B&O Beolit 12 review

An AirPlay-enabled dock that's beautifully built, but the sound is a touch too reined-in for us Tested at £600

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A brilliant performance, but one that doesn’t quite live up to the promise suggested by this system’s looks


  • +

    Great design

  • +

    amazing build quality

  • +

    simple controls

  • +

    clear, controlled sound


  • -

    Sound is too reined-in

  • -

    very pricey

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12

Well, this is a first – an AirPlay-enabled picnic basket in the shape of the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12. And by ‘picnic basket’, we mean, of course, £600-worth of lovely-looking, impeccably built speaker dock. It’s hard to overstate that last point.

From the capacitive control buttons on the top, to the beautifully machined grille, the neat cable-management system and the quirky carry-handle, the 120W Beolit 12 is probably the classiest system we’ve seen.

It’s portable too, with the internal rechargeable battery good for around eight hours via a wired (3.5mm jack or USB) connection and four with AirPlay.

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12: Sound quality

We dived straight in with the excellently produced Metallica (the black one), and were immediately impressed by the Beolit’s dynamic abilities.

As Enter Sandman changes gears from the acoustic intro, through the drum crescendo and then puts its foot to the floor, the sound is never anything less than controlled.

There’s good separation between instruments on offer too, as Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara’s complicated Kele Kele proves.

Vocals ring through clearly, on top of all the layered parts beneath.There’s warmth here, but it isn’t at the total expense of punch or timing: leading edges of notes are as crisp as you like, and the sparkling treble of cymbals rings is delivered sweetly.

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12: Verdict

The Beolit certainly isn’t clinical or buttoned-up. But for all that, the Beolit 12 just doesn’t make us grin. Clear though its presentation might be, and up to eleven its volume might go, there’s a restrained quality to everything we play through it.

Everything is precise, everything is competent, but we just didn’t get a sense of fun – odd, given the system’s looks.

It’s better via USB, but still, for this money we expect a little more spice in our basket.

See all our dock system Best Buys

Follow whathifi.com on Twitter

Join whathifi.com on Facebook

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, Reading 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.

Read more about how we test