B&O BeoPlay A1 - Review

April 27, 2016

21 Apr - Bang & Olufsen released their smallest speaker to date with the BeoPlay A1 (SGD 399) that can fit in your palm and with a sound delivery that amazes for its size. We swiftly got our paws on a unit and give you our first impressions off the bat.
Credit - B&O

Pros (+): Excellent sound quality to weight ratio; A compact and sturdy build; 24 hour playback.
Cons (-): Carrying string appears a little frail.

Credit - B&O
From 9 May 2016, the Natural and Moss Green colors will be available in Singapore at Airport Duty Free, Apple Premium Resellers, the Hyatt Bang & Olufsen store, Challenger and Newstead. 
Credit - B&O
The box design is pretty much aligned with the branding of its peers - a solid grey square shaped box. 

Ripping aside the shrink wrap, we opened the box and lo, the speaker imposingly laid smack in the center.

Taking off the top layer, we uncovered the following.

Packaging Content:
Spilling out the box contents unveils a minimalist 3 items -
- BeoPlay A1 speaker
- Charging cable (USB-C)
- User guide

The 600g BeoPlay A1 is designed by one of Bang & Olufsen's regular industrial designers, Cecilie Manz. On first glimpse, it appears like a fun and solidly built product, given the accompanying string to hang where you please and the aluminum grill.

It comes in 2 color variants - Natural and Moss Green.
Credit - B&O

The double-moulded polymer base has a rubberized texture that grips well. There are some markings on the bottom to indicate where to plug in the charging cable and the 3.5mm audio cable input (provided separately). 

USB-C charging:
This is one of the first (if not, the first) B&O products to incorporate USB-C charging, likely providing a glimpse of the direction of what will be their default jack of choice. All their products were previously using micro-USB. The benefit of USB-C is that it's reversible.

Connecting was a relative breeze. Upon the power on, you need to hold the Bluetooth button for 2 seconds after which the LED, next to the power button, flashes blue. Find 'BeoPlay A1' on your source device and boom, you're good to go. Just hit the Connect button, indicated by a circle icon, to play from the last connected source device. 

Update (10 May 2016)
Microphone / Calls:
Once calls come in, all 3 LED indicators flanking the left, right and bottom will start flashing green. You can pick the call either with your phone or pressing the microphone button. Another press will mute the call and is clearly reflected in the 3 LEDs turning red. At a 30 cm radius from BeoPlay A1, I had no problems conversing with folks on the other end and on my side, the caller's voice came through just fine. 

BeoPlay App:
There's even an accompanying BeoPlay App that can be used. While the Android version will only be released in Spring 2016 (ie. we couldn't test it as yet), the available version (iOS) has some nifty features such as wireless stereo pairing, to link with another compatible speaker, and ToneTouch which gives personalization of the staging settings and tonality.  
Credit - B&O

We swiftly linked the Bluetooth to a MacBook Air and streamed Markus Schultz's First Time over Spotify. Boy was it good. For a very compact 600 gram unit of 13.3 (diameter) x 4.8 cm (height), the sound is incredibly punchy and surprisingly was able to fill the room with its strong basslines with considerable vocal clarity.

24 hour playback:
Charging gives your 24 hours of playback on a full charge of 3 hours, a sufficiently agreeable duration to last day trips to the beach. The battery indicator flashes orange during the charging process.

Update (10 May 2016)
The Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A1 is one great speaker to take with you to the great outdoors. Its punchy sound delivery is impactful given its size. Combined with a very agreeable 24 hour playback and desirable aesthetic, this makes for a good sound companion at outdoor parties with friends.

Where To Buy
You can purchase the BeoPlay A1 in various retail outlets in Singapore at SGD 399. Alternatively, if you like what you have read, do support me by buying either the Natural Silver or Moss Green versions from Amazon at USD 249 via this affiliate link

B&O BeoPlay A1USD 249 
Credit - B&O

Credit to B&O PLAY for a review unit.

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