Comprehensive is a word that can be easily applied to this application. It is stable, easy to navigate, logical, and even quite attractive. This is where you can check remaining battery life, assign favorite radio stations or playlists to preset buttons, and investigate equalizer settings via a graphical “target” and the most common bass and treble sliders. This is where you can set the default and maximum volumes, create a stereo pair if you’ve invested in more than one of these sonic picnic baskets, and turn the volume on or off.
Software updates, Bang & Olufsen’s admirable Radio feature and TuneIn equivalent, and Deezer streaming service integration are all available. This is where you can run a “room optimization” routine to calibrate your A5 to your specific circumstances and turn the omni effect on or off. However, the A5 can’t automatically calibrate on the fly like the Sonos Move; You must be instructed to do so.
Sound that fills the room (yes, really)
Once the Besound A5 is configured to your liking, it makes for an entertaining and accomplished listen. One time through a stream of Benjamin Clementine’s “Residue” is enough to confirm that: the A5 may sound like premium frivolity, but as far as serious sound concern goes, this B&O is all business.
Overall, it’s a balanced, loud, full-scale listen that sounds quite a bit bigger than its physical dimensions. Many products optimistically describe their sound as ‘room-filling’, but the Beosound A5 really can do it. Even the largest rooms pose no problem, without breaking a sweat when it comes to volume levels.
Low-frequency extension is pretty amazing, and the A5 handles its bass presence well. The straight edges in the bass attack mean that tempos and realistic, rhythmic expression are good, and the drive is considerable. There’s no shortage of wireless speakers in the world that can dig as deep and hit as hard as the Beosound A5, but the authority and control this speaker demonstrates is far more in short supply.
At the opposite end of the frequency range, there’s brilliance and not a little bit of attack to high pitched sounds. But the authority the A5 has over its high-end output is no more equivocal than it is on the low-end, so sounds never threaten to become edgy or harsh. Even at significant volume (and the A5 is not only capable of playing at significant volume, it is happy and stress-free when it does so, and it doesn’t alter its sonic characteristics in the slightest), treble sounds maintain their shape or discipline. So it’s never less than comfortable and compelling listening.
In between, the midrange is just as accomplished and fascinating. Even a compressed recording or radio broadcast gets adequate breather through the midrange, and as a result, vocalists can express themselves fully. The transition from mids to lows on one end and highs on the other is smooth, consistent, and by no means obvious. The tonality is neutral throughout, and there is no underplaying or overplaying of any particular area of the frequency range.
Spatial audio? Something like
The unity and coherence of the Beosound A5’s overall presentation is impressive and by no means a given, no matter how much you spend on your audio equipment. Detail levels are always high, and Bang & Olufsen is particularly impressive in the way it caters for even the smallest transients and harmonic variations in a recording. The wider dynamics of “quiet” and “loud” are also handled with equal confidence, as the A5 puts plenty of distance between the two positions without any audible effort.
However, the claim of 360-degree sound never comes true, it’s fair to say, despite the fact that the Beosound A5 creates a large, immersive and properly staged soundstage. The new Sonos Era 300 is a much more convincing performer when it comes to spatial audio practicalities, but it’s not a direct competitor to this speaker. It’s mains powered and more affordable, and it looks deeply silly. The A5 just looks a bit unusual. But when it comes to presenting big, room-filling sound, the Beosound A5 is the wireless speaker to beat.
So where does this leave the B&O Beosound A5 (other than on your picnic blanket, I mean)? There’s no doubt that its appeal will be rather limited, if only because it’s several orders of magnitude more expensive than any other battery-powered speaker worth its salt. However, those who have the means and are excited (rather than a little scared) by the appearance will find themselves in possession of one of the best speakers Bang & Olufsen has ever produced, which by extension means one of the top. best speakers pound for pound.