Bang & Olufsen products generally come at a high price, but with it comes a high-quality sound and style. And the B&O A1 provides those in spades.
Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom. You guys asked for it, and you guys got it. Thanks to those who asked me to review this – I wasn’t aware of this little Bluetooth speaker coming out, but I’m glad I got my hands on this. I personally paid for this at the whopping retail price of $249, making this one of the most expensive small Bluetooth speakers on the market. But, like anything else, prices to fluctuate and I’ll place my links above, click on that, and it will give you the most up to date prices.
B&O, or Bang and Olufsen, does make some very nice stuff. If you’re unfamiliar with their brand, they usually make very clean designs and give a very premium feel. It’s no different with the A1 as the entire upper casing is made of aluminum and its made to withstand use outdoors. One of the things you can’t see, and more Bluetooth speakers are coming with this feature, this speaker is dust, sand, and splash resistant. Now I’ve tested a bunch of Bluetooth speakers over time and doing my water test, which is more on the extreme side, every speaker has performed perfectly fine with the audio being uncompromised. However, with the A1, once this thing gets pretty soaked, the audio sounds very muffled and distorted.
But, the B&O A1 is perfectly fine, let this continue playing for about 15 minutes and let the water dry out or move on, and the speaker has worked perfectly fine. So, just a heads up, it’s not broken from my tests, but oddly comparing to other speakers, the audio does become affected when wet. The bottom is a hard silicone to keep the speaker in one place, and the leather strap is a nice touch that will age over time giving this a bit of character.
Regarding it’s size, the diameter is nearly identical to the UE Roll, about 13 centimeters or about 5 and a quarter inches across making this one of the more portable speakers on the market. Its about the size of my hand. It weighs in at 1.3lbs which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you pick this up for the first time, it’s not necessarily heavy, but it feels really solid.
Going over the physical layout, on the right, you have an LED indicator to determine if this is on or off. The power button next. Far right is volume up and down. Rotating to the very bottom, you have a 3.5mm port to physically connect this to your device, which B&O oddly doesn’t include a wire for, but right next to that is the latest and greatest, USB Type C. This is basically the future of USB ports for those who don’t know. B&O does provide a nice long wire for this, but from my experience, if you forget this wire at home, make sure you have bought some extra USB Type C wires, they shouldn’t be expensive.
And since we’re on the topic of charging, the unit takes about 3 hours to recharge from a dead battery, and the B&O A1 is claimed to last up to 24 hrs of moderate use which sounds phenomenal. Like every one of my speaker reviews, I leave the speaker on at about 50% to get a middle of the road result, and I performed 4 tests, essentially fully charging the speaker, and playing it until it died, and I’m only getting 8 hrs and 53 minutes on average. Not sure what’s up, but over those four tests, it’s been consistent and no where close to 24 hours at a casual listening level.
BLUETOOTH & SPEAKERPHONE
Finishing up the speaker layout, on the far left side, you have this very convenient button where it will pair with your last known device and play from the last source. The middle button is to pair your device, which I had no problems with my devices, and the Bluetooth range works from one side of the house to the other. The last icon is for answering phone calls and from my tests, the speakerphone is one of the best. Standing a few feet away was very loud and clear enough, while standing about 8 feet away and naturally speaking, the A1 microphone didn’t make me sound echoey or very far away. It still sounds like a speakerphone, but comparing to many speakers out there, very good performance.
So now to the moment you’ve been waiting for – let me start off by saying wow. I would never have expected this kind of sound from a small Bluetooth speaker. The sound is very much comparable with mid-size speakers like the UE Boom 2, JBL Charge 2 or maybe the 3 when its released. For its size, it’s able to fill a medium sized. It’s not pushing large speaker territory like how the JBL Xtreme can fill up an area, but for its size, simply amazing. The next thing, bass on this little thing is amazing. Clean, distortion free, its deep enough and more bass than the UE Boom 2 and all other smaller speakers without sounding muddy or droning. Same with the mids, offering clarity, detail, not so much in regards to sound separation or depth like the Bose Soundlink Mini 2, but the bass and the clarity combined just makes this one immersive speaker to listen to. The highs are not tinging and ear ringing, but on very loud uses, the cymbal crashes or a lot of beats that have that “S” sound gets slightly jumbled and you lose slight clarity on the top end. But overall, I think you guys can already tell, I was very impressed with the speaker all around.
One other thing I wanted to mementionI noticed this on the Creative Roar 2 a while back, since it was top firing, the sound from the Creative Roar wasn’t as direct and lacked some authority because of that. Although the B&O A1 faces up at the ceiling, the audio sounds more spread out through the room rather than directional. That’s a great positive to have. The only issue that I’ve noticed and may be of a concern over time, I noticed the speaker gets hot when near maximum volume, and, oddly, it still gets warm at medium volume, again, all in a matter of 30 minutes of use or so. The battery life from my experience was a bit disappointing. If you have this speaker yourself, let me know down below if you’re getting much less than 24 hours over time. And the fact the speaker does get distorted when soaked and other Bluetooth speakers on the market don’t suffer that is a bummer.
But other than that, I will admit, the price is very high, but the audio quality beats the UE Boom 2, the JBL Charge 3 hasn’t been released yet here in America, but I will have a review on that soon, and this for sure beats every small Bluetooth speaker I’ve tested so far. If you’re looking for portability, something to withstand the outdoors, and audio quality is your utmost priority, get the B&O A1, I highly recommend it. Again, I’m Jimmy with Jim’s Review Room, I’ll catch you on the next one.