Has anyone auditioned the BeoLab 5 speakers?

These speakers have gotten mixed reviews. Some listeners claim that they provide great depth of field, others think that they are two-dimensional. Some people love the base, others think it is way too much. Some people like the highs, others think they are harsh. Is it possible that the front end B & O components are responsible for these apparently irreconcilable opinions about these speakers. What do they sound like with good front end components?
I've only heard them in a very bad acoustical environment at the Galleria in Houston. They were unbearablely harsh. I walked out of the store. I don't know if it was the set-up or electronics but they were easily the worst sounding speakers in their price range that I have ever heard. I'm sorry to be so harsh but that's the way I feel. Futuristic looks aren't enough. I did see the nice reviews of the speakers but don't take professional reviewers that seriously. Until I hear them in a better environment, I'm not the least bit convinced. I say look elsewhere for speakers because I've heard other high-end speakers in similiarly bad acountical environments that still didn't sound as harsh on the top end as the Beolabs 5. The Beolabs is the first speaker around it's price that I wouldn't even consider owning.
I agree with Bulldogger. I too heard them at a Galleria store in Edina, Minnesota. The space they had them set up in was very far from ideal. The Sales people really don't know very much about their product and had attitudes. Being they have a horizonal response of 180 degrees you might have the sales person position the speakers on opposite walls facing each other rather than the traditional way of facing you. If that does not work, look elsewhere as there are many other truely grear speakers in the 16,000 dollar range.
Surround sound is better. Stereo is so frigging lame.

At $16000 a pair, that's $32000 for something like surround with the BeoLabs and still not the real thing.
While I am only about 95% certain this is the same model number as the speakers my brother-in-law and I heard in Vegas, I am pretty sure by the price tag that it was... We heard them in a smallish, but well insulated demo room, and I would say the general consensus between us was in a word, "unimpressed." The highs were a bit grating, and music through the speakers just did not have the same realistic feel of live music. I guess I would say the speakers were OK sounding on the whole, but for those kinds of bucks we expected a *lot* more performance. They do look nice, however...

You can't really evaluate a B&O speaker on B&O electronics, and come away feeling like you know what the speaker is capable of. I took an extended vacation from hifi several years ago. Sold most of my geeky gear and put away the rest. But I kept a decent CD player, turntable and vacuum tube preamp and wanted something low-impact for speakers/amplification while I focused on a demanding business schedule. On a whim, out of pure aesthetic motives, I slipped a pair of B&O 8000s into my room, feeding them the output of my vacuum tube preamp. The resulting sound was in a different league entirely from the harsh, dynamically-choked sound from an end-to-end B&O chain. The company has put better power amplification in its active speakers, than the electronics in its sources and linestages in integrated components.

I'm no fan of ICE amps, but while they can be hard, they are not harsh. I've heard the Beolab 5 outside of associated B&O gear, and it is interesting in its enveloping soundstaging, is capable of fulfilling projection into the room, and its bass is quite controllable. Generally, multi-channel is a bad idea, bordering on horribly wrong for any semblance of music fidelity. The Beolab 5 is among the speakers that spatially demonstrate why 2 channels are enough, and more to the point preferred. But you have to divorce them from other B&O gear, and feed them signal from a tube preamp or an unusually musical solid state pre, and an appropriately smooth source.

I ended that short vacation from hifi and since built up two complete and independent systems. Since owning Zu full range driver speakers, I can't any longer accept crossovers in speakers, so Beolab 5s won't make it into any of my systems. However, for systems where active speakers are advised or desired, the Beolab 5 is capable of delivering elevated musical enjoyment only if used as the sonic endpoint of highly-evolved musical chain. I advise a good tube preamp and carefully selected source to make it so. There are other choices, but there the B&O buyer always has extenuating reasons to be interested. If you don't need the space efficiency of an active speaker but want something with stunning visual design, consider Sonus Faber Cremona and above, with stellar matching amplification, if you're not ready for crossoverless Zu Definitions.

Having read the reviews, and posts on the web I went out and listened to the Beolab 5s. In the store I was not impressed,seemed flat and a bit one dimensional.. just another prettty good speaker.

Then on a whim, I rolled the dice on a pair at about a 30% discount. Got them home and found the highs a bit grating, nice mid range and incredible bass. I listen to mostly vinyl, so I decided to mate them to a modified EAR 834P with some NOS Mullards. The results are incredible and I now understand why these speakers get very good reviews even with the Hifi press. I think running them with the standard B&O gear does them no justice, and the rather poorly informed sales assocites do not help either.

Had a chance to compare them with my buddys system,Krell 402 AMP, Mac 2300 pre, and some Focal 1037be with a VPI classic spinning. For me, there was no comparision, the Beolabs are in a different league.

Just my 2 cents...
I heard them at the B&O showroom in Beverly Hills on 3 separate occasions during spring and summer of 2008. Truly terrible every time with audible break-up at modest SPLs. I'm pretty sure that one of these speakers was defective, but 3 auditions over 6 months and store employees never addressed the issue. Cant't dismiss the product, but how can you ever get comfortable with the price tag when they can't arrange a decent demo.


PS It's always possible that the speakers weren't defective, but I honestly doubt that.
They appear to use the Vifa 3 inch dome midrange (D75MX-31-08). This is the same as is used on some PMC's.

It is a good sounding midrange but it cannot play very loud without compression/distortion.
In the sake of resurrection:

I auditioned the Beolab 5 and I left the store in state of shock, how great these speakers are. Absolutely stunning especially at very high and painful spl they sounded composed and I could not detect much compression & distortion. Absolutely brilliant.

Now, what I don't understand is why so many people are negative about them... I really don't, it doesn't make any sense... After all this is 21st century!! I welcome technology advancement.
I own both, a traditional setup (Audio Research GS, Wilson Puppy) in my weekend home, and Beolab 5's with BeoCenter 2 in my DC apartment. I must say, there's just no comparison ... in an unexpected way.

If the traditional setup is like a Mercedes Benz AMG S65, then the B&O's are an Audi R8. They each offer a great — yet completely different — ownership, listening and 'wow your guests' experience.

IMHO, the B&O's easily keep up with their counterpart in every way.
The biggest difference is in their qualitative sound properties. The traditional setup I describe as "warmer and fulfilling". The B&O's as "accurate and dynamic" and they both have similar presence and staging (Despite the 'acoustic lens', I still position the B&O's in a traditional manner).