Review: Bohne audio BB-10L two-way floorstanding speaker of "Lifestyle" series act like a vital cure, they project the music forward freely
Jörg Bohne is more of an impulsive type – no wonder, after all he plays drums in three bands. In his job as loudspeaker developer and head of the manufactory that bears his name (Web: https://bohne-audio.com/ ), he lives out a certain “impulse obsession”: He considers the transient reproduction of conventional loudspeaker concepts to be defective. So he set about examining the transient behavior of instruments more closely and developing loudspeakers that convey exactly that. Its second-smallest model, the Bohne Audio BB-10L (price 10,990 euros), is also said to have this ability. It should actually be a horn, right?
But this is not the case. Bohne admits to the horn conceptsome advantages, in particular the sound output is high and there are definitely models that play without discoloration. But he doesn’t believe the concept is capable of authentic impulse reproduction of all things – that’s what we usually think of when it comes to horns. His reasoning: A part of the transient energy is lost through system-immanent “pressure change processes”. Here he assumes that the air in the compression chamber is first, logically: compressed in order to then be slowed down in the horn funnel. These pressure changes robbed the transients of their authentic expression. Hmm, interesting theory. Of course, I would argue that not every horn uses a compression chamber, but it is true that most tweeter horns have such an upstream chamber.
But let’s take a step back and ask ourselves: What actually is a transient? It must have something to do with a transition, the Latin will remark – and is quite correct, since the term in acoustics describes the noisy initial phase of a sound before it reaches a steady state with its harmonic fundamentals and overtones . Transients not only provide an impulsive, dynamic impression, they are also crucial for locating signals and distinguishing different instruments, voices and sounds. Because not only the waveform and thus the timbre not only allows us to distinguish a guitar from a cello, but also the characteristic starting phase of the tone (here: finger or plectrum tear vs. scratching of the bow on the string). Don’t underestimate the importance of the attack phase, it’s not just about a “jagged” impression. Of course, jaggedness is also crucial if an impulse is to appear real – after all, it’s about sending an initial pressure wave in the direction of the listener within the first millisecond. Transients are inherently steep, so we’re talking about high-frequency signals.
We have learned that tweeter horns do not meet Bohne’s specifications. Commercially available tweeter domes certainly not: they are too heavy and mechanically inhibited, also offer too small a surface to transport the necessary energy and deform with impulsive signals. In terms of speed, plasma tweeters are actually ideal, but do not achieve the necessary sound pressure levels, says Bohne. That’s why he relies on the ribbon principle. The diaphragm and “voice coil” are one and the same, giving it an excellent mass-to-drive ratio. However, ribbons are often a bit too small to build up the necessary pressure and to be able to be coupled deeply. But that can be changed. Bean makes his own ribbons, and they’re bigger than most; actually you could also say “band”. They are also patent protected.
Bohne Audio BB-10L: Concept & Technology
The ribbon in the Bohne Audio BB-10L is 20 centimeters long and 14 millimeters wide. It works as a dipole radiator, so the rear sound is used. Compared to a standard 1-inch dome, this ribbon has a sound-radiating surface that is around five and a half times larger. The crossover frequency is at a fairly low 900 Hertz – this is the only crossover point, by the way, because Bohne Audio only builds two- way loudspeakers . Every additional path only brings new problems, especially when it comes to impulse reproduction, says Bohne. The statement reminds me of Blumenhofer Acoustics, who believe in the same thing but specialize in passive horn speakers. Bohne, on the other hand, consistently relies on active technology, and so he can also realize the deep separation with a steep 48 dB/octave.
While the ribbon is manufactured by Bohne Audio itself, the mid-bass driver comes from the Italian manufacturer Sica – who of course manufactures it according to special specifications. The rather hard hung 10-incher with fiber-reinforced paper composite cone and 76 millimeter diameter aluminum flat-wire coil has a set of parameters that has been specially optimized for operation with passive cones and for high acceleration – not for linearity. This can be achieved by appropriate frequency response correction in the DSP of the preamp or active crossover. The passive membranes of the BB-10L were mounted on the side, also come from Sica and have a diameter of 10 inches. Much more driver area can be used with such a speaker of a reasonably manageable size – 117 x 33 x 34 centimeters (HxWxD), 36 kilograms/piece, the bass compartment has a volume of 32 liters – hardly realizable. And as the saying goes: Nothing can replace the driver area, except for even more driver area. The passive radiators work from 20 to 50 Hertz, the lower limit frequency of the bean BB-10L is 28 Hertz (-3 dB).
