Bang & Olufsen has a new wireless home speaker, with the Beosound Level offering striking, pared-back style while cutting the cord with battery power. Since anything with the B&O badge tends to carry a fairly hefty price tag, meanwhile, the company is aiming to make it last longer than the average portable speaker.
It’s an area of concern for many home audio shoppers, particularly those who’ve been taking care of analog stereo equipment for decades. Once, the idea of having an amp, speakers, and other hardware and keeping them for a lifetime wasn’t unusual; these days, electronics tend to be designed for shorter lifespans.
B&O’s answer is the Beosound Level and a plan for pushing back technology obsolescence. While it may be larger than many portable wireless speakers, that has allowed it to be designed with modularity in mind: the battery can be readily replaced by owners, for example, while B&O’s service partners should be able to access key parts of the speaker for future repair.
The core is the replaceable streaming module, which Bang & Olufsen says will be used in all its future home speakers. “The module has been frontloaded with enough processing power and connectivity technology to receive new performance updates and features for many years to come,” the company explains, “and the module can easily be accessed for exchange and reconnection to the main board as a service solution.”
However, should there be another big leap in streaming and connectivity technology, it’s designed so that the module can be switched out for a newer version. That way, once WiFi standards move on significantly, or new hardware services arrive, the Beosound Level should be able to keep up. Much in the same way, B&O says it plans to continue to produce the front covers – in new materials and colors – for style and repair replacements.
For the moment, then, the speaker supports Spotify Connect, AirPlay 2, and Chromecast streaming. There are five drivers inside – two 4-inch woofers, one 2-inch full-range driver, and two 0.8-inch tweeters – along with low-distortion amplifiers for 79dB bass and 96db mid-range loudness. At “typical listening volumes,” B&O says the battery should last for around 16 hours; Beosound Level will automatically adjust the speaker tuning and power consumption to maximize that listening time.
The design is by Torsten Valeur, with a pearl blasted aluminum frame. At launch, B&O will offer speaker covers in natural oak veneer and a knitted dark grey Kvadrat textile. Either way, there’s IP54 dust and splash resistance. Touch-sensitive buttons are used for controlling playback, with proximity sensors that wake the speaker up as you approach, its LEDs glowing, and then dims them again as you walk away. More sensors automatically adjust the playback tuning depending on whether Beosound Level is placed horizontally or vertically.
There’ll also be a wall bracket, to which the speaker is designed to be easily placed on and removed, with integrated charging. Otherwise, the charger attaches with an aluminum magnetic plug, clicking – MagSafe Charger-style – onto the back.
The Beosound Level will go on sale from today, priced at $1,499 in the Natural finish and $1,799 in the Gold Tone finish. The wall bracket will arrive on April 29, priced at $119. It’s too early to know how much B&O has in mind for replacement modules, or batteries, of course.