Bang & Olufsen’s Beosound Level is the Danish brand’s newest battery-powered connected speaker. It supports voice controls via Google Assistant, Bluetooth, and you can also stream to it via AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Spotify Connect standards. B&O says that Beosound Level uses a modular construction that they claim will make it usable well into the future. This is a welcome feature, given the speaker’s high starting price of $ 1,499 (£ 1,099).
While many mid-century stereos and amplifiers can still be used today, the average lifespan of modern integrated sound systems is far shorter. If your music system contains a computer, it will inevitably become outdated. B & O̵
Central to this modularity is Beosound Level’s streaming module, which houses the speaker’s digital signal processing (DSP) chip, wireless connectivity technology and antenna setup. It is B & O’s first speaker to use it, but the company says it will not be the last; it will be standardized in its future series of home speakers. B&O says that there is enough processing height in the hardware that comes with the Beosound level for it to be able to handle updates in the immediate future. However, when the hardware reaches its limit, the company plans to offer an upgrade service for users who are prepared to submit the device to the company to have the streaming module replaced.
The Beosound Level battery is also modular, and unlike the streaming module, it is replaceable by the user. However, the form factor will not be standardized across B & O’s speaker series, so replacing it will require a battery made specifically for the Beosound level. Battery life is estimated at up to 16 hours with volumes at a moderate level, and drops to four hours at maximum volume.
Other features include a built-in accelerometer that allows the Beosound Level to adjust the sound depending on whether it is vertical, horizontal or hanging on a wall. (A wall bracket is available separately for $ 119 or £ 89.) Internally, the speaker has five drivers: two 4-inch subwoofers, a 2-inch full-range driver and two 0.8-inch tweeters.
Charging is handled either via a USB-C port on the speaker itself or by attaching a small magnetic plug (which is powered via USB). The speaker has an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance, touch controls, and it is available with a wood or fabric finish.
We have seen companies try to take modular approaches with their devices before, but success has been elusive so far. Modular smartphones have never quite hit the ground running, and Alienware’s promises of a modular future-proof laptop fell after just one year. Bang & Olufsen tell me that they hope to support the Beosound level for years after it finally stops producing the speaker, so it may take some time before we see if it is able to reach the goal.
The Beosound level is available from today.