Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8 - Superb Sound: Check

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

The BeoSound 8 also carries a stereo phono auxiliary input in a hidden section on the rear of its metal bar, so you can attach other makes of MP3 player, as well as a USB input that can a) play music stored on USB drives or b) stream music from your PC.

The one part of the BeoSound 8 that we would have expected from the outset to be impressed by is its sound quality. We can’t think of any B&O product we’ve seen, including its flat TVs, that has had anything less than stellar audio - and the BeoSound 8 is no different. In fact, the impact it has on your humble compressed iPod/iPad/iPhone music is at times little short of miraculous.

For instance, it almost completely removes that sense of a diminished dynamic range and overloaded mid-range usually associated with compressed music, combining deep, well-rounded bass with open and natural trebles and hiding 95 per cent of the sibilance and distortions that MP3 and, to a lesser extent, AAC files can suffer with when pushed hard by a track.

Take Hiding All Away, on Nick Cave’s Abbatoir Blues album. This track features a huge bass riff undercurrent, Cave’s trademark dominant and often aggressive vocals, a regularly repeated harsh electric guitar riff, loads of percussion, female backing vocals, and repeatedly 'goes to 11' in terms of the density of its mix. Yet the BeoSound 8 handled the entire track effortlessly from an iPhone, easily matching the mix’s epic scale and reproducing levels of detail we’d actually thought from hearing the track on lesser devices had been squeezed out by the compression process.

The BeoSound 8’s also more than in touch with its sensitive side, though, as it delivered a genuine hi-fi sensibility to Bach’s Baroque Brandenburg Concertos - despite these only being compressed with a fairly standard 192kbps setting.

The BeoSound 8’s ability to make compressed music sound like a good quality CD is matched by its efforts with Internet radio, which at the very least end up sounding like a perfectly tuned FM radio broadcast.

Really, the only negative we could find about its audio performance is that the sound becomes just a bit harsh if you really crank up the volume. But we’re talking about a volume level well beyond what most people would need for a normal domestic environment.

Verdict

The BeoSound 8 is arguably the coolest and most 'now' product B&O has made for years. What’s more, when you consider the relative prices of other B&O kit and the rival speaker dock from Meridian (£1,500), it even feels like decent value - and we can’t remember if we’ve ever been able to say that about a B&O product before!

Ultimately, the relative affordability of the also very good B&W Zeppelins, Arcam rCube and the lack of fully integrated Wi-Fi are enough to make us squeeze the BeoSound 8’s overall mark down to an 8. But this shouldn’t disguise the fact that it’s a truly exceptional product that deserves to find a much wider audience than B&O’s usual devoted fanbase.

Matt

January 28, 2011, 3:30 pm

Is it me, or does this dock with an iPad in it look like a 'frank and beans'...

eckers

January 28, 2011, 5:41 pm

The lack of Airplay isn't acceptable at this price point

gagagaga

January 28, 2011, 6:36 pm

Is it just me, or does a lot of B&O stuff look a bit, well, 80s?

purephase

January 28, 2011, 9:46 pm

Total miss for me. Think it looks pretty naff (though that obviously a subjective opinion), and sonically I don't think it's up to the Arcam Cube, which is half the price.

James Reckitt

January 28, 2011, 10:12 pm

At least they ship it with a remote, which is more than can be said for their other systems!





Still fabulously drool-worthy though...

Zero 1

January 28, 2011, 10:54 pm

does this thing fly? for this amount of money thats what i expect lol

Hans Gruber

January 29, 2011, 1:28 am

Looks daft to me too. 1980s? Very. "For mash get smash." That's what these cymbal looking things remind me of. Metal headed alien robots laughing inanely.

Frankf9d

January 29, 2011, 7:14 am

@Matt.





Not sure I understand your comment.

racey1979

January 29, 2011, 1:07 pm

Not too long ago you did a review on the Arcam Cube, which you pretty much said was the best iPxxx speaker dock that money can buy. This is around £400 more expensive so does it sound better than the Cube?

