What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 1 Apr 2004, 12:00pm

B&O BeoLab5

Tested at £10000
80100
4

These outlandish constructions work as well as sculpture as they do as speakers

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For

  • Wonderfully made and feels luxurious in the extreme
  • sonic refinement

Against

  • Over-polite sound robs the preamp of transparency

No matter whether your hero from outer space is Dan Dare or Han Solo, you know their space-age bachelor pad contains a pair of B&O's BeoLab 5s.

Of course, B&O has any number of reasons at as to why these ­speakers have to look this way, but doubts remain even after they are removed (a two-man job) from their packaging.

Room-calibration abilities
Typical of B&O, the specification is impressive, build quality is first-rate, and the quality of materials used second-to-none. Setting up these active speakers is a sci-fi experience in itself.

Using the Beo4 remote (another £160), each ­speaker calibrates itself to the your room and its position therein. In broad terms, they sound ­fabulous. Van Morrison's Into the Mystic revels in a rock-solid soundstage, taut and agile bass, effortless swing and rare insight.

Switching to John Coltrane's Giant Steps reveals the BeoLab 5s have an almost ­telepathic degree of integration. Dusted by Leftfield demonstrates that the B&Os are fastidious about timing: there's no overhang, even at antisocial volumes.

True, ten grand buys an awful lot of amp and speaker, but these curious active designs are well worth a listen.

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