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Best B&O speakers 2021: portable, hi-fi and wireless

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.

Best B&O speakers 2021: portable, hi-fi and wireless

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

1. B&O Beosound A1 (2nd Gen)

The weightiest and most refined little speaker we’ve heard in a while.

Specifications
Dimensions: 4.6 x 13.3 x 13.3cm (HxWxD)
Power: 60W
Features: Alexa voice control, aptX Adaptive Bluetooth 5.1
Connections: USB-C for charging
Reasons to buy
+Expansive sound, weighty bass+Competent Alexa integration+Stunning build and finish
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing at this level

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

Best B&O speakers 2021: portable, hi-fi and wireless

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

2. B&O BeoPlay A1

Dinky yet detailed portable Bluetooth speaker.

Specifications
Dimensions: 4.8. x 13.4 x 4.8cm (HxWxD)
Power: 2x30W Class D for woofer and tweeter
Features: Bluetooth V4.2, Stereo pairing
Connections: 3.5mm line-in, USB-C for charging
Reasons to buy
+Solid, weighty sound+Gorgeous design+Generous battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Sound lacks sparkle and rhythm

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

Best B&O speakers 2021: portable, hi-fi and wireless

(Image credit: B&O)

3. B&O BeoLab 50

Beautifully-engineered works of audio art

Specifications
Dimensions: 103.6 x 28.5 x 45.5cm (HxWxD)
Power: 7x ICEpower 300W amplifiers
Features: Wireless Power Link (24bit/48kHz, WiSA (24bit/96kHz)
Connections: 1x USB Audio (24bit/192kHz), 1x optical
Reasons to buy
+Flexibility+Composure at high volumes+Bass power and reach
Reasons to avoid
-Lack a degree of transparency-Could be more rhythmic

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

Best B&O speakers 2021: portable, hi-fi and wireless

(Image credit: B&O)

4. B&O BeoSound 1

Fancy wireless speaker with features galore.

Specifications
Dimensions: 32.7 x 16.2 x 16.2cm (HxWxD)
Power: 1x40W Class D full range, 1x20W Class D for woofer
Features: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth V4.1, DNLA, Google Assistant
Connections: 1 x Ethernet
Reasons to buy
+Powerful and loud+Smooth presentation+Plenty of features
Reasons to avoid
-Rivals offer greater subtlety-Fiddly set up-Expensive

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

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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