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Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 3 review

Gordon Kelly



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BeoLab 3
  • BeoLab 3
  • BeoLab 3 2
  • BeoLab 3 3
  • BeoLab 3 4
  • BeoLab 3 5
  • BeoLab 3 6
  • BeoLab 3 7


Our Score:



  • Superb, rich sound reproduction
  • Iconic design
  • Premium build quality


  • Pricing from another planet
  • Highly restrictive connectivity
  • Needs the £350 B&O PlayMaker

Key Features

  • 2 x 125W ICE power amplifiers
  • 4-inch bass driver, 3/4-inch tweeter
  • Power Link audio cables
  • 22.3x16x13.5cm and 2.6kg each
  • Manufacturer: Bang & Olufsen
  • Review Price: £2,900.00


Every time a Bang & Olufsen product drops on our desk opening the box is like stepping into another world. It is a world where everything looks great, is styled to within an inch of its life and comes with the proviso that if you need to ask the price you almost certainly can't afford to join the club. With B&O’s BeoLab 3 speakers we can tick off all three of these points as: check, check and CHECK!

BeoLab 3 3

B&O BeoLab 3 - Design

Much like the satisfying 'chumph' sound made when you close the door of a luxury car for the first time, the BeoLab 3 is desperate to make a good first impression and assure you that it's money well spent. Shipping exclusively in a 2.0 arrangement the speakers get off to a great start. The styling might be akin to what a bowling ball would look like if it were secretly an alien spy robot, but it's also simultaneously reassuring and radical.

Build quality is fantastic too, with a range of premium materials used. The main body of the speaker is constructed from matt aluminium, as is the silver protruding top (which could easily be confused for the stand), and at 2.6kg it has the reassuring heft of a quality speaker. That said, for their weight the BeoLab 3s are extremely compact. At just 22.3 x 16 x 13.5cm they require a footprint little larger than your average saucer and as such do a great job of being both subtle and eye catching when placed in a room.

BeoLab 3 7

B&O BeoLab 3 - Features

In preserving these good looks each BeoLab 3 speaker has the bare minimum of connections, and this is a bit of a snag. Elegantly carved into the back of each speaker is just a figure of eight power socket and B&O’s proprietary Power Link audio cable. Yes, their individual tuning (wall, free standing, corner) and position (right or left) can be set by sliding switches beside these connections, but the absence of a non-proprietary connector means you are tied to using them with B&O’s Power Link-equipped Playmaker (pictured below). Granted the Playmaker enables streaming over AirPlay or DLNA, but they are the only sources it can deliver so forget about feeding the BeoLab 3s from any device which isn’t AirPlay or DLNA compatible.

BeoLab 3 4

Of course with such a narrow focus B&O knows the BeoLab 3s need to impress and on paper they certainly do. Like all current generation B&O products, at the heart of the speakers is the company’s famed ‘ICEpower’ amplifier technology. ICEpower has been around for more than a decade, but has only made it into consumer products in recent years. The primary benefit of ICEpower is low-heat production, which means the amplifiers don’t need large cooling spaces inside and so can deliver great power from minimal form factors. In fact, according to B&O a conventional speaker would have to be about "ten times the size of BeoLab 3" to deliver a comparable sound. So does it work?


March 1, 2013, 5:21 pm

Entertaining and excellent review as always Gordon... it's good that products on this level make it onto TR. However, I think that somewhere along the line you missed out the whole "point" of the product.

It's not so much about providing good sound and convenience for listening to your itunes collection... but more about buying into the B&O "lifestyle"...

David Trotter

March 1, 2013, 5:29 pm

sorry accidentally posted before I was finished..

So as I was saying.. the price is justified by B&0 as they don't consider it as a speaker, but instead think of it as a piece of "art" for those who value taste, style and quality above price.

However, in my opinion, it's for those who have deep pockets and like to show off about it.

Gordon Kelly

March 2, 2013, 3:25 pm

Hi David, I actually thought I spelt that out quite clearly: beautiful design, excellent performance, bonkers pricing and buy it only if you accept you are paying an astronomical premium for style.

That said B&O, while undeniably expensive, isn't always quite so extreme. As I pointed out with the A9 (while make the same style/premium argument): http://www.trustedreviews.c...

