I like with the Theatre, but I’ve rambled long enough. Let’s get on to the areas of improvement.

    What I don’t like so much

    There are plenty of things about this product that annoys me too, so here come my nit-picks, many of which could be fixed in software.

    1. The app is pretty buggy and limited in some areas. You can’t rename HDMI sources, because that feature is simply broken, and until the recent beta you couldn’t edit a Listening Position extensively either. You had to re-create them if you wanted to change the stand position or include or unassign a speaker. Some flows can’t be exited once started without quitting the app, and sound modes can’t be deleted (the button simply does not work). It’s good that they’re working on it and I have reported a bunch of issues to hopefully get fixed, but it’s not nearly in a good state enough to be shipped with this kind of premium product. Too buggy and limited.
    2. The initial set up and calibration works great when it works, but a few times I’ve been unable to calibrate because it would fail repeatedly without telling me why. It started working after I power cycled the Theatre. Not the end of the world, but not exactly reassuring either.
    3. There does not seem to be a way to configure the List menu of the remote. No way of reordering, rename, add or remove menu items to optimize it for your use-case. This would be useful to get rid of stuff you don’t need, especially in the Light and Control menus (which I use with Home Assistant); these have pre-populated items with very specific names that you can map to automations, but without being able to rename them most of them make no sense for my setup. It’s a minor gripe but a weird omission, given how configurable the BeoRemote is when used with a legacy product.
    4. The Stand list sub-menu contains only one single item: manual control. Why did you make me go into a sub-menu?
    5. The motorized wall mount does a weird hump against the wall when closing. It’s like it’s trying to get as close to it as possible until it’s really, really sure that it has, then it lets go and releases some tension. It looks ugly and sounds weird, but thankfully can be mitigated by holding it back slightly when calibrating so that it closes a wee bit earlier than it would have otherwise. After that it closed smoothly and silently. The motor is also a bit noisy compared to older B&O gear. Not as sophisticated.
    6. The wooden slats of the aforementioned oak cover are really brittle and easy to snap off. Two had already broken on the demo unit I borrowed, and while I could fix them with glue and received a few spares to use in the future, it’s clearly a design flaw that they’re mounted using flimsy, teeny-weeny wooden pegs. Too easy to break.

    That’s enough complaining from me. Many of these issues could be improved with software (and I hope they will), and you might think I’m nit-picky, but for a product at this price point and with such a polished exterior, I think calling them out is fair and find the fact that they went out in this state a bit worrying.

    Overall though, living with this thing is really fun and easy, even for my spouse who couldn’t care less about AV equipment. Quirky app aside, once you set it up to your liking you won’t need to use it very much if you also get the BeoRemote One (you should). It looks the part, sounds the part and is a lot easier to use than any other AV system this capable. It’s a great soundbar and new direction for B&O that I’m really happy with.

    Please tell me why I’m wrong, why I’m right, what quirks I’ve missed and what you think of the Theatre!

    #20932

    NVM – reboot #48 helped and all events are visible now.

    @lundmark

    Mind sharing how you managed to properly get the event going for the BeoRemote?

    When I listen to bangolufsen_event – I will only get entries when I use the control or light function. None of the color, numeric or up/down buttons show up – seems like either I’m doing something absolutely wrong, or the fact that I still got the Netflix/Amazon version messes something up.

    #20956

    NVM – reboot #48 helped and all events are visible now. @lundmark Mind sharing how you managed to properly get the event going for the BeoRemote? When I listen to bangolufsen_event – I will only get entries when I use the control or light function. None of the color, numeric or up/down buttons show up – seems like either I’m doing something absolutely wrong, or the fact that I still got the Netflix/Amazon version messes something up.

    Not sure it adress your issues, but there is a video on the subject here:
    https://youtu.be/8x7HumSAZcQ

    #20964

    Hi,

    Very interesting video, thank you Hiort.

    If I welll understand, Home Assistant needs an always-on computer or NAS.

    Is there a solution to add Home assistant in an Apple TV?

    Kind regards,

    Yann.

     

    #20967

    No, you need a computer – eg a RasberryPI or similar.

    #20977

    No way on a NAS too?

    I have a QNAP model with the latest QTS.

    #20985

    That’s correct, it only works when in control or light mode.

    #21004

    No way on a NAS too? I have a QNAP model with the latest QTS.

    So in theory you would use Container Station to create yourself a virtual machine (if you have a QNAP powerful enough to support that) and install HASS onto it. A Google search will point you to a YouTube video, showing such an install. (N.B. I do not own a QNAP. On a Synology NAS one would launch Docker and install HASS into that.)

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