My roommate had this speaker for a while. I liked the elegant design, the sound presence, and how it was hanging anywhere in the flat to blast dirty French rap. It meets all the requirements I have for a speaker: tough built, bluetooth + jack input, good sound to size ratio, usb-c. So after using it for a while, I decided to get my own. The first one arrived faulty. I sent it back and received another broken one.
Unboxing videos will not inform you if the product will fulfil its purpose or break when you need it the most. We only write our reviews after a decent period of real life use.
Purchased: September 2018 | Used: Weekly | Price: 170€
- ✅ Pleasant sound
- ✅ Form factor, design and materials
- ✅ Line in / Bluetooth
- ❌ Bass clipping and overheating issues
- ❌ Many minor issues for the price range
Look and Feel
The A1 is definitely a unique looking speaker. When you start playing in a room, people have a hard time knowing where the sound comes from.
The first thing I liked about this speaker is its minimalist polished aspect, and how it lays flat instead of standing like most speakers. I definitely have a thing for simplistic Scandinavian design that emphase on quality material and simple shapes.
Once you hold it, you notice the weight and the high quality materials that confer a premium feel to this speaker. The top aluminum grill seems strong and could withstand a few good shocks. The bottom is made out of some sort of soft plastic. This allows a good grip on any surface it sits. The control knobs are sort of flat, seamlessly integrated inside the walls. This nicely assembled luxury piece of hardware could sit in a fancy designer house. Mine is more often found in bamboo huts full of geckos, and that's fine too.
Despite its apparent simplicity, the speaker packs everything I wanted. A Jack input to plug any source that has no bluetooth, or when you don't want any latency. Charging is done with Usb-C, just like the rest of my devices, so I am not always looking for what cable charges what. The lanyard is a simple, yet useful feature. Thanks to its uncommon shape, hanging it on a wall instead of laying it flat on a table will change the way the sound fills the room.
Feedback sounds are discreet and clear, that's rare enough to be notified. I have heard too many bluetooth speakers screaming a horrible distorted noise when turned on or paired...You will not find any colourful music-synced led lights, bass boost button, bulky charging base. This elegant speaker is meant to play sounds, period.
B&O is one of the luxury brands in the market. Does it make sense to put such hardware in the humidity of a jungle? Well I don't buy quality stuff to keep it in bubble wrap, I buy it so I'm sure it will perform... or will it? Number one feature you want a speaker to do right is the sound quality. And the A1 is good. The bass will fill the room more than you would expect for a speaker that size. Maybe not the most precise, but the general spectrum is well represented. B&O got a little too confident with the bass, a little too present despite a lack of sharpness. Depending on the song, it can sound clipped even at a medium volume. Due to the relatively small size (3,5”) of the woofer, you will not hear a lot of subs. Orca, by Bicep, will miss all the background bass track.
Battery life is more than decent, compared to what I have read sometimes. It last about a whole day, playing intermittently at medium to low volume, or one evening chilling with friends at good volume. Bluetooth connexion is smooth and always works nicely with all ou devices, no issue with that. There is a dedicated App, well designed, but it's mostly useful if you want to pair more than one and play stereo on several speakers. You can totally ignore the app, which is a good point. The speaker fits snuggly in my headset case. I know it is specific, but this is such a happy coincidence.
The integrated buttons are quite annoying to find and press. Because they are "holes" covered by a flat and smooth rubbery material, it is not possible to find them by running your fingers on the sides. You have to look, visually acquire the target and press firmly. The bass can suddenly lose its volume sometimes, when the speaker is overheating. The problem is, it overheats easily. Usually after an hour in a techno mix at medium volume, bass volume will be lowered for a while, before coming back, then off again, in a continuous circle of random frustration. One stupid mistake: the speaker will go to sleep mode after 10 minutes or so when the source is line in. Maybe a firmware update will fix it in the future... This is the second heaviest stuff I carry, next to my macbook. Official weight is 0,6 kg. I guess it is slightly more than you would expect but still ok.
Is the BeoPlay A1 built to last? It's not especially rugged, but it feels like it could take a beating. At least this is how it was formerly advertised on Bang&Olufsen website. They were showing the speaker with dents and scratches, proof of an active lifestyle full of adventures and whatever. Designed in Danemark, the A1 is dust and splash resistant, it is well designed, with quality materials. The softer bottom material is much stronger than the silicone type you can find on Bose Soundlink speakers.
Assembled in China... The first one I receive was broken when it arrived. It had some issues with the boomer, it was not airtight so the bass were terribly distorted. Had to send it back, and received another one with the same problem, so I decided to fix it myself. Luckily it is easy to open.
Not the right travel speaker
Although I like this speaker, I do not recommend it. There are louder and less expensive speakers out there, and more adapted to backpacking. The Beoplay A1 suffers from things that should not belong to this price range.