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At Rs. 17,990, the B&O Beoplay A1 is one of the best portable Bluetooth speakers to buy. It offers excellent detail and balance of audio, good soundstaging, a signature tone of richness and luxury, and all the finesse you could hope for. Add to that reliable connectivity and good battery life, and the Beoplay A1 is one of the best Bluetooth speakers to buy right now.
I have always marveled at Bang & Olufsen and its designing prowess. The Danish electronics maker has been renowned for making luxury televisions and audio equipment that are good performers, but owning a B&O gadget also means that you just spent more than the industry median, because of the plush look and rich feel of it.
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When it comes to portable Bluetooth speakers, we’ve heard the Beolit 15 by B&O, being astounded by its rich tone and depth of sound. Its lineup of Beoplay speakers, meanwhile, are aimed at a more affordable segment. With the Beoplay A1, B&O has brought its tried-and-tested formula of audio, got Danish designer Cecilie Manz on board, and produced a portable Bluetooth speaker that will appeal to you with its sense of aesthetics right from the onset. Here’s discussing the B&O Beoplay A1, in more detail.
Design, Build and Aesthetics
Designed by award-winning Danish designer Cecilie Manz, the Beoplay A1 oozes class. It is available in white and moss green colours, and I practically love the moss green finish of the Beoplay A1. It is perfectly round in shape, resembling a glorified carrom striker to an extent. The Beoplay A1 is also one of the rare speakers in the budget segment that is build of metal.
The understated elegance is what makes the speaker so appealing. Nothing about it tries to allure you with flashy features or the glitz of activity-oriented designing that you will spot more commonly. The aluminium grille on the rounded top is perfectly crafted, and the edges are neatly rounded to fuse well with the rubberised bottom half of the speaker. There are no jutting edges anywhere - no raised bevels for buttons, or any flap. The rubber panel is perfectly smoothened and the buttons have white markers in place. While the lack of bevel and/or indent on the button may seem inconvenient, the buttons are in fact largely convenient and easy to use and operate.
You get the power button placed alongside the volume buttons, while to the other end of the sphere lies the Bluetooth pairing button, a microphone button and a multitasking button. For now, tapping on it after you power on the speaker will pair with your last connected device and resume music playback from where you left it off, adding smart notions to the speaker. Between these buttons, you get the 3.5mm TRS port and a USB-C connector. There are no microUSB ports on the speaker, which can be fairly inconvenient unless you happen to own a smartphone/laptop featuring USB-C port (in which case you’ll mostly end up carrying the cable along). In future, though, this may act for the Beoplay A1’s ergonomics and aesthetics, as once the reversible port becomes more common, it will certainly be easier and more convenient.
The speaker weighs 570 grams, and its overall shape makes it one of the best desktop speakers. The Beoplay A1 will easily find its place in midst of suave furnishings, and when outdoors, you will attract a fair share of eyeballs and questions on which speaker it is. One of its ideal placements, for proper surround audio is on a wall hook, and B&O attaches an original leather suspender on it to do so. The only thing that the speaker misses is durability, although you would never want to drop it or handle carelessly at the first place. The speaker is also not waterproof or water resistant, which is a matter of concern when you are outdoors.
All of these tiny aspects combine to make the B&O Beoplay A1 one of the best-looking portable Bluetooth speakers not only at this price, but across all budgets.
If you would still have doubts about buying the Beoplay A1 because of its shortcomings in terms of durability and a missing microUSB port, playing the speaker removes all questions and doubts from your mind. B&O has succeeded in bringing its trademark audio quality to a speaker that is priced much lower than what B&O usually does.
Play REM’s Losing My Religion, and the highs pronounce themselves will a ring that vibrates around the room and sustains the notion of plush audio in a wooden room. The mids are balanced supremely well, and the overall warmth added to vocals make the overall sound very pleasant and sweet. The main attraction of the show, though, is the bass response. The bass frequencies form a strong backline, and is actually a tad higher than the most perfectly well-balanced audio, but what it does is add to the overall richness of the sound with a wholesomeness that fills up medium to large rooms with the tracks you play.
The bass delivery is incredibly tight, and the drivers ensure that the audio delivery remains completely devoid of distortions. The Beoplay A1 improves on the clarity of audio delivery at peak volume on the UE Boom 2, alongside delivering tighter, richer audio. Bright, expansive soundstaging makes the audio sound even better, and the circular build of the speaker makes the audio sound even better. The Beoplay A1 relays details of tracks beautifully well. We put on Hump De Bump by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the cowbell rolls by Chad Smith sounded bright, crisply detailed and retained the perfect pitch and sharpness. The Beoplay A1 retains its composure across multiple tracks, and this is amplified when you listen to Yumeji’s Theme by Shigeru Umebayashi. The mellow viola quivers perfectly in the air to create the ambience that the theme intends to, reinstating B&O’s position in the market as a luxury audio maker.
The Beoplay A1, in short, is the best sounding speaker within a budget of Rs. 20,000. It overhauls the UE Boom 2 in terms of aesthetics, level of detail and the right amount of tightness in the audio delivery. While some may find the Beoplay A1 to be a bit too subtle with its core audio performance, it is this very aspect that fits well with the audience that B&O is targeting.
Connectivity and Battery Life
B&O has solely focussed on the essentials, and the Beoplay A1 neither has the room nor does it attempt to provide the amount of features packed in the likes of Altec Lansing Lifejacket 2 or the Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2. The Beoplay A1 presents a USB-C cable and a standard audio connector in the box, along with Bluetooth connectivity. There is no notion of dropped connectivity, and Bluetooth connectivity retains itself for 35 feet in average, through normal room obstacles. The range of Bluetooth connectivity is not as extensive as the UE Boom 2, but is sufficient for a multi-room or stereo setup with multiple speakers, unless you have an exceptionally large space to pair the speakers between. The speaker really excels in terms of battery life, delivering nearly 24 hours of playback in one full charge. On an average of two-hour music sessions each day, you can easily last it for about a week-and-half. The best-in-class battery life, coupled with excellent audio and a sublime design makes it one of the best premium Bluetooth speaker around.
The B&O Beoplay A1 is a one-of-a-kind portable Bluetooth speaker that nearly excels in every aspect. At Rs. 17,999, if you intend to spend as much, definitely go for it. The Beoplay A1 is a brilliant speaker, and you can hardly put your foot wrong with it.