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Review: Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage – Luxury soundbar

Review: Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage – Luxury soundbar
4.3 - 6 reviews

We naturally know Bang & Olufsen as a manufacturer of luxurious, expensive audio devices. But with the Beosound Stage, the Danes do things differently. The soundbar with Dolby Atmos support and Chromecast is competitively priced, yet in the premium class.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage

One of the last times we visited the Bang & Olufsen factories, we were allowed a new speaker that costs around 35,000 euros each. There was no doubt that this Beolab 90 was a strong example of design and technology. But mainstream or accessible, you could hardly call that the man-sized player. That is quite different with the Beosound Stage, Bang & Olufsen's first real soundbar . It is a thoroughbred B&O in style and sound, but the recipe and the price tag make it more relevant for a larger audience than was previously the case with the luxury brand.

For about 1,500 euros you get a hefty and yet refined soundbar that is compatible with Dolby Atmos (3D surround with extra sound from the height), Chromecast and Google Assistant. That is not nothing of course, but other premium sound bars are also roughly in this price range. Consider the Yamaha YSP-5600 or Samsung HW-Q90R for example. The state-of-the-art Sennheiser Ambeo soundbar even costs 1,000 euros more. It is therefore clear that with this product Bang & Olufsen lowers the threshold to buy something from their brand. But is it a good soundbar and does it remain true to the philosophy of the Danish brand?

Handsome in wood

A little about that price tag. We state that the internship costs 1,500 euros. That's right, but only when we talk about the black version that is framed with aluminum. There are two other versions, Smoked Oak and Bronze, both of which exchange aluminum for wood and a more fashionable fabric. The two wood editions are very handsome and stylish to our taste. Perhaps the Stage in one of those versions is even the most tempting soundbar we have ever seen. Our favorite is the Bronze, in which a light, gold-colored wood is combined with a taupé fabric from Kvadrat.

We swallow a little when we discover that these two wood versions cost a lot more. Both the Stage in Smoked Oak and Bronze dangles a price tag of 2,250 euros. An additional cost of 750 euros for a much more luxurious finish, it is something. All three editions of the Stage are technically the same.

Apart from the materials used, the design of the three Stage versions is the same. We have the aluminum version with a black fabric (not from Kvadrat, by the way) visiting, which is anything but an ugly device. Bang & Olufsen connoisseurs know that the Danish brand is truly an expert in the treatment of aluminum, with its own factory (including a gigantic bath for anodizing) that is said to be leading. In addition to the B & O audio devices that roll off the tire, the same factory therefore produces many aluminum dashboard elements for premium models from brands such as Audi. Add to that manufacturing know-how even more leading designers, and you have everything to build a device that fits very nicely in an interior.

Living room friendly

The Beosound Stage is 110 cm wide, which fits well with a 55-inch television. Do you have a larger or smaller screen size? Larger sound bars are usually not attractive if they are combined with smaller screen sizes, but this device is the exception that confirms the rule. It is relatively thin (7.7 cm), and when hung the Stage looks even slimmer. That's because the frame that surrounds the soundbar only takes up part of the thickness. The base is a bit smaller, so the Stage seems to float in front of the wall. If you place the soundbar on a piece of furniture, then this optical trick is less convincing. Logical, because you don't see that basis when the Stage hangs up, but when placing a furniture you look straight at it.

You can operate the Stage via an app and Google Home (see below), but there are also physical buttons that are beautifully integrated into the side. They are not plastic buttons – what do you think, this is B&O – but buttons made from the same material as the frame (aluminum or wood, depending on the version). Moreover, the buttons are integrated almost seamlessly into the whole, making it all look sleek and modern.

The finish is on its Bang & Olufsens. For example, good thought has been given to cable management. Where many soundbar come with one or more niches in which you then have to find connectors for cables, the Stage has a spacious niche in which also high-end HDMI cables can easily find a place. Once everything is connected, close the niche with a lid. It is a detail, but it makes integration into your interior that little bit easier.

