Bring up the name Bang & Olufsen in any conversation and you are bound to think of those exquisitely designed and frightfully expensive living room audio systems from the 1990s… the kind that looked more an exhibit from a modern art museum than something from which you would expect to hear music. The BeoSound 1 from Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speaker is no different, but then again, you wouldn’t expect the Danish kings of style to follow their peers and make a normal-looking wireless speaker, would you?
So, what do you get for dropping Rs 2 ,00,000 on a wireless speaker? Well, visually, a treat for the eyes for sure — the BeoSound 1 is somewhere between a stainless steel thermos and a Dalek from the science fiction TV series Doctor Who, the kind that will fit right in place on the glossy pages of a thick coffee table book or in the stylishly minimalist living room of a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist!
The manner in which the upper portion appears to almost float above the larger base, with that distinctive status LED, which glows white when paired with your smartphone, gives it a futuristic Jetsonian allure unlike any speaker you would have seen. The shape is not just for show, as the upward firing driver pumps sound out in all directions, and your music will fill the room no matter where you place the BeoSound 1. There literally is no sweet spot, and you will get the same sound quality wherever you are in the room.
The minimalism doesn’t extend to its feature set. Sure, you don’t see any physical controls on the speaker but they are all there, just hidden from plain sight. Atop the speaker is a circular touchpad — tap it to power the speaker on, and swipe left or right to change tracks — and surrounding it, part of the outer metal casing, is a volume control ring. Keeping things minimal, all of these are unlabelled, and rather than requiring you to swipe in a particular direction, the speaker uses a proximity sensor to sense where you are standing and interprets the gesture accordingly! Of course, there is a smartphone application as well, which lets you select sources and tracks to play for times when you would rather not walk over to the speaker. Bluetooth is supported, as are most common wireless standards such as Google Cast, Apple AirPlay and DLNA and some Internet radio services, plus there is support for multiroom audio if you are the sort who has multiple B&O units spread across your home.
If you want to connect music players over an auxiliary connection, you’re out of luck — the BeoSound 1’s only physical connection is a wired Ethernet port. You can even carry the speaker around for wire-free playback — the built-in battery lasts up to 16 hours of moderate volume playback — which is pretty impressive considering it packs in two Class D amplifiers, one for the main driver and the other for the woofer.
The result is a speaker which produces sound that is clean and detailed with a respectable amount of bass, and you will be surprised at how loud the BeoSound 1 can go, thanks to minimal distortion levels at maximum volumes. However, the 360-degree dispersion leads to a degree of diffusion… a sense of haziness…in the sound, and purists will tell you that if you aren’t looking to make a style statement, you could get better audio for the money, especially when you are willing to spend this much money on a single piece of audio equipment.
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