With the new Beosound Stage, Bang and Olufsen is finally entering the soundbar category and is looking to provide a similar experience for TVs that it has done for with speakers. It ticks almost every spec you'd want from a soundbar, and comes with the iconic design that B&O is famous for.
B&O Beovision Stage price and release date
The B&O Beosound Stage costs AED 6,425 ($1,750 / £1,250/ AU$2,500) which might sound on the higher side, but is surprisingly affordable when compared not only to other B&O products but also other high-end soundbars.
That price gets you the aluminum or bronze-finish frame, or you can choose the higher-priced 'smoked oak' frame option that is priced at AED 9,645 ($2,600 / £1,900 / AU$3,500).
The Beosound Stage is already on sale in the UAE as well as across other parts of the world.
The Beosound Stage is quite large and commanding, though with a minimalist design approach that's adopted by much of Band and Olufsen's products. It's not quite as large as the Sennheiser AMBEO, but you will need to make some space for it on your wall.
We say on your wall because unlike other soundbars that have front-facing speakers, the Beosound Stage have upward facing speakers if you place it on a stand. While that gives you a decent sound, you really need to mount it on the wall below your TV so the speakers face the listener.
All of the cabling and connections are on the rear center of the soundbar, which should make routing your cables easy. There are HDMI input and output ports for HDMI pass-through, as well as HDMI ARC support, 3.5mm line-in, and Ethernet for wired connectivity to your network.
There are very subtle buttons placed on a corner of the unit, and accessing them depends on whether the product is wall mounted or not. These buttons let you change volume, skip tracks, power up the unit or initiate pairing.
To stand out from the masses of sounbars in the market, B&O has gone all out by making sure that the Beosound Stage supports all of the latest features and protocols. These include Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, as well as Chromecast.
There’s also HDMI eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) support to speed up data transfer and ensure there's little to no lag between the soundbar and the TV. Ports for more traditional RCA connectors and 3.5mm audio have also not been forgotten.
Internally, the Beosound Stage is equipped with 11 front-firing speakers, each of which is powered by a 50W Class D amplifier. B&O has used four custom-made 4-inch woofers in the center channel to reduce distortion, and deliver what it's calling “superbly deep bass”. Midtones are handled by a pair of 1.5-inch drivers and a 3/4-inch dome tweeter.
The main left and right channels are made up of 1.5-inch drivers and the 3/4-inch tweeters placed close to each other at 45-degree angles.
There are four dedicated listening modes available on the Beosound Stage – TV, Music, Move and Night Listening, with each of them further adjustable via an equalizer in the accompanying app.
The combination of 11 speakers present inside the Beosound Stage can definitely make some noise. There's no distortion until you crank it up to the maximum volume, and that's when you learn just how loud this thing is. Under normal circumstances, we doubt you'll be going higher than half the mark when it comes to volume levels.
While the Beosound Stage can produce clear and powerful audio, it is a soundbar at the end of the day, which can't produce true surround sound. B&O does offer Dolby Atmos which is a virtual form of surround sound, but the mileage you'll get out of that will depend on the physics of the space you've installed the soundbar in.
In our completely closed conference room, we could feel the sound travel somewhat - more so on a vertical plane than a horizontal plane. But in a more open space where the sound can't bounce back, you don't feel any surround effect. That's not to say that the Beosound Stage doesn't sound impressive, but we prefer soundbars that can wirelessly pair to surround speakers, such as those from Sonos.
It's a shame that Beosound Stage does not support wireless pairing with surround speakers even though Bang and Olufsen makes some very good free-standing wireless speakers such as the Beoplay M3 or the Beoplay M5. It also does not support a dedicated subwoofer which would have also been nice for those looking for more bass.
The Beosound Stage is a pretty good standalone soundbar if that's all you're looking for. It produces crisp and powerful audio, and when placed in a room with ideal conditions, the Dolby Atmos works well enough to create a surround effect.
However, such ideal conditions are rarely met and the complete lack of support for external speakers means that you won't be able to enjoy true surround sound with the BeoSound Stage.
We do appreciate Bang & Olufsen adding support for wireless standards such as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast but for a soundbar that costs over AED 6,000, lack of support for not only external surround speakers but also a subwoofer is a let down.
As good as the Beosound Stage sounds on its own, the only consumer we can recommend it to is someone who has no interest or space for external surround speakers.
- Don't miss our roundup of the best soundbars in 2019