There are soundbars, and then there are designer soundbars—speakers that take visuals and materials into account just as much as audio quality. You can probably guess which category a soundbar from Bang & Olufsen falls into. With a base price of $,1750, you can buy a powerful 2.1 system for far less than the Beosound Stage. But B&O has always been about the design and materials aspect as much as the audio—this is a luxury product, plain and simple, so we’ll dispense with the “is this worth it” arguments from here on out. If you like the way the Beosound Stage looks and can actually afford it, it’s going to come down to how it sounds and operates. And if you’re looking for a refined sound signature, you’re sure to be pleased, but if you’re seeking true theater-style rumble, this standalone soundbar doesn’t pack the sub-bass depth you’re looking for.
The Best-Looking Soundbar We’ve Seen
Available in aluminum/black ($1,750), anthracite ($2,025), bronze tone/taupe ($2,025), or smoked oak/gray ($2,300), the Beosound Stage measures 3.0 by 43.0 by 6.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 17.6 pounds. It’s wall mountable, but it can also sit flat on a long surface.
Bang & Olufsen seems to show the soundbar mounted on the wall in most images on its site, and it’s hard to deny it looks a little more intriguing with the cloth grille facing forward—this is enhanced by a tiny gap separating the grille from the frame, which makes the grille look as if it’s floating. (In the app, you select whether it’s mounted on the wall or sitting flat to optimize audio performance.) There’s also a floor stand accessory it can be mounted to (it uses a universal VESA 300 by 300mm mount), but it’s an extra $800.
Behind the grille, there are four 4-inch woofers, four 1.5-inch full-range drivers, and three 0.75-inch tweeters, with each driver receiving its own 50-watt amplifier. The woofers are arranged to the left and right of the center, in pairs, while the center houses two of the full-range drivers and a single tweeter firing straight forward, and the far ends house one full range driver and one tweeter each, both angled slightly to accommodate Atmos audio and wall-mounted or tabletop positioning. The drivers deliver a frequency range of 32Hz to 22kHz. The soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD, and you can sculpt the audio to a degree within the Bang & Olufsen app.
There are recessed inputs behind the center rubber support. A removable cover reveals the connection for the included power cable, as well the HDMI ARC/eARC port (there’s an HDMI cable included). In addition to these, there are connections for HDMI in, a 3.5mm aux audio input, and two Ethernet ports for wired setups. The Beosound Stage supports dual-band Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, and Beolink multi-room streaming. You can also stream via Bluetooth 4.2, with support for AAC and SBC codecs, but not AptX.
When the soundbar is connected to your TV via HDMI, it will automatically play audio from the TV, and when you set it up in the app, it will automatically appear as a streaming option via AirPlay 2 or Chromecast. Pairing via Bluetooth is simple, though it doesn’t re-pair automatically, so you need to do it manually each time you want to use Bluetooth.
The Bang & Olufsen App (for Android and iOS) is a one-size-fits-all utility for most of the audio gear in the B&O lineup. Adding the Beosound Stage to the app’s connected devices is simple and pretty much automated. Once the app is connected, the main screen features various listening modes, including TV, Music, Movie, Night (which dials back the deep bass and the transients/peaks), and None (for an unaltered sound signal). There’s EQ, which you can apply to these modes (though it’s limited to bass/treble faders), and there are basic sound settings, including the aforementioned selection of Table/Shelf or Wall Mount. There’s also a Loudness button, which we recommend leaving off, that enhances bass and treble at lower volume levels.
There are various granular settings adjustments you can make, and you can also control volume/mute from the app, and the reaction time is nearly instant. The app has built-in internet radio stations, and can sync with many popular music streaming services if you have an account.
What’s missing? Most soundbars we test ship with a remote control, so the exclusion of one here is a head scratcher. Sure, the app allows you to control the bar and the frame houses touch-sensitive controls for playback, volume, track navigation, and Bluetooth pairing, but a dedicated remote would be nice. B&O makes a universal remote, the Beoremote One, but it’ll run you an additional $375. Also, the lack of a subwoofer output means this is a soundbar-only solution. B&O does sell a subwoofer, but it’s not compatible with the Stage.
