“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise”—although not as big a surprise as the teddy bears will get if you crash their picnic while holding a wireless speaker that looks like it should, by rights, contain marmalade sandwiches. And then when you tell them how much it costs, their surprise will be greater still.
Danish audio brand Bang & Olufsen is, of course, no stranger to the design-led approach any more than it’s unacquainted with the hefty asking price. But with the new Beosound A5 wireless speaker, it’s quite possible the company has surpassed itself.
Not only is the A5 considerably more expensive than any rival battery-powered portable speaker, there’s no two ways about it—from its oak handle to its Nordic Weave paper fiber casework—it’s designed to look like a picnic basket.
Officially, Bang & Olufsen wants to draw a straight line from the design of heritage products like its Beolit 607, 800, or 1000 models to the A5, but we all can see the truth. Danish-Italian design company GamFratesi Studio, designers of the A5 in collaboration with B&O, suggests the woven material is reminiscent of the Panama hat associated with sunny outdoor days of all kinds—which is another red herring. This is a picnic basket.
Of course, if picnic baskets aren't entirely your cup of tea, you can always spend yet more money on the alternative Dark Oak finish. This has black anthracite aluminum as opposed to silver aluminum, a dark oak handle, and is finished with dark oak slats rather than a paper weave. Although spending more money on something that looks slightly less like a picnic basket seems counterintuitive.
As is predictable, given the brand we’re dealing with here, and only reasonable, given how much you’re paying, the Beosound A5 is beautifully made from premium materials. The paper weave is flawlessly applied and sits between the aluminum top and bottom plates showing perfectly even panel gaps. The oak handle is tactile. The physical controls on the top of the speaker are gently recessed into the mildly rubberized surface. Yes, the A5 is expensive—but it looks, and, to an even greater extent, feels like it.
And naturally, it’s as carefully considered on the inside as it is on the outside. The Beosound A5 is designed to offer 360-degree sound (or “omni” sound, as Bang & Olufsen prefers), but not anything as gauche as spatial audio, goodness me, no. To that end, it’s fitted with a 130-mm bass driver, a pair of 50-mm midrange drivers, and a 20-mm tweeter—all driven by a total of 280 watts of Class D power.