STEREO GUIDE verdict
+ very balanced and natural sound
+ given its size excellent dynamics
+ Dust protected and waterproof
- spatial staging only with two paired speakers
- no analogue input
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency8.5
Sound: Bass / Dynamics6.5
Ease-of-use / Connectivity8.4
There is a general truth to mobile Bluetooth speakers: If you want the best in a particular class, you have to pay significantly more than for standard models. And among fully mobile bluetooth speakers, real hi-fi quality is rare, so it was no surprise that the predecessor, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1, became a success despite its less prestigious ´Beoplay´ label. And in terms of sound quality, the second-generation A1, now branded as a more luxurious Bang & Olufsen, is expected to outperform its predecessor. This applies not only to the sound quality, but also to the 50% increase in battery capacity, which should allow up to 18 hours of continuous playback.
The rounded design with its completely edgeless shape, even when viewed from the side, pays tribute to a pure mobile-optimised design. Which is highlighted with a nice leather strap. So not only does it fit in any backpack, it is also fully dust protected and waterproof complying with IP67 standards. For the second generation, the available colours have been expanded following the latest fashion trend; in addition to silver and grey, there are pastel turquoise and rose gold models.
The upper part of the case is made of brushed aluminum, giving a very classy appeal, but might turn out not be be fully scratch-protected when used outdoor. The two divers are located behind the top grill. Bang & Olufsen refrains from using full-range drivers as many competitors have them, but instead fitting a true 2-way combination into the enclosure. A 3.5 inch bass driver plus a small dome tweeter which subtly adds transparency and treble.
Such 2-way combination is much more capable of reproducing a rich sound compared to any fullrange driver setup. If you miss a spatial stereo imaging, you can connect two systems to a stereo pair.
The lower part of the case is rubber-coated, giving a real advantage especially on less stable surfaces. The standard positioning is requiring a flat and solid surface.
Playback options and Usabilty
The buttons are somewhat hidden in the lower area of the enclosure. Except for the volume control and play/pause, there are no additional functions available. In contrast to its predecessor, the second generation of the A1 accepts Bluetooth 5.1 feeds only and does not offer any analogue input.
For convenience, voice assistant Amazon Alexa and 3 associated microphones are integrated as a new feature. However, they can also be used to accept incoming phone calls.
All additional functions can be conveniently controlled via the accompanying app, and thanks to the multipoint option, it can also keep two smartphones connected at the same time.
Sound characteristics of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd gen
The new small mobile system shows similar virtues as the first gen did: Balanced tonality, subtlety and transparency are unparalleled among mobile Bluetooth speakers of this size. If you pair two of them, you almost have a tiny mobile high-end system in your backpack, which then also delivers a astonishingly wide and spatial sound image. Accordingly, a single one sounds rather pointy but somewhat present and dynamic.
Compared to its predecessor, the sound characteristic could be described as minimally fresher and offers a bit more of resolution. Whenhanging freely on the leather strap, the otherwise superbly precise bass lacks some punch. Placed on a stable table, lowboard or even the floor, the reproduction is definitely warmer and fuller.
Conclusion and alternatives to the Beosound A1 2nd generation
If you’re looking for a fully mobile and waterproof Bluetooth speaker with real hi-fi aspirations, you’ll be happy to pay the extra price for the Bang & Olufsen. With minor sacrifices to sound quality, the JBL Flip 6 and Tribit Stormbox Micro also offer solid performance for significantly lower budget.
Specifications B&O Beosound A1 2nd Gen.
- Price: 250 $
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 13.3 x 4.5 x 13.3 cm
- Weight: 558 g
- Battery life up to 18 hours
- Features: waterproof according to IP67 standards, stereo pairing, microphone
- More at: www.bang-olufsen.com