We see our justifiable share of outdoor-friendly Bluetooth audio system, and most are typically constructed like tanks. The brand new $250 Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) continues within the footsteps of the earlier mannequin, however it’s totally waterproof (to not point out dustproof). There are additionally enhancements to audio efficiency and battery life, with Amazon Alexa help added for good measure. Maybe it feels just a little overpriced for a mono mannequin, however there’s little else to complain about right here—that is nonetheless the moveable speaker to beat when model, an outdoor-friendly construct, and audio efficiency are all equally vital, incomes it our Editors’ Selection.
Obtainable in black, grey, inexperienced, or pink, the Beosound A1 is a round, upward-firing speaker with rounded edges. Its 5.2-by-1.8-inch footprint (HW) is impressively compact given how loud it could get, however it does pack some weight (1.2 kilos). The highest panel is populated by tiny round speaker grille perforations, one among which is inhabited by a small standing LED. A brown leather-based lanyard is hooked up to the facet panel, a pleasant natural contact, with a metallic cinch bearing the Bang & Olufsen emblem.
Alongside the facet panel, there are push buttons for energy, pairing, and microphone/mute on one facet of the lanyard. Play/Pause and devoted quantity up/down buttons are situated on the opposite facet. The play/pause button will be pressed twice to skip ahead a observe, or thrice to navigate backward. Incoming calls will be answered with the button, as effectively.
Beneath the grille, a single 3.5-inch woofer and a single 0.4-inch tweeter are pushed by two devoted 30-watt Class D amplifiers, delivering mono audio with a frequency vary of 55Hz-20khz.
The Beosound A1’s spectacular IP67 ranking signifies the speaker is totally waterproof—the 7 within the ranking means it may be submerged as much as a meter safely. Whereas Bluetooth sign doesn’t do effectively underwater, you possibly can rinse the speaker off underneath a faucet or expose it to rain or poolside splashes with out challenge. The 6 within the ranking means the speaker is dust-tight, and no solids can enter its enclosure—it is a little shocking given the uncovered USB-C charging port, however we’ll take B&O’s phrase right here.
The Bang & Olufsen app is important for establishing Alexa, which makes it all of the extra annoying that you have to create an account with B&O—or log in by way of Apple, Fb, or Google—to be able to entry the account. I’m all the time pissed off by any product that gives an app you possibly can solely use after supplying personal info. That mentioned, when you arrange your account, the app will join with the Amazon Alexa app to finish the setup course of. Alexa can then be accessed by pushing the microphone button on the speaker.
Within the B&O app, you too can entry varied listening modes, that are mainly simply EQ presets. You may create your individual EQ, however as an alternative of the acquainted bands and sliders we often see, it is a round chart you drag your finger by to make the audio brighter or extra bass-heavy. It’s much less intuitive than easy bands would have been, however there’s at the least the choice to regulate the audio. You may pause and play audio within the app, in addition to obtain firmware updates.
The speaker is appropriate with Bluetooth 5.1 and helps each AAC and AptX (Adaptive) codecs, which is considerably uncommon on this class.
Bang & Olufsen estimates battery life to be roughly 18 hours, however your outcomes will differ along with your quantity ranges.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Beosound A1 delivers spectacular bass depth—the sort that may rattle the surfaces it’s positioned on (whereas the speaker itself manages to remain completely nonetheless). At average to excessive volumes, the bass is extra full—the DSP (digital sign processing) undoubtedly begins to skinny issues out at prime quantity ranges, however that is within the title of avoiding distortion, and audio by no means truly sound really skinny. This can be a bass-forward sound signature, however the deep bass sounds fuller at quantity ranges under max.
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Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a observe with far much less deep bass within the combine, offers us a greater sense of the Beosound A1’s normal sound signature. This observe, even at prime volumes, sounds glorious—Callahan’s vocals get a wealthy low-mid lacquer to enhance his baritone supply with out smothering it, whereas the high-mids and highs stay crisp and outlined. The drums on this observe get some added low-frequency heft with out ever sounding unnatural or overly boosted. The acoustic strums are brilliant and clear, as are the higher-register percussive hits. This can be a sculpted sound signature that modifications a bit relying on the amount stage, however it’s all the time balanced.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives some added thump that provides it extra bass presence, whereas its assault will get sufficient high-mid presence to retain its punchiness. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with stable depth, however nothing such as you’d count on from a speaker with actual woofers pumping out the lows—the Beosound A1 excels within the lows and low-mids, however the sub-bass realm is, predictably for a speaker this dimension, dialed again. The victory right here continues to be pushing out some semblance of deep bass depth with none distortion. The vocals on this observe are delivered with glorious readability and with out added sibilance.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In keeping with the Different Mary, sound wealthy, lush, and crisp by the Beosound A1. The lower-register instrumentation performs its anchoring function for the higher-register brass, strings, and vocals, however is neither minimized nor overly exaggerated within the combine.
The mic presents stable intelligibility. Utilizing the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we may perceive each phrase we recorded clearly. Getting nearer to the speaker definitely improves the general constancy of the recording—from greater than a foot away the mic sounds skinny, whereas from extra like 5 inches away, there’s stronger readability and bass response.
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 feels just like the pure development from the unique, the place the modifications are significant and refined without delay. Sonically, the speaker is a winner—you get the perfect Bluetooth codec playback of each AptX and AAC, and regardless of it being mono, there are twin drivers, delivering splendid readability in each the lows and highs. And from a design standpoint, modern, understated model meets a top-notch IP67 weatherproof ranking. That’s sufficient to nab the Beosound A1 our Editors’ Selection award for fashionable moveable Bluetooth audio system. We’re additionally followers of the equally priced Braven BRV-XXL/2, however we we weren’t joking about some out of doors audio system being constructed like tanks. For extra money, the $400 Final Ears Hyperboom is a powerhouse, and for much less, the $180 JBL Cost Four delivers related energy to the Beosound A1 in a stereo design.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) Specs
|Voice Assistant||Amazon Alexa|