Bang & Olufsen, also known as B&O, has been making stylish powered loudspeakers for lifestyle-oriented consumers for years. While B&O has been criticized for being a bit overpriced and not true audiophile speakers, I disagree. Once you experience their speakers' simplicity and easy integration, they become more of a value. For instance, the BeoLab 6000, reviewed here, is a slender, aluminum spire that can be connected to a B&O source or other variable output device, think iPod, and retails for $2,500 per pair. In simpler terms, you could essentially have a respectable two-channel system, which is not bulky nor requires costly electronics and/or cables, for less than $3,000. Intrigued? I was.
• Compare Bang & Olufsen's products to those by Bowers & Wilkins.
The BeoLab 6000 is a sleek, aluminum-encased speaker that is almost completely round at the base and stands a little over 40 inches tall. The BeoLab 6000 comes in a wide variety of colors (all aluminum), including silver, black, dark gray, light silver/white, red and blue. In its raw aluminum or silver finish, the BeoLab 6000 virtually disappears, as the speaker itself takes on the color of your room's surrounding elements, making for a very cool optical effect. The BeoLab 6000 has a fully powered design, using two 59-watt Class AB amplifiers that typically draw eight watts at full power and a very low 1.8 watts at standby, making the BeoLab 6000 shockingly efficient and green. The BeoLab 6000 has a bass reflex design, though the port is behind the grille, and has two three-and-a-half inch bass drivers mated to a three-quarter-inch tweeter. The BeoLab 6000 has a reported frequency response of 55-20,000Hz, making it an ideal candidate for a subwoofer; B&O makes several that fit the bill.
• The BeoLab 6000 is among the sexiest-looking speakers you'll likely ever see. No brand, especially the BeoLab 6000, has been more copied by other manufacturers in an attempt to make a lifestyle-oriented loudspeaker.
• The BeoLab 6000 is surprisingly clean and clear-sounding, with a
very smooth, though not overly airy, top end mated to a very natural
and effortless midrange.
• The BeoLab 6000's bass is taut and more robust than you'd think
possible from its meager woofers, though for true full-range sound,
you'll want to add a subwoofer.
• Dynamically, the BeoLab 6000 is a solid performer, but performance
enhancements will require more power, other components and wires that
would spoil the BeoLab 6000's stellar good looks and simplicity.
• From a soundstage perspective, the BeoLab 6000 images like no speaker
I've come across, in that it sounds like there is no speaker at all,
leaving a wide and deep soundstage in its wake. Center image definition
is first-rate and a touch better than the BeoLab 6000's overall
• The simple fact that you can connect the BeoLab 6000 to an iPod or,
say, Krell KID makes it one of the easiest, most lifestyle-friendly
packages in all of two-channel audio.
• While it's not uncommon to find $2,500 per pair loudspeakers, if you
want full-range sound from the BeoLab 6000s, the true cost of ownership
is going to be higher, say, $3,000-$5,000, depending on which sub you
• Because of the BeoLab 6000's high-gloss finish, keeping it free of
fingerprints is a bit of a chore, requiring constant cleaning.
• The BeoLab 6000 disappears sonically, but it doesn't throw its sound
or image in a wall of sound-like way, making it more directional than
some of the competition.
Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in
comparing the Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 6000 loudspeaker against its
competition, please read our reviews for the Bowers & Wilkins 683 loudspeaker and Definitive Technology's Mythos ST super towers. You can also find a plethora of information available in our Floorstanding Speaker section and on our Bang & Olufsen brand page.
$2,500 buys you a lot in today's audiophile
world and, for many consumers, represents a substantial investment.
This said, to get the level of performance the BeoLab 6000 provides
will cost you as much or more in components and cable by going a
traditional route, which is where the BeoLab 6000's value proposition
comes into play. With a source as simple as an iPod, the BeoLab 6000
gives you everything else you need to enjoy your music in a no-fuss
manner that no speaker or system can beat. When you also consider that
you can "daisy-chain" five BeoLab 6000s together for a multi-channel
audio system and plug them into a variable multi-channel source or home
theater processor with the same ease, it begs the question: why aren't
more speaker manufacturers following B&O's lead?