Bang & Olufsen Goes High Design, Higher Volume

The Danish know how to make Bluetooth technology sing.

Bang & Olufsen is no stranger to iconic design: Many of the Danish company’s devices — the Beogram 4000 turntable, the Beolit 400 portable radio, for instance — have made their way into museums the world over. The audio manufacturer’s first Bluetooth speaker deserves a place beside them. Where most of its competitors are cube-shaped, the B&O Play A2 is wide and flat, its solid body mined out of a single piece of aluminum with a set of water resistant polycarbonate honeycomb grilles and a genuine leather carrying strap that make it appropriately reminiscent of a 1960s portable radio (especially in the grey and gold finish). The sound is anything but a throwback: Thanks to a mix of speakers on the front and the back, the A2 delivers big, clear sound in all directions, without overpowering our ears with the bass or being anything but well-balanced when the volume knob was turned to its stopping point. And unlike many other speakers which usually last somewhere between 8 and 10 hours, the A2 boasts an absurd 24 hours of battery life on a single charge, thanks to its re-engineered lithium ion power source. It’s one of the best bluetooth speakers of the year. [$399;]