In a world of repetitive speaker design, Bang & Olufsen is one brand always looking to push the envelope. We got our first good look at the pound coin-inspired Beosound Edge at IFA 2018, though the Beosound 1 & 2 we're reviewing here offer their own fresh take on a domestic smart speaker.
With a futuristic aesthetic and integrated Google Assistant, do Beosound 1 & 2 make the grade? We've run through our initial impressions below.
The B&O Beosound 1 & 2 both sport a similarly metallic cone design. The main body of each speaker is made of a cone-shaped aluminium casing, in either brass or silver coloring, giving the impression of a space shuttle, or industrial ventilation system.
The '2' speaker is the larger beast, with an upper section covered in black grating, and mid-range drivers blasting sound out of the sides. Along with the woofer in the base, and tweeter at the top, it packs in 100W compared to the Beosound 1's 60W (the latter keeps things simpler with just a full-range speaker and woofer beneath).
All the action happens at the top, where a small disc features a power button and voice button to activate Google Assistant. Curiously, the volume is controlled by twisting the disc either left or right. It's a smooth interface, even if turning the top part of the metal speaker gives the impression of opening a gas canister.
There are four additional buttons on the top face, which can be configured with preset functions, such as checking the weather with Google – or even turning on the lights in your room, if you set it up with other Google-compatible smart home devices.
The Beosound 1 & 2 are eye-catching, and seem designed to stand out rather than vanish into the furnishings. One nice touch, however, are the speakers' antennae, which form short black strips on the sides to maximize the signal strength.
There's only so much you can test the audio on the showroom floor, but the arrangement of the Beosound's drivers ensure sound is emitted in all directions. Ideal for filling a room, though it's potentially not very targeted, and we could imagine the audio detail suffering for it.
What's interesting is the design of the higher-frequency driver, which sits in a small enclave at the top of each speaker, facing downwards. The sound travels down a curved surface that guides the audio out in 360 degrees, topped by an LED that lights up when the speaker is powered on.
Our early verdict
As an update to Bang & Olufsen's previous Beosound 1 & 2 speakers, the addition of Google Assistant and better streaming integration is to be welcomed. The space-age aesthetic may however be a matter of personal taste, while the 360-audio may be better suited to group gatherings than listening at home. We'll be looking to make a firmer decision down the line once we've spent some more time with them.
- IFA 2018 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.