One B&O soundbar to rule them all…
Bang & Olufsen makes some of the most beautiful hi-fi and audio-visual products in existence, so it stands to reason that the Danish high-end specialist can certainly create one of the best soundbars on the planet if it puts its mind to it – and this is what seemingly has occurred.
Beosound Theatre has just been launched in Berlin, a stone’s throw from the huge tech show known as IFA 2022 – and we are here to see (and hear) it.
Beosound Theatre is billed as “an innovative and meticulously crafted high-end soundbar” bringing with it a big promise – the power of a multi-product home cinema setup in one singular product. Furthermore, B&O tells us its brand new ‘bar is “crafted with the ambition to be the world’s most powerful and immersive soundbar” as well as being a visually stunning addition your living room.
How is it delivering a cinematic experience all from one ‘bar? Beosound Theatre comes toting 12 speaker drivers, including two custom-made long stroke 6.5-inch woofers and 800 watts of amplification power, providing up to 112dB sound pressure level.
Speech clarity is managed by a custom-made center channel, where the tweeter is mounted directly in front of the midrange. The alignment of these drivers ensures, says B&O, a better sound distribution, thus elevating the quality audio experience for everyone in the room, while directivity has been designed to optimize speech quality.
This isn’t B&O’s first foray into sound for TVs though. Building on the Beam Width and Beam Direction Control developed for Bang & Olufsen’s flagship Beolab 90 speakers (and who could forget the stunning, butterfly-like Beovision Harmony TV and sound-system in one, or the opulent Beosound Edge?) and launched at IFA, Beosound Theatre introduces a new three-dimensional sound directivity, thanks to the patent-pending combination of the direct, side- and up-firing speakers.
This means that all loudspeaker drivers are working together not only to produce sound, but to control its beam width and direction – essentially, it’s, B&O’s answer to Dolby Atmos in a solo product that sits under your TV.
“We originally developed the Beam Width and Beam Directivity Control for Beolab 90 to reduce the effect of sidewall reflections at the listening position – basically, to make the walls disappear” said B&O’s senior technology specialist, Jakob Dyreby, adding, “In Beosound Theatre, we are using the technology to direct sound away from the listener, which increases the perception of spaciousness and gives a much more immersive experience”.
At the same time, the Beosound Theatre is built to last for decades due to its modular design, which allows you to update, rather than replace it.
Analysis: a high-end B&O TV audio experience for almost any screen-size – provided you can afford it
Bang & Olufsen is renowned for its unique approach to craftsmanship and design, but this product certainly has substance under the hood as well.
Although we’d suggest one of the best OLED TVs as your starting point to partner this particular ‘bar, the Beosound Theatre is based on B&O’s core principle of modularity, so customers can transform the soundbar into a complete wall-mounted or floor-standing Bang & Olufsen TV home theater experience too – if their budget allows.
This modular design thinking also applies to TV screens and the cover of the soundbar, both of which are replaceable. The aluminium “wings” are also extendable for customers whose TV screens grow as they upgrade – although it is available in three sizes (all of which look bigger and more impressive than our photos convey).
Mads Kogsgaard Hansen, B&O’s head of product circularity, explains: “Beosound Theatre has been modularly designed to outlast many TVs in its lifetime. We have made a solution that enables you to update your product rather than replace it, and a product that can evolve with you over time”, adding, “The Beosound Theatre interface bracket provides the possibility to dock almost any screen to the soundbar.”
That interface bracket is motorized and forms a seamless connection between the stand and the TV screen, cleverly hiding any clutter and presenting the TV as one integrated design. The bracket also includes a compartment to fit smart TV boxes and to hide excess cables from view – nobody needs jumbled cables marring the aesthetic.
In terms of compatibility and connectivity, Beosound Theatre sports seven outputs and can support up to 16 external loudspeakers to become the heart of a full-blown Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 surround configuration. In this setup, Beosound Theatre would function as a center speaker that merges the Dolby Atmos decoding and custom-tuned post-processing with Bang & Olufsen’s proprietary True Image algorithm, to maximize the capabilities of all Bang & Olufsen loudspeakers. So, you could buy Beosound Theatre as a soundbar and later add a pair of rear loudspeakers such as Beolab 28 in a triangular setup, if you so wished.
In addition, Beosound Theatre comes with a new bass management system that the firm says is “unlike anything else” – and since it is B&O talking here, we’re inclined to believe it. Where other systems simply send the bass to the most powerful loudspeaker (usually the subwoofer), B&O says that Beosound Theatre uses all Bang & Olufsen loudspeakers in the system to work together as a single unit. This not only gives you the maximum potential of the entire system, but also helps to control the resonance in your listening room, making sure that the various loudspeakers work with, not against, each other.
And just look at that solid oak and polished aluminum design! The company says it is crafted “to reflect the effortless grace of sailboats”, with a keel-like aesthetic which makes it “appear as if it is resting on an aluminium blade, floating in the air as one fluid form”.
And it’s not all about looks – the software is top-notch too. Beosound Theatre comes with Bang & Olufsen’s new setup technology called Roomsense. By placing the external mic at the listening position, Beosound Theatre will work with the Bang & Olufsen App to measure the distance from the viewer to the soundbar. But more than this, it will also assign a “role” for each speaker based on the different placements, carry out sound compensation for each speaker (if placed free standing, up against a wall or in a corner) as well as overall room compensation to avoid unwanted resonance.
But that’s not all. The soundbar also comes with Bang & Olufsen’s own proprietary software platform called Mozart, which B&O tells us ensures that the Beosound Theatre can connect seamlessly with B&O products as far back as 1986, creating a cross-generational home audio setup.
And as well as respecting the past, the Mozart platform also anticipates the future; the platform is packed with oodles of processing power and memory, so that Bang & Olufsen can introduce new features, capabilities, and connectivity over time to ensure an equally seamless experience for years to come – it’s almost as if the company read our tips on how to get the best from your Dolby Atmos soundbar.
Prices? Of course. Brace yourselves. Beosound Theatre is available in a premium wood or fabric finish. MSRPs start from €6,490 EUR / £5,590 GBP / 49.400 DKK, which equates to around $6,549 or AU$9445. We did say premium…
IFA 2022 is Europe’s biggest tech show, and TechRadar is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on show.