A Focus on Accuracy
When detecting signal from the HDMI cable, the soundbar defaults to Movie mode. In Blade Runner 2049’s crash scene, in which Ryan Gosling falls from the sky in something that looks like a military-grade Lamborghini that flies, the Beosound Stage delivers crisp, bright dialogue, punches, and gunshots, but the explosions in the scene lack the kind of rumble we’re used to hearing. This isn’t to say it lacks low-frequency depth, but it reserves it more for the deep low frequencies in the film score, and we get less of the subwoofer rumble we’re used to from the sound effects.
When the Death Star explodes in Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the Beosound Stage delivers solid bass punch, but the, uh, force of the blast is less thunderous than some viewers will be looking for. This is par for the course for soundbars without subwoofers, but the lack of a subwoofer output or compatibility with a wireless sub means that this is the bass response you get, period, except for some minor bass adjustments in the EQ section of the app. There’s more low-frequency rumble to be heard from the fighter ships zooming past than there is from explosions. The dialogue is crisp and clear, and the sound is certainly cinematic and powerful, but a rumbling, deep sound system this is not.
In neutral audio mode, on tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Beosound Stage delivers powerful low-frequency depth that’s certainly capable of rattling the walls or the table it rests on. In Music mode, the bass depth is perhaps pushed forward and the highs are less crisp, and in both modes, the bass can come close to distorting at maximum volume. However, this is an exceptionally high volume that seems like it would be an unlikely listening level, even for parties.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Beosound Stage’s general sound signature for music. The drums on this track can sound thunderous on bass-boosted systems, but here, in Music mode, they sound round and natural, and in neutral mode, they sound less thunderous than we might have imagined. Through the Beosound Stage, the vocals are the focus—this is a bright, crisp, rich sound signature that neither eliminates bass depth nor exaggerates and relies upon it. Both modes seem suitable for music playback, but perhaps the best bet is to start in neutral and then adjust the EQ to taste. Even though the EQ is really only a bass and treble fader, you can still dial in some crisper or bass-heavier sound signatures,
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” receives plenty of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punchiness in neutral or Music modes. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are more implied than delivered, however—we’re missing their deepest, most ominous lows. Boosting the bass to maximum (for experiment only) dials up the thump of the drum loop, but doesn’t increase the intensity of the sub-bass. Thus, we can surmise that for those wanting serious rumble, the Beosound Stage is probably not the system for you—the audio doesn’t lack bass depth, but it’s more refined and subtle, and less about reaching down to the deepest frequencies and delivering rumble. The vocals on this track are delivered cleanly and clearly, with both modes delivering excellent intelligibility without too much added sibilance.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, sound better in neutral mode than in Music mode, at least to our ears. But neither dials up the bass depth too much, and the highs are delivered with excellent detail and brightness regardless of the mode selected.
A Stunning Design and Clear Sound
So many soundbars are designed with seriously boosted lows and highs in mind, which makes for sensational theater sound, but throws accuracy out the window. The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage is perhaps an antidote to this approach, but its price makes it an unreachable dose of accuracy for most listeners. And even with its accurate, clarity-focused sound signature, the Stage can use a touch more sub bass than it’s capable of. It’s no surprise that it doesn’t deliver on that front—separate subwoofers exist for a reason. That said, the soundbar will deliver if what you seek is a refined, clarity-based audio experience in an absolutely stunning design.
If the rumble and thunder of a theater-like system is what you’re after, you’ll likely want to consider different options. On the high end, the $1,300 LG SL10YG and the $800 Sonos Arc (which works with the $600 Sonos Sub) are both worth considering. For subwoofer rumble for far less, meanwhile, check out the $350 Klipsch Cinema 600.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage
The Bottom Line
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage is the most attractive soundbar we’ve tested, and it has a bright, rich sound signature—but don’t expect sub-bass rumble.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage Specs
|Physical Connections||3.5mm, HDMI|