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B&O Beolab 90 - adjustable directivity by DSP
B&O Beolab 90 - adjustable directivity by DSP
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Old 9th January 2016, 06:04 PM   #31
Mindsource is offline Mindsource  Canada
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B&O Beolab 90 - adjustable directivity by DSP
Just checked out the Anya. Impressive. I saw one of Tom Petty's shows on that tour. It sounded fantastic.

Home audio is always behind pro it seems. And if the audiofools have their way we will keep seeing the same old technology wrapped up in new shiny boxes.

I'll make the assumption that we will eventually be experimenting with this technology in diy.

Last edited by Mindsource; 9th January 2016 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 9th January 2016, 07:46 PM   #32
bwaslo is offline bwaslo  United States
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B&O Beolab 90 - adjustable directivity by DSP
I would imagine you could already do a lot with this concept using currently available MiniSharc boards and multiple amps and drivers. Nothing out of DIY reach, no unobtanium involved.
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Old 9th January 2016, 07:59 PM   #33
eriksquires is offline eriksquires  United States
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Originally Posted by bwaslo View Post
I would imagine you could already do a lot with this concept using currently available MiniSharc boards and multiple amps and drivers. Nothing out of DIY reach, no unobtanium involved.
Which is why you'll never sell a pair of speakers for $80K.

Yep, it's all completely do-able by a DIYer. Certainly a lot easier now than in 1985.



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Old 9th January 2016, 08:11 PM   #34
eriksquires is offline eriksquires  United States
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You COULD do this yourself, but aside from the academic exercise, who would want to? As a DIYer, you can build speakers specifically for your tastes and your room. The main feature of these speakers is adaptability. What's the point of speakers like this unless you are going to keep moving them around?

Better off using one of Linkwitz' Open Baffle designs with a miniDSP. You'd end up with some thing prettier, smaller, that performs as well if not better in your room plus now there is even an Android app!

MiniDSP Android App


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Last edited by eriksquires; 9th January 2016 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 10th January 2016, 04:09 AM   #35
Mindsource is offline Mindsource  Canada
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B&O Beolab 90 - adjustable directivity by DSP
We have controlled directivity down to ~1k with reasonable size waveguides. Could you see this technology keeping the lower octaves CD in a reasonable size?
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Old 10th January 2016, 06:31 AM   #36
Patrick Bateman is offline Patrick Bateman  United States
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Originally Posted by wesayso View Post
Are you going? I bet they will sound awesome. Despite the coloured post above me I do have faith in B&O. They probably won't sound like the usual "Boom and Tizz" of the upper market but to me that's actually a good thing. I bet they sound like music is supposed to sound. Hope to read some reports soon.
Here's a brief review:

I've been going to audio shows for nearly twenty years now. In general, I've found that 80% of the speakers there are about as good as what you'd get at Best Buy, maybe a bit worse. I've noticed that you see a lot of names come and go.

The names that you see year-in-and-year-out tend to sell products that are consistently good. I've never heard a bad demo from Kef, Dynaudio, or Vandersteen. I'm not saying that they're GREAT, but they're consistently good, and once in a while, they're great.

One trend that I've noticed, particularly in the last five years, is that the overall quality of loudspeakers is getting very good. For instance, at the 2005 CES I'd say that most of the speakers I heard were average to mediocre. At the 2016 CES, most speakers sounded good.

I think there's a downside to this consistency though; a LOT of speakers sounded very very similar. For instance, both Kef and Wharfedale were demoing a modestly prices coincident speaker, and if I had a blindfold on I wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

I think what's happening here is that the quality of measurement software, and general knowledge of psychoacoustics is getting so good, even average and inexpensive speakers are light years beyond what we had twenty years ago.

Click the image to open in full size.
Pioneer's $100 speakers come to mind; back in the 90s something like this would come in a nicer cabinet and it would cost $1000.

In summary:
I listened to dozens of speakers at CES 2016, and many of them were quite good. We're in a bit of a 'golden age' when it comes to loudspeakers, there's a lot of good stuff that doesn't cost a lot.

But I didn't see a lot that pushed any boundaries.

An externally hosted image should be here but it is no longer accessible. Please upload images instead of linking to them to prevent this.

The Nola Brio Trio really grabbed my attention. It has a lot in common with the LX Mini. I built myself an 'homage' to the LX Mini, and the Brio Trio reminded me a lot of my project, but the Nola sounds better. The speakers produce a soundstage which stretches well beyond their boundaries, and due to the tiny cabinets, they really disappear.

