What about Bang & Olufsen?


Bronze Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 79
Registered: Apr-05
I have not heard much about Bang & Olufson on this forum. What is the general consensus here?

I know they are way overpriced and geared much more towards people who want looks rather than quality and performance, but are they actually bad equipment?

I was at what is generally an art auction though it sometimes does estate sales (otherwise known as sionara rich folks, too bad you can't take these things with you to the next world). A complet set of model 5500 which is now 18 years old sold for $2200. At the time I'm sure the dude originaly paid almost $20,000 for the whole thing. I would have bid about $500, but then it got ridicules.


Bronze Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 80
Registered: Apr-05
If anyone is interested in looking at the details of this sale, they are still up on their web site, though I can't do a direct link. Go to


click on Auction, past results. Roll down to Premier auction 19 clic on Search catalogu and type in lot 1036 to see the details.

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 616
Registered: Feb-05
Overpriced for the sound. B&O can sound good but you pay more for styling than anything.

Silver Member
Username: Diablo

Fylde Coast, England

Post Number: 108
Registered: Dec-04
My general impression of B&O is much like you suggest - stylish, but not of the highest audio quality.

My first hearing of B&O equipment was in the late 70's, when I was assisting my parents in buying a music center system.
The B&O music centers were more than twice the price of everything else we saw, yet were sonically equivalent to the cheaper end of the market. In some ways technically inferior - no Dolby on the cassette deck! Huge hissing abounded during a cassette demo whilst the saleman enthused about the quality. Eh? I suppose that showed the high frequency response though. Went for a JVC in the end, much better sound. My mother was displeased, because she liked the appearance of the B&O.

A few years later, I made my second worst audio purchase - as yet, anyway. I bought a Beogram 4000 record deck. My excuse is that it was pre-owned and therefore fairly cheap. I would have had extra excuses if I'd known at the time that it had won design awards and had featured in the Museum of Modern Art.
However, it didn't work too well. Must have been fairly old when I bought it (10 years?), so there is a good excuse there.
It kept going wrong, and I kept fixing it. Much of it was well engineered - except for the important bits! There is a long brass threaded rod inside which made the arms move along. It was driven by a little motor via small plastic pulley wheels. These components were very poorly made. In contrast to the high quality of the cast aluminium frames which held all this in place.

Also, the switches which controlled it all were poor. I had to take them all apart, clean and re-assemble them. Easier said than done.

I must have fixed the thing about 15 times before consigning it to the rubbish tip.

And it never sounded very good even when it was working properly.

The Bang & Olufsen equipment I've heard since those days has never quite 'hit the mark', especially when I've been told how much was paid for it.

$500 was probably a sensible price to stop bidding. :-)

Having dismissed B&O as junk, I'd like to say that I like the way they still embrace new technology. Someone has to make it available to the market - and they do! I'd like to hear their Beolab 5 speakers, for example.


Unregistered guest

I owned a B&O turntable in the mid 80's, just when they were supposed to be 'audiophile' grade. There was a ton of mark up in it, so I got it for 35 points off of 'sale' price, not list. And, they threw in the supposed $350 cartridge!, which was to be B&O only, because the tone arm was made so it would only take B&O cartridges. So, I felt pretty great about my fantastic purchase...until I listened through headphones. See, this was the only turntable that could play sideways, mounted on a wall! Cool! Well that meant that the transport mechanism for the tone arm had to be 'rigid' or 'controlled'. Well, it caused nasty high end distortion, until about 2/3 the way across my best vinyl, and the more dynamic the recording, the worse the distortion!

Long story short? I traded it in on a really nice HK table that came with the weight in the center, and very impressive cartridge, all for about $400, and when I got home and played some vinyl, MAN!, was I impressed at the sound difference. I re-recorded ALL my cassettes in about a week!

Buy B&O? Only if you want to impress museum visitors! If you want audio, spend your money elsewhere.

Unregistered guest
If it wasn't for companies like B&O or Nakamichi, all audio equipment would have continued to look like cinder blocks and the people who don't like to put cinder blocks in their living rooms would be missing out on getting half-way decent audio equipment. So I have no complaints about B&O. They serve a purpose. They are not overpriced if you compare them to the even more expensive and ugly decorative pieces people put in their living rooms that don't do anything other than just sit there! It is indeed over-priced if you are the typical techno-geek that places no premium on design aesthetics or the design aesthetics is measured in the height of cinder blocks or number of visible vacuum tubes. :-)

In terms of audio quality, both B&O and Nakamichi have their high points and low points unfortunately all the relative high points for these companies have been in the past and form has taken precedence over function in the recent past.

If you are ever in Copenhagen and looking for a hotel, try the Airport Hilton (one of the best Hiltons I have been in) and easy access to city with the train. Each room is fully equipped with a designed-in B&O audio/video system that gives a good idea of what their design philosophy is and the aesthetic role the a/v system plays in the environment. It is quite different from the "put them on pedestals like museum pieces to show I am rich" image their marketing tries to portray in North America.

Now, if B&O and NAD merged keeping the designers from B&O and the engineers from NAD, that would be one heck of a product company ... on the other hand those two groups might land up strangling each other to produce anything.

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 628
Registered: Feb-05
Personally I can't afford to decorate my home with audio gear. I must buy what I can afford that sounds good, and that ain't B&O.

Put another way. Aesthetics deals with more than just the visual. Music is art which appeals to my sense of aesthetics. Well reproduced it conveys more realistically the artists intent. If a cinder block gets me closer to that aesthetic I'll listen to it over the pretty but less effective B&O anytime. The purpose of audio gear is to reproduce sound, if it looks good as well that is a bonus. Unfortunately I cannot afford good sounding equipment that looks good.

Or, looks are in the "eye of the beholder". There is a certain beauty to the minimilist approach of NAD. I've read on many posts that people like the look of NAD.

I have seen video of that Hilton, it is very nice.

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 724
Registered: Mar-05
I like the clean look of NAD myself, and of course the SQ is the icing on the cake! ; )

Also Harman Kardon to my eyes makes the best-looking gear that also sounds good without breaking the bank.

And about the only thing Bose has going for it is its sleek compact designs.

Bronze Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 82
Registered: Apr-05
Agreed with the styling point. I do think that NAD and Rotel are pretty minimalist too. The biggest problem I had with that B&O unit was it didn't seem like it had any of the standard ports to mix it with other components. If you look at the picture for example, the speakers looked pretty impressive, but It's wires seemed to be hard connected to the back so I couldn't figure out if they were standard red and black pair or not.

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