Bang & Olufsen has been a byword for sleek Danish design and impossibly slim and beautiful audio products for almost a century. Despite its grand heritage, the company has always been at the forefront of technology, producing products that sound as good as they look.
Bang & Olufsen has attacked the Dolby Atmos soundbar head-on with its new Beosound Theatre. This behemoth of a soundbar looks like a Dreadnought Class battleship inspired it, with a bit of Art Deco styling thrown in for good measure. The Beosound Theatre can decode full Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 to give that full height effect where sounds hover in midair.
This monster needs two people to lift it as it weighs 18kg and is 1.2m in length, making it somewhat unwieldy for one person to handle. If it were to be mounted on a wall, I think a solid brick structure would be a good idea as I’m not at all sure modern dry walling could cope with its bulk and weight.
Of course, a big soundbar demands a big TV and B&O suggests at least a 55-inch model as the bare minimum. For larger screens, the company supplies stick-on aluminum wings that look a bit like the chrome grille on a 1950s sedan and add that Art Deco vibe to the whole look. The front drivers can be covered with various grilles featuring vertical wooden slats in various finishes.
This soundbar is one piece of consumer electronics I would suggest the user has professionally installed, especially when opting for the B&O motorized wall bracket or stand. As well as being a TV soundbar, the Beosound Theatre also supports Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, Bluetooth and a selection of physical inputs around the back of the unit.
Physical inputs include four HDMI inputs, including one eARC with support for pass-thru video up to 4K @ 120Hz or 8K @ 60Hz. There are no fewer than four Ethernet sockets, with one specially reserved for use with LG OLED TVs, enabling everything to be controlled by using the B&O app.
For those heavily invested in the Beosound ecosystem, the soundbar has unique connections for up to eight Beosound Powerlink speakers. It can also handle up to eight wireless Powerlink speakers to produce an incredibly impressive multi-speaker home cinema setup. Connecting to a network for streaming music can either be via dual-band Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
A lot of controls can be configured using the B&O app. However, for those who don’t want to use the app, the Beosound Theatre has a comprehensive set of touch controls ranging across a glass surface on its top. The controls have a proximity sensor, which lights up the controls whenever anyone goes near the soundbar. The controls enable the user to play and pause audio, adjust volume levels or switch inputs.
Setting up the soundbar takes a little time and positioning it correctly is essential. Once in position, powered up and connected to the network via the B&O app, the Beosound Theatre is ready to have its sound fine-tuned so that it can deliver the Dolby Atmos sense of space, no matter where the viewers are sitting in the room.
Customizing the sound is easy. A sleek microphone on a tripod is supplied that plugs into the front of the Beosound Theatre and is then positioned wherever the viewer will be sitting. Using the B&O app, the soundbar triggers some test tones that the microphone picks up and analyses to fine-tune the sound from all 12 drivers. Multiple positions can be recorded and memorized in the app, so switching between them is easy.
A dozen speakers are built into the Beosound Theatre, including two forward-facing 6.5-inch custom woofers for the bass. In the center, there’s a 5.25-inch midrange driver with a 1-inch tweeter in a coaxial arrangement. Two additional 1-inch tweeters are placed towards each end of the soundbar, above a 2.5-inch full-range driver. Also, at each end, there are 3-inch upward-firing full-range drivers to produce the Dolby Atmos effect that makes sounds appear to float above the soundbar when watching Dolby Atmos movies.
The power pumped out by the Beosound Theatre’s Class D amplifiers amounts to a mighty 800W. This massive power budget is split with the two big bass drivers receiving 100 watts each, while the rest of the speakers get a healthy 60W each.
There’s bass to spare with the Beosound Theatre, which means a separate subwoofer isn’t necessary. This soundbar makes the ground shake. I kept listening to the Netflix start-up sound, which was so impressive. The sound of action movies is remarkable, with explosions and crashes shaking the room.
Using the HDMI eARC connection, the soundbar’s volume, muting and power can all be controlled using a TV remote control. Other changes can be made by using the B&O app, including the ability to tweak EQ settings and treble and bass levels. The sound out of the box is impressive, but the customized sound is even better. That said, the sound quality ought to be excellent, considering the astronomic price of this soundbar.
