Bang & Olufsen doesn't tend to do things by halves, so it's no surprise the company's 90th anniversary is being recorded with a unique piece of speaker design.
The BeoLab 90, which is due on sale on 17th November (the date of the 90th anniversary) and will cost "£26,995 per unit", is claimed to be B&O's most complete speaker to date. It certainly cuts an eye-catching figure.
Boasting a 360-degree design, the BeoLab 90 has "no apparent visual front" thanks to its angular design, with speaker drivers placed in various directions to help guide the sound around a room.
B&O's 90th anniversary speaker aims to deliver the ultimate sound experience whatever your room, whatever you're listening to and no matter how many people in the room.
The new Active Room Compensation takes care of the first bit, calibrating the sound of the speaker according to the size and shape of your room, the furnishings and your listening position.
More after the break
"You do not have to be close to the speaker or even in front of it to get an excellent sound experience," says Bang & Olufsen CEO, Tue Mantoni.
It's not all about creating the ultimate sweetspot for set listening positions, however. Beam Width Control allows you to "change the width of the sound", should you have a room full of people or just the family together to watch a film.
What is it made of? There is 65kg of aluminium. Some of it is used for the crowns forming the frame, which are cut from solid blocks of of the stuff. The rest is solidly die-cast.
All that metal (and some 10mm-thick plastic) holds in place the drivers: seven 30mm tweeters, seven 86mm midrange drivers, three 212mm side and rear woofers, and one 260mm front woofer. That's right: 18 drivers, all facing different directions. The ones not facing you are used to correct and balance the sound based on your settings and/or the environment.
These drivers are covered by black fabric, which B&O says "hover like sails". Despite their curious shape, these sails are only fixed at four points. The idea was to reduce their effect on the acoustic performance by limiting the amount of framing used.
The base of the speaker uses oak panelling. One of these hides the connections: power link, RCA, XLR, USB, S/P-DIF and Toslink. As you might expect from something of this level, the digital inputs are compatible with high-resolution audio, up to a maximum of 24but/192kHz. Well, not the Toslink, which is capped at 24bit/96kHz. “We don’t trust Toslink,” says B&O.
There’s wireless connectivity too, based on the multi-channel WiSA system. The company recommends you stick with wired inputs to get the most of the BeoLab 90.
"BeoLab 90 is our most complete loudspeaker to date. It is a committed investment in excellent craftsmanship, ideal materials and superior technology," according to Mantoni. "Future Bang & Olufsen products will benefit from the innovation and know-how gained from the development of BeoLab 90 – and our customers will savour the perfect sound from the ultimate loudspeaker for their home."
No pressure, then?
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