Reputations are damnable things. Bang & Olufsen is mostly ignored by men serious about the million-dollar hi-fi systems piled high in their customised man-cave listening rooms stuffed to the stalactites with rock wool. This is because B&O’s products are functional and aesthetic. They will fascinate, not scare, friends and family. Good design simplifies your lifestyle so you can get on with your life.
Occasionally, after a lot of engineering and human ingenuity, simplicity arrives with a bang. The B&O BeoLab 90 (swipe to final picture to view), unveiled in the Danish company’s 90th anniversary year in 2015, is an haute couture supermodel of radically striking yet elegant features and proportions. As a distillation of electronic, digital, acoustic and industrial design, it sweeps away the high-end’s uber-expensive ancien regime that cannot stop repeating itself.
You might say the B&O BeoLab 50 pictured above is the ready-to-wear version of the 90. Like the latter, it’s an active speaker, with each of its seven drivers matched to its own B&O ICEpower Class D amp. It also has adjustable dispersion characteristics and the ability to tune itself to the room, the biggest variable in high-fidelity sound reproduction.
You’d never guess at the existence of its three 10” woofers from its slim looks. The BeoLab 50 (like its space-saucery BeoLab 5 progenitor that first set the cat among the pigeons) is an extremely dynamic speaker that can plumb the depths and take you high in a single swoop. There’s something very clean and maybe achromatic about its tone, not unlike the 5. Go listen.