Early this year, I requested Bang & Olufsen to loan the new Beoplay H9 so that I could do a comparison with other competing ANC headphones. Being a relatively new product, the Beoplay H9 was not readily available for a 2-week period. However, B&O proposed to loan me the Beosound 1 for my review, and I agreed.
The marketing photos make the Beosound 1 look state-of-the-art. But when placed in a traditional home, it did not look that avant garde. My mother-in-law jested that it looked like a thermo flask.
At the tip of the speaker is a touch pad to control playback. The entire top is a volume control knob and a high-frequency speaker that points downwards, hence the gap to disperse the sound. Similarly, the larger driver is located close to the base of the speaker and points downwards.
Wireless and Portable
The Beosound 1 actually runs on battery, making it technically the heaviest portable wireless speaker I have reviewed. The battery can last 16 hours when playing at moderate levels. Charging is via the common 2-pin cable.
Apart from the usual Bluetooth, the Beosound 1 can stream audio over Wi-Fi, a preferred mode where home owners can control audio anywhere within the home network, unrestrained by the limitations of Bluetooth.
One area that Beosound 1 sorely lacks is documentation. The retail box printed a website for setup instructions, but when I visited the website, some of the video links are not working, so I was kind of stuck on how to pair the speaker. After a brief email exchange with the B&O staff, they advised me to reset the speaker and then use the smartphone to join the Beosound 1 Wi-Fi network in order to proceed with the app-guided setup. That helped, but still did not explain how to operate the speaker in general. I appreciate the interactive website, but sometimes, we need to rely on conventional text manuals.
After I reset, I still could not “see” the Beosound 1 Wi-Fi, but I noticed it appeared under the Airplay section, so I selected it and went through the pairing process smoothly. With the Wi-Fi successfully paired, the BeoSetup and BeoMusic apps can finally see the speaker and all the available functionality appears.
Through the BeoMusic app, I can make the Beosound 1 stream audio from popular online music sites like Deezer, Spotify, TuneIn, or from the iPhone local folder. Even if you do not have any online music store account, the app connects to TuneIn and you can browse the available channels to stream music.
Android devices use another app “Bang & Olufsen” to connect to the Beosound 1 and stream online music, which is limited to TuneIn and Deezer, while other apps (like Spotify) will make use of their respective apps to push music to the speaker. Since the Beosound 1 is already paired to my home Wi-Fi network, the app detects it once I run it the first time.
The B&O Beosound 1 is best enjoyed at moderate levels, with the bass confidently reverberates around enclosed rooms while the higher frequency easily fills the air. As the volume goes higher, the speaker loses its magic, as the treble harshly overpowers with the bass struggling to keep up with hard pumps that lack definition. The omni-directional design also means the bass response is not as focused, resulting in weaker impact in more spacious settings.
Consumers who purchase Beosound 1 are not audio purists, neither are they loud music lovers. It is class they want and it is class that they will get. With the built-in battery, the Beosound 1 runs free from unsightly wires. Play at moderate levels, and the music will intoxicate listeners in the room.
The Beosound 1 retails for S$2,200 and is available for audition and purchase from the B&O Grand Hyatt Singapore.