Replacing the BeoLab Penta loudspeaker range, the BeoLab 1 was the first true active loudspeaker from Bang & Olufsen using for the first time its own type of built-in amplifier, that of ‘Ice Power’. Developing on from an idea two decades previously (when it was known as a ‘Class D’ amplifier and used in the power supply section of the Beovision 8800 in 1979), the unit delivered high power sound but used just a fraction of the electrical power necessary to produce it as compared to traditional components. As it also gave out less heat in producing required sound, Ice Power components could be incorporated within the bodies of loudspeakers, thus reducing the need for large sinks to disperse unnecessary heat.
Despite its large stature (each speaker stood at over 1,83m) only two bass drivers were fitted within the BeoLab 1, together with one midrange and one tweeter. The cabinet principle was also different from the Penta range in that it was a pressure chamber rather than a bass reflex type.
Connections could be made to each speaker via suitable Bang & Olufsen products to its Power Linkconnectors. A pair of RCA sockets allowed for the connection of non-B&O products.
BeoLab 1 also included ABL (Adaptive Bass Linearisation) which was a volume dependant ‘loudness’ function which was matched to the electro-acoustic characteristics of the loudspeaker. The system could not be overriden was totally automatic in operation. As in the Penta range, a 3-position bass expansion switch was fitted to signify the placement of each speaker in a room; the customer had a choice of either ‘in corner’, ‘against wall’ or ‘free standing’.
Beolab 1 was very original in concept and together with its many colour finishes became a popular - if not expensive - addition to the range of BeoLab products. It was replaced by the far more expensive and powerful Beolab 5 active loudspeaker in 2006.