It’s hard to top a set of loudspeakers revolutionizing the world of home audio systems. Of course, the $39,000 price tag (that’s per unit) on Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 90 means only a few can experience it in their personal living rooms, but the Danish company’s quality sound and design is still accessible for more casual audiophiles via the portability-focused B&O Play line. The latest addition to the Danish brand’s family of elegant, luxurious headphones and speakers is the polished, round BeoPlay A1. Bang & Olufsen‘s smallest Bluetooth speaker yet purportedly boasts up to 24 hours of battery life. As one of the first to receive a review unit ahead of its launch date today, we were wowed by what we heard.
In an even more compact size than the rectangular-shaped A2, the new A1 has an inviting leather strap for easy carrying to the pool or park. The tough aluminum casing—with no protruding buttons for a seamless feel—should protect its internal tech from normal wear and tear. However, it isn’t light enough (1.3 pounds) for you to want to toss it in the air or swing around; in contrast to the the thin, waterproof UE Roll speaker, one drop could potentially do some some permanent damage. When it’s laid flat on a surface and secure, the BeoPlay A1 is an entertaining whiz and the life of a get-together. This is because it aces the two portable speaker essentials: strong sound (unbelievably loud, not even at its maximum) and unblemished sound quality.
Bang & Olufsen have made so much stride in audio technology over the 90 years they’ve been in operation that we always have higher-than-average expectations when coming across a new B&O speaker. The A1 doesn’t disappoint, with tons of clear, rousing deep bass and snare drums punching through the air with precision. Unlike portable speakers that blast music in a single direction and can sound worse depending on your relative position, the A1 fills the air in what feels like 360° (it’s a unique DSP algorithm hard at work, paired with one tweeter and one full-range driver). Last but not least, the companion BeoPlay app allows you to control the speaker, and its best feature is the intuitive ToneTouch, where you can tweak speaker sound to your liking (warm, excited, relaxed or bright, plus spaciousness).
The BeoPlay A1 speaker (which also works as a speakerphone for calls) debuts today in two colors, moss green and natural, for $249.
Images by Cool Hunting