Not only is the equipment on the BB-10L unusual, the active concept also deviates from the usual. The electronics are not in the speaker, but in independent, external components. This is of course the most consistent way, offers advantages in waste heat management and the avoidance of microphonics , but you still see it very, very rarely.
Incidentally, when it comes to the power amp, Bohne doesn’t trust purchased modules, he builds them himself. The class AB design is called BA-200, has an output of 4 x 200 watts at 8 ohms and is characterized by a very high slew rate and low distortion . For this, Bohne uses high-voltage lateral mosfets and a low-impedance power supply with an 800 VA transformer and 60,000 microfarad filtering. As a Bohne customer, however, you don’t have to use this power amplifier; you can also use your own and save almost 3,700 euros – another advantage of the “external” active concept. But don’t forget: Of course you need four channels.
Logically, the miniDSP SHD, which Bohne Audio uses in the BB-10L as a preamplifier and signal processor, also has that many. If you want, you can also order the speakers with the even higher quality Trinnov ST-2 HiFi, but that increases the bill by 4,500 euros – and the SHD (“Streaming High Definition”) is hard to beat in terms of price-performance ratio, says Bohne.
In fact, the functionality of this device alone is so rich that you could write your own review about it, but I only want to limit myself to the essentials here. So: Balanced and unbalanced analog and digital sources (high level Cinch & XLR, USB-B, AES-EBU, S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink) can be connected to the miniDSP SHD, and it also has a LAN socket for connecting to the network – finally, it can also serve as an audio streamer (Volumio) and Roon endpoint. Above all, however, it sees itself as a four-way active crossover and offers the possibility of room calibration via DSP plus Dirac Live. One of these is included with the Bohne Audio BB-10L, along with the necessary measurement microphone along with the appropriate stand and cabling.
In general, the price for the whole package seems reasonable to me, even if 11 kEuro is of course a number. Loudspeakers, power amplifier, preamplifier, microphone, stand, the entire wiring plus a room measurement as a professional service – there’s quite a bit in the bag. This is probably only possible with the direct sales concept. But I don’t want to praise the day before the evening here, the most crucial point is still missing, the hearing test.
Bohne Audio BB-10L: Sound impression & listening test
But before listening, there is the aforementioned calibration of the loudspeaker, which in our case was carried out personally by Mr. Bohne when the test sample was delivered. Since the miniDSP SHD can save four presets, a corresponding number of target curves were stored: one linear, two with a slightly “right-skewed” frequency response– in other words: slightly sloping from bass to treble – and fourth, a loudness tuning for low levels. I mainly listened with the slightly more clearly sloping curve (about -6 dB), I know similar corrections from different loudspeakers and listening rooms. Such a reduction in amplitude with increasing frequency is objectively not linear, of course, but subjectively or “heard” for many, it does not seem to be the case for me alone, as I know from discussions with developers. More on tonality later.
Music floods the room
Even if Jörg Bohne has technical reservations about horns, the basic sound orientation of our test candidate, the habitus, clearly goes in this direction for me. If you like the special kick of this loudspeaker principle, if you need a vitality boost in the sound, you should definitely listen to the BB-10L – even if there is no horn to be seen far and wide.
It all starts with setting up the stage. Laid-back or playing well on the baseline, the bean audio leaves that to others. Music floods the room: it takes you to the front, and a decent piece at that; easily a whole step towards the listener, starting from the aforementioned baseline, i.e. the imaginary connection between the speakers. Yes, the stage arches towards me in an almost semi-circular shape, sometimes goes well beyond the speaker limits on the left and right, if the recording allows it, and also seems higher than I often experience. This may have something to do with the high-energy high-frequency band, the large ribbon and its dipole characteristics,
The only dimension that seems a bit more limited is depth. Of course, front/back references can also be experienced here, the sounds are staggered from the very close “front edge of the stage” to just behind the speakers. But granting the deepest insights into the orchestra is not the specialty of Bohne Audio, there are loudspeakers that illuminate further and more clearly. And as a rule, they don’t project music freely into the room in such an offensive and involving way as the bean does and sweeps the listener along.
Voices and instruments are drawn a little larger and are clearly separated from each other, but it doesn’t pass as a real “holographic number” like a Wilson Audio or Dynaudio Confidence can pull it up. Yes, I know, you can’t even compare it like that, the speakers mentioned cost a multiple of the bean audio – but that’s not my point. The horn-equipped sound converters from Blumenhofer or dynamics are also more expensive, but in principledo it the same way: instead of a hard boundary between the individual sound and the “bare space”, there is a kind of fading into the space, i.e. a softer drawing of the outlines. It is not so much a catchy “I can touch it” feeling that inspires enthusiasm, but rather the size, openness, resolution and dynamic fine detail with which each individual tone is portrayed in front of you is fascinating. It sounded similar at most of the concerts I’ve attended.
