When you think of portable speakers, the terms “high-end” or “luxury” may not come to mind, but that may change once you get to know the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5, which just debuted on April 27. It’s a portable speaker boasting quality sound components that any audiophile will love, luxurious materials crafted into a gorgeous design, and manufactured in a way to provide true longevity to the device, which isn’t often seen in the consumer technology sector.
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I’ve been a fan of B&O for years, and though the sound quality of their past portable speakers has been top-notch, the body designs have left me empty, not looking as high-end as the tech they housed inside. With the Beosound A5, however, which is twice the price of their previously popular Beolit 20, they’ve delivered even higher quality sound than in their other portable models, presented within a very aesthetically pleasing package, and with their fully replaceable and repairable components, they’ve all but guaranteed that this will be the last portable speaker you’ll ever need to buy.
In this Beosound A5 review, we’ll take a look inside and out, and see why I think it really is worth the $1,099-$1,199 price tag.
Quality Sound for the Discerning Listener
Bang & Olufsen has been making some of the best home audio since 1925, and with a history that long you know they must be doing it right. Their products are made for the audiophile, by designers who are audiophiles themselves, so you can trust that what you bring home would happily sit in the homes of those who made it too.
I had the chance to visit a local B&O retail location to listen to the Beosound A5, and was impressed by the richness and intensity of sound from the relatively small speaker, especially when adjusted to the room space, and was enticed to not just listen, but to reach out and run my hands across the attractive wood exterior. If I had an extra Grand sitting around, the beautiful Dark Oak version would be taking pride of place in my living room right now.
Top priority in this Beosound A5 review will be the components inside the device, because no matter how pretty a speaker looks, the tech beneath the surface needs to deliver. Encased inside this 28.5 cm x 18.7 cm x 13 cm box, which looks a bit like a wicker picnic basket or a wood-paneled ice bucket, depending on the model you choose, is an array of four drivers: one 5.25 inch woofer, which is the most powerful across all their portable models, two 2 inch full-range, and one 0.8 inch tweeter, all with 70 W Class D amplifiers. They’re made with custom designed parts, and calibrated to provide both directional output and a 360° audio environment, and since sound is fed through each driver individually, customizing your audio to fit the space with B&O’s RoomSense technology is a breeze.
The Beosound A5 has a wide frequency range of 32Hz-23000Hz, a max sound pressure level of 101dB, with a bass capability of 80dB, and can effectively fill a room with sound up to 500 ft². Pair two of these speakers using the Bang & Olufsen app or Google Home app for stereo listening or connect to any Chromecast or Airplay 2 enabled B&O speaker models for a multi-room sound experience.
In addition to connecting to the B&O app and Google Home app for streaming, the A5 is compatible with B&O Radio, Airplay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Deezer, Tidal Connect, Qplay, and DLNA, so you’ll be able to stream any and all of your music over WiFi. If you’re taking the speaker out and about where there won’t be internet access, you can always play any music you have stored on your phone across Bluetooth, and enjoy it for up to 12 hours on the long-lasting 9000 mAh Li-on battery. If you don’t need 12 full hours of listening time, but you do need to charge your phone, you can do that right from the Qi charger on the top of the speaker.
An App for Perfect Playback
In addition to connecting with streaming services and creating a stereo pairing, the B&O app (available for iOS and Android) is also where you’ll control the advanced audio features, like Active Room compensation, EQ, and Adaptive Bass. It allows you to customize your musical experience during an easy step-by-step setup process, and then fine tune your settings whenever you feel your sound profile needs adjustments. Using the Beosonic tool, you’ll configure how you want your audio to fill the room space. Simply by dragging your finger around the spatial visualizer, you can adjust the width and immersiveness of the sonic field along with its tonal balance, and then save your perfect configurations as personalized Sound Modes, or just choose from several included presets for quick and easy options.
You can also choose whether to focus the sound direction at listeners, or spread it 360° around the speaker, modify the bass intensity, and position the EQ. Activate RoomSense, B&O’s tool to scan your space, to recognize the speaker’s placement in relationship to walls and furniture, and automatically adjust the audio output accordingly, for the perfect sound experience in any room.
Designed for Refined Tastes
I did say that if a speaker doesn’t deliver on the quality with the tech inside, it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks, but there’s no denying that aesthetics do play a big part in choosing a device that’s intended to be on display. For the next part of this Beosound A5 review, we’ll look at what really starts to make this device well worth the cost, which is the beautifully designed exterior, by artists at the Danish-Italian GamFratesi Studio. They drew inspiration not only from B&O’s previous Beolit speaker series, but also from the Danish culture that’s at the heart of B&O itself, with materials chosen to reflect the colors and textures of the scenic Scandinavian landscape, from sunny beaches to dense forests. Compared to B&O’s own line of portable speakers, they’ve really stepped up the quality with these gorgeous exteriors, and can easily outshine other brands as well.
The aluminum body of the Beosound A5 is capsular in shape, with pleasingly rounded ends, straight-walled sides, and a flat top surface, which is inset slightly from the upper edge, providing a convenient tray to rest your phone while it’s charging on the Qi port. Control buttons are discreetly arranged around the perimeter, for Power, Play/Pause, Volume, Next Track, and four Favorite shortcuts for radio stations or playlists.
The real beauty comes in the wrapping, with smooth Danish-made wooden handles in either light or dark oak, and side paneling in either a honey-colored woven paper fiber for the Nordic Weave version, or decadently dark wooden slats for the Dark Oak. They really beg to be touched, then put on display for the admiration and envy of every visitor to your house. The aluminum body is IP65 rated, making this speaker water resistant and dustproof, though the wood and woven paper paneling may show water damage, so if you take these beauties out for a sophisticated picnic in the park, you may want to provide your Beosound A5 with a tiny umbrella in case of rain.
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Built for a Lifetime
The final piece in the “Why does this cost $1,100?” puzzle is the modular design of this speaker, preventing the need to replace it if one component wears out, or you just decide that it doesn’t fit your aesthetic anymore. The Beosound A5 was built to be repaired, upgraded, or have single parts replaced by the consumer, without great cost or technical known-how. The outer paneling is easily removed, and you can access the battery at the back of the body, which is simply screwed into place instead of soldered, and you can also change out all four of the drivers.
The Mozart software platform makes it easy to stay up-to-date on all advancements as technology develops, in areas such as the streaming module and connectivity standards. B&O plans to create more exterior panels as well, in a variety of colors and luxurious materials, so your speaker’s appearance can change with your tastes. Almost every element of this model is primed to promote its longevity, so it can be a part of your household for generations.
Clearly Worthy of the Splurge
The Beosound A5 isn’t for every consumer, as not everyone has the money to spend on a statement piece of décor, no matter how great the tech inside, but if you’re a true audiophile who appreciates not only top-notch sound but eye-catching aesthetics as well, you’ll want to add this luxury element to your audio array. Every one of Bang & Olufsen’s speakers are worth checking out, and I encourage you to do so, but I hope this Beosound A5 review has illustrated why this particular model stands apart from their other portable offerings, not just in quality of sound, but more significantly in its high-end materials and assurance of longevity. If you’re looking for a larger speaker, instead of something portable, the B&O Stage Soundbar might interest you.