The Danish brand Bang & Olufsen, known for offering what could only be described as hi-fi UFOs, presents its newest speaker: the B&O Beosound Level. This ultra-connected portable speaker features an incredibly luxurious and innovative design. This atypical model, equally developed for use at home or in the garden thanks to its rechargeable battery and its waterproof design, uses a dual WiFi and Bluetooth connection for musical playback. It is compatible with AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and can be intuitively controlled from its touch interface, mobile app or via the Google voice assistant.
In addition to its luxurious design, the main attraction of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level is its innovative acoustic design and 105 watts of amplification power. The five drivers cover a wide bandwidth, while the sound signature can be changed automatically using gyroscopic sensors depending on the positioning of the speaker: flat, vertical or on the wall.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: the brand
The Bang & Olufsen story begins in 1925 in Struer, a small town in northwest Denmark. At that time, two young engineers, Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen, joined forces to create audio systems in their parents’ garage. Together they invented what would become an international design icon and a symbol of audio-visual excellence. The years following the company’s founding saw the release of many products including radios, amplifiers and speakers, as well as gramophones and audio recording equipment for film professionals.
Bang & Olufsen built its uniqueness and reputation by entrusting the aesthetics of its loudspeakers and equipment to internationally renowned designers such as Alexander Slaatto for the B&O Beoplay A9 loudspeaker, Benjamin Hubert of the LAYER studio for the B&O Beosound Balance, Cecilie Manz for the B&O Beoplay M5, B&O Beolit 20, B&O Beosound A1 and B&O Beoplay M3, and Torsten Valeur for the B&O Beosound Level.
Today, Bang & Olufsen is internationally renowned for its Bluetooth headphones, connected speakers, true wireless in-ear monitors and portable Bluetooth speakers. All of which combine technological excellence and emotional appeal in a sensational design. Bang & Olufsen speakers are true models of elegance and efficiency in their design. The smooth, clean lines and materials used contribute to the esthetic success of the brand’s equipment.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: packaging & accessories
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level portable Bluetooth speaker comes in a cardboard box that is 445mm long, 350mm high and 100mm thick. The packaging is a far cry from the minimalist spirit of the brand and leaves little room for empty space. Most of the box is covered with pictures of the speaker and the logos of the various compatible technologies: Chromecast, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Google Assistant, etc.
Once the packaging was opened, we discovered the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker stored flat in a plastic protection. The speaker comes with an AC adapter, a USB-C to USB-C cable and its magnetic charger. A small setup guide is also present, but it is reduced to the bare minimum and provides little help. Fortunately, a more complete guide is available online on the brand’s website.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: presentation
As with all of the other designs from the brand, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level loudspeaker impresses with its luxurious and innovative design. Its relatively slim and flat chassis is 348mm long, 230mm high and 56mm thick. The front panel is equipped with a removable grille made of neutral acoustic fabric, the edges of which are folded back halfway up the sides of the speaker. These are superposed with an aluminum frame whose minimalist Scandinavian-inspired curves create an ideal appearance and reinforce the robustness of the speaker. This robustness is confirmed by the IP54 certification that ensures the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level connected speaker is splash and dust resistant. This makes it possible to use it outdoors by the pool or in a bathroom, for example.
The aluminum frame covers half of the top surface of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker. The second half is molded into a polymer piece that is also part of the rear panel. There are two physical controls: one to turn the speaker on and one to turn the microphone on and off. The rest of the controls are located on a touchscreen interface on the aluminum frame. The touchscreen interface is a lot more comprehensive and allows the user to control the volume, to pause the music, to select the source, to change the track or to use customizable shortcuts. Finally, a cutout between the polymer face and the frame acts as a handle to make carrying the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker easier.
The design of the Bang & Olufsen loudspeaker is optimized to blend in with the background. Its greatest advantage is its variable positioning. It can be placed upright or flat on a piece of furniture, but it can also be mounted vertically or horizontally on the wall using the optional mounting bracket. The orientation of the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker will also have an impact on its reproduction. It is more generous in the bass when placed flat, more transparent when placed vertically, and offers a wider diffusion when mounted on the wall. This modification of the sound signature is done automatically thanks to gyroscopic sensors that detect the positioning of the speaker, which activates the dedicated presets. Unfortunately, when the speaker is laid flat, it is impossible to use a wired source or to charge it. An unfortunate detail for a B&O speaker whose practical design is often highlighted by the brand.
Behind its removable cover, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level reveals a complex and comprehensive acoustic design for a portable speaker of this size. It uses a set of five drivers to reproduce stereo sound. There are two 4” mid/bass drivers coupled with two ¾” dome tweeters and a 2” full range driver. To power these drivers efficiently, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker has no less than four amplifiers: two 30-watt modules for the midrange/woofer, a third of the same power for the full-range speaker and a fourth of 15 watts for the tweeters.
