Bang & Olufsen Beolit 12 Review

The Beolit 12’s portability is convenient, and its sound quality well above average for a speaker of its size. However, justifying an $800 price tag is a huge stretch for us.
The Beolit 12’s portability is convenient, and its sound quality well above average for a speaker of its size. However, justifying an $800 price tag is a huge stretch for us.
The Beolit 12’s portability is convenient, and its sound quality well above average for a speaker of its size. However, justifying an $800 price tag is a huge stretch for us.


  • Very good sound
  • Highly portable
  • Impressive battery life
  • Clean, unobtrusive design


  • Ridiculously priced
  • Plagued by iPhone 4S AirPlay compatibility problems

Editor’s Note: We make mention in our video review that the Beolit 12 had to be manually reconnected to our Wi-Fi network each time it was powered up. B&O has since informed us this will be changed with a firmware update that will be available by the time the unit is available in the US.

Most folks have, at some time or another, run into a Bang & Olufsen (B&O) product. The company’s recognizable take on electronics design has produced some unique-looking and historically upscale products, which have enjoyed a glut of product placement love from the TV and movie industry. The Beocom 2, for instance, appeared in Sex in the City. The BS9000 is practically a staple for any recent production involving Hugh Grant. We’re pretty sure there was a B&O product somewhere in The Devil Wears Prada, and remember the TV hit series Friends? B&O was all up in that, too.

That being the case, it’s easy to understand why B&O gets pegged as a “lifestyle” brand and is often lumped in with other such companies (we won’t mentioned any names) that often prioritize style over performance. You know, the kind that produce electronics regarded as “elitist” by the US public, and ridiculed by high-end audio enthusiasts.

Such a broad characterization is rarely fair — even the other “lifestyle” company we elude to has turned out some genuinely decent-sounding products from time to time. And, in the case of B&O, it is probably especially so. Some of B&O’s past products may have been unnecessarily expensive, but they actually sounded (and looked) quite good.

With that attitude in mind, we approached B&O for a review sample of its newly unveiled Beolit 12 AirPlay speaker. B&O got one to us very quickly and we got into evaluating it straight away. In our B&O Beolit 12 portable AirPlay speaker review, we discuss its good and not-so-good design points, evaluate its sonic performance, and rank it against the likes of the B&W Zeppelin Air and Klipsch G-17 Air.

Out of the box

The Beolit 12 is smartly packaged without any unnecessary fluff. The bright red box it sits in is outfitted with a carrying strap, echoing the strapped design of the Beolit 12 itself.

In the box we found the Beolit 12, an AC power cord, Ethernet cable, a 20-inch long ⅛-inch patch cable, quick-start guide and user manual.

The unit measures 9.1 x 7.4 x 2.2 in inches, and tips the scales at just over 6 pounds.

Features and design

The factor that most distinguishes the Beolit 12 from other premium AirPlay speakers such as the B&W Zeppelin Air or Klipsch G-17 Air is its portability. Inside the Beolit 12 is a rechargeable battery which B&O claims can power the unit for up to eight hours with a wired connection or up to four hours via AirPlay. It charges iOS devices, too.

To enhance its portability, a leather carrying strap affixes to opposite ends of the speaker cabinet with round lugs. It hugs the left side of the speaker when lowered to minimize its appearance and help the speaker keep a clean look.


The top of the speaker is recessed and lined with a rubbery anti-skid material. This provides a sort of “tray” for phones or other small portable media devices. B&O also uses it to hide the unit’s four touch capacitive buttons for power, toggling wireless, and turning the volume up and down. The bottom of the speaker has four round rubber pads for stability.

The back of the speaker bears a pop-out door that hides the speaker’s AC power port and Ethernet port. A small cutout in the door allows cables to be passed through. The right side of the speaker has a small recess at the bottom, where we find the speaker’s USB port and ⅛-inch mini-jack for direct connection of an iOS device (or any other audio device, really).

