Things got a lot classier in the Bluetooth speaker market in the past couple of days, thanks to the B-boys. No, we’re not talking about the Beastie Boys, classy as they are in their own way. In fact, we’re referring to premium audio companies Bowers & Wilkins, and Bang of Olufsen. Just days after B&W unveiled its first venture into Bluetooth, the T7, B&O pulled the cover off its own creation, the elegant new Beoplay A2 portable speaker.
For its first ever entrance into the uber-competitive Bluetooth speaker market, B&O has gone big — in more ways than one. While the succinctly crafted A2 is thinner than a dime-store novel, it spans over 10-inches across and 5.6-inches high — small enough to tag along, but certainly no pocket packer. And with a lavish 24 hours of claimed battery life, the A2 boasts one of the longest running playback times we’ve come across.
And those are just the preliminaries. The A2 carries only 2.4 pounds, but B&O has brought some serious weight to its sonic skills, packing in a claimed 180 watts of peak power from dual class D amplifiers. The amps burn the coal for a pair of 3-inch midrange drivers, and two .75-inch tweeters. B&O also adds dual 3-inch passive radiators, which help the speaker reach a claimed 55Hz in the bass, topping out at 20kHz at the high end. Interestingly, the driver pairs are separated on each side of the speaker to create “True360” sound.
There’s good reason premium audio companies have dained to dip into the Bluetooth waters as of late, thanks in part to extremely battery-friendly wireless streaming with the recently adapted Bluetooth version 4.0, as well as a codec called aptX that helps the speakers stream at a resolution close to CD-quality, though iOS devices don’t yet support the codec.
In design, the A2 is as simple and chic as the rest of B&O’s creations, offering sleek extruded aluminum, bordered with a strap of premium leather to add a little style and better portability. The speaker comes in your choice of muted colors, including black, green, and grey.
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Not surprisingly for Bang and Olufsen, the company has gone big for the A2 in one other area: the price. At $400, the speaker is one of the most expensive on the market, besting even Bowers and Wilkins’ $350 asking price for the T7. Still, while that may cut out a large slice of the portable populace, we’re excited to see these new premium offerings compete to make portable sound a richer experience in more ways than just dollar signs.
We’ll likely have a Beoplay A2 in for review soon, but if you’ve got four Benjamins burning a hole in your designer trousers, well, you’ll still have to wait, as the speaker hasn’t rolled out to the public yet. However, you can sign up to be notified when the speaker will hit the open market at the Bang and Olufsen website now.