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REVIEW: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd gen

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on September 12, 2020 | Last updated on September 13, 2020 at 03.26 pm
The new Beosound A1 can easily be carried around.

Big on audio - but you'll have to consider where you're going to use it

Just because we're restricted to small gatherings (missing those large-scale parties already?) doesn't mean we can't have fun. But let's be clear: No matter how small your gatherings will be, please - please - don't forget to be responsible in these times. Always follow the rules for your and everyone's safety. Please.

Of course, you can always have some good times even on your own. Having a little audio buddy with you will definitely help, like the one we're about to tackle - the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 second generation.

TALE OF THE TAPE

REVIEW: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd gen (KT25809912.PNG)

The A1 is basically the same disc-shaped speaker as its almost ubiquitously-named predecessor, the Beoplay A1, only a tad lighter and slimmer. B&O's also known for their simple yet stylish designs, and this one fits that bill, as usual.

REVIEW: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd gen (KT25810912.JPG)

It's 13.3cm in diameter and 4.6cm thick, so there's a true chance you'll be able to slip it into some oversized pockets in your pants. And while the end is securely knotted, it's not glued, so still exercise caution, as you would with any of your stuff.

Its controls slide down from its apex. If you're facing it, to the left are the power, Bluetooth and mic buttons, while to the right are the volume up/down and play/pause pushies; double-pressing the latter skips a track forward, triple-pressing goes back. Right below is a USB-C port with a little light indicator as well. And the 10th hole from the top is an LED indicator (we took the liberty to precisely know this).

REVIEW: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd gen (KT25811912.PNG)

Here's a little issue: Since the buttons are flat - they don't protrude, sink or have any feeler, plus they don't light up either - you may get confused which buttons are where, so this is a getting-used-to-it thing. Better memorise them well so that your fingers won't get lost no matter which side is facing you and/or when you're trying to tinker with it in dark situations.

That said, that's about everything you can do with the A1 physically - but we're sure you know that, to use an overused statement, there's an app for that: Download the B&O app and get a whole lotta more options to enhance your entertainment. To be fair, that's seems the only way to place them given its build but, still, some assistance locating them would've been better.

B&O's own listening modes are here, with optimal, ambient, party and speech as presets. Of course, you can customise your preferred tones and save them as favourites; you can set how much relaxed or energetic you want your sound to be by just simply dragging a circle in what I dub a sound sphere.

 

REVIEW: Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd gen (KT25812912.PNG)

Since the A1 only has sound blurting out from one side, you'll have to place it strategically to enjoy the full experience. Even so, even with its back turned on you, the quality is still very acceptable thanks to the way the sound channels out with its 360-degree direction. Its build is meant for hanging or lying down, not standing. Also make sure you don't put anything to cover the speaker if you don't want your music muffled.

As an added bonus, try taking out its leather strap so you can lay it somewhere to turn it into some high-tech piece of furniture. Trust us, it looks cool.

And while indeed A1 has 360-degree sound capabilities, it still works best in not-so-big spaces. Any bigger area and what you'll hear will diminish; B&O recommends anywhere between five to 30 sqm. And in a noisy or open environment, its sound will still be able to stand out to a certain extent, dependent of course on how far you are from it and barring any eardrum-destroying noise-producing thing nearby. Of course, keep it down to acceptable levels as respect to those around you.

Sound quality is clear and crisp. Again, it works best in small, closed areas, so you'll definitely appreciate the solidness of its sound when you use it in said spaces. Your bass and treble preferences can always be satisfied by the app, so just go ahead and mix those tones to get that groove you want. I particularly like the way its bass booms up especially in really confined spaces; couple that with its 360-degree sound and you're sure to have the sound fill up the place. 

That said, if you feel (or hear) one A1 isn't enough, head to the app and get into stereo pairing, which allows you to connect another A1 2nd gen. This doesn't work for any other B&O family member, and I pushed my luck way too hard when I tried stereo-pairing with a Beoplay P6. Just for fun.

And not to forget, the A1 is rated IP67: It's water-, dust- and sand-proof. Go ahead and dunk it in your bathtub or in a pool, but we highly advise to avoid saltwater. And - please - don't drop it because you'll mess up its simple yet premium-feel aesthetics, particularly the pink, grey mist and green colours. We received the black anthracite variant, which is my least favourite (sorry, B&O!).

Indeed, while it has this rating, it's certainly seems not built to withstand extreme shocks; would you want to see a crack on this lovely piece of equipment after you unluckily drop or bang it somewhere? And also, don't try spinning it like Thor's hammer.

Battery, meanwhile, is pegged at 18 hours, but that is dependent on 'typical listening volumes', which translates into the higher the volume, the more life is sapped, and vice-versa. Fair enough.

It also works as a speaker phone and, as is the case with music, sound quality is great and clear. It also supports Amazon's Alexa, and it should still heed your command even with audio coming out. We'd recommend, however, to still speak louder and clearly in order for this function to work.

AND SO...

Handy and compact, yet packs a mean audio punch. The Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 second generation sure fits one's requirements of great audio, though you have to keep in mind that it has its limitations, particularly where you should use it to fully harness its capabilities. Battery life is acceptable, and its 360-degree sound is definitely a huge come-on. 

GOODIES: Compact build, solid audio, water- and dust-proof

GOOFIES: Confusing button placements, limited to small spaces/gatherings, build isn't rugged enough to complement IP rating

EDITOR RATING: Let's put it this way: It's versatile, but you may need something more versatile if you're planning to use it in more open spaces to withstand ambient sound and you want more ears to hear it. 4.0/5

alvin@khaleejtimes.com



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