Bluetooth speakers can be a little hit and miss. That’s especially true of smaller speakers, which can be seriously limited in both volume and battery life.
Bang & Olufsen, however, thinks it has the solution to that problem. The company recently launched B&O Beoplay P2, a portable Bluetooth speaker with a number of awesome features.
The Beoplay P2 is a little different from other Bluetooth speakers. Not only does it offer seriously good performance for such a small package, but it blurs the lines between smart and dumb speakers with its gesture and voice controls.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Beoplay P2 speaker is the design, and it looks quite nice. When you take the speaker out of the box, you may notice that it’s missing something most other Bluetooth speakers has – controls.
In reality, the controls are hidden. The on/off button is located under the logo on the bottom of the speaker, while playback controls are shifted from physical buttons to gesture or voice controls.
The speaker itself is a lot smaller than you might expect, coming in at only 5.5 x 3.1 x 1.1 inches. That’s a smaller footprint than the Google Pixel XL smartphone, although it’s obviously a fair bit thicker. It weighs 9.7 ounces, and comes in three colors – black, beige and blue.
In the box you’ll get the speaker and a USB charging cable – a paltry offering compared to what accessories come with other Bluetooth speakers. In the very least it would have been nice to get a little pouch or case too considering the portable nature of the speaker.
Setting up the speaker is pretty easy. You can either set it up just like any other Bluetooth device, or you can download the Beoplay app, which guides you along in the setup process and offers tips on how to use the speaker. We recommend using the app, as it will help you pick up using the speaker a little quicker. You’ll also get a battery life indicator in the app, as well as software updates.
As mentioned, the speaker is a little smarter than most others. To play or pause your music, you can simply double tap the speaker grill, and while it may not be as immediate as a button would be, it’s kind of a cool feature.
You can also use that double tap feature to control your digital assistant – which you can then use to control your music. For example, when we set it up, double tapping activated Google Assistant, which we could then ask to play a playlist, skip to the next song, and so on. It’s a nice feature, and is a good way for B&O to try and tap into the smart speaker craze without having to develop an assistant of its own. Plus, the microphone built into the speaker is really quite good, and seemed to be able to pick up what we were saying the vast majority of the time.
So, how does it sound? Is its diminutive stature something to worry about? No. Not in the least.
Under the hood, you’ll find a single tweeter alongside a more mid-range driver, and the result is mono audio. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – such a small speaker probably wouldn’t sound very stereo even if it did have two tweeters. In fact, we would argue that it’s a good thing here, as thanks to the larger speakers the device can deliver much more powerful audio.
The bass response is a perfect example of this. Now, the speaker is small, so don’t start expecting wildly deep and powerful bass, but you may still be surprised by the bass on offer here. It’s relatively thick and powerful, and while some may prefer a little more sub-bass content than these somewhat small speakers can offer, the bass doesn’t hold back.
Tracks like Betty Who’s I Love You Always Forever, and Eminem’s Forgot About Dre stayed quite true to the original despite the size of the speaker, and we were pleasantly surprised at that.
Of course, B&O didn’t forget about the other frequency ranges. The mid-range is well-tuned too, offering a good amount of low mids and a slight dip in the high-mid area. It’s quite a rich and warm sound, which we really enjoyed. The high-end may not be as focused as the bass, but cymbals still had a nice sheen, vocals were crisp and the guitars in AC/DC’s Back In Black had a substantial bite.
As mentioned, the high-mids dip a little compared to the other frequency ranges, and that can be a double-edged sword. On some tracks, it helps deliver a slightly more focused sound, while on others it feels like some of the body of the vocals and synths is missing. It’s not really a deal-breaker, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.
When it comes to volume, the P2’s speakers deliver some serious loudness, and do so without distorting. They may not be enough to power your next house party, but one is definitely enough for a dinner party or to take to a picnic.
Last but not least is battery life, and B&O claims the speaker will last 10 hours. That was in the ballpark according to our tests, but results vary widely depending on how loudly you’re listening to your music.
B&O created a hit with the Beoplay P2. It’s a well-designed speaker that’s extremely easy to use, has a well-built companion app, and it sounds great. On top of that, the speaker is ultra-portable without compromising on much bass content. Sure, you could get something a little bigger (and stereo) for the same price, but at this size the sound quality justifies the price. The smart gestures are a nice touch too, although we wouldn’t buy the device solely for that reason.
If you have $170 (£169, AU$249) to spend on a Bluetooth speaker and want a good compromise between portability and great sound quality, look no further than B&O’s P2.