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Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20 Review

 

Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20 Review
image credit: Bang and Olufsen


Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20 Review


Most of the portable Bluetooth speakers we look at for over $ 200 are often large, with built-in handles, waterproof designs, and / or built-in LED light shows. Bang & Olufsen Beolit ​​20 for $ 500 is an anti-party speaker. It's not waterproof, it doesn't have LEDs, and while it has a built-in handle, it's made from quality leather. But don't let the sheer design and luxurious materials fool you - this thing can be loud and delivers powerful, rich bass for its size. It is a rich, full-bodied speaker with lots of high-frequency detail. Is this overpriced? If you don't care about design and materials, then yes. But if these aspects are important to you, Beolit ​​20 is a great combination of performance and style.

Beautiful design

Available in black and blue or gray and gold, the Beolit ​​20 is another attractive addition to the Beolit ​​range of portable speakers. It looks like a very stylish lunch box measuring 5.3 x 9.1 x 7.5 inches (HWD) and weighing 5.9 pounds. It has a durable leather strap that, thanks to its cool design, attaches to the top corners diagonally rather than parallel to the outer edges of the speaker. The middle part is covered with an anodized aluminum grill.


Behind the grill, two 35-watt Class D amplifiers drive a 5.5-inch woofer, combined with three 1.5-inch full-range drivers and two 4-inch passive woofers to provide a frequency range of 37 Hz to 27 kHz. The speaker is Bluetooth 4.2 compliant and supports AAC and SBC codecs, but not AptX.


The top of the speaker is recessed and flat like the inside of a speaker tray. On the left end of the panel are controls for power, Bluetooth, play / pause, and plus / minus for volume. But the coolest feature is hidden: the middle area is a Qi-certified charging surface, so you can charge your phone while listening to music. Of course, if the Beolit ​​20 is not connected to a power source, you will be using its internal battery to charge your phone.



The rear panel houses a USB-C port for the included USB-C charging cable that connects to a power adapter. (Two international EU / UK adapters are included.) There is also a 3.5mm auxiliary input, but unfortunately no cable is included. There is no hands-free function here, which it looks like could be easily implemented without any extra buttons getting in the way of the design.


Like most modern portable Bluetooth speakers, the Beolit ​​20 does not have an official IP rating for water resistance. Bang & Olufsen tells us that the speaker has a certain degree of weather resistance and a solid foundation, but if the company intends to use Beolit ​​outdoors, that needs to be more specific. The lack of specific information here means it would be safer to assume that you should avoid getting your Beolit ​​20 wet. However, it can be used outdoors, just be careful with the conditions.


Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20 Review
image credit: Bang and Olufsen


The Bang & Olufsen app for Android and iOS is the one-stop solution for most B&O products. It opens up various additional functions when Beolit ​​20 is paired with your mobile device and app. On the main page, you can control playback, track navigation and volume. There are also EQ presets including Ambient, Favorite, Optimal, Party and Speech. These modes are a little vaguely named, but you can also go to the custom EQ, tweak it as you like, and save the settings. We would like B&O to use real faders and bands like most EQs. Instead, you drag the circle from the center of the screen to words like Bright, Energetic, and Warm. You can also use the app,


Bang & Olufsen estimates the battery life of the Beolit ​​20 at around eight hours, but your results will vary depending on volume level.


Sounds more than it actually is

On tracks with intense sub-bass, such as "Silent Shout" by The Knife, Beolit ​​20 drivers deliver powerful low-frequency punch without distortion at maximum volume. DSP (Digital Signal Processing) ensures that things never get distorted at maximum volume, but it also does a great job of not overwhelming the dynamics of the mix - you can hear it work, but it doesn't overwhelm things. Also, this speaker can be quite loud for its size ... firstly, not because it is tiny, but it looks like a large speaker.


Bill Callahan's "Drover", a track with much less bass in the mix, gives us a better idea of ​​the overall sound signature of the Beolit ​​20. The drums on this track sound almost like thunder here, and Callahan's baritone vocals get an extra dose of richness in the low and midrange. All of this would overload the mix and make it muddy if the drivers didn't provide crisp, detailed high-frequency response, but the vocals got some high frequencies and the acoustic strings had a strong presence for them, as did the upper register. percussion hits. It's a sculpted sound signature with full, rich lows that sound great on drums and electric bass, and high mids and highs that add clarity and contour to the mix.


Bang and Olufsen Beolit 20 Review
image credit: Bang and Olufsen


See How We Test Speakers


In Jay-Z and Kanye West's song “No Church in the Wild,” the bass drum loop gets a lot of high-frequency presence so that its attack retains its punching power. Vinyl crackles and hiss, which are usually attributed to background status, are also slightly forward, indicating some boost and sculpting of the high frequencies. Sub-bass synth hits that accentuate the rhythm are played with less subwoofer-like power than a larger system could muster - here the drums are punchy in the low frequencies, while the sub-bass synth hits contain a little bump instead. a deep, formidable presence. Thus, the Beolit ​​20 cannot reach the level of a real 2.1 system, but this should not be expected. For a portable speaker, it definitely delivers powerful bass depth paired with crisp treble. The vocals on this track are clean and clean, but there is a little hiss at times.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams' ballet. A gospel from another Mary , add a bit of low-frequency presence, giving sound and depth to the instrumentation of the lower register. Despite the added depth of bass, everything still manages to sound relatively natural, as the brass, strings and vocals in the upper register are bright and crisp, and the low frequencies never upset the balance of the mix. It may not be the high-end, flat-response system that audiophiles are looking for, but the Beolit ​​20 certainly delivers a rich and powerful musical experience.


It is also possible to customize the sound signature to your liking in the app, but without real bands to customize, this can get a little cumbersome. The best sound signature we've found is the default no EQ option. However, an EQ setting may be more useful for outdoor use where there are fewer reflective surfaces.


Portable yet powerful

The Beolit ​​20, like most Bang & Olufsen stuff, is pricey - some might say it's overpriced. The other side of this argument is that you pay for top-notch visual design and luxurious materials in addition to powerful, capable drivers. Ultimately, sound quality matters most, and the Beolit ​​20 sounds great. It's also easy to operate, and the top Qi charging pad is a nice extra feature.


But $ 500 is a lot, and if you really want a powerful portable speaker that can be used outdoors, the similarly priced JBL Boombox 2 delivers more power in a larger design, while the $ 300 Braven BRV-XXL / 2 delivers a lot of thunder. in a portable design with a built-in bottle opener. If you love B&O aesthetics but want to spend less, the much more compact Beosound A1 offers stylish, high-quality audio for $ 250.


image credit: Bang and Olufsen

Pros

Rich bass combined with bright, sculpted treble

Attractive design using high quality materials

Qi wireless charging surface built into top panel

The app has customizable equalizer presets


Cons

Expensive 

The essence

The Bang & Olufsen Beolit ​​20 is an eminently stylish (and expensive) portable Bluetooth speaker that delivers rich, crisp sound at high volume levels.


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