#Note: Find full B&O review list at the bottom.
If you’re looking for a single-unit, premium wireless speaker for your living room with a built-in google assistant and streaming facilities, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound 1 and Beosound 2 are the two of the fantastic options to look at.
Before you read any further, though, you should know that these are luxury products!
They cater unabashedly to deep pockets and are well above the $1000 mark. If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, I'd recommend you to take a look at my Sonos Five review.
In summary, if portability is a priority, the Beosound 1 is the right choice for you since it's the smaller of the two (half the size of Beosound 2) and is battery operable. If it isn’t, however; and loudness is, then go for the Beosound 2, since it's bigger (and hence delivers overall superior sound quality).
Here’s a comparison between these two options to give you some more insight.
Also, since you're here reading this article, you might also want to see my following articles:
Let's move on.
Design and Aesthetics
The right speaker for your room entails not just sound quality. Its aesthetics play a vital role in the atmosphere it lends to your space. The first thing you'll notice is that these speakers are both meant to stand out, not blend in. The futuristic, unconventional lines and shapes almost give them a sculpturesque vibe. A solid aluminum exterior and finishes are available in silver or brass, giving a stately look that leaves no doubt of their high-end audiophile heritage.
The primary user interface is located on a disc-shaped surface on the top of the speakers. This is where you access to power on/off, activate voice control for Google assistance, and volume control.
Four additional buttons are programmable with customized functions, including controlling smart home devices like lights as long as they're google-compatible or check-in with the weather!
- Beosound 1: 20 W x 43.1 H x 20 D cm
- Beosound 2: 20 W x 38 H x 20 D cm
The Beosound 1 has 48.17% less body volume. Giving it an additional edge in the portability department.
Have you ever noticed that there often tends to be quite the opposite opinions about a speaker?
I can understand this for more "personal taste" kinda products like clothing, for example.
But for engineering products like speakers? Personal tastes and preferences probably still play a role. But shouldn't it be less?
Why is it that we can't set a universal metric for sound quality?
First time I asked this question to myself has been a pivotal day.
Because it turns out that in the mid 90's, Electrical Engineer PhD Floyd Toole came up with a method called Spinorama. This is exactly what he accomplished with this. Turns out that his book Sound Reproduction is like the bible of audiophiles.
Put it simply, Spinorama is a set of measurements that gives a comprehensive overview of a speaker's performance from various angles.
It allows you to compare the performances of different speakers before even laying your ears hands on them.
Isn't that amazing?
This is why Spinorama was apparently groundbreaking news for audio industry. Hence in the mid-late 2010's, most brands and magazines began publishing Spinorama measurements, despite the challenges of making such measurements.
Fortunately, now we have the Spinorama data for a bunch of quite popular speakers. Pierre Aubert put all this untidy data together and put it into https://www.spinorama.org/. This is a stunning source. Pretty valuable stuff from him right there.
All good up to this point.
Now there comes a caveat.
Since the sound speakers propagate are in the form of omnidirectional waves, all measurements are obtained in anechoic or semi-anechoic chambers (a super-quiet room where soundwaves don't bounce back, here's how different that room sounds [a mind blowing time-adjusted video]).
This is a problem because it means that Spinorama alone, unfortunately, won't give us all we need. Placement and reflections play an equally important role there too.
This is why most A-class brands (like SVS, Bang & Olufsen, etc) often come up with room correction features, adjusted either manually or automatically. The EQ adapts itself to the placement (room, corner, center, etc) for a better (deeper and more accurate) sound. Which is great.
Additionally they often emphasize the importance of placement, here is an example: https://www.svsound.com/blogs/subwoofer-setup-and-tuning/75365187-the-art-of-subwoofer-placement
The source code under Pierre Aubert's work is licensed under GPL (General public license). He didn't perform any of the measurements himself, and instead he compiled all of them into one place, so that makes sense.
At this point, I thought that if there was a tool that combined both the Spinorama with the room acoustics data, it'd be extremely useful.
Unfortunately, it turns out that there wasn't any.
This is where I stepped in and partnered with an Acoustics and Audio Engineering PhD in order to achieve this.
We combined Spinorama data with room acoustics and came up with Soundton. A very simple, 2D online tool that allows you to:
- Reveal optimal speaker positions in a room,
- Test with real speakers from real brands,
- Compare different speakers and different positions in the room.
It can be very valuable for the vast majority.
The colormap provides you the locations with the best (green) and worst (red) listening experience.
It works the best with subwoofers since Soundton processes low frequency response waves only.
- Soundton is going to be, say, 80% accurate. Not 100%.
- Because, other parameters such as the age/materials of the building, furniture/windows in place also have an impact on room acoustics.
- If you want absolutely the most detailed room analysis, then what you need is an acoustics consultant. Mind you that's going to require deep pockets and patience though... assuming you find the right person and they get the job done.