After a few hours of listening to various systems, listening fatigue was really setting in. For instance, I gave the Genesis line arrays a second listen, and though I loved them earlier in the day, I found that they weren't quite as good later in the day. I chalked it up to fatigue.

With less than ninety minutes left in the day, I made the trek over to Bang & Olufsen. My main goal wasn't to hear the Beolab 90s; I actually wanted to hear the Beolab 5s, as I've invested a lot of effort into acoustic lenses based on the Beolab.


By the way, I want to apologize for the length of this post. I wanted to put my experience with the Beolab into perspective. I don't want people thinking that it was the only speaker that I listened to at CES, or that I've only listened to a handful of world-class speakers. I've listened to hundreds, and I even bought a pair based on demos at audio shows. (I bought my Gedlee Summas based on a demo that Earl did at the 2005 RMAF.)

Click the image to open in full size.

Let's cut to the chase here. The Beolab 90 is an industry-changing speaker. In my life I can count on one hand the speakers that are able to make the room 'disappear.' The first time I experienced it was with Quad Electrostatics. The second time was with Danley SH50s. There are plenty of speakers which throw a nice soundstage, but those two speakers make the boundaries of the room disappear. The listening room in my home is tiny, barely 150', but close your eyes with an SH50 and you're transported to where the recording was made.

I need to stress that this is rather unique, as there ARE speakers which throw a huge stage, no matter what's on the recording. I've heard a lot of line arrays that do that, and you can create that effect electronically using crosstalk cancellation.

But the Quad and the SH50 were different, when the recording was small, the sound was small, and when the recording was great, it was like a window onto the recording venue.

The Beolab 90 does this.

Listening to the Summas back-to-back with the SH50s, I could tell that Geddes is correct when he says that HOMs are obnoxious. The SH50s image like crazy, but the treble isn't silky smooth like it is with the Summas. (And don't take my word for it, you can see it in the measurements of both.)

The Beolab didn't have that problem; there is no waveguide and no horn, and there are no HOMs.

Listening to the Quads, I knew I could never live with them; I'm a horn guy and the Quads lacked the dynamics I'm accustomed to.

The Beolab 90 is a BEAST; I'm surprised Bang & Olufsen wasn't kicked out of CES. I never even got close to the SPL limits of my Summas, but if the Beolab 90 had a limit, I couldn't tell what it was. B&O cranked it up for a couple of tracks, and you could FEEL the bass. Each cabinet basically has four high excursion subs in it, and thousands of watts.



The easiest way for me to describe the demo is this:
I have a pair of really nice headphones, Sennheiser HD380s. The Beolab 90 sounds like my headphones. Except the soundstage is out there in the room, instead of in my head. The sound is clean and dynamic. The soundstage is whatever you give it; give it a good recording and the soundstage is pinpoint and huge, give it a crummy recording and it's crummy.



Another thing that I really appreciated about the Bang & Olufsen demo was their transparency. For instance, the Dynaudio folks ran a demo using a track that appeared to have crosstalk cancellation on the recording. I've messed around a lot with crosstalk cancellation, so I know it when I hear it; it makes the stage insanely wide. The B&O folks weren't doing what most do, they weren't playing a series of "audiophile-approved" recordings carefully curated to wow the crowd. They were basically picking tracks at random from their music server. (80% of the tracks in the demo were tracks I owned, so I feel fairly confident that I wasn't snowed.)

So... Any questions?

If you couldn't tell yet, this is the best speaker I've ever heard, bar none. In fact, I feel a little silly lumping it in with other loudspeakers. It's like comparing a tube amp to a solid state amp. They both amplify the music, but they're completely different animals.
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Old 10th January 2016, 06:45 AM   #37
Patrick Bateman is offline Patrick Bateman  United States
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Now that the review is out of the way, here's a couple of interesting things I noticed about the Beolab 90:

Click the image to open in full size.
1) I'm willing to bet B&O is losing money on the speaker. I work for a company that partners with B&O, and if you look at B&Os financial statements, a lot of their income and profits are coming from the headphones and the cheap stuff nowadays. My 'hunch' is that the Beolab 90 is a 'halo' item, where they lose money on it, just to show the world what they're capable of. Volkswagen does the same thing with the Bugatti Veyron; it sells for a million dollars and they've lost money on every single one of them. It's an engineering statement.

