OPINION: This week I had the pleasure of seeing Bang and Olufsen’s new soundbar, the Beosound Theatre, at its launch event at the IFA trade show in Berlin.
And to be clear, as you’ll find if you read my early Bang and Olufsen Beosound Theatre review, it is quite an interesting beast for a variety of reasons.
The Beosound Theatre is a new premium soundbar being marketed at the audiophile market that features a 16 speaker setup Bang and Olufsen claims will let it serve as a fully functioning standalone speaker or the centre of a multiroom setup. It also has a modular design that lets it seamlessly connect to a vast majority of TVs.
Having seen the kit I have to admit it looks fantastic and sounded outright amazing during a short demo session. But throughout the experience, I kept coming back to one key issue – the Theatre will retail for £5590 / $6890 / €6490 when it launches.
That makes the Theatre nearly three times more expensive than many of its closest rivals – the £2199 Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar and the £1990 Devialet Dione. Jump over to our best TV guide and you’ll notice you could pick up not one, but three Panasonic TX-55LZ2000 TVs for that amount of money.
Cliff notes: it’s expensive. Very expensive.
This inevitably will lead many, like me, to ask; do you really need to spend over 5 grand on a soundbar?
Obviously, Bang and Olufsen thinks so, and audio and cinephiles will always consider paying more if it means better sound quality.
Trust me, if you’re a casual movie watcher or just want something to give your gaming audio a little extra oomph you don’t need to spend thousands.
However, Bang and Olufsen did make one compelling argument for paying more that did ring true during my time with the Theatre: Sustainability.
Bang and Olufsen is one of many companies pushing sustainability as a brand, but in my mind, it’s always been a bit more “on it” than its competitors. This is because of its overt focus on “circular design”. This is a concept that sees companies create products that are designed to last much longer than they currently do, reducing waste and their impact on the environment as a result.
This is done by sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible to maintain and upgrade them.
The reason this is important for the Theatre and other premium devices is that under this philosophy, while you pay more upfront, the device will then last much longer. In this case according to Bang and Olufsen, at least 10 years, thanks to software updates and potential hardware upgrades that can be easily added “using normal tools” thanks to the soundbar’s modular design.
While I’m not convinced this will specifically make the Theatre good value for money (we need to get it in our labs and spend more time testing it to make a judgment on that) I do agree with the argument, especially as Bang and Olufsen let’s third party orginisations make sure it’s actually doing what it says it is when it comes to sustainability.
In this instance, the firm has confirmed the Theatre is currently being vetted for bronze Cradle-to-Cradle design certification.
This is a key certification that factors in everything from whether the product uses recycled parts, to the environmental impact of its supply chain, that’s run by the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute. It’s one of the most stringent standards currently running, which is why it’s impressive that Bang and Olufsen is confident enough to try and make it the baseline standard in its sustainability efforts.
It’s also the only real reason I can see any but the most hardcore of listeners or movie fans having a reason to consider spending more than a couple of grand on a soundbar.