Best B&O speakers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best B&O speakers you can buy in 2021.
Bang & Olufsen may be almost a centenarian in the hi-fi industry (2020 marked its 95th birthday), but the celebrated Danish brand is showing no signs of slowing down, continuing to wow us year in and year out with its edgy designs and meticulous quality control. It's best known for its premium speakers, some of which will set you back the price of a small car.
Yet to win the lottery? You'll be pleased to hear that B&O has poured its engineering excellence into the audio equivalent of a diffusion line. The B&O Play (formerly BeoPlay) speaker range – aimed at a younger, style-conscious audience – is more affordable and includes portable Bluetooth speakers that aren't afraid of the great outdoors, as you'll see below.
(There are B&O Play headphones too.)
That said, B&O has been known to choose style over substance on occasion, so it's important to pick wisely. To help you avoid a dud, we've curated this list of the best B&O speakers we've tested – from budget, picnic-friendly portables to pairs of truly epic, high-end floorstanding speakers. Let's hear them out.
The B&O Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) wireless speaker is the company's second most affordable model in its line-up, and also the world’s first Bluetooth-only Alexa smart speaker.
It's about the size of a large floury bap, and feels typically high end. It's a little more svelte than its predecessor, with bigger, more clearly labelled buttons making it easier to control. It's also water- and dust-proof to IP67, meaning it should survive being placed in water up to one metre deep for 30 minutes. And battery? A reasonable 18 hours at normal listening volume, or up to 48 hours at a more conservative level.
To use Alexa, you'll need to Bluetooth it to your phone, which is connected to wi-fi. Which is pretty straightforward to set up.
Sonically, it's accomplished and smooth. B&O has managed to capture its trademark sonic profile in this small a form factor, which is no mean feat. A great device for listening at home or on the move.
Read the full B&O Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) review
Given that B&O is best known for its high-end audio products, you might suspect that a few corners have been cut to create this pocketable speaker. Thankfully, that's not the case – it's elegantly-crafted from aluminium and leather.
Sound quality is spot on: soulful and solid, with impressive midrange clarity that will flood the room. Battery life is no less impressive: 2.5 hours charging returns 24 hours of playback. There's no NFC support, but the A1 does rock aptX Bluetooth connectivity.
If size matters, this scaled-down speaker is the equivalent of drinking champagne on a beer budget.
Read the full B&O BeoPlay A1 review
They might cost a small fortune, but these swanky floorstanders are dripping with premium materials and cutting-edge technology. Each speaker has seven drivers, each with a dedicated 300W power amplifier, which adds up to effortless dynamic shifts, agile bass and a thrilling level of detail.
The control app, which is bespoke to the BeoLab 50, helps you keep a firm grip on all that power (2100W per channel) as you blast out some Hans Zimmer. Could they sound a little more rhythmic? Yes, but If you're looking for a stellar system without too many extra boxes, B&O's deluxe floorstanders sound as good as they look.
Read the full B&O BeoLab 50 review
Once again, B&O's designers have come up with a striking, space-age design that reimagines the speaker as some sort of small sculpture. The tip of the cone, which appears to be floating, doubles as the volume dial with touch-sensitive controls.
The unusual shape offers excellent 360-degree sound dispersion and is laden with features. The latest version of the Beosound 1 supports hi-res streaming up to 24-bit/192kHz and has Google Assistant voice smarts built-in.
Musically, it's not as dynamic as some rivals (the Naim Mu-so 2, say) but if you want an all-in-one streaming hi-fi that makes a visual impact, the cone-shaped BeoSound 1 is on point.
Read the full B&O BeoSound 1 review