Hands-on with Bang & Olufsen’s sleek, smart Beosound speakers with Google Assistant

Premium audio equipment manufacturer Bang & Olufsen is updating its ultra-premium Beosound speaker line for 2018, adding smart speaker functionality by including Google Assistant integration out of the box.

The Beosound 1 and Beosound 2 speakers have long been two of the most visually striking — and strikingly expensive — internet-enabled speakers on the market, retailing for $1,750 and $2,250 respectively. With hovering upper sections and a downward-facing tweeter driver, they are designed to shoot sound in every direction and look something like futuristic musical robots.

With clear bass and dynamic high-end sound, we loved the way they sounded when we first encountered them at IFA in 2016, and the addition of modern smart speaker features makes them even more compelling for high-end buyers. The addition of Google Assistant means that many who were previously considering more affordable smart speakers from companies like Sonos may actually consider the better-looking Bang & Olufsen products.

In addition to adding Google Assistant, the company has also added a few buttons to the previously sparse upper section of the speakers. Buyers can now assign functionality to four buttons on the top of each speaker — telling the speaker to perform actions such as playing a favorite radio station, playlist, or reading out a weather report. The speakers also have Chromecast and Apple Airplay 2 integration, which means they are able to stream any of the best streaming services on the market right now. They’re going to get better too, with Alexa support promised for the future.

In our hands-on time with the speakers at IFA, we found they sounded just as massive as we remembered, especially the larger Beosound 2, with its five different amplifiers and multiple drivers. If you’re looking for something more portable, the Beosound 1 features a smaller footprint and also has a built-in battery. This still isn’t exactly portable in the same way as your average Bluetooth speaker, but it is more flexible. Either of these models makes Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers look boring by comparison.

The speakers are available now for buyers in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and the U.S. The speakers will become available in more countries as Google Assistant expands further around the globe. For more information, see Bang & Olufsen’s website. For more of what the company is featuring at the show, see our coverage of the Beosound Edge and the Bang & Olufsen E6.

Updated on August 29, 2018 by Kris Wouk: Added hands-on impressions. Originally published on August 23, 2018.

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