With its five drivers and four amplification modules, the B&O Beosound Level has an extended frequency response of 39Hz to 23kHz and a total power output of 105 watts. It manages to produce a powerful and convincing sound, even in a room up to 50m2 or outside on the terrace. To maximize its performance, the B&O Beosound Level uses a variety of presets and DSP modes to tailor its sound signature.
Bluetooth & WiFi
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level connected speaker is equipped with a dual WiFi and Ethernet controller to connect it to the home network and the Internet. Streaming music from a smartphone, tablet or computer is then easy thanks to the integration of Apple AirPlay 2 and Google Chromecast technologies. Simply press the Cast or AirPlay button in the music player application and select the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker as the receiving device. You can then enjoy your music, podcast or other content on the speaker with the best possible reception quality. Listening to any music service is also possible via AirPlay and Chromecast, while Spotify can be accessed directly from the speaker using the Spotify Connect protocol.
When the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker is used outdoors or if the local network is not accessible, music streaming can be done via Bluetooth. To do this, simply press and hold the Bluetooth logo on the speaker’s touch interface to start pairing. Once this is done, it remains memorized, allowing you to launch your music directly during the next uses.
Optical and mini-jack connectors
In addition to its Bluetooth and WiFi connections, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker can also be paired with wired sources thanks to its Toslink optical and 3.5mm mini-jack inputs. To access these connectors, the circular rubber cover around the charging slot must be removed. This means that splash resistance is lessened when the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level is used in wired mode, as water can seep through the connection. This type of connection should therefore be reserved for indoor use.
AirPlay 2 and Chromecast technologies also allow the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level to be integrated into a group of speakers or multi-room devices. This means that you can listen to the same music throughout your home, or play different tracks in each room.
16-hour battery life
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level is equipped with a rechargeable battery that provides up to 16 hours of battery life. This means you can enjoy music outside all day or through night-long parties. However, despite the ergonomic handle, transporting the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker is limited to short distances due to its heavy weight of 3.3kg. Unless you’re going to slip it into a backpack or the trunk of a car, it’s not a model you’re going to take to the beach or on a hike. Its battery makes it more suitable for use on a terrace, in a garden or for easy transport from one room to another in the house. One good point is that the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker’s battery is removable, which ensures long-term use as it can be replaced if its autonomy decreases after several years of use.
For charging the battery or using the mains, Bang & Olufsen includes a USB-C to mains adapter, a USB-C to USB-C cable and a magnetic adapter with the speaker. The magnetic adapter connects to the USB-C cable and then attaches magnetically to the back of the speaker. It can be placed and removed very easily. The complete recharge is then carried out in a little less than three hours. However, when the latter is used, it is not possible to use a wired source. To remedy this, it is necessary to connect the USB-C cable directly to the speaker, without using the adapter. This means that we lose a major asset of this B&O speaker. Moreover, it prevents the user from putting the speaker flat. It’s a shame for a speaker that claims to be versatile in its placement.
When the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker is connected to the Internet via WiFi or Ethernet, it can be controlled by voice thanks to Google Assistant. This makes it possible to play the music of your choice, adjust the volume or even turn on the radio, simply by asking. However, the microphone implanted on the top of the speaker lacks sensitivity. It is necessary to raise your voice so that the assistant activates and hears your requests correctly. In comparison, a Google Home speaker placed much further away in the living room, detected our requests without us having to speak much louder.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: key specs
- Aluminium and polymer chassis
- IP54 certified
- Battery or mains powered
- WiFi and Bluetooth compatible
- Multi-room AirPlay 2 and Chromecast
- Touch control interface
- Control application
- Integrated Google Assistant
- Active Room Mode: optimize sound according to the room
- Adaptive Bass: adaptive bass linearization
- Different sound signature depending on the position
- Stereo pairing possible
- Presets available and fully customizable via the Bang & Olufsen app
- 2x ¾” dome tweeters
- 2x 4” mid/bass drivers
- 1x 2” full-range driver
- 2x 30W Class D amplifiers for the woofer
- 1x 30W Class D amplifier for full-range speaker
- 1x 15W class D amplifier for the tweeters
- Total power: 105 watts
- Frequency response: 39Hz to 23kHz
- Maximum power handling: 96dB SPL
- Bass power at 1m: 79dB SPL
- Bluetooth 5.0
- 2.4 and 5GHz dual band WiFi
- 1x optical and mini-jack 3.5mm input
- 1x USB type C port
- Battery or mains
- Power consumption: 25 watts Standby power consumption: 4.5 watts
- Battery life: up to 16 hours
- Full charge time: about 3 hours
- USB-C charging cable
- Easy charging solution
- Quick start guide
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 348 x 230 x 56mm
- Weight: 3.3kg
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: testing conditions
For Bluetooth listening, setting up Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level is simple. Just press and hold the Bluetooth button on the speaker’s touchscreen interface to activate pairing mode. Then go to the Bluetooth settings on your smartphone and select “Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level”. The speaker is then paired and you can already enjoy your music.
