Bluetooth speakers are everywhere, made to be taken out and about, Bang & Olufsen’s latest take on the category gives the portable speaker a home: yours.
There’s clearly no shortage of wireless speakers, and much like wireless headphones and earphones, the idea of taking your sound with you to go isn’t a hard one these days. You merely need to choose one, and then connect it up to your phone, and away you go.
Bluetooth speakers aren’t all the same, and they can be used just about anywhere — home or out — but at least one is on the way to serve both home and out in a way that kind of makes it a piece in the home. It’s coming from Bang & Olufsen, a Danish brand known for a style in its audio gear, and its latest does not disappoint.
Called the Beosound Level, it’s a relatively flat speaker that looks more like a flat radiator, and feels like it would sit best on a wall or on top of a table, delivering 105 watts of power across five drivers: two 4 inch woofers, two 0.8 inch tweeters, and one 2 inch full range driver, with amplification helping to get strong mids and bass there, too. The speaker even constantly tunes its sound based on how it’s positioned, allowing it to work out if the speaker is upright (like on a wall) and tune for that, or laying flat on a surface (like on a table), tuning for between 180 and 360 degrees.
Get up close to the Level and you’ll find the speaker cover lines are made from wood sitting atop an aluminium frame, with knitted Kvadrat fabric at the back which can be used at the front, too, while the body includes a recycled polymer. Adding to this, the whole thing is IP54 water and dust resistant. It’s not a speaker in the way you’ve probably seen one before, at least from B&O, and that might be saying something.
All that research from its smaller speakers, such as the water-resistant A1, appears to be going into something a little more luxurious, it seems.
Bang & Olufsen says up to 16 hours battery life is possible from the Beosound Level, provided you listen at “typical listening volumes”, with support for Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, USB Type C, Apple AirPlay 2, Google Chromecast, and Spotify Connect built in, providing plenty of ways to connect to the speaker. The B&O Level even supports voice assistants, something you expect from a speaker these days, and adds to what the company is going for: a speaker that is timeless and future-proof.
“Beosound Level is the ultimate speaker for people who want the flexibility and convenience of a portable speaker but don’t want to sacrifice on sound quality and multiroom connectivity for the ultimate music listening experience,” said Christoffer Poulsen, Senior Vice President and Head of Product Management for Bang & Olufsen.
“It works effortlessly with Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast and because of Beosound Level’s modular design, we are future-proofing Beosound Level so that it can deliver our signature sound for decades to come.”
To that modular design, the module housing all the streaming technology can actually be replaced, something that’s typically integrated into a speaker’s design, and so B&O has built a speaker designed to not get lost in the background as streaming systems evolve.
It’s almost as if Bang & Olufsen wants to avoid what happened to Sonos when the original Play:5 found itself at a sort of end of life, and had to be sequestered from all updates in the old S1 operating system. It means that the B&O Beosound Level is the first of a new wave of serviceable speakers, which is potentially good news for people who want something that moves with them, and their cycle of regular upgrades.
But it’s also a speaker that comes with a price, and right now, limited availability. As such, Bang & Olufsen has said Australians can expect to find it in stores later this month from February 21 for $2150, albeit in limited quantities. It’s a little more exy than your standard Bluetooth speaker, though it doesn’t appear like your standard Bluetooth speaker, either.
And as to those “limited quantities”, a representative for the company told Pickr that it’s just because “the allocation is still to be finalised ahead of the arrival to stores”, so it’s possible there could be more closer or even shortly after February 21.