B&O Play made a transportable Bluetooth speaker, no, we're not kidding
Again in September, on the final press day of German commerce present IFA, I must be hauling-ass throughout the present flooring. As an alternative, I am ready outdoors by the taxi rank, sucking down secondhand smoke of the sales space attendants on their breaks and hoping that my experience hasn’t forgotten me. Quickly after, a pitch-black Audi S8 glides to a halt by my ft, and I do know that both the CIA is about to deal with me, or that is my experience to Bang & Olufsen’s prime-secret, off-website testing space.
The automotive, it transpires, isn’t solely probably the most tricked-out experience I’ve ever been in, however can also be a part of the demonstration. The Danish audio (and TV) agency having custom-made the automotive with a 24-speaker package deal that is so excessive, the ahead speaker cones stand up from the sprint once you begin the engine. The corporate is so obsessive about high quality management, I study, that even the aluminum grilles on the door audio system are customized-made in Denmark after which shipped to Audi for set up. Then, we’re off by way of Berlin, leaving the gridlock of the internal metropolis and onto winding roads that result in warehouses and factories sited subsequent to glass towers and “innovation parks,” as previous Berlin makes approach for its newer, shinier alternative. As I am marveling on the view, I am additionally listening to the demonstration DVD that the corporate is enjoying for my profit, however I am having hassle having fun with it as I am laying on a bass speaker that is so highly effective I feel that it is stopping and restarting my coronary heart each few seconds.
After half an hour or so, we pull as much as B&O’s secret off-website location, erm, a Vacation Inn that is tucked someplace on the outskirts of the town. The theatrics may need been undercut somewhat by the innocuous setting, nevertheless it’s clear that Bang and Olufsen is twitchy concerning the newest product in its B&O Play vary. Play is the closest that the corporate involves a “low finish” line, providing prime-of-the-line merchandise for smartphone-toting youths and professionals who cannot afford to spend a number of hundreds of dollars on audio system. As soon as the introductions are made, my digital camera has been signed away and I’ve signed a non-disclosure settlement that has me on the hook for a large high quality if I informed anybody about what was coming, we’re proven right into a modest room the place the information is lastly revealed: Bang & Olufsen is making its first ever moveable Bluetooth speaker.
Audiophiles like nothing greater than to sneer at Bluetooth, saying that the standard wi-fi normal is nowhere close to able to dealing with excessive-definition audio. That is as a result of the info is compressed and a few chunks are discarded, so it isn’t as clear as for those who have been utilizing a bodily line-in connection as an alternative. It is a arduous restrict for B&O, which as an alternative threw its weight behind WiSA as the usual for its wi-fi audio system, and used AirPlay for its iOS-appropriate units just like the Beolit 12. Search the corporate web site and the one factor you will discover is the help documentation for the previous EarSet wi-fi headset it produced a number of years in the past. With the arrival of aptX, a Bluetooth normal that guarantees CD-high quality audio, the corporate reconsidered its place, to the purpose the place it is ready to launch a excessive-finish various to Jawbone’s Huge Jambox, the BeoPlay A2.
So, what has the A2 received that units it aside from, say, each different Bluetooth speaker ever made? First up, the corporate realized that whereas most individuals take their audio system round with them, they’re awkward to slot in a bag. That is why the corporate made the A2 fairly skinny and flat. It is nowhere close to as moveable as B&O consider since it is also pleasingly heavy, however it’d definitely match right into a laptop computer sleeve in a rucksack quite a bit simpler than different greater, rectangular units available on the market. The A2 is held collectively by a single piece of Aluminum milled from a strong block, coated on each side by a polycarbonate shell that stands proud sufficient to protect the controls and ports that sit across the edge. Down one aspect, you will spot a leather-based strap that doubles each as a carrying deal with and a stylish accent like different B&O audio system.
There is not actually an outlined “up” on this gadget, since it may be used laying flat, on its longer aspect or up on its finish. It does not have an effect on the sound high quality any, as the corporate has been engaged on “Energy Response Enhancement,” some digital sign processing secret-sauce that permits the sound to journey “across the corners” in such a means that even when my palms have been obscuring each faces, there was no discernible drop in high quality. B&O merely hasn’t tossed a woofer right into a plastic field and referred to as it a day, both, cramming one hundred eighty watts into the package deal with a big woofer at one finish, a smaller tweeter on the different and a passive bass radiator sitting within the center. Even the detailing on the case has been thought out: these blocked-off holes are to stop your eyes from strobing, which is useful to everybody aside from stoners.
Except for the truth that that is Bang’s first Bluetooth aptX speaker, the opposite headline function is the battery life, which the corporate claims will final for twenty-four hours. Actually, within the labs, the corporate’s managed to eke out 30 hours at decrease volumes, however expects that 24 would be the expertise discovered by most customers. There’s additionally a USB port, enabling you to share a few of that energy together with your smartphone or pill if you’re on the go.
Sadly, regardless of this being a moveable Bluetooth speaker, it’s extremely a lot the Niles Crane of the business. There is no waterproofing or different hardy claims being made right here, and the one promise is that the A2 is sprinkle-and-drop resistant. Given that there is a material lining lurking simply beneath the polycarbonate shell, the corporate does not advise you’re taking this to the seashore, nicely, until you construct it a small throne properly out of the best way of any water, sand or dust.
The A2 additionally does not come out nicely in a spec-by-spec struggle with its most blatant rival, since B&O did not match the gadget with a Bluetooth speakerphone. Once we requested, we have been advised that including such elective fripperies would “throw the worth of the system,” and the corporate would like to spend all of its cash on making certain you get one of the best sound obtainable. We additionally requested, given the dimensions of the hardware, if it might deal with DSS, and it is one thing that is being thought-about for a future firmware replace that you simply’d set up by way of the identical USB port.
In fact, you are curious as to the way it sounds. You must keep in mind that this was a managed demonstration by a excessive-finish audio firm on their (momentary) house turf. If the A2 did not have a gorgeous, backbone-tingling, room-filling sound right here, then B&O may as nicely name it a day. Facetiousness apart, the A2 is clearly punching properly above its personal weight, and a glance again at my notes you will discover a clean area, adopted by a “wow” in capital letters. Take it with a pinch of salt, however on the floor, this appears just like the kind of system you’d use as your main residence speaker, not to mention one you’d tackle the street.
The BeoPlay A2 is accessible in three colours: Burnished Gold, Camouflage Inexperienced and a very unspectacular Black. I point out this solely as a result of the Black seems nowhere close to nearly as good as the opposite two finishes, with the paint job obscuring the gorgeous metallic and plastic finishes and texture you’ll be able to really feel within the hand. Once we raised this with the corporate, it appeared to be one thing that they have been resigned to. Regardless of providing all kinds of lovely, nuanced colour choices for its gear (there’s totally different-coloured leather-based straps in numerous lengths that’ll go on sale with the A2), the traditionalist hello-fi shopping for public tends to stay with what they know – and what they know is black. Nonetheless, in case you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll be able to snag one among these for $399/€350/£299 from as we speak, and we’ll be getting one among these in as quickly as we will to see if it sounds nearly as good in the actual world because it did in B&O’s lodge room.
- Key specs
- <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/bang-olufsen/beoplay/a2/” title=”Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A2 evaluations” goal=”_blank”> Critiques • 1 </a>
- Sort Wi-fi audio system
- Connections USB
- Audio playback time as much as 24 hours
- Energy output one hundred eighty W(max)
- Launched 2014-10-23