Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 50 speakers are a dream for minimalist audiophiles

When we saw Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 90 at CES 2015 and were (rightfully) floored by the sound, outperforming even top-tier audiophile setups with multiple speakers. The only problem? The hyper-engineered BeoLab 90 sold for just under $80,000 for the pair upon release. To make its incredible tech somewhat more obtainable, Bang & Olufsen has introduced the BeoLab 50 loudspeaker, which is outfitted with some truly impressive trickle-down tech from its predecessor, and sells for “just” $38,000 (technically $37, 710) per pair. Sure, $20,000 per speaker is still a massive price tag that most anyone aside from yacht-owning hedge fund managers will balk at, but if you’re an absolute sound nut, that dent in your retirement savings may just be worth it.

It reads a room’s acoustics and modifies the sound output to suit its needs

Each Beolab 50 speaker is equipped with seven drivers, and each of those drivers has its own 300-watt amplifier built in (yes, you read that correctly), which makes for an incredible amount of control over the sound. Further, the BeoLab 50’s trio of ten-inch woofers, each of which can emit bass in different directions, can fill an entire room with incredible, uber-tight bass.

A pair of the powered speakers can be linked up into a master-slave configuration to source wired audio directly, but each individual speaker also features WiSA technology for high-resolution wireless connectivity. Developed as a standard for high-performance, wire-free surround sound audio, WiSA delivers lag-free, high resolution audio from compatible source devices. You’ll be able to connect high-end equipment like a WiSA-equipped Blu-ray player up to the BeoLab 50 and get perfect playback with no latency.

The hardware in the BeoLab 50 is certainly impressive, but Bang & Olufsen’s room tuning software included in the speaker is equally powerful.  The system reads a room’s acoustics and modifies the sound output to suit its needs, giving the user a remarkable amount of control and, if our experiences with the Beolab 90 speakers is any indication, immaculate clarity in almost any listening environment. Most impressively, the software allows you to place the sweet spot anywhere in the room, and thanks to all those independently amplified drivers, you can still have an incredible sound stage and imaging even if you can’t sit front and center. Better yet, if you’re listening with a group of people, the sweet spot placement is flexible enough that you can widen it to a larger area.

As mentioned above, many may find the price tag difficult to fish out from between the couch cushions and piggy banks, but in the world of audiophilia, it’s not all that outrageous — especially considering these powered speakers are virtually all you’ll need to power the listening room of your dreams, matching up (and even coming well under) many multi-component audiophile systems.

When it comes to design, these speakers live up to their regal price tag as well. While not as outlandish as the BeoLab 90’s downright surreal design, the BeoLab 50’s slender, silver-polished aluminum frame and oak wood lamellas are striking. To take things further into wealthy Bond-villain mode, the circular section on the top of each speaker unfolds when you power it on for some mechanical visual flair.

The BeoLab 50 is available from authorized retailers for just under $20,000 for one, or $38, 710 for a pair.

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