- Beautifully designed
- Stunning sound
- Handy leather strap
- Not watertight
- Review Price: £249
- Stereo pairing option
- USB-C fast charge
- Two-day battery
What is the B&O Beoplay A1?
The B&O Beoplay A1 isn’t the cheapest Bluetooth speaker at £249; in fact, it’s one of the most expensive. As such, and as you’d expect from B&O, it also stands apart from the rest when it comes to sound quality. In truth, this could be one of the best-sounding Bluetooth speakers out there right now. It also looks, well – just look at it. Need we say more?
We will say more, however. The Beoplay A1 doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and for that money, and you could opt for a smart speaker with a voice assistant instead. But would you want to?
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B&O Beoplay A1 – Design
B&O is well known for its design quality. For the Beoplay A1 it’s enlisted famous industrial designer Cecilie Manz to create quality that will be beyond most people’s expectations.
The result is a perfect synergy of the drilled metallic grille upper with a solid, grippy base. It looks awesome and is the perfect size for portability while remaining large enough to offer heaps of power too.
Buttons sit inside the edge of the rubberised body. They’re responsive to the touch and emit an alert noise if needed, so you always feel in control. This means you won’t encounter any of the “did that work?” moments often experienced with Bluetooth speakers.
Controls include power, volume, Bluetooth alongside a circular button that will allow for quick reconnection to the last paired device. The latter button has more uses, such as pausing and skipping tracks, and it can be set in the app to control Tonetouch sound modes, continue last played song, or turned off entirely.
Another nice addition to the design is a leather strap that makes for easy carrying – but, more importantly, it also allows for hanging. It might seem like something you don’t need, but I can guarantee that you’ll end up using it lots.
Since the speaker is so well made it doesn’t need to be set down to offer decent bass; it will sound great even when hanging from a hook. As such, this is a fantastic means to keep the unit out of the way if space is tight, safe from damage and – as a bonus – looking cool too.
One design negative is that the A1 isn’t waterproof like the Ultimate Ears UE Boom 2 competition. As a result, that strap to hang the unit away from water is more functional than you might initially have thought.
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B&O Beoplay A1 – Features
The A1 is primarily a Bluetooth speaker, meaning it will offer aptX-quality sound streamed from any device. There’s a 3.5mm audio port for more direct playback, too. Either way, you have the B&O Beoplay app to expand usage options.
This app allows you to connect more than one speaker to offer a stereo pair. Theoretically, this is great for multiroom but, since you’re on Bluetooth, will more likely be used for pumping up the power in one room.
The app is useful for adapting sound styles, with the ability to vary between presets or to make adjustments based on a slider moving between Warm, Excited, Relaxed and Bright levels.
The Beoplay A1 also has a built-in microphone, which means you can take and make calls from a connected phone. It will be one hell of a high-quality phone call, and not a particularly cheap way to get a speakerphone. Nevertheless, it’s a nice addition to have.
When it comes to charging, you have the latest USB-C for the fastest top-up of that 2200mAh battery. This 2.5-hour charge offers a 24-hour day of use, says B&O. In reality, if you don’t have it blasting out at full volume then you’ll easily get a good two days out of it. More so if you turn off Bluetooth and use the direct 3.5mm audio port to plug in your music.
Related: B&O Beoplay H9i review
B&O Beoplay A1 – Performance
Sound quality is where the Beoplay A1 really shines in comparison to Bluetooth speaker rivals. All this talk of design and features is fine, but it’s only on hearing the B&O Beoplay A1 in action that you can truly appreciate how impressive this speaker is.
The bass is excellent, offering far more depth than you’d expect of a unit of this size. This is balanced with a stand-up mid-range that offers plenty of clarity. Even the treble is well defined to offer smoothness.
Not to labour a point too heavily, but that bass is super-rich – 60Hz rich to be precise. This is thanks to an aluminium core subwoofer, powerful magnetic system and amps, says B&O. That’s a combination of two 30W class D amps for woofer and tweeter, plus two 140W peak power.
The audio is loud, but as you hit that top end you needn’t worry about distortion; everything remains solid and balanced. This is definitely a house party-ready speaker. The Beoplay A1 also pushes the sound wide enough to remain beautifully clear at lower volumes, too.
If you had to pick a hole in the sound quality, which is tough to do, then it would be that everything can sound a touch subdued compared to, say, the UE Roll 2 – but that lacks bass. Overall, it will depend on the sound signature you prefer.
Listening to the Beoplay A1, you’ll come to realise that the otherwise steep-sounding £249 price is actually pretty reasonable for the quality you’re getting.
Related: Best multiroom speakers 2018
Why buy the B&O Beoplay A1?
If you’re after a portable speaker that doesn’t compromise on sound quality then spending £249 on the B&O Beoplay A1 will a move you won’t regret.
Whether it’s to kick off a house party, used outdoors in the garden for a barbecue, or for working or relaxing to, this speaker will happily cater for all music types and situations.
For the money you’re also getting a high-quality design and exceptional build, plus constantly updated app support with new features being added regularly.
The only downside is the lack of water-proofing, but with that leather loop to hang the unit out of harm’s way, even that isn’t much of a negative.
This is one of the best-sounding and most attractive Bluetooth speakers out there right now. The price may seem steep but on hearing this gem, you’ll be throwing your money out there to get one.
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