Bang & Olufsen was founded in Struer, Denmark in 1925 by Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen, two innovative young engineers devoted to high quality audio reproduction; initially they made box radios. Since then, the brand has become an icon of performance and design excellence through its long-standing craftsmanship tradition and the strongest possible commitment to high-tech research and development. Colin Sharp visited Struer in June.
Still at the forefront of domestic technology, B&O has extended its comprehensive experience with integrated audio and video solutions for the home to other areas, such as the hospitality and automotive industries in recent years. Consequently, its current product range epitomises seamless media experiences – in the home, in the car and on the move.
I was fortunate to meet the designers of the new BeoLab 50, a top-performing loudspeaker from B&O that presents sophisticated sound within a beautifully designed structure. It’s the first loudspeaker from B&O, emerging directly from the prestigious and innovative BeoLab 90 (2015) that set an entirely new standard for state-of-the-art loudspeakers. The extraordinary performance of BeoLab 50 was sourced from the uncompromising acoustic R&D of BeoLab 90 and the new model shares several features with this iconic landmark loudspeaker.
So BeoLab 50 delivers a truly exceptional performance through its innovative sound control technologies and unique design that unfolds as required. The loudspeaker’s distinct appearance reflects the technologies applied, yet it still fits elegantly into any interior décor signature.
It’s a high performer with a light footprint. The silhouette of BeoLab 50 is slender, tall, and rounded, characterised by floating lines and visible edges; the silver-polished aluminium surfaces and warm oak wood lamellas are recognisable trademarks of Bang & Olufsen products. The base area of the speaker is designed to visually lift it from the floor, retaining an expression of clear posture in the centre. ‘The overall balance of BeoLab 50 is light and refined and its footprint relatively small, making it easy to fit into most homes,’ says designer André Poulheim.
BeoLab 50 also benefits from B&O’s pioneering Active Room Compensation Technology. Using an external microphone, the speaker measures its physical acoustic surroundings and applies the ideal compensation filters to produce optimum sound at various listening positions, or throughout the entire interior.
The unique Bang & Olufsen Signature Acoustic Lens Technology was designed on top of the speaker and handles the sound dispersion of the upper frequencies. The lens disperses the sound via Beam Width Control into either a 180-degree sound mode for social enjoyment – e.g. a party or watching a movie – or to a narrow mode for a dedicated ‘sweet-spot’ listening position. When BeoLab 50 is switched on the lens elevates in an elegant and controlled upwards movement, revealing a softly-lit cave to ensure that the lens is discretely visible both day and night.
The Bang & Olufsen App enables the operation of BeoLab 50, and will assist in creating and selecting different listening pre-sets in relation to any listening position and preferences. Plus, the BeoLab 50 is interconnected via Digital Power Link in a master-slave configuration with sound sources being fed into the system via the master speaker’s comprehensive connection panel. As a supplement to the wired connection, BeoLab 50 also incorporates wireless technology using multi-channel digital audio streaming (based on the WiSA technology) with a very robust performance.
BeoLab 50 is a high-end active loudspeaker with 2 100 watts of precision power. It will be available in Bang & Olufsen, Mall of Africa, Melrose Arch and Sandton City studios from mid-October 2017.