Bang & Olufsen has a track record for producing beautiful, exciting and even alluring products but sometimes at prices too high for most of us to justify spending.
The B&O PLAY Beolit 12 is an attempt by Bang & Olufsen at an “affordable” portable Airplay speaker, even though it retails for around £599.
The usual Bang & Olufsen flare has been tempered here and has been replaced by practicality, albeit with a high price tag. It is a portable Airplay speaker with a built-in battery that will last for around 3 hours when using Airplay, or up to 8 hours when using the 1/8 inch AUX input.
The Beolit 12 is a solid rectangle of metal and soft-touch plastic that has a leather carry strap. It comes in a variety of colours, as do the leather carry straps. It harps back to the look and feel of the Beolit range of radios from the 1960s and 70s.
It comes with built-in Wi-Fi and Apple devices connect using Airplay. There is also a USB port on one side allowing you to charge and play from your iOS device, and the standard 1/8 inch AUX port so you can plug in any other audio sources.
The top of the unit has a rubber covering allowing you to place your source audio device on top. This works well but it does pick up a lot of dust etc.
At one end of the top surface are the physical controls. There are volume controls, a power button and an Airplay button.
They have clearly given a lot of thought to the design of the Beolit 12 but it has a bit of a Marmite look to it. Some will love it, others will hate it. The chunky-metal-grill look isn’t for everyone.
It may also be a case of not being a design that people will associate with the near-£600 price tag.
The back features a flap that opens to give access to the power socket and Ethernet port. There is also space in there to store the power cable and perhaps even a USB connector lead for your iOS device, though a 3-pin UK plug may be a challenge.
The B&O Play Beolit 12 features three drivers – two 2-inch tweeters and a 4-inch sub. The specs rate the power at 120W.
The Beolit 12 boasts a sweet and smooth top-end and a decent amount of bass given the size of its speakers. However, there is a real lacking in the mid-range.
As it is quite a small unit the sound quality is very good but not great.
It is clearly one of the best portable iPhone speakers of this size, but it’s also one of the most expensive.
The B&O PLAY Beolit 12 AirPlay is a very good portable AirPlay speaker. however, it is very expensive, the mid-range is lacking and there are other offerings out there that will do a comparable or better job for much less cost.
If you want to pay a lot for the Bang & Olufsen brand then go ahead, but I’m not sure I could justify buying it when there are other comparable offerings at a lower price.