Bang & Olufsen is quite late to the soundbar market. The brand has carved its own niche in consumer electronics by stuffing the best audio technology into luxurious trappings, and perhaps it considered a soundbar too downmarket to pursue. But it’s clear the market is choosing soundbars over traditional home theatre speakers, and Bang & Olufsen couldn’t ignore consumers forever.
The company’s first soundbar is designed to make a splash. As it would, with an asking price of $3500 for the Smoked Oak edition, or $2500 for the silver and bronze versions. Technically, the Beosound Stage ticks most of the boxes of a high end soundbar. The speaker unit houses eleven drivers, including four woofers, firing audio in all directions to create an immersive sound experience.
Bang & Olufsen’s marketing material proudly states that its unique array means no separate subwoofer is needed to create deep and clear bass. I can’t speak to the marketing material’s pseudo-science, but I can confirm the bass here feels deeper than it has any right to, considering the slim size of the unit.
The Beosound Stage fills a room with crisp, clear audio, no matter the genre. Whether you’re watching the latest blockbuster or streaming classical music, the soundbar cleverly separates the mids from the highs, so nothing sounds overpowering. There’s a feature called ToneTouch, a terrible name, which allows you to quickly switch between graphic equaliser settings for TV, movies and music. And there’s a night mode, which can quieten explosions to make late night binge sessions possible once the kids have gone to sleep.
The soundbar supports Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s AirPlay 2, so you can stream music from any phone, but there is no voice assistant support for Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, which seems an odd omission in 2019. The speaker connects via HDMI ARC, the most convenient audio connection for modern televisions, although some might miss the unit has no optical input.
There’s also support for Dolby Atmos, so rather than the standard five channel surround sound you object-based sound that can move through the space of your room when playing the latest Blu-Rays, video games the Netflix content.
If I’m honest, I’ve had better Dolby Atmos experiences with plain black soundbars from Sony, LG and Samsung, at half the price of the Beosound Stage. And when I’m watching a movie I have the lights down, so I really don’t care what the speaker-filled tube under my television looks like.
So while the unit sounds amazing, and much better than my current setup, I could notice the lack of roof firing speakers that most other Atmos soundbars include. This lessens the immersive quality of my go-to test movie, Mad Max: Fury Road.