Danish brand Bang & Olufsen is the world's oldest continually-operating audio company, and makes some incredible — and incredibly expensive — speaker systems and televisions. But it also runs the B&O PLAY sub-brand, which makes speakers and headphones for a younger generation — who are still obsessed with sharp design and crystal clear audio quality, but that want more fashion-forward gear and at a little more accessible price. B&O Play's new BeoPlay A1 speaker is the smallest it has ever made, but it still sounds great — and with a built-in mic and USB Type-C charging, it's surprisingly high-tech too.
The new BeoPlay A1 takes on the UE Boom and UE Roll — it's a small, battery-powered, super-portable speaker with built-in Bluetooth and an internal rechargeable battery. The A1's battery will last for 24 hours of continuous music playback, and it charges over the reversible USB Type-C connector, too, the same as your HTC 10 or LG G5 smartphone. There is, of course, also a 3.5mm auxiliary audio jack.
Its design, though, is more conservative than its competitors — but at the same time, it looks gorgeous. The top half of the BeoPlay A1 is anodised aluminium, available in a natural silver or moss green finish, smoothly curved with a grille of tiny laser-cut holes across its circular surface. The lower half is a rubberised polymer in a matching colour, and around its circumference the only protrusion is a natural leather shoelace strap — all the buttons around the A1's edge are recessed and soft-touch, so as not to catch or snag on the bag or purse you carry it in.
B&O wants the BeoPlay A1 to be a speaker that you don't keep in a case — the designers want you to carry it around with you using that leather strap, and they want you to take it everywhere. It'll survive the little bumps and scrapes of everyday use. The sound, too, is designed to be shared; the A1's speaker fires upwards, projecting sound across the entire 360 degree arc, with a quoted frequency range of 60-24,000 Hertz and total output power of 60 Watts across two dedicated amps for the speaker's woofer and tweeter. A built-in microphone means it can be used as a high-quality speakerphone, too.
The speaker's built-in 2200mAh battery can charge at up to 3A, so you can use the same fast charger that powers your USB-C phone and top up the A1's capacity within a couple of hours. The B&O Play BeoPlay A1 speaker will be out by May in Australia — or maybe even earlier — for a $379 recommended price, in stores like Myer as well as Bang & Olufsen's retail stores around the country and New Zealand. [Bang & Olufsen]