At $1490, the BeoSound 8 is an entry-level product from Bang & Olufsen and, priced between B&W’s Zeppelin and the Geneva M, will be a tempting choice for those looking for a premium iPod solution. It supports iPhone, of course, and will be the first dock available locally to support iPad when it goes onsale in the first week of December 2010.

The BeoSound 8’s designer must have a sense of irony as, viewed face-on, it reminds us of an old-time reel-to-reel system. It can be placed on a table-top or wall-mounted (kit provided), and the standard black or white grille clothes can be exchanged for a range of different coloured grilles ($75), allowing you to better mate the system with your interior decor.

Each speaker contains two drivers (a ¾ inch tweeter and 5 inch midrange) within a 1.3 litre cone-shaped sealed cabinet. The approach, and the nine degree rearwards tilt of the unit, allows the BeoSound 8 to be placed more easily into a corner, while the absence of parallel surfaces helps reduce standing waves within the cabinet and improve sound accuracy, according to B&O.

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Each speaker is driven by 70 watts of ICEPower, making for a total system output of 140 watts. Frequency response is a claimed 20Hz to 35,000Hz.

’Round the back is a line-input and USB port for connecting other audio devices, including a hard drive or computer. In this arrangement, the DACs within the BeoSound 8 allow it to perform as a quality set of speakers for your digital music library. A switch on the rear of the unit allows you to adjust bass response to suit room placement, with wall, corner and free options catered for.

Bang & Olufsen provides a free app for the BeoSound 8 on the iTunes store, and this allows a docked i-device to perform as a clock, sleep timer and alarm. It also provides access to a selection of internet radio stations, handpicked by Bang & Olufsen. A paid version of the app (around $US20) will extend the selection to 14,000.

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Construction is plastic (black or white – you choose), with Bang & Olufsen’s signature aluminium finishes used on rings surrounding each speaker and the connecting bridge. A circular control wheel sits in the middle of this, atop of which is the docking port for your i-device of choice. A separate circular remote, which duplicates the on-unit controls, is also provided.

To our eyes, iPad is a better match, in terms of scale, for the BeoSound 8 than a Touch or iPhone. And while the BeoSound 8 will dock the new Nano, the miniature music player will, we think, look pretty ridiculous.

The preview sample we auditioned at Bang & Olufsen’s Sydney city store was pre-production, so fell short of our performance expectations. Good for an iPod dock, but not good enough for a $1500 iPod dock. Or maybe it was the pair of BeoLab 5 in the background of the demo room, memories of which have set the bar in what B&O can do with sound.

In any case, the products that will hit stores in December will integrate the final spec DSP chip (digital signal processing) and, no doubt, improve on things.

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Bang & Olufsen never has sales, but to mark its 85th anniversary, the company is offering 8.5 percent off its entire range for the month of November. And, nope, you can’t get this deal on a pre-order for the BeoSound 8.