Home Goods | December 21, 2016 9:00 am

What Do $80K Brass Speakers Sound Like? Who Cares. Look at Them.

Bet they make a ... mighty, mighty brass tone.

Although I’m currently listening to music via $3.99 Walgreen’s earbuds, I appreciate the passion audiophiles have for the integrity of sound.

What you don’t always see, though, is a high-dollar stereo that prioritizes aesthetics as much as it does performance.

Enter the Cool Modern Collection from the typically elegant Bang & Olufsen, featuring a bevy of the luxury brand’s classic products in updated materials. Namely: brass, which, if reviews are to be believed, gives an exquisite tone to audio.

The company has long-been known for its almost comically sci-fi-esque designs and meticulous engineering, and yet the promo video for the collection still manages to go more than a little over the top (is this advertising a home audio collection or the newest HBO dystopian thriller?).

Why brass?

Besides being 2016’s preferred material for designers, the warm tone was a natural foray for Bang & Olufsen, inspired by Art Deco, big brass bands and other on-point trends of the 1920s — the era in which the company got its start, producing radios in the attic of the Olufsen family home.

(Interesting aside: By the early 1940s, the company had garnered widespread acclaim for their visionary approach to radio receivers, and had graduated from their humble country home to full-fledged factories. In January 1945, German occupation forces totally destroyed all of their factories, effectively halting all product development and manufacturing in the short term.)

The $80K offender

The brass is a permanent material option for the B&O products, which reportedly cost the same as their “standard” counterparts, ranging in price from many hundreds (for the remote) to the many, many thousands (the 55” BeoVision 14 television is $8,900; their Beolab 90, a whopping $80k).

Detail of the BeoVision 14

But for what it’s worth, a lot of audiophiles really, really like this brand (of course, it has its vocal critics as well). And while many reviewers write them off as all form and no function, their almost 100-year tenure is hard to dismiss, and you’ll find equal and growing numbers arguing that such critics have probably never actually heard a Bang & Olufsen system in person.

Perhaps the feeling is best summed up by this headline from Digital Trends in their review of the Beolab 90: “You Need a PhD to Understand These Speakers, but Just Ears to Be Floored by Them.”

We’ll make one edit: “You Need a PhD to Understand These Speakers — and an HHI of 1M+ to Buy Them — but Just Ears to Be Floored by Them.”