Listening to B&O’s $8,000 soundbar made me think of Mother Earth

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

Sustainability is a big theme at IFA this year, but every company has a different idea of ​​what the term means. For Bang & Olufsen, it’s the ability to use your new (very expensive) soundbar for decades, thanks to a deliberate focus on upgradability and ease of maintenance. Oh, and the sound is not bad either, ensuring that you won’t feel the need to upgrade anytime soon.

Let’s get this over with: the B&O Beosound Theater costs as much as a decent used car. It goes up to $7,990, which puts it beyond the reach of all but the highest layers in the market. So how does B&O justify this asking price?

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Bang & Olufsen Beosound Theater Specifications and Features

  • 12 speakers; 12 power amplifiers
  • Frequency response: 28Hz-23kHz; Maximum sound pressure: 112dB SPL; Bass Capability: 94dB SPL
  • Decoding Dolby Atmos 7.1.4, Dolby Digital TrueHD, Dolby Digital plus 7.1 (including DD5.1), Dolby MAT
  • Advanced bass management system. Customizable sound equalizer
  • Power Consumption: 120W
  • Bluetooth 5.1, 2.4/5GHz dual-band WLAN 802.11 b/g/a/n/ac
  • 3 HDMI inputs with CEC input; 1 x HDMI eARC with 4K 120FPS / 8K 60FPS / 40Gbit passthrough
  • Ethernet switch with 4 x 1Gbit ports; 1 x 3.5 mm jack slider for microphone mute
  • Support Beolink, Chromecast, Spotify Connect Airplay

First of all is the sound quality. We were given a demonstration of the theater in a chic presentation space that B&O had set up in downtown Berlin. The first part of the demo consisted of a soundbar playing music in five genres, ranging from a classical piece to a vocal-oriented cover of Maria Mena’s I Was Made For Loving You, culminating in a stunning rendition of Rammstein’s Goodbye. Even with the short time allotted to this part of the demo, we were impressed with the balance of the soundbar, the sharpness of the separate instruments, and the clarity of the vocals. It was truly a premium listening experience.

Then the B&O rep played us a clip from Bohemian Rhapsody (the 2018 movie starring Rami Malek) to highlight how theater reproduces voices. B&O’s goal was to address the growing problem of unbalanced and uneven voice reproduction that can occur when you mix content, streaming services and hardware, causing many users to rely on subtitles.

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

For the last part of the presentation, B&O connected the Theater to two additional loudspeakers installed behind us. The goal was to demonstrate the system’s modularity and how the soundbar interacts with other speakers to deliver the best possible surround experience. To show this, B&O used the opening scene of the car chase from James Bond: No Time To Die, which is heavy with screeching tires, gunfire and upbeat music. The most interesting part was the part where Bond and his teammate sit in a bulletproof Aston Martin while the bad guys riddle it with bullets. We could clearly hear bullets hitting the car from different directions depending on the scene, which really added to the viewing experience.

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The Beosound Theater sounds impressive, but the technology and long-term thinking behind the device is probably the most interesting part of it. For one thing, this product is compatible with speakers that are decades old, meaning owners can hook it up to their existing setups with minimal fuss. It’s also future-oriented: the manufacturer claims that the product will be upgradeable for at least a decade, both in hardware and software. The soundbar actually runs Linux, and B&O says it will provide software updates and connectivity improvements throughout the life of the product. To accommodate future updates, 50% of the system’s computing power is currently unused.

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Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

Of course, soundbars are meant to be used with TVs. The theater features a modular design that can accommodate almost any screen size from 55″ to 75″. The soundbar can be placed on the floor, mounted on a wall or coupled to a TV and placed on a motorized stand that rotates to adapt to the user. Users can change TVs or mounting methods themselves, using commonly available tools, as the system is designed with scalability and modularity in mind.

The design is sleek, yet understated. The top-of-the-line version (seen in images throughout this article) features a mid-century modern-style wooden grille that’s inspired by sailboats.

$8,000 soundbar: Hot or not?

12 voices

In conclusion, the high price of the Beosound Theater makes it inaccessible to most people, including the author of this article. I’m not going to already be able to justify spending $8,000 on a very fancy speaker. But I can recognize that some of that money would go towards a noble goal: making consumer electronics a little less disposable and a little more durable.

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If you can buy a product “for life”, rather than “upgrading” it every few years, you save money for the future and save yourself a lot of pollution in the future. It’s a good mindset to have when buying devices, even if they don’t cost a small fortune.