Credit B&O Play for creating a Bluetooth speaker that doesn't look like anything out there already. The new dome-shaped Beoplay A1 is not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable at $249, £199 in the UK and AU$379 in Australia.
Designed by well-known Danish furniture designer Cecile Manz, the aluminum-clad A1 is clearly meant to take on Bose's popular SoundLink Mini II wireless speaker, and it's one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speakers I've heard, though it better be considering its elevated price point.
While it looks sleek and has no protruding buttons B&O Play says it's "robust enough to handle the bumps and scrapes of everyday use." It comes with a leather carrying strap, though no protective carrying pouch, which is too bad.
The speaker has two drivers -- a 3.5-inch mid cone woofer and a 3/4-inch tweeter. It manages to play very loud for its size, delivers a surprising amount of bass and is very strong in the midrange where vocals live. That said, like all these small speakers, it does have its limitations, and has a harder time resolving more complicated tracks (a lot of instruments playing at the same time) at higher volumes. That said, it will fill a small room with sound and would work well in a kitchen, bathroom, home office or dorm room.
As its shape implies, it also doubles as a speakerphone and it's a good one. The other plus is the strong battery life -- it's rated at 24 hours thanks to a 2,200mAh internal rechargeable battery and an efficient adaptive power management system. It's worth noting that it charges with a USB-C cable, not a standard Micro-USB cable.
Here are the A1's key specs:
- Measures 5.2x1.9 inches (133x48mm) and weighs 1.3 pounds or 600 grams
- Up to 24 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels
- Charges with included USB-C cable
- Speakerphone capabilities
- Available in moss green and "natural" silver colors.
- Can pair two Beoplay A1 speakers wirelessly to augment sound or create a stereo pair
Strong sound for its size
Some of our favorite compact Bluetooth speakers include the Bose SoundLink Mini II, UE Boom 2 and JBL Charge 2+ (the JBL Charge 3 has just started shipping). This Beoplay competes favorably with those models and had slightly clearer sound than the SoundLink Mini 2 and Charge 2+ in my comparisons. (The waterproof UE Boom 2 remains the better choice for outdoor use).