11 speakers, 550 Watt

There are cheap soundbars on the market that promise a Dolby Atmos experience, supplied by two or three speakers. In that case, of course, it is a virtualized representation, whereby the three speakers must behave through 9 smart speakers as 9 or 11 separate speakers. Because that is what you need to really display Dolby Atmos as it should be. Given the price tag we are happy that Bang & Olufsen did not follow that virtual path with the Stage. The large soundbar does contain eleven discrete speakers, although you hardly notice it visually. Everything is neatly tucked away behind the speaker fabric that runs over the entire top. By the way, the “top” in the previous sentence and elsewhere in this review should be read as “front” when you hang the Stage on the wall. This is very easy via the provided recesses. No additional bracket or bracket is required. Simply install two screws in the wall and you can mount the soundbar. In the accompanying Bang & Olufsen app you must indicate whether the Stage is on the wall or on a piece of furniture, because the speakers are controlled differently depending on the position of the soundbar.

Bang & Olufsen sees some people see the Stage also use as a standalone speaker for music, for example on a sideboard in the dining room. If you wish, you can purchase a stand from the manufacturer that makes the Beosound Stage stand straight (like wall mounting) on ​​a piece of furniture.

Where is the remote?

Bang & Olufsen always does it in its own way. Are we surprised then that we cannot find a remote control anywhere in the box? Not really, although it's a bit strange for a device like this. In any case, we have never received a soundbar without a remote. Of course you can adjust the volume of the Beosound Stage via the TV remote control, provided you connect the soundbar via HDMI-ARC. We also recommend that. But things like changing sound modes cannot be done via the TV cabinet. For that you will have to go to the Bang & Olufsen app (which is not suitable for volume control) or invest extra in a Bang & Olufsen remote, an additional edition of around 200 euros, depending on the model chosen. With a remote control such as the Beoremote 1, you do get an aluminum remote that is insanely high-quality and luxuriously finished. Because B&O works closely with LG, the Beoremote 1 is also suitable for operating the LG C9.

The Bang & Olufsen app that belongs to the Stage can also be used for other B & O devices. However, you should not expect much from it, because it is very austere and the Stage mainly serves to change the sound mode. Whether you are going to do that a lot is another question, because the manufacturer has conveniently enough provided an option where you can set the sound mode to play per input on the Stage. What is interesting – especially for music – is that you can create a personal sound mode by moving a ball in a square with four parts. For example, dragging the sphere towards the “Clear” corner increases the intelligibility of dialogues. Liked and so you can tune the Stage pretty well to your own taste.

The app lacks a few things that you would expect. Such as a volume control or a way to select the input. The soundbar itself detects if a signal is offered at a certain input, but it would still be useful if you could change the input yourself.

Bang & Olufsen has always strongly focused on multiroom and integration , before those things became a hype. It is therefore no surprise that the Beosound Stage can work together with other B & O devices via Beolink. However, we did not test this aspect due to a lack of a home full of Bang & Olufsen products.

Playing music is very easy

Because the Stage has both AirPlay 2 and Chromecast [19659005] Has built in, streaming music is very easy. It doesn't matter if you have an Apple device or an Android device, there is always a way. Casting to Chromecast and AirPlay is supported by almost every streaming service, including Apple Music, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal, so that you do not run into limitations in that area either. If that is the case, you still have the option to stream via Bluetooth. But AirPlay 2 and Chromecast are preferable if possible, because then you will enjoy a higher lossless quality instead of music in which some of the audio data is thrown away. To be complete, we also mention that the Stage is DLNA compatible. So you can listen to your own music files or (via certain apps, such as BubbleUPnP or mConnect) streaming services in this way.

The presence of Airplay 2 and Chromecast makes connecting the Beosound Stage to your WiFi network very simple. In the Google Home app, for example, you see the soundbar pop up and you can configure it in a few steps. This also makes it possible to operate the soundbar via voice commands, although there is no microphone built into the Stage. So you need a Google Home mini or something similar.

By the way, you can make a link with Deezer and TuneIn internet radio via the Bang & Olufsen app, but since both services support Airplay and Chromecast you may not be using that option

Musically, the Stage quickly convinces. Just like with the KATCH One from Dali you notice at Beosound Stage that the roots of Bang & Olufsen are in the hi-fi. The soundbar has also been tuned by Tonmeister Geoff Martin, the same ears that all other B&O audio devices fine-tune. However, we can still recommend further adjustments via the app, although we would leave the “Content processing” option on “off”. This feature does not seem to be able to cope with sudden dynamic changes, which we notice when we listen to “Shakedown” from Valerie June. With a transition to a louder piece, the song suddenly starts playing a lot quieter. Better without that function. If we listen to “Hurt” from the Norwegian techno-DJ Gundelach or “Team” from Lorde, we cannot complain about the fullness of the basses. Fierce, say! You have to opt for more clarity in the app to make the display tighter, because all the bass violence that we experience in standard mode does undermine the sense of rhythm a bit. This is especially important with classical and electronic music.