Price is the proverbial elephant in the room when reviewing the Beosound Theatre. This soundbar is more than twice the price of its closest rival, the excellent Sennheiser Ambeo. Typical Bang & Olufsen customers probably won’t worry too much about price. The whole B&O offering is about creating products with a unique design aesthetic and impeccable performance; money no object. The kind of people who buy into the B&O world probably won’t even clear their throat at the price of the Beosound Theatre. It won’t be a factor, so I’m not sure that fretting over the high price tag is worthwhile. This product will sell to its intended market.
No matter how expensive a soundbar is, it has to sound excellent. There’s no question that the Beosound Theatre is a star performer in this respect. How could it not perform well with all those speakers and all that power? Some very clever engineering has gone into this design and the way the 12 drivers work in concert is breathtaking.
The bass drivers can rattle your teeth down to an impressive 28Hz, so there is no need for a separate subwoofer. Perhaps the one area where there’s a slight disappointment is the implementation of Dolby Atmos. I’m not sure any soundbar can ever reproduce the effect of a full-fat 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos system properly set up with discrete speakers around the room.
In addition to making a big TV sound impressive, the Beosound Theatre also makes an excellent music system. The ability to play radio stations or stream other music from a smartphone using Apple AirPlay 2 or Google Chromecast makes it a versatile performer. There’s sufficient power inside the Beosound Theatre to fill even the largest rooms with wonderfully rhythmic music.
Verdict: This is one absolute beast of a soundbar. Its looks and size may divide the room, but its 800W output from a one-box solution won’t cause any arguments. The Beosound Theatre demands a large screen and careful positioning to get the best from it. The Dolby Atmos implementation isn’t bad, but getting the best Atmos effects from a soundbar with convincing height effects is never easy. Yes, the price is as large as the physical size of the soundbar, but if money is no object, the Beosound Theatre is as good an option as any, although some might say that the Sennheiser Ambeo offers better value for money. Bang & Olufsen aficionados will love the Beosound Theatre and I doubt B&O will have any trouble selling this soundbar into larger homes where the larger TVs tend to be found. The Beosound Theatre puts into a sure-footed performance, but a full surround sound setup should also be considered at this price.
Pricing & Availability: The Beosound Theatre Soundbar is now shipping at $7,790 / £6,390 / $7,490.
More info: www.bang-olufsen.com
- Recommended room size: 15 – 60m² / 160 – 600 ft².
- Speaker configuration: 12 speaker drivers (2 x 6.5″ woofer, 1 x 5.25″ midrange + 1 x 1″ tweeter for custom-made coaxial center speaker, 2 x 3″ midrange, 4 x 2.5″ full range, 2 x 1″ tweeter.
- Amplifier: 12 power amplifiers (2 x 100W, 10 x 60W).
- Frequency range: 28Hz – 23,000Hz.
- Maximum sound pressure level @1m: 112dB SPL.
- Bass capability: 94dB SPL.
- Advanced sound features: Integrated 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos decoding and custom-tuned post-processing with proprietary True Image up- / downmixing algorithm, Dolby Digital TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 (including DD5.1), Dolby Atmos, Dolby MAT.
- Advanced Bass management system: Adaptive Bass Linearization (ABL) Thermal protection.
- Customizable Sound EQ: 5 customizable listening modes through Bang & Olufsen App.
- Bluetooth: Version 5.1 (BLE and EDR).
- Wi-Fi: Dual-band WLAN 2.4 / 5GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g/a/n/ac.
- Streaming services: Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth audio streaming, DLNA, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect, Deezer, QPlay, Google Cast groups, BeoLink Multiroom.
- Integrated music services: Bang & Olufsen Radio.
- Inputs and outputs: 3 x HDMI input with CEC, 1 x HDMI eARC with passthrough 4K 120FPS / 8K 60FPS / 40Gbit, Ethernet switch with 4 x 1Gbit ports.
- One port assigned for LG OLED TV connection for integrated control via Beoremote One and Bang & Olufsen App.
- 1 x 3.5mm jack slider for microphone mute
- Speaker outputs:
- 8 x Wireless Powerlink
- 8 x Powerlink
- Remote control
- Integrated system control, including LG OLED TV:
- Beoremote One BT
- Bang & Olufsen App
- Music streaming:
- Beoremote Halo
- Voice Assistant
- Via external Google Assistant device
- Weight: 18kg.
- Dimensions (HxDxW): 19.7 x 15.7 x 122.2cm.
- Power consumption: Typical 120W.