To the twelve
No Longer “Metro” by Marialy Pacheco (Album: Introducing) headed for, now would be the opportunity again, after all, in addition to piano and bass, there is also plenty of percussion to be experienced in this lively piece, and Rhani Krija, who is responsible for it, knows his craft. It quickly becomes clear: the bean BB-10L is not a normal speaker. At best, I repeat myself, you get such a live impulse and transient reproduction with horn loudspeakers – and there is the question of whether you will be able to put together an overall package for the price of the BB-10L that also has the detailing in the lower layers and brings this resolution. I doubt it. Whatever the case – the percussion seems filter-free and very direct, cymbals almost explode into space, finger taps on the congas skins can be anything from “fine &
But I’m not only enthusiastic about the immediacy and power of the impulses, but also about their coherence. One of my standard pieces for this is Regina Spektor ‘s “Poor little rich boy” (Album: Soviet Kitsch), where she takes care of the “percussion” herself by using a drumstick on the piano stool she is sitting on – the beats continue into the stage floor and are “tuned down” in the process, the initial “clack” is followed by the quieter, deeper resonance of the floor. This is exactly what is often drowned out with many loudspeakers. Be it that they present it too thickly and the detailing is missing, be it that the decay of the resonance is cut off too early. The first time I heard the song “properly” was with the partially active and significantly more expensive Audiodata Avancé (about 18,400 euros); our test subject doesn’t do that any worse and records the pulses in a first-class manner in terms of time and spectrum.
So: it’s not going to be sleepy here, the message should have come across. Impulse reproduction, a sense of rhythm and timing, coarse and fine dynamics are the absolute strengths of the Bohne Audio BB-10L – in absolute terms and even more so in relation to the price – and are therefore the main reasons why listeners choose such a system. Of course there are some active boxes in this league that have their charm. How does Bohne Audio fit in there?
Bohne Audio BB-10L: classification and comparisons
It’s been a few days since we had the active Dynaudio Focus 600 XD (about 10,000 euros) as a guest. The rather slender Dane even marched a little deeper into the bass cellar and also played smartly. But with all the dynamic merits of the Dynaudio, the bean is even closer to the impulse, i.e. “harder” in a positive sense, and its large ribbon also traces quiet, delicate dynamic variations more accurately.
As far as the hardness of the impulses is concerned, the Genelec S360 SAM (approx. 8,000 euros), which is also active and blessed with a large waveguide , does not take any prisoners either, and those who like to be washed over by an offensive stage presentation will get even more on offer with it than with the Bean. At the same time, this is also the downside: the Genelec was bred to provide a decent level even at a distance of ten meters – if you sit “only” four meters away from it, that can also be too much of a good thing. For some, the bean will play a bit too offensively, for those who feel the same way, the Genelec is certainly not for them. In addition, the Finn doesn’t quite offer the resolution of the BB-10L in the mid/high range.
Lyravox Karlina and Karlotta are clearly better here – and also cost significantly more (about 18,000 and 27,000 euros respectively). The bean BB-10L is actually ahead of them in terms of coarse dynamics, especially at high levels. But when it comes to fine detailing of quiet signals, such as the dying away of instruments or room reverberation, the Hamburg beauties show more feeling; they also get a better grip on the depiction of voices and instruments.
Writing about the quantitative relationship between the frequency ranges , i.e. about the tonality of loudspeakers that are measured at the customer’s site, is quite an unproductive undertaking: Of course, listening taste can be taken into account here, and that differs from case to case. So there isn’t one eithertonality of the BB-10L, but a large variability. On the one hand. On the other hand, I strongly suspect that the over-all timbre for most Bohne Audio owners is more straight, neutral, balanced and not warm, soft, velvety. For example, why should one fall for the idea of covering the near-live reproduction of drums with a romantic upper bass/fundamental emphasis? If you want that, you don’t need bean boxes.
But one thing about the tonal: The BB-10L can play very broadband, the frequency response specification of 28 to 24000 Hertz actually seems realistic, the large ribbon can spray a lot of air and the bass goes really deep. The fact that you can “listen down” so deeply at all is also due to the fact that the bass is presented super dry and well defined, with zero fat – there are no masking effects. Especially nice: It even works at low volumes. Listening quietly and still experiencing deep bass is usually only possible actively anyway.
