Great design and great sound
Bang & Olufsen has always stood out from the crowd in the audio segment due to its impeccable focus on design and performance. The Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 is the latest in the brand’s portable speaker series, after the Beolit 17. As always, the speaker is made from premium materials and focuses on high-quality sound. Priced at Rs 45,000 in India, it is definitely a luxury product that will not necessarily appeal to the public. However, if you’re looking for a mix of style and performance to bring to your home, the Beolit 20 certainly looks promising on paper. Let’s take a full look at Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 to find out if this portable speaker from Danish brand is worth your hard earned money.
Construction and design
Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 is a premium speaker available in two elegant color variants – Gray Mist and Black Anthracite. We got the former for review and are extremely pleased with its gray and gold color palette. The speaker resembles a lunchbox or a picnic basket, in some ways, mostly due to its leather handle, however, it is a very good lunchbox. The company has used premium materials to make speakers for the handles, including anodized aluminum, polymer and vegetable-tanned leather.
The speaker measures 5.3 x 9.1 x 7.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.7 kg. When you think of portable speakers, you really can’t imagine being around a 3kg speaker. This is definitely the heavier side of portable speakers, but we can’t imagine anyone wanting to bring this extra speaker in many places. In addition, the speaker does not come with an IP rating, so we would advise users against bringing this speaker with you on travel or outdoor events. Although it is a bit disappointing to see that the company has not added any water resistor with a speaker at this price. However, its aluminum body is quite rugged and it can easily avoid rolling.
The leather strap of the Beowulf 20 lets you carry around the speaker and looks great, adding to the overall aesthetic. The center of the speaker has a wrapped aluminum grille, behind which you have a 5.5-inch UFO, three 1.5-inch full-range drivers and two 4-inch passive bus radiators. Together they provide a frequency range of 37Hz to 27kHz. The speaker is powered by a slightly dated Bluetooth v4.2 and supports SBC and AAC codecs, but unfortunately no aptX support.
The top of the speaker is slightly recessed like a tray and has left control for power, bluetooth, pause / play and volume. Buttons are not a backlit, but it’s not a big deal. Tretio is also a Qi wireless charger, so you can simply wirelessly charge your compatible devices by placing them in the middle of the ‘tray’! There is a USB-C port for charging and a 3.5mm port for passively connecting devices on the back of the device.
One of the most striking features of the B&O Beolit 20 is that we’ve already touched on the previous section – Qi Wireless Charging. The device can power any Qi wireless charging compatible device and we used it to charge our smartphones and true wireless earphones. It’s not fast charging in any way, but it’s effective in a pinch. The addition of wireless charging is supported by a gain compared to the predecessor of the speaker’s battery life.
The speaker brings 8 hours more battery life than its predecessor, which is a nice decent jump. In our experiments, the speaker was able to get a little less than 6 hours of play time at about 60 percent volume. The Beowulf 20 also supports stereo pairing, where it can be paired with another Beowell 20 or even a Beowell 17. There’s no Wi-Fi connection, which is a bit disappointing because speakers usually have that support in the same price range.
The speaker can connect to the Bang & Olufsen app for iOS and Android which gives users access to many more features such as track playback, track navigation, EQ presenters and even a custom EQ. Unfortunately, custom EQs don’t have bands like most EQs, which makes it a little less precise when tweaking word signatures. You can use the app to connect one speaker to another to get a stereo setup. Additionally, you can disable wireless charging to save battery life.
Now, although these seem to be a decent set of features, there is a dearth of speakers for this price. You only get Bluetooth v4.2 connectivity, no IP rating and no Wi-Fi support. In addition, the device has no smart features, and you can’t even connect to your voice assistant, which is a shame because it puts a cap on its capabilities. Most speakers have power within this price range. In fact, it’s a pretty basic feature that even budget speakers have incorporated these days.
Although we have a bone to pick with Bang & Olufsen for the lack of features in the Beowulf 20, sound quality is an area where we have very few complaints. The app allows you to select EQ presets or even use customizable EQ, we tested most of us by default to relay what you get when you buy the device out of the box. You can of course customize the EQ, which will change the sound signature to your liking.
By default, the Beolit 20 comes with strong and impressive sound quality. It provides solid low-frequency thumps and is not distorted even at high volumes, as seen on tracks such as Century By Fruit Out Boy. They have a smooth, musical quality with good clarity and mobility for most of the vocals. However, there is sometimes a slight syllable between the vocals. Such as on vocal-centric tracks Hello By Adele, His voice flew nicely and never blended. Even bass-heavy tracks reproduce the vocals well without hiding their details. Overall, you get full-bodied low, rich vocals and detailed heights that make most tracks sound great. The speaker does not have a flat response, but it certainly provides a rich and powerful sonic experience.
This speaker is really loud too, this is what you would expect when you look at its size. It can easily fill large rooms with its sound and even work well outside. The soundstage is decently spacious but the separation is pretty good for the most part. If you enjoy speakers with a rich, warm sound profile, this is exactly what the Beowulf 20 has to offer.
If design and performance are of utmost importance to you, then the Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20 Portable Speaker is a great option with great sound, good battery life and Qi wireless charging support. However, if the connectivity options, such as smart features like Wi-Fi and voice assistant support, are important to you, then it is best to look away as you will not find them here.