Bang & Olufsen is well known for making top notch speakers with quirky design features. In the Beloit 15 it's as though B&O has taken the concept of a picnic hamper and crammed a bunch of drivers into it for large scale on-the-go sound.
It's not a boombox in the conventional sense though: its leather carry handle and £399 price tag make it more champagne picnic material than couple-of-tinnies-on-a-park-bench material. The champagne-esque colour scheme seems altogether apt, then.
If, of course, you can be bothered to lug all 2.7kgs of the Beolit 15 around along with all those bottles of fizz. Which is perhaps where it comes unstuck: is there a market for such a portable, however good its sound? Between the bubbly-induced headaches we've been living with the Beloit 15 to find out.
B&O Beolit 15 review: Design
As the Beloit 15 is portable, it's been built with more durable materials than typically metal B&O speakers. Which is another way of saying it's not quite as premium: the top and bottom rubber-coated aluminium panels might keep those salmon canapés at bay, but they don't look as luxe as we like.
The grey finish appears to clash somewhat with the champagne gold plastic grille which surrounds two of the three sides of this portable box. The brown leather handle looks rather dashing, though.
Control-wise things are kept simple: rubberised on/off, volume up, volume down and Bluetooth pairing buttons live to the top along one edge. They're also rubber-coated rather than super-high quality, but do their job. There's no mention of weather-sealing, however, which feels like an absent feature given the portable nature of the Beloit 15.
To the rear is where the power port plugs in, tucked away behind a pop-open plastic flap. Exposed to the side of this flap is a full-size USB port and 3.5mm input.
B&O Beolit 15 review: Sound quality
Pairing with the Beolit 15 is as easy as popping open a bottle of the bubbles. A long press of the Bluetooth button puts it into visible mode, then simply find the speaker from your Bluetooth-enabled device. We've been pinging tunes over via Macbook Air and OnePlus 2 without issue.
Tucked beneath the Beolit 15's shell are two 35W amplifiers (separated for bass and treble treatment), delivering the goods to one 140mm full-range driver, two 100mm bass radiators, and three 38mm mid-tweeters.
All that delivers loud and booming audio, with plenty of bass to boot. Actually, for a speaker described on its maker's website as “a Bluetooth speaker for audiophiles” the bass is less neutral than such a statement suggests. Not that we mind, but the Beolit 15 has more pop than neutrality for sure.
Sound is rather positional too, in that it lacks the full surround that the three-sided mesh grille suggests. So you'll want to position it face-on for the best possible listen. It is possible to link two Beolit 15s together for stereo ouput, but given the cost implication we would recommend looking elsewhere (something along the lines of Naim Mu-so does a grand job).
Does the Beolit 15 sound good to the tune of £400 though? It's a great listen, but for £100 less the Ministry of Sound Audio L Plus offers even more, and there are plenty of other (admittedly not portable) products out there too. To some degree the Beolit is a case of paying for the B&O name, which in itself guarantees popping audio that's loud and clear.
The B&O Beolit 15 is a different prospect to most Bluetooth speakers of this size (230 x 189 x 135mm), in that it's portable. With a battery that lasts up to 24-hours that all-day picnic could turn into an all-night party.
But whether you'll really want to lug all 2.7kgs of it around, we're less convinced. And in terms of Bang & Olufsen quality, there's a duller, more rubberised rather than premium look and feel to the Beolit 15.
Where the Beolit 15 really delivers is in audio quality: it's loud, clear and delivers booming bass with crisp high-end that gives it as much pop as its champagne colour scheme. But with so many other stay-at-home Bluetooth speakers available for less cash and with just as good sound delivery, the case (and not necessarily selling point) for the Beolit is its portability.