Apparently, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen was launched back in 2020. So you could say this review is long overdue. But it was an impulse buy (at a very attractive price of around S$200 from Amazon SG last month). And I daresay that it remains one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers you can buy, even in 2024.
- Anodized aluminium, waterproof leather, IP67 dust and water resistant
- Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C (charging and streaming)
- Up to 18 hours battery life
- Dimensions: 13.3cm (Width) x 4.6cm (Height); Weight: 558g
My first impression of the Beosound A1: It's larger than I had expected. I thought it would be about the size of a Google Nest Mini. But it was a fair bit larger than my palm. Of course, I had only seen the product photo before. At around 558g, it's slightly heavier than the Sonos Roam SL. It's not as handy as the tube-like Roam. The round design, though, helps to deliver the sound in all directions, especially when placed on a desk or tabletop. Or you could hang it from a door knob or clothes hanger with its waterproof leather strap. It has a IP67 rating for water and dust resistance, so you can bring it to the pool or beach.
The Beosound A1 2nd Gen looks classy, and is well-made, thanks to its brushed, and perforated aluminium finish. The buttons at the side let you control media playback, turn on/off the speaker, enable Bluetooth pairing, and mute the mic. There's a three-microphone array with far-field capability for its Amazon Alexa voice assistant feature. But the speaker has to be connected to your phone for Alexa, since it lacks Wi-Fi (unlike say the JBL Authentics 300). It also doubles up as a speakerphone. You can stereo pair two of these speakers, but I didn't test this. You'll need the Bang & Olufsen app for stereo pairing and Amazon Alexa. The app also gives you quick access to local internet radio stations, and the Deezer (subscription required) music streaming service.
But my favourite part of the app is Beosonic, a cool-looking equaliser that lets you adjust the speaker's sound profile by placing a dot between four musical characteristics (bright, relaxed, energetic, and warm). It seems more intuitive than increasing treble, or bass levels. There are also several presets that may be helpful for certain situations, such as Speech that enhances the clarity of the vocals. As for the sound quality, the Beosound A1 2nd Gen surprises with its bass performance, which is tight and punchy. Trebles are clear, and clean. The speaker does struggle to fill a larger room — you can hear the strain when you push the volume beyond 60%. But for a bedroom or kitchen, it's more than adequate.
Battery life is also superb. It's up to 18 hours, but I think that's a bit conservative. And when turned off, it retains the battery level for weeks with barely a dip. While it's listed at S$479, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen typically goes for around S$300 to S$400. Its current street price in Singapore is S$409, which is a tad pricey for a portable Bluetooth speaker, even if it looks really premium. The cheapest option seems to be Amazon SG (US import), where it's available in seven colours. I managed to snag it for cheap, so it's probably worth monitoring for any future price drops. Get it now from Amazon SG, Shopee, and Lazada.
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