For WiFi streaming, setup is just as easy. After turning on the speaker, simply download the latest version of the Bang & Olufsen application to your iOS or Android smartphone. It then automatically detects the speaker and prompts you to enter the WiFi network password. The rest of the procedure is then carried out from the Google Home application. From there, we were able to configure the voice assistant, select our favorite music service, rename the speaker and indicate in which room of the house it is located.
Once the Google Assistant is activated on the speaker, you can go back to the Bang & Olufsen application to control and customize the speaker. It is possible to activate one of the five preset listening modes (optimal, lounge, speech, party and night), perform manual equalization or activate certain modes such as loudness or acoustic calibration.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: listening impressions
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level connected loudspeaker has a lot of character in the lows. We felt a nice reserve of power in this register, which was delivered with generosity and ease. The bass remained deep, punchy and dynamic at all times. It is quite impressive for a speaker of this size. We gained even more depth by placing the speaker flat on a coffee table or on a piece of furniture, but at the expense of spatialization, with a sound that seemed a bit flat and without amplitude. It is thus preferable to leave the speaker placed vertically or fixed to the wall (optional support required).
In a living room of about 25 square meters, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level expresses itself with ease and manages to sound good without having to turn up the volume to more than 25%. We placed the speaker in different corners of the room and the sound was always very good, provided that we were in front of the speaker. On the other hand, the bass level is strongly amplified when the speaker is placed in a corner or a few centimeters from the back wall. This can be ideal for people who love strong bass and who prefer a physical experience. On the other hand, we had to use the equalizer to get a more balanced listening experience with music that is already generous in this register.
After slightly lowering the bass level to suit our preferences, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level connected loudspeaker offered a nice tonal consistency. The listening experience was pleasant, homogeneous and more balanced, with a better perception of the upper midrange. We benefit from great dynamics and an energetic reproduction. The stereo effect is obviously not as wide as with a traditional system composed of two distinct speakers, but the separation of the channels remains well marked.
Using the Bang & Olufsen mobile application, we were able to take advantage of numerous presets to tailor the sound according to our preferences. When listening to radio broadcasts, Speech mode proved particularly convincing in raising the level of voices, allowing us to clearly perceive the different speakers, even when there was applause or background music. The Night mode also revealed its interest for night listening, reducing the dynamic range to offer a good reproduction of the different tracks, without having to push the volume excessively. Finally, the custom equalizer allowed us to modify the sound signature for a more dynamic, clearer or warmer sound. This makes Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level ideal for any musical style.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: compared to…
Devialet Phantom II 98 dB: sold for €1290, this Devialet speaker boasts an atypical and futuristic design. It benefits from a colossal power of 400 watts in peak and is even more generous in the bass which is abysmal. On the other hand, the sound isn’t as balanced, with bass that can tend to encroach on the other registers. In terms of functionality, the Devialet supports Bluetooth aptX, as well as Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 protocols for music streaming. The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level is therefore more versatile, with the addition of a Chromecast and Google Assistant. It is also more flexible, with the possibility of using it on battery, unlike the Devialet, which is powered only by mains.
Escape P9: priced at €999, the Escape P9 portable speaker is loaded with five drivers and boasts a total power output of 100 watts to provide 360-degree sound. It has a rechargeable battery offering up to 8 hours of autonomy, half as much as the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level. This Escape P9 speaker, on the other hand, is much larger and weighs almost 12kg. Again, this is not a model you can carry around with you, unless you have a dedicated case. Finally, the P9 is limited to a 3.5mm mini-jack input and a Bluetooth aptX connection. The possibilities for listening to your music are therefore limited.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: who is it for?
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker is for lovers of beautiful objects looking for a stylish, easy-to-live-with connected speaker. It’s primarily intended for WiFi or Bluetooth listening at home, though the rechargeable battery and handle offer versatility by making it easy to carry from room to room in the house, as well as on the patio or by the pool. For longer distances, such as a trip to the beach or camping in the wilderness, a smaller model like the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 or the miniature Bang & Olufsen Beosound A1 2nd Gen is more suitable.
Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level: conclusion
The Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker has a lot going for it, with a timeless minimalist design and plenty of features. It’s still intuitively controlled via its touchscreen interface, mobile app or Google Assistant. However, it was often necessary to raise one’s voice for the latter to activate and correctly understand our requests when the speaker was not placed in close proximity. Despite this, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level speaker is still very interesting and can be adapted to the preferences of each user, thanks to its various music transmission technologies and different listening modes. The sound signature can be easily adjusted using the presets or the manual equalizer. Finally, the rechargeable battery extends the possibilities for listening in the garden, on the terrace or for carrying the speaker from one room to another in the house, without interrupting the music. It will appeal to many lovers of well designed objects who want to use a versatile speaker wherever they are in the house.
- The luxurious, minimalist design
- The touch-sensitive control interface
- The deep lows
- The many available equalizers
We would have liked:
- A more sensitive microphone for Google Assistant
- The possibility of using the magnetic charger at the same time as a wired source
- The ability to lay the speaker flat when charging