The front of the speaker is comprised primarily of an aluminum grill. The only B&O logo we found is on the lugs that attach the leather strap to the speaker. Otherwise, the front face of the unit is exceptionally clean. In fact, the speaker is kind of reminiscent of an oversized lunchbox or a small picnic basket. To be sure, it looks like anything but a portable speaker, which we think could resonate with all sorts who want an audio solution that blends in to its surrounding decor. With that said, the opinion of those in our office varied greatly. Some liked the Beolit 12’s appearance while others were not huge fans.

  Bang-&-Olufsen-Beolit-12-top-controls   Bang-&-Olufsen-Beolit-12-side-ports   Bang-&-Olufsen-Beolit-12-rear   Bang-&-Olufsen-Beolit-12-bottom  

Under the clean-looking facade hides a 120-watt digital amplifier, which powers a single 4-inch mid-bass driver and two 2-inch tweeters. This may not sound like a lot speakers, but the tweeters in use are larger than most and could potentially be designed to efficiently cover much of the upper midrange frequencies. That leaves the 4-inch driver to cover the mid-bass and bass frequencies without the added hassle of tackling the whole midrange band on its own.

At this point, we have no major gripes to report on, save, perhaps, the absence of a remote control. This may seem ironic, considering we’ve commented in the past that such a thing seems redundant with an AirPlay speaker, since the iOS device itself functions as the remote. However, having toted the Beolit 12 around outside of our home and office (and away from a Wi-Fi network) with our iPhone hardwired to the speaker, we have to say a small remote would have come in pretty handy.

Home Theater

Demystify home audio with our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide

Today's A/V receivers are packed with lots of advanced technology and just plain cool features. From understanding watt ratings to Wi-Fi, we explain how to buy one that will last you for years in our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Home Theater

Learn how to calibrate your home theater speakers for sheer audio bliss

Make your home theater rumble just right with our manual speaker setup guide, a simple, step-by-step walkthrough to getting the most from your audio equipment without needing to rely on imperfect automatic calibration.

Time for a new TV? Grab the 55-inch Samsung curved 4K smart TV for $598

Shopping for a new TV and want to upgrade to 4K? Consider going curved: Samsung makes some of the best UHD TVs on the market today, including its unique curved lineup. Now, you can score the 55-inch Samsung curved 4K smart TV for just $598…
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Product Review

Google’s third HD Chromecast is still a good streamer, but its value is slipping

At Google’s October event, we saw a slew of new products, but the new third-generation Chromecast didn’t even make it onstage. We spent some time with the incrementally upgraded, third-generation HD Chromecast to see if it’s worth…
Home Theater

They’re not just for gaming: Watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X

While the Xbox One S and Xbox One X boost the visuals of your games, they also can pull double-duty as Blu-ray players, but there's a bit of set up needed. Need help? Here's our guide on how to watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and X.
Movies & TV

You can ditch cable but still get your 'SportsCenter' fix with ESPN+

ESPN's streaming service, ESPN+, is finally here. Despite appearances, ESPN+ isn't a replacement for your ESPN cable channels, and it differs from other streaming apps in a few key ways.
Smart Home

SiriusXM, Amazon team up for two Echo Dot deals with freebies

Amazon and SiriusXM partnered on two joint promotions. New SiriusXM subscribers can receive a free Amazon Echo Dot. People who already own an Echo device can sign up for new SiriusXM subscription with the first three months free.

Bolster your HD music catalog with the best high-res audio sites

Music connoisseurs relish HD audio, but scouring the web for all the best streaming and downloading sites can be a pain. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Check out our list, and let the high-resolution good times roll.
Home Theater

Lynxsonic’s 4:33 headphones offer premium features at a not-so-premium price

If you're looking for a set of wireless headphones that has a similar feature set to Bose's QuietComfort 35 but with a lower price, the Lynxsonic 4:33 is an intriguing new contender on Kickstarter.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.