I have already mentioned that the BB-10L offers very good resolution for the money, which need not be repeated – but to be more precise: As far as impulses and transients are concerned, the Bohne Audio is downright sensationally differentiated and real. Tracing timbral gradients, revealing harmonic textures, conveying a room atmosphere via reverb tails, she succeeds “only” well in that. That’s to be expected for the money, but it’s not a particular strength of the speaker. The reverberation in the nave, as heard on Griet de Geyter / Il Gardellino ‘s album Stille Klagen was captured, conveyed convincingly, but there is more to it than that. And if you have a particularly intimate relationship with a harmonically saturated, tonally enthusiastic representation of acoustic instruments … well, then you should perhaps think more about a passive system including tube amplification than about the active Bohne Audio BB-10L, because that is more the correct one here sound engineer.
Conclusion: Bean audio BB-10L
Anyone looking for a dynamic, impulsive sound experience will be fully served with the Bohne Audio BB-10L. Yes, it would be damn hard to find a similarly engaging and lively system in this league. The Bohne active loudspeakers act like a vital cure, they project the music forward freely and expansively and involve the listener in a way that few understand. But that’s also the reason why these boxes are probably not for everyone: If you listen to the motto “take it easy” and in particular like enormous depth gradation, holographic-plastic imaging quality and tonal enthusiasm – well, the market offers it other occasions. The bean is also quite good at this, but its point is different.
It should also be emphasized once again that the Bohne Audio BB-10L are not just loudspeakers, but a complete hi-fi system. If you have switched to pure streaming anyway, you only have to plug a free LAN cable into the preamp, activate the streaming service – and off you go. I see another advantage in the fact that the electronics are in separate components outside of the actual loudspeakers. This minimizes the susceptibility to microphony and is more service-friendly if the worst comes to the worst. And if you get the audiophile “upgraderitis”, you can live it out here almost like with a passive system …
Characteristics Bean Audio BB-10L:
- A calibration to the room and the listening taste of the customer is part of the concept, the tonal basic orientation can be adjusted quite flexibly. A broadband sound is offered.
- A sense of rhythm and timing, coarse and fine dynamics are absolute strengths of the Bohne Audio BB-10L. This is similar to good horn systems, but they are usually (significantly) more expensive.
- The bass sounds very dry and defined, the depth is very good for the size of the boxes, and the volume can be scaled by measuring. A very graduated bass can be experienced even at low levels.
- In the mid/high range, the reproduction of transients is particularly striking, which is sensationally real and resolved – regardless of whether it’s slapped bass, guitar playing, piano hits or hit cymbals. The resolution of room reverberation, timbres and harmonic textures, on the other hand, is “only” a good average for this price range.
- The BB-10L reproduces the music spatially freely and generously in width and height – and it takes a decent step forward towards the auditorium. The depth gradation is okay, but can be improved. Individual sounds are a bit larger and drawn with softer strokes, nothing blurs here, but one cannot speak of a really plastic-holographic quality either.
- The bean sounds good quietly and even better loudly. It is exceptionally stable.
- Model: Bean Audio BB-10L
- Concept: active two-way floorstanding speaker with dipole ribbon
- Price: 10,990 euros (package price including preamp and power amp)
- Dimensions & Weight: Speaker: 117 x 33 x 34 cm (HxWxD), 36 kg/each; Preamp: 4.2 x 42.9 x 23.6 cm (HxWxD), 5 kg; Power amplifier: 13 x 43.5 x 30 cm (HxWxD), 15 kg
- Power: 4 x 200 watts
- Finishes: preamp and power amp: black; Loudspeaker: black and white varnish, veneers: cherry, walnut, oak, zebrano – the loudspeaker then comes with chamfered, not rounded edges: +350 euros; Special versions possible on request
- Inputs preamp/digital crossover: digital: USB-B, AES-EBU, S/PDIF coaxial, Toslink; analog: high level balanced and unbalanced (XLR, Cinch)
- Outputs preamp/digital crossover: digital: 2 x S/PDIF coaxial; analogue: 2 x 4 pre-out (4 cinch and XLR each)
- Miscellaneous: preamp/digital crossover: Dirac room correction included, Volumio streamer included, Roon endpoint, 4-channel active crossover function, four sound profiles can be saved, remote control; Individual calibration at the customer’s site included, measurement microphone, microphone stand and USB extension cable included
- Warranty: Loudspeaker and power amplifier: 5 years; Preamp miniDSP SHD: 2 years