B&O Beoplay A9 4th Gen Review

April 1, 2022 0 Comments

I’ve used a lot of smart speakers over the years, but I recently got the super-premium Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9 4th gen which changed my attitude towards smart speakers. You can’t even compare it to Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers because of their size, audio quality, purpose and price.

Those who have heard of the Danish brand Bang & Olufsen know that the company is known for its high-end designer consumer electronics with an extraordinary focus on design and aesthetics. Not only that, but another guess that strikes the name is the premium price. Bang & Olufsen meets the aesthetic needs of luxury design with high-end technology and targets those who do not mind paying a premium for it.

The BeoPlay A9 4th Gen is priced at Rs 2,50,000 in India, and it immediately closes the opportunity to compare with most smart speakers. So in this review, we’ll talk more about the experience, who it is for, and how it justifies the audio performance premium price.

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A9 4th Gen: Design

Ever since smart speakers have become a thing, design has been considered as an important element. This is understandable because the technology in general, feels better when combined with a good design and it becomes even more important in the case of smart speakers because it is always in front of your eyes.

Through these speakers, Bang and Olufsen have pushed this belief to a much higher standard. The BeoPlay A9 is the most unique-looking speaker, I can confirm that I shared a picture of this speaker on my Instagram and out of 200 people who saw it, only one could guess it was a speaker. This is also because the person had tripped over the design before. Some thought it was a mirror, some sure it was a reflector, but many couldn’t figure it out.

Its uniqueness makes it attractive, but it is a short description because many art and design experts are also approved for its elegance and beauty. It literally looks like a part of modern art with minimalism all around. It can be combined with a kind of minimalism in any modern home that attracts attention.

The speaker has two main parts – round speaker panel and wooden legs. To straighten the assembly, you just need to screw three beautiful oak wooden legs into the body. The legs are subtly marked with A and B, where the foot A fits in the center and B goes left and right. There’s also a body-colored panel on the back that hides the ports to give it a seamless look. You can also wall mount this speaker, which makes it look like a convex mirror that you find in blind turns.

It is 90 cm long, and the speaker is 70 cm in diameter and weighs around 15 kg with legs, which means it is not portable. However, you’ll find a sinking handle on the back, which makes it easy to grab, pick and move indoors.

The front is covered with a woolen cloth wrapped around an oak wooden leg with a chrome ring. This combination gives it a clean, furniture-like feel. It comes in six color tones where the rings, legs and fabric blend and blend. We got the white variant with oak legs and a white fabric cover.

The bad side of the white variant became apparent as soon as we unboxed it, a visitor to the house touched it and immediately left a dirty thumbprint. So you need to keep your pet away and try not to touch the fabric to keep it clean. It’s hard to clean, and you can replace the cover, but it costs another 50 euros (approximately Rs 4,300), so getting a darker variant might be a good idea.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A9 4th Gen: Audio Performance

Despite reviewing a ton of speakers, it was difficult for me to know what to expect from a speaker priced at Rs 2.5 lakh. I’ve used premium soundbars and speakers in the past, but it’s the most expensive home speaker I’ve ever tested, so my expectations were skyrocketing and since you are paying premium you should too.

It packs 2 x 3/4-inch twitter, 2 x 1 1/2-inch full-range driver unit, 2 x 3-inch midrange driver unit and an 8-inch Upper. The upper is powered by a heavy 160-watt amplifier. All of these drivers offer a total power output of 480 watts, which is huge for a home of any size and I can feel it when I use it. So, the first thing to tick off the list is loud, if it’s something you’re worried about. This is very loud regardless of the source you are using to play the audio.

In addition to the glass-shaking height, there is much more impressive engineering inside. It has an active room compensation feature that is advertised to adjust the audio output according to location. I was able to make the feature work as we moved the speaker to different rooms. I’m not sure if this is better than the manual calibration that some high-end speakers offer, but it does adapt to the word and it can be clearly felt.

In terms of audio quality, the BeoPlay A9 is brilliant again. It claims an effective frequency range from 33Hz to 23000Hz, where a person can hear up to 20Hz, which ideally affects paper for low frequencies, but my ears couldn’t make it, much like humans. If you like your shaft warm, filling and strong like me, you will like it. More so because it is clean and does not wet the middle and height, even at high volume.

I played Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Lemon Song’ to hear my go-to bass solo and it was just as good as I expected. I tried a rather modern sound with Calvin Harris’s ‘Phils’, which has a painful funk melody mixed with electro pattern with drums, bass guitar and the output was just right for a premium speaker.

However, when the volume exceeds 90% it fights the high frequency, and if you are close to the speaker, but move to another room it will be fine too.

Guitar reef sounds beautiful at normal volume, such as vocals in mid and highs. The soundscape is deep and open, so it will have your full sound no matter where you are in the room. Additionally, you can tweak the equalizer to your liking using the companion app.

In addition to the music, I attached it to my TV for watching movies and I realized it was a perfect replacement for a soundbar, although not the best for directional sound.

While this is a power-packed speaker, it can be difficult to get high price tags for an audiofile. Remember, the premium you pay is not only for the functionality, but also for the glory associated with the name and design. If audio is the only concern, you can certainly save a lot of money and get a similar-sounding speaker system for one-third of its price, but its artistic form is incomparable.

Use it as a smart speaker?

The speaker setup process is fairly straightforward, but I struggled to set it up initially – first with the Google Home app where it failed to appear on available devices for a while and then the B&O app where it was not seen on the first day.

However, once set up, it works just like any other smart speaker operating in Google Assistant. You can tell it to play music, listen to the news, podcast, check the weather, control the compatible equipment and much more. I finally turned off Google Assistant using the option because it gets a bit annoying when you accidentally trigger Assistant. Unlike other smart speakers, it’s very loud and like listening to Google Assistant Chime at that volume, and you can’t immediately turn it off which most people don’t want.

Mike’s performance is good if you don’t turn the volume above the 40-50 mark. After a point, it becomes so loud that you either have to shout at the top of your voice to control it. On the first day I set up the BeoPlay A9 4th gen, told it to play a song and turn it into volume 8 and the next thing I remember was rushing towards the speaker to pull the power plug. It became louder, the command was not holding and I was not aware of the physical control until then. You can buy a BO Remote One or Hello separately, but this is another huge expense.

Yes, there are physical controls hidden behind the speakers that can be used to control volume and track.

Connection

For a premium speaker, we hope that all the popular connection options will be available The highlight is that the speaker comes with a built-in Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2 support for Android devices. In addition to Bluetooth, Aux and Wi-Fi, it has DLNA if you need a tethered connection. Although, these options may be enough for most users, not including NFC and HDMI was a push for me. The app available to help control your speakers is a bit problematic in places. However, once you are accustomed to the effectiveness, you should not have any problems. The only connection problem in my experience was when adding speakers to the B&O companion app. Otherwise, everything else behaves exactly as expected.

Roy: Not your typical premium speaker

It’s quite easy for me to pass judgment on this speaker because it’s hard to find an alternative that fills the space created by the BeoPlay A9 itself. Also, at Rs 2,50,000, it’s not everyone’s speaker because it targets those who want a balance of form and functionality that is a luxury.

If you are someone who likes everything that is best and the best and can spend a small fortune on it, this speaker will not disappoint. This will bring the house down to a party, a smart speaker will do what it does and replace your soundbar while improving your home decor.

However, if audio performance is the only concern and the design is secondary, you will find options that are much more affordable.

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