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Hands on: Bang & Olufsen Beosound Balance Review

The Beosound Balance is the latest smart wireless speaker from the iconic, and very expensive, Danish audio giant Bang & Olufsen

First Impressions

The Beosound Balance looks like a top end speaker and has a few atypical features that could make it one of the best sub-£2000 wireless speakers around.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1750
  • Seven drivers, two woofers
  • Beamforming
  • 360 and directional sound profiles
  • Airplay 2, Chromecast and Spotify Connect support

The Beosound Balance is the latest super swish wireless home speaker from Danish audio brand Bang & Olufsen.

It aims to entice cash flush buyers with a number of clever smart features and beamforming audio technology that lets the listener determine how it’s used and create custom sound profiles for the room it’s in.

Sound familiar? It should. A few other brands have marketed similar solutions, but having had a listen and a chance to quiz its designers and engineers, you can colour me excited about the Beosound Balance.

Related: Best Bluetooth speakers

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Balance – Classic design

The Beosound Balance has been designed in partnership with Benjamin Hubert from the British industrial design studio LAYER. From the get go it has an unmistakably minimalist, Scandinavian look and feel.

Featuring an oak base and 360 degree knitted finish speaker section, with hidden capacitive controls on top, it’s about as unassuming as a device this size can get. The only noticeable design flourishes are the Bang & Olufsen branding on its front and a few aluminium accents around its base and top.

Under the hood it’s loaded with cool tech. The speaker includes seven drivers in its top, two of which are backfiring. Backing this up there are dual opposed woofers in the base and middle of the speaker. Up top you’ll also find six mics and hidden touch controls with ambient lighting that can be used to switch profiles, pair to devices, skip songs and play/pause audio.

If you pick it up you’ll see basic power, ethernet, 3.5mm and USB-C inputs, plus a nifty kill switch that tells the mics to stop listening, which will be particularly useful for privacy focussed listeners. However, turning them off will mean you’ll have to miss out on some of the speaker’s smart functionality.

The Balance uses the mics and other background sensors to intelligently detect when a person is near, prompting it to power up its top facing hidden touch control inputs. It also supports Google Assistant, which will let you skip tracks or get updates on the weather using voice commands.

There’s also support for Apple Airplay 2, Google Chromecast and Spotify Connect, so you can pair the speaker to your existing system as needed.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Balance – Easy setup and listening

I only had the chance to test one speaker during a brief demo in less than ideal conditions – the speaker on show was on a table next to a window in a private furniture showroom.

But from what I heard and saw, the speaker is impressive. The Balance borrows several features from Bang & Olufsen’s more expensive speakers and comes with a new – and from what I’ve seen – significantly improved app, which makes it quick and easy to setup and tweak to your heart’s content.

The initial process saw the demonstrator power up the app and speaker, and click on the setup icon. From there the app set the speaker to optimize itself for its environment using beamforming – tech that lets the speaker scan and tweak how it plays outgoing audio to match its placement in a room.

What sets the Beosound Balance apart is its new customisation modes. The speaker’s got two key modes and a wealth of profiles to choose from. The first mode is a basic 360, omni-directional mode designed for when you’re walking around the room, or having a house party. It basically gets all the drivers to shoot out at the same time, creating a uniform, albeit less detailed and precise, sound.

Related: Best multi-room speakers

The second is a custom directional sound mode that uses the company’s Active Room Compensation tech to provide a more focused, stationary listening experience. You can do this using the scanner or manually in the app.

In the app this works by letting you manually tell the speaker which direction you’re facing it at. From there it adjusts its settings to provide more detailed, directional audio. During my time with the speaker I only got to listen to two tracks, but when switching between the two modes the difference was palpable. The extra detail and stereo image I got in the latter mode, while not a full replacement for multi-speaker setups, was immediately noticeable.

I was also impressed with the speakers more granular controls. For example, in the app you can pinch the sound icon to manually control the rear drivers, which will give you an even more immersive listening experience if the speaker is placed with a wall at its back – though unfortunately I didn’t get to fully try this during my demo.

Even without this the sound quality was impressive. The low end in particular was more precise than I’ve experienced on competing single speaker solutions at this price. Hopefully my positive impressions will ring true with further testing.

Bang & Olufsen Beosound Balance – Release date and price

Thankfully you won’t have to wait long to try the Balance for yourself, as it’s available today in the Bang and Olufsen’s physical and web stores, and we’ve been told to expect our review sample soon.

If you want to grab one before you’ve heard our definitive verdict, you’ll have to be willing to part with a lot of cash. The Beosound Balance currently carries a hefty £1750 price tag.

First impressions

The Beosound Balance looks like a top end speaker and has a few atypical features that could make it one of the best sub-£2000 wireless speakers around.

A ’hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only - it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.

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