The A9 pulls it off, but the BeoLab 3 is too far out of touch. Ferrari make £150,000-£250,000 cars but should they release one which costs £900,000 without anything different to its usual proposition it becomes fair to balk at the price.

David Trotter

March 4, 2013, 9:50 am

Yes the A9 does seems to offer more for your money! Perhaps because it's a more unusual design and has a lower WAF (wife acceptance factor).

Peter Campbell

March 6, 2013, 7:51 am

Gordon, your article is incorrect when it says the beolab 3 speakers must be used with the B&O Power Link equipped Playmaker. I purchased a set of Beolab 3's and B&O supplied a Power Link to stereo audio cable to my requested length. This means these speakers can be used with any audio source. I in fact run them off an Apple airport express to stream my music collection. Yes they are expensive and yes they do sound incredible but they are not as limited in there compatibility as you report.

Gordon Kelly

March 6, 2013, 9:47 am

Hi Peter I'll investigate this as I was doubled with B&O's PR agency at the the of the review. Incidentally can you let me know how much the cable was?

Peter Campbell

March 6, 2013, 6:18 pm

Gordon, the cable was provided free of charge. I explained that i wanted to use the Beolab 3's with an Apple airport express and they made up the required cable locally in the B&O shop. I should point out that using this cable just provides the audio signal to left and right speakers, it doesn't connect them to a B&O source via "power link"

Ian Grace

March 8, 2013, 7:20 am

Gordon, if I may offer a little advice on the basis of owning morethanAV, a global pre-owned B&O reseller - these speakers can work seamlessly with any third party-amp with a pre-out in LINE mode, can work directly connected to anything with a headphone jack output since they are active, can work with any B&O product that has a Powerlink connection - also worthy of consideration is the residual value. I agree with your main point and that is that the cost is very very high, hence Companies dealing in pre-owned stock such as my own. For any connectivity clarification for B&O products in the future try contacting steve@soundsheavenly.co.uk who I am quite sure will be happy to assist.

Ian Grace

March 8, 2013, 7:35 am

B&O pricing will always be contentious - Beolab 9's for £6500? Beolab 5's £15000? You have to adopt a different mindset when considering the marketplace for B&O products - often these products are put into minimalist apartments or very stylish environments and for the purchaser a speaker that looks like a speaker and sounds like a speaker and is a speaker just won't do! Consider that I use a pair of Anthony Gallo Ref 3.1's which together with a Yamaha aventage RXA 2010 cost about the same as the Beolab 3's...... for some they hit the spot, although many like your review make a fair point that they are very good speakers for their size at an astronomical price. People who buy B&O generally tend not to read reviews and are more interested in the mounting and colour options - if they did the allure of buying a speaker which is overpriced might very well compel them to buy!! How many Genelec pre-owned resellers can you find for example? Would love to hear the 6010A's though.....

Gordon Kelly

April 3, 2013, 9:26 pm

Ah, that makes a significant difference. It's a solution of sorts, but not ideal.

Gordon Kelly

April 11, 2013, 9:46 am

Entirely fair points. That said I do want to shake people who spend this kind of money on speakers and have more interest in the colour options.

We aren't talking Ferraris or Aston Martins, which at least out perform cars a fraction of their price in both performance and build quality/finish. It's branding pure and simple and while the BeoLab 3s are good, we can't raise scores for 'lifestyle'.

Braden Eyre

April 24, 2013, 11:47 pm

Bang & Olufsen makes a power link to RCA cable.
There aren't to many devices without RCA outputs.
Since the beolab 3's are amplified speakers you would also need a volume control.
And there you have it. 2 of the three cons taking care of.
As far as the pricing, you get what you pay for. And looks isn't all that your paying for.
Show me an active speaker thats even close the same size that will put out like the Lab 3.
If it was out there i would own it.


June 4, 2013, 9:23 am

I think you misunderstand. It's a "solution", period. This has all come about in my opinion because of the fact that B&O decided to omit the simple line-in RCA/Phono jack on each of their speakers some years ago. But the fact remains, by using a simple and cheap powerlink to phono jack adapter you *can plug ANYTHING with a line level output into these speakers*. You would, of course, control the volume on the device.

At that point, the only advantage to powerlink would be A). Daisy-chaining to alleviate some wire clutter, and B). agnostic L/R selection that comes with the Powerlink standard. But no other powered speaker would work any differently.

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