The GrateNews team recently made a trip to the newly renovated Bang & Olufsen Grand Hyatt showroom at Orchard Road to check out their latest speaker, the B&O PLAY A1. Designed by award-winning Danish designer Cecilie Manz, the new B&O PLAY A1 is the smallest Bluetooth speaker from the B&O PLAY series of products.
While there are many other products to distract us, like the stylish BeoPlay A6, out eyes were all but hunting for the tiny A1. Just as we were about to approach the showroom staff to help us locate the speaker, a silver round disc-like object caught the corner of our eyes. The showroom had stealthily hung the PLAY A1 on a rack, similar to those you pick your toothbrushes from.
Bringing it down from the rack, the B&O PLAY A1 feels solid and slightly heavier than what we expect. The beautifully contoured aluminium dome gives the speaker a smooth and premium feel while housing the intricate technologies within it. We like it that the speaker has no protruding buttons or other contraptions to cheapen the “smoother-than-a-Macbook” feel. The A1 is sold with a thin leather strap that the staff said is strong enough to attach it to a haversack or hang it on a hook in your home. Not that we don’t believe her, but I would place the trust on the insides of our bags or flat surfaces any day.
We paired our smartphone effortlessly with the speaker and played the live version of James Vincent McMorrow’s Wicked Game (we are currently in love with the song) immediately. The sounds that came out of the speaker were amazingly crisp and loud, something that we didn’t expect from a speaker that only measured 133mm x 48mm. According to B&O, the speaker uses a unique dedicated DSP algorithm with advanced high slope filtering to create a spacious 360-degree soundscape. When we pushed the volume up, the speaker held up pretty well and did not throw out noise distortions and cracking sounds typical with speaker of that size.
The B&O PLAY A1 is also a speakerphone for receiving calls. The speaker’s bottom edge is a patent-pending design that allows the microphone to provide uniform speech sensitivity. When we were told about the feature, we were fantasising about taking conference calls with it in GrateNews‘ office.
“We wanted to make a portable speaker that people would not leave at home. The size and shape of the speaker invites you to pick it up and bring it with you as the most natural thing. The combination of premium materials, cool aluminium, soft polymer and the warm touch of leather makes it almost desirable to hold. I like the fact that the rounded, circular shape very clearly indicates the sharing of sound while lying on the table”, says designer Cecilie Manz.
B&O PLAY A1 comes with a rechargeable 2200mAh Li-Ion battery that according to the Danish brand is able to lasts up to 24 hours of playtime. The speaker comes in 2 colours, Moss Green and Natural (silver) and is available at Bang & Olufsen Grand Hyatt Showroom at 10-12 Scotts Road, Grand Hyatt Singapore, #01-05 for S$399.