Review & Comparison: Bang & Olufsen A1 (2nd Gen) and Explore portable speakers

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Erin Lawrence

Bang olufsen, a1, explore, speaker, reviewWhen the weather warms up many of us start shopping for portable speakers to bring on our summer adventures. There are so many brands, sizes, and options to choose from. Bang & Olufsen make a huge range of speakers, so in this review I’ll take a look at two of their more popular portable options: the Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) and the Explore.

Bang & Olufsen A1 (2nd Gen) and Explore review

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Let’s take a look at what you get. These speakers have many similarities: Both the Beosound A1 2nd Gen and the Explore are battery powered portable Bluetooth speakers. They’re both waterproof and dustproof at IP67 meaning they can hold up to the elements and even withstand being submerged in a metre of water for up to 30 minutes. They’re both designed to fill rooms from about 50-300 square feet.

Pairing & stereo connections

You can connect two together for stereo sound, but they do need to be the same type; A1 to A1 or Explore to Explore..

Where they differ is in size, power, battery life and and price.

How to choose between Bang & Olufsen A1 and Explore

Both are highly portable and they’re not all that different in size, more in shape: The Beosound A1 is a 5-inch diameter (about 2-inches tall) puck shaped speaker with a carrying lanyard, while the Beosound Explore is a taller (5-inches high and 3 inches in diameter) cylinder. That’s only about the size of a soda can.

Beosound Explore is also designed to be a bit more rugged making it great for the outdoors, with a hard anodized aluminium shell and waterproof strap and carabiner.

But the A1 offers speakerphone which might make it a good choice for the work from home type.

When it comes to power, the A1 has 1 x 3.5″ Woofer and 1 x 3/5″ Tweeter, 2 x 30W Class D For Woofer And Tweeter.

The Explore has 2 x 1.8” Full Range Drivers 2 × 30 W Class D For Full Range. We’ll get to how each one sounds in a minute…

With respect to battery life, the Beosound A1 gives you about 18 hours on a charge while the Explore holds an astounding 27 hours. This is great battery life for portable speakers.

When it comes to price, The Beosound A1 Sells for about $279USD Beosound Explore sells for about $199US

Bang & Olufsen A1 and Explore set up

Bang olufsen, a1, explore, speaker, reviewGetting these speakers set up and connected was super quick and easy. Hit the Bluetooth button and watch for the blue light, then head to your phone’s Bluetooth menu and tap to connect. You can also download the Bang & Olufsen app where you can view detailed battery life, access remote controls, adjust audio presets or create a stereo pair.

Bang & Olufsen A1 and Explore sound quality

Time to talk Sound quality…  Let’s start with the A1.

The sound quality is really good; it’s surprisingly powerful for its size and the acoustics are finely tuned. The sound is quite even-sounding, with a lot of detail. The bass is pretty good too; not as powerful or party rocking as some other speakers, but it covers the bases nicely.

Outdoors it’s also surprisingly strong at being able to fill space and it was a great backyard companion.

Being IP67 water and dust rated means I was able to use it by the pool without any worry of mishaps.

The Explore is also a great sounding speaker that’s well balanced. It’s got good sound from any angle, not unlike the A1, and the bass is decent, if a tiny bit on the thin side.

The Explore is also IP67 rated and hold up against dunking and dunking.

They handle water, but need a hot minute

I will say that both these speakers came out of the water sounding terrible; kind of staticy and buzzy, and like the water was clogging everything. The Explore shook this off when it dried in about 30 minutes, but the A1 took an hour to return to normal sound outputs.

Bang olufsen, a1, explore, speaker, reviewBang & Olufsen A1 and Explore: How to choose?

So how can you choose between these two speakers?

If budget isn’t making your choice for you, this choice might come down to size or durability; if you want a speaker mainly for around the house and to take calls on, the A1 is your pick. If you want a durable speaker for camping, hiking, and out in the yard, the Explore is a better option.

Overall review: Bang & Olufsen A1 and Explore

Overall, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 and Beosound Explore are a pair of great speakers that check a lot of the boxes. They look cool and I’m really in love with the new green tone.

They sound great, they’re mega-portable, waterproof, rugged, and can be linked up to Google or Alexa. The battery life on both is also outstandingly long.

Bang olufsen, a1, explore, speaker, reviewDownsides? The bass on the Explore is a tad thinner on the bass, but it’s not enough of an issue to keep me from recommending it.

There is also the issue of needing to dry the speakers thoroughly before you can use them again, but this is more minor annoyance than dealbreaker.

In short, I can recommend either of these speakers to you if you’re looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker.

The Beosound A1 Sells for about $259 CAD/$199USD while the Explore sells for about $169US/$249CAD.

 

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