2) I'm a total basshead, I listen at deafening levels. One thing that really impressed me about the Gedlee Summas was that they were so clean and dynamic, you'd THINK you were listening at 90dB when you're listening at 100dB. The Summas are just *effortless.* When Geddes demo'd them at the RMAF I actually lost my voice from having to shout over the music. IE, it *seemed* like we were listening at a polite level, but the speakers were actually louder than it seemed. But due to very low power compression and distortion, you wouldn't know it. The Beolab 90s were very similar in this respect.

3) The Danley SH50s are noticeably directional. For instance, when I had them in my house if you walked around the speaker it was really noticeable how the intensity of sound was greatest in front of the speaker. It's a phenomenon that's really hard to describe unless you've heard it for yourself. Obviously most speakers are *brighter* on-axis, but the SH50s are noticeably LOUDER on axis. As you walk around the speaker it feels like someone is slowly cranking the volume know.
The Beolab 90s do this too; I walked behind the speakers and the lack of midrange and treble energy was very noticeable.

4) The bass on the Beolab 90s sounds like a dipole. Very 'dry.' Again, a lot like headphones. No boom whatsoever.

5) Obviously the most exciting part about the Beolab 90 is that it doesn't NEED to cost eighty thousand dollars. Just the driver cost alone is thousands of dollars, and eighteen channels of Icepower doesn't come cheap. It seems really obvious that the ideas embodied in the speaker will 'trickle down' to affordable speakers.
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Old 10th January 2016, 07:01 AM   #38
Patrick Bateman is offline Patrick Bateman  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwaslo View Post
I would imagine you could already do a lot with this concept using currently available MiniSharc boards and multiple amps and drivers. Nothing out of DIY reach, no unobtanium involved.
Agreed.

On the five hour drive back from Vegas, the thing that had me excited was the possibility of combining a Synergy horn for directivity control of the mids and highs, with DSP for the lows.

The bass of the Beolab 90 sounded a lot like a dipole.

So it seems like you could probably have an interesting 'hybrid' set up. I think that the SH50 images better than the Lambda Unity horn, but it's really hard to justify having a horn in my living room that's a meter wide. Seems like transitioning from waveguides to beam steering around 1000hz would give the best of both worlds.

I'm not sure if beam steering above 1000hz is a great idea. It requires a LOT of drivers, and I don't particularly care about changing beamwidth.
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Old 10th January 2016, 07:09 AM   #39
eriksquires is offline eriksquires  United States
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Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
Now that the review is out of the way, here's a couple of interesting things I noticed about the Beolab 90:

1) I'm willing to bet B&O is losing money on the speaker.
That would be a real shocker. Right up there with Kaitlyn Jenner faking her sex change operation. Doing the math, I think your wrong. The cost is in the R&D, and whether they recoup that is another thing.

To me the entire speaker looks more like a lab experiment than a real attempt at selling to consumers though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
I work for a company that partners with B&O, and if you look at B&Os financial statements, a lot of their income and profits are coming from the headphones and the cheap stuff nowadays.
As well as partnerships with companies like Volkswagen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
My 'hunch' is that the Beolab 90 is a 'halo' item, where they lose money on it, just to show the world what they're capable of. Volkswagen does the same thing with the Bugatti Veyron; it sells for a million dollars and they've lost money on every single one of them. It's an engineering statement.
Now if only they didn't lie about the gas mileage, I would have bought a pair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
The Beolab 90s do this too; I walked behind the speakers and the lack of midrange and treble energy was very noticeable.
Well considering that's their raison d'e tre I'm glad to hear it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
4) The bass on the Beolab 90s sounds like a dipole. Very 'dry.' Again, a lot like headphones. No boom whatsoever.
Well, that's a shame, I hoped good dipole's sounded better than that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman View Post
5) Obviously the most exciting part about the Beolab 90 is that it doesn't NEED to cost eighty thousand dollars. Just the driver cost alone is thousands of dollars, and eighteen channels of Icepower doesn't come cheap. It seems really obvious that the ideas embodied in the speaker will 'trickle down' to affordable speakers.
That and that hopefully B&O will make speakers that sound better than everything I've heard from them in the last decade.
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Old 10th January 2016, 07:42 AM   #40
Juhazi is offline Juhazi  Finland
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Thank you Patrick for the writeup, feels like I was travelling with you! There is one pair of 90s in Finland now, but now I don't need to drive 2x four hours to hear them!

One question, did the crew demonstrate how sound adjustments are done? Obviously there are presets, but is there possibility for free configuration?

Second question, obviously Beolab 90 is a loudspeaker for stereophonic music. B&O is heavily on AV now, did they say anything about this aspect?
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