Martin Daler

January 30, 2011, 3:10 pm

I'd love to see some sort of blind testing of these devices. Sure, the aesthetics are important, but maybe you could hide the speakers behind a gauze curtain and have some of your colleagues assess the sound quality and, more importantly, say how much they would be prepared to pay.

Tim Sutton

January 30, 2011, 6:40 pm

@Frank





How about 'twig and giggleberries' instead of 'frank and beans', any clearer? :-)

Frankf9d

January 31, 2011, 5:19 am

@Tim Sutton.





Thanks, I wouldn't describe your comment as clearer, but from my point of view, more polite.

Nav Garayal

January 31, 2011, 8:51 pm

How can anyone compare this to the Meridian F80? The F80 is a complete system playing cd/dvd with radio/DAB and ipod dock. There is no comparison. B&O is not true hifi! Always been style over substance. To give it 7 stars for value is extraordinary. Very lazy review

racey1979

January 31, 2011, 11:55 pm

@Nav. Soooo...you have listened to this dock then?

Nav Garayal

February 1, 2011, 2:06 am

i have owned b&o gear in the past and they are massively over priced and underwhelming from an audiophile's perspective. the review concludes that the dock is good value at £900 compared to the £1500 F80 but the F80 is so much more than just an ipod dock. i own an f80 and it is magnificent.my main system is also a meridian driving b&w 805s speakers and there is no b&o system that can compare - as i said substance over style. i have also owned arcam gear in the past and auditioned the rcube (which is also over rated although the inbuilt battery is genius). i also think the zeppelin is too bass boomy. at the end of the day none of these docks are audiophile and its lazy of the reviewer to suggest otherwise. the f80 can now be bought for £1000 and so as an all in one system which includes an ipod dock the f80 cant be beaten.

jetronic63

February 1, 2011, 6:29 pm

@Nav, I dont agree with your view of B&O being style over substance. They offer a different proposition to a lot of manufacturers, pushing the accepted norms of design, build quality and user interface. In terms of substance, I thing the build quality of their products alone could justify their cost. I have a system 5000 from the mid-80s which functions perfectly with the CD player delivering a very refined and fatigue free sound that was very highly praised at the time of its release. These days, speakers such as their Beolab 5s are as much respected for their sound quality as their design. I cant comment on the Beosound 8's sound quality as I haven't listened to one, but personally I dont like its looks having seen one in a dealers window, I will stick with my Zeppelin thanks (even if the bass is a bit boomy !)

mnap1968

August 14, 2011, 5:18 pm

I can't believe anyone could say that this superb piece of equipment doesn't live up to their expectations. I recently went on a shopping spree to find my perfect ipod docking system and came across this b&o sound system. Well all i can say is don't knock it till you've tried it for yourself. Firstly you won't get a better build quality than this or better style.
Having listened to a number of different systems including the zeplin and the rcube it is quite obvious to me that this comes out on top.
Ok the price is a little steep but look what you get. No other docking station i know of will take the ipad.
The build quality out shines all of it's competitors and it's quite obvious this has longevity, some of the others feel like they will just fall to pieces within about 3yrs or so.
Although i will say some do sound almost as good.
To sum up if you are looking for a docking station that will last for longer than the normal flimsy rubbish then this is for you.
Why would you want a big lump of ugly black plastic?

rev franklin

November 30, 2011, 3:36 am

i am now on my 4th Beo8 -- and continously have a SERIOUS static problem when using my CD player connection. call me an old-timer, but i like listening to my vast colection of CDs -- and for whatever reason the Beo8 just cant deliver. the sales reps admit the problem, and keep replacing but wtf, this shouldnt be happening for the grand i dropped for the system. no complaints about the i-pad pod sound quality. i have changed the cables and cd player same problem on certain cds. any advice ?

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