Away from the grounds of IFA 2022 show in Berlin, Bang & Olufsen had setup a stylish apartment space kitted out with its latest and greatest soundbar: the Beosound Theatre. And I got to kick back and listen to this ultra-premium and ultra-pricey soundbar to get a genuine feel of what it's capable of delivering.
From a medley of musical genres, to a James Bond scene from No Time To Die, and that 'We Will Rock You' scene from the 2018 movie Bohemian Rhapsody, B&O was keen to show off the soundbar's range, while I was pleased as pie to let my ears be on the receiving end. Here are the Beosound Theatre's standout features that blew my mind and, well, ears...
1. The integrated-with-TV style
At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Beosound Theatre is actually a B&O TV unit with integrated soundbar. It's not, as there's no TV included, but it's designed to fit with almost any TV on the market, and explicitly designed to handshake best with LG's C2 and G2 OLED tellies.
It doesn't really matter which size of set you own (up to 77-inches anyway, no larger just yet), as the Beosound Theatre has aluminium 'wings' that detach and can be replaced to ensure a fluid design with 55-, 65- and 77-inch models (or less and you forego those 'wings' in the design).
It all looks very flush, as if a single piece of design. There's a panel that slots into the soundbar and is fully weigh supporting, plus adjustable. So you can move the screen position forward or backwards to ensure perfect symmetry on the mount, to adapt for differing TV thicknesses. Then all the cables and tucked away behind a cover on this panel, so it looks seamless even from the rear side.
It's easily the most integrated soundbar design I've ever seen paired with a TV, although you can wall-mount the 'bar instead if you prefer. All mounts are included in the box, too, so the choice is yours.
2. It's a single box solution with 7.1.4 output
The Beosound Theatre has a total of 12 speakers. Now, I know plenty of the other best soundbars can claim to have as many, perhaps even more. But in this B&O it's the sheer scale of the product that gives them greater oomph. They're also positioned to deliver height and width channels (that's the '4' of the 7.1.4 arrangement) without you really seeing the drivers at all (just the openings atop the soundbar's fabric finish).
Feed the Beosound Theatre a Dolby Atmos object-based surround signal and it decodes it with aplomb. There are various technologies at play here, as taken from B&O's floorstanding speakers, that use a measurement microphone to deliver software-enhanced sound delivery to an ideal listener position. It really helps the believability of being shrouded in sound from all angles.
And boy is this thing loud: there's 800W of power, so even with the volume set to 60 per cent, I could feel the output. And I'm pretty sure various neighbouring apartments in Berlin centre were wondering what was happening in the middle of the day on a Thursday (or perhaps not, given how embedded techno culture is in this city).
3. Impact of the bass from those 6.5in woofers
In among those 12 speakers are two 6.5-inch woofers. That means those are physically larger than you'll find in any other soundbar on the market. And let me tell you: you'll definitely know about it.
I was dubious at first, as I'm a sucker for a big subwoofer. But, no, the Beosound Theatre's bass delivery, which is said to cater for as low as 23Hz, is absolutely massive. It's truly impactful, not muddied, and listening to the foot-stomping scene from Bohemian Rhapsody really hit home just how well the low-end is catered for in this soundbar.
It's the biggest bass delivery from a single box soundbar solution on the market, in my view, genuinely negating the need for a separate subwoofer.
4. Expansive connectivity and future-proofed modularity
However, if you do have additional speakers then you can pair them with the Beosound Theatre as you wish. It's backwards compatible with anything from B&O's older range, thanks to its 'Mozart' chipset, so whether you want to add some small additions or have giant floor-standing speakers to act as rear surrounds, you can set up this system to be even more all-encompassing.
I find B&O's approach to modularity interesting too, as every component within the soundbar is accessible and the company's services mean various components can be upgraded in the future, should that become necessary. Let's say 'HDMI 3.0' becomes a thing (it isn't yet) – you could have B&O upgrade that rear connectivity section to ensure it's compatible. As it stands, however, the HDMI 2.1 with eARC passthrough will cater for 4K at 120fps with ALLM and VRR anyway, so it's as up-to-date as can be at the time of release.
5. ...oh, and the price!
So count me as blown away by how the Beosound Theatre actually sounds. It really is like listening to an immersive theatre system with huge delivery behind it; an enveloping, transformative experience.
But its asking price is about as mind-blowing as its sound quality: at £5,590 in the UK, it's double the price of most top-end tellies and way, way more than many soundbar setups with even more speaker outputs (Samsung HW-Q990B being one such example).
B&O suggests it's all about 'buying better, not buying more' and that the Theatre will outlive your TV set's life thanks to its future-proofing modularity and clear high-end finish (the wood, the aluminium – it's quite a stunner). I can respect that idea, as it's one to get behind, it's just that only a select and exclusive customer base is going to be lucky enough to even be able to consider owning such a product. But if you fall into that category then, well, after listing to this Bang & Olufsen soundbar I already envy you...