As an audio editor I've been fortunate to try out some of the best music systems for sound and style. I've seen them all, from the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin to the Sonus faber Omnia, and every luxury audio brand in between. But in terms of delivering audio know-how with bags of style, the new Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8 looks to have them all beat.
Unveiled today (September 7) by the luxury audio brand known for its iconic style, Bang & Olufsen's Beolab 8 is the latest addition to its upmarket Beolab speaker series. Priced at $2,749 / £2,199 (around AU$4,268 at today's conversion rate) with table stand, the Beolab 8 is a lot more expensive than many of our picks for the best smart speaker or best Bluetooth speakers, but I can't think of any speaker design that looks more gorgeous.
The Beolab 8 is nearly three times more expensive that the $900 Devialet Mania, one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers I've heard, and incorporates both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 wireless connectivity. It's designed to work either as a standalone wireless speaker, in stereo as part of a paired speaker setup, or as part of a home theater arrangement. Users can also connect using B&O's Powerlink, integrating with Bang & Olufsen music systems and TVs, including models that are more than 30 years old.
B&O Beolab 8: Smart sound in sumptuous style
Inside a sumptuous aluminum case it packs a 5.25-inch woofer, a 3-inch mid-range speaker driver, and a 0.63-inch tweeter all expertly tuned by Bang & Olufsen's acoustic engineers called "tonmeisters". The glass interface on top of the speaker creates a perfect curve that's said to guide the user’s finger along the surface effortlessly.
It's packed with tuning tech, and B&O's narrow and wide beam width control switches between two listening modes to put users in the sweet spot for the perfect soundstage listening experience. It even adapts to the user's location when using the Bang & Olufsen app, and LEDs on the speaker display which sound mode status the speaker is in.
Optimum performance tuning based on the speaker's surroundings and placement is automatically taken care of, and B&O says that the speaker maps its environment to deliver optimum sound quality no matter the size or space of the room.
The Bang & Olufsen Beolab 8 is expected to go on sale in October. Buyers can opt for silver, natural aluminum, gold tone, or black anthracite color options. Prices start from $2,749 / £2,199 (around AU$4,268) with a fabric speaker grille cloth. The wood grille option bumps the price up to $3,299 / £2,699 (around AU$5,099).
Prices given are for the table stand option, but there's also a wall/ceiling mount option, as well as a highly polished aluminum floor stand option available. These alternative stand options increase the Beolab 8's total price by $100 and $200 respectively.
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As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.