Bang and Olufsen has released its smallest Beoplay A-series speaker. Ironically, it is not small compared to other portable speakers by other brands.
In fact, I was rather taken aback at the size and build. It is probably around the same density as the Bose Soundlink Mini – definitely not “small”. The top dome is made of aluminium, while the base is made of polymer. The Beoplay A1 is not easy to keep in pristine condition, and B&O was not shy to state in the product website that each bump and scrape on the Beoplay A1 tells a tale. After all, the Beoplay A1 is splash and dust resistant.
The sound quality is impressive. Fitted with 2x 30W woofer and tweeter drivers (at 2x 140W peak power), I brought it to a rooftop event and the Beoplay A1 filled the atmosphere effortlessly. At indoors, the Beoplay A1 easily takes over the environment with sparkling treble and responsive bass. The treble is so clear that I could hear the audio hisses from the original source. As you turn the volume higher, the treble naturally overpowers the bass. But when I boosted the bass level using equalizer, the Beoplay A1 delivers confidently without distortion.
Armed with a new aluminium core sub-woofer, a powerful magnetic system and amps, the Beoplay A1 can deliver a full range frequency of 60 – 24,000 Hz. Thanks to the solid build, the Beoplay A1 pumps music without any rattle or vibration. The Beoplay A1 is tuned to give the right level of low bass that can be enjoyed in the open, without trying to be too ambitious on delivering the sub-woofer level. Even at top volumes, there was no hint of overwork, except the speaker felt warm to the touch.
Indeed, while it is a beautiful product wanting to be protected, the Beoplay A1 is a wild child that should be unleashed in the open. The dome-shaped design allows music to be heard all around. All the buttons are flushed onto the surface, so there is little chance of damaging them. You can use the Beoplay A1 as a speakerphone, and there is a special button to play music from the device you last connected. Alas, it will be challenging to look for the right button to press as the icons are rather small. A single charge of 3 hours gives you almost 24 hours of battery life under moderate volumes.
I thought B&O went a bit too ahead of its time by making the charging port USB 3.1 (Type C) instead of the more common micro USB. Now you had to carry an extra cable just for the Beoplay A1 instead of sharing USB cables with other devices. Next to the USB port lies a line-out 3.5mm audio jack in case you do not get a good Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, which happens sometimes (you can never be too sure about wireless technology).
There is a companion smartphone app for Beoplay A1, but currently it is only available in Apple iOS, so I have not tried it on my Android smartphone. What you could do is to connect 2 Beoplay A1 to create true stereo sound. I cannot imagine what 2 of these speakers could unleash.
Style does not come cheap. But for S$399, the Beoplay A1 is the most good looking, powerful-sounding, portable speaker to spend on. Hang it around the house, rest it on any surface – be it polished table or rough stone surface – to impress your guests with powerful wireless hi-fi audio.
The B&O Beoplay A1 comes in 2 colours, Moss Green and Natural. Available at Changi Airport Duty Free, Apple Premium Resellers, Bang & Olufsen store in Hyatt, Challenger, Newstead and leading independent retailers.
Product website: http://www.beoplay.com/products/beoplaya1