Welcome to T3's B&O Beosound Stage soundbar review. Perhaps surprisingly, this is the first dedicated soundbar from the Danish brand – you might be forgiven for thinking it's coming late to the party, but turns out it’s been hanging back to get things right. Very right, as it happens – this is one of the best soundbars you can buy.
A one-piece design, the Stage ships without wireless subwoofer, nor will it work with one as an upgrade – but then, as we discovered, it doesn’t really need one. And it's not attempting to be a surround-sound experience either, but again doesn't need to be – it instead focuses on giving you the widest and tallest soundstage you can get from the front.
With a simple single-box design and a range of wireless music streaming tech built-in, this is like B&O's version of the Sonos Beam soundbar – a simple, good-looking home theatre upgrade that you just plug in and play. But while the Sonos is excellent for its mid-range price, the Beosound Stage turns everything up to eleven. Eleven high-quality drivers spread along its length, specifically.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage: Price & design
The Beosound Stage is available in a few different finishes. We reviewed the fanciest version of the Beosound available, the Smoked Oak version, but it comes with a hefty price premium, listing for £1,900/$2,600. Despite the wooden surround, we’re still offered touch-sensitive controls for source, volume, power and Bluetooth pairing.
The regular Natural aluminium trim, and Bronze Tone editions, sell for a somewhat more reasonable £1,250/$1,750 – certainly not cheap, but not out of line with other premium soundbars. Both of these feature enclosures cast from a single piece of aluminium. There’s also an Anthracite limited edition, priced at £1,350/$1,900. There’s no difference in sound between them. It’s all about the pose.
Styled by the arty types at Danish studio NORM Architects, there’s plenty of Scandi sophistication on display.
The grille is acoustically transparent Kvadrat cloth. A 2mm gap between it and the frame gives the impression that it’s floating. This cover can be popped off, revealing the driver arrangement beneath.
At 110cm wide, the Stage can be considered a good fit for screens 55-inch and up. Intriguingly, it can be used either flat (sitting on its base with the grille facing up) or wall mounted (with the grille facing forward). We mostly tested it in the upright position, and it’s in this orientation that we think it performs best, although it still sounds damn good lying flat.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage: Features
Connections are limited to two HDMI connections: a single HDMI 2.0 input and HDMI eARC to go into the TV, with support for both 4K HDR and Dolby Vision. There’s also Ethernet for your network, if you don’t want to use Wi-Fi, plus a 3.5mm mini-jack for a local media player.
Just having the one input is surprisingly miserly for a soundbar in this price range, but at least you do still get one, so you don't lose that port on your TV totally.
Along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connectivity, there’s support for Apple AirPlay 2, and Chromecast is built-in, so you can beam any audio you want over to it without issue.
Dolby Atmos support is included, but if you want additional post processing you’re in luck. There’s a choice of listening modes: TV, Music, Movie and Night (the most useful, thanks to its compressed dynamics), with EQ adjustable using ToneTouch, Bang & Olufsen’s equaliser.
And don’t bother looking for a remote control. It’s designed to work with your existing TV remote, or the dedicated Bang & Olufsen app.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage: Performance
Despite the cool exterior, the Stage features no fewer than eleven drivers, all of which work in tandem like a fine-tuned orchestra. There are four bass drivers, in a stereo configuration, plus two 38mm mid-rangers and a central 19mm dome tweeter. Additionally, there are squawkers and tweeters left and right, angled upwards at 45 degrees (when in that wall mounted orientation). All benefit from their own 50W amp module.
Bang & Olufsen describes the Stage as a 3.0 system, but this rather undersells the magnitude of noise it produces.
While you won’t get the kind of wraparound effect that Dolby Atmos is famed for theatrically, the Stage is capable of exaggerated sonic height and width. It’s also hugely dynamic. Watch one of those ‘quiet… quiet… BANG’ horror movies and you’re asking for trouble.
Play a pulse-racing action scene and there’s a sense of enormous scale. We can thank those angled edge drivers and height virtualisation DSP for panning effects and an enveloping sound even without rear effects.
The soundbar also handles fine details brilliantly well, picking up on subtle audio nuances that distinguish speech and environmental effects. There’s a realism to its presentation that’s absolutely convincing.
Despite that lack of an outboard subwoofer, the Stage has no problem making its presence felt. We measured bass output down to 31.5Hz, which translates to appreciable slam with action movies and the like – it can be positively thunderous when the movie calls for it. Gunfire and gaming all benefit from its full-bodied, forceful attack.
Bang & Olufsen isn’t just aiming this at soundbar at TV audio upgraders. It’s also banking on buyers using the Stage as a standalone music speaker. Its confidence is well placed.
While plenty of wireless soundbars will make an agreeable noise, the Stage has genuine musicality and rhythm. It’s so much fun to listen to – creating a noise at large scale, but delicately when needed.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage: Verdict
Admittedly this is a pricey option, but when you consider its nearest competitor in terms of performance and function is probably the Sennheiser Ambeo, which sells for pretty much twice the price of the aluminium designs, the price starts to feel more reasonable.
Of course there are caveats. One HDMI input is a bit on the frugal side, as it demands all your kit goes via the TV. A USB port would have been helpful too, if only to power an HDMI streaming stick.
But boasting more style than MØ, and a commensurate level of performance, we’re happy enough to forgive these foibles.
The Stage could well end up being the most satisfying soundbar of the year. It really is that good.