Bang & Olufsen's Beolab 14
A beautifully designed HiFi audio kit that integrates into a multi-brand home entertainment setup
by Jorge Abellas
Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has always produced exquisitely designed sound-systems not intended for use in a multi-brand entertainment setup. A few months back, the brand made a very deliberate effort to expand their market with the release of the Beolab 14 speaker system—which not only seamlessly integrates with the Beovision line of televisions, but also works with a wide variety of standard HiFi gear.
The system is comprised of just two elements: A white monolithic bass enclosure and identical brushed aluminum satellite speakers. The bass unit houses six Class D amplifiers and digital processing systems to drive as many as five satellite speakers. Users can configure as few as two satellites connected to a television, all the way up to a full-blown 5.1 surround sound system for more authentic home theater experience.
The satellites are the most beautiful part of the system. Pressure cast—not turned—from a single piece of aluminum, the material eliminates all resonance and cabinet effects. Their unique lollipop shape and interchangeable grilles set them far apart from standard speakers. True to form, B&O have made the system aesthetically pleasing, so customers don't have to try to hide them in the wall or behind a sofa. One of the bass unit settings even compensates for center room placement, though other settings allow for wall or corner locations.
When connected to a Beovision system, surround sound decoding and center speaker duties are handled by the television. Otherwise, the bass unit can be connected to the preamplifier outs or the speaker outputs of a receiver.
The system CH reviewed came with the speaker level cable and thin, elegant silver speaker wires, making the installation turnkey and hassle free. After a month of use, the transparency and sound levels achieved by the system were impressive, though the mid-range is a little lacking due to the satellite four-inch drivers.
Beauty in a HiFi kit does not come cheaply, and the Beolab 14 is certainly in the higher end of the market at $4,395 for the full 5.1 system. Ultra-slim metal stands in two heights are available as alternatives to the included wall mounting systems. Visit Bang & Olufsen online for purchase information.
Images courtesy of Bang & Olufsen