Powerful basses, spatial reproduction

To check the Atmos performance of the Stage, we first go through the standard Atmos demos from Dolby. For this we connect an nVidia Shield to the extra HDMI port of the soundbar; this way we are sure that a real Atmos stream will be delivered. The Beosound Stage is also eARC compatible, so that in theory an Atmos stream can also be supplied by streaming apps from a television (also with eARC). However, our LG OLED55B6V is just too old for that technology, hence the choice to work with an external source such as the Shield.

We were quite curious about how the Beosound Stage would present the Dolby demos. . After all, Bang & Olufsen does not really say much about the Atmos support, nor about a particular placement to get the best effect. You just have to place the soundbar where you want and watch a movie. There are no software to adjust the sound of the soundbar in the room (such as with Yamaha or Sennheiser) or various settings to adjust the various channels (such as with LG or Samsung). These are functions that we generally find useful in our living room with its 3.15 m ceiling height and large door opening on the left to the next room. With those reservations in mind, we are actually surprised by the Stage. The sound image that the soundbar creates is indeed three-dimensional and much larger than the TV screen. With “Audiospere”, with a ball flying through the room to play on a high-tech xylophone, there is a clear distinction between low and high and left and right. Even the difference between “front” and “rear” in the room is noticeable, up to a point. Without separate rear speakers, the sound cannot really come from behind you. But B&O does use a few sonic tricks here to give you a sense of depth, so that in the well-known “Leaf” demo the leaf really seems to roll around the screen. In short, the Stage creates a nice 3D image that lingers at the front of the screen. The louder you turn up the volume, the larger that image.

What is immediately noticeable with the demos and later fully confirmed when we look at 'Avengers: Endgame' (Ultra HD, Dolby Atmos) is that the Stage is also the case with films. knows how to use well-known Bang & Olufsen box of tricks to produce very overwhelming basses in Movie mode. We are even inclined to adjust the bass a point or two lower, because this is a bit too much of a good thing in this room. Fortunately, that can easily be adjusted via the app. At the same time we note that the separate speakers are well used to also display dialogues clearly and clearly. It is not as good as a separate center speaker, but the information from the center channel comes mainly from the center. This gives you a realistic feeling of voices coming out of the screen.

Just at the last minute when completing the test we watched '6 Underground' (Dolby Digital, Netflix), the newest pitch from show director Michael Bay. It is just as good as his previous films – we leave that to your imagination – and it is richly filled with car chases, exploding buildings and firefights. The Stage can effortlessly reproduce that hectic, ultra-crowded soundtrack without becoming a large sound slurry, even at really high volumes. And that doesn't work that many soundbars. And man, how loud this thing can be! Michael Bay would be happy with it, we suspect.

Conclusion

Bang & Olufsen devices are traditionally high on the menu of people who love premium design and materials. The Beosound Stage does not disappoint in that respect, despite a price tag that is not extremely high for the Danish brand. It is a bit higher if you go for the best wood versions. We think that is a pity.

But in terms of sound, the Stage has something to offer. The Stage is not really a challenger for enveloping Atmos toppers such as the Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar or the Samsung HW-Q90R, because a 3D sound image is not really put down. But it is worthwhile to create a powerful and yet compelling sound reproduction that is larger than your screen, which makes films a lot Musically we find especially strong, especially if you take the time to fine tune the sound via the app.

Cons

  • Remote is a separate purchase (and actually a must)
  • No calibration function and modest options in terms of audio
  • The most beautiful wood version is a bit more expensive
  • Poor in terms of HDMI inputs

Plus points

  • One of the best soundbars available
  • Powerful basses without soundbar
  • Wide appearance, also suitable for large rooms
  • Great for music
  • Can also be vertically flat against the wall

Homecinema Magazine
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9.0 10 Jamie Biesemans product

3 Comments

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  • Nice review. This product is definitely on my wish list.
    Do note that it is only the wood version that has the higher price tag. I believe that the bronze version is also priced at the entry level

  • Just purchased the stage, agree fully with your comments. Atmos is limited but so is content. It does however give a commanding , quality spread of sound, looks great and works faultlessly.

  • Just as a correction, the Bronze and Silver , stages are the same price the